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Blockbuster Franchise Performances That Deserved An Oscar Nomination

Updated March 19, 2021 3.2k votes 324 voters 3.6k views21 items

List RulesVote up the franchise performances that were great enough to crash the Oscar party.

The Academy Awards tend to favor non-blockbuster films, but there have been plenty of Oscar-worthy performances in movie series. While it's true that so-called "nerd franchises" tend to have lots of action sequences and fancy visual effects, they could never achieve such immense popularity if they didn't contain acting that engaged audiences and made them care about the characters. Actors rarely getting nominated for these movies borders on cinematic snobbery. They fully deserve recognition.

This list will outline the most memorable, award-worthy performances from your favorite franchises. Of course, when you're talking about an entire series of movies, the quality level of each installment can vary. That said, each of the following performers has at least one entry in which they deliver particularly noteworthy work. Many of them have it across multiple pictures. In every case, this list will make the argument for why they deserved Oscar consideration.

Who gave the best performances in movie franchises? Vote up the ones you think deserved a chance at the gold.

  • Alan Rickman was a commanding presence throughout the Harry Potter series. His Severus Snape began as a menacing figure, only to gradually reveal surprising layers as the franchise went on. That makes him one of the most compelling figures of the saga.

    In particular, Rickman's work in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 stands out. Just take a look at the scene in which Snape is slain after a run-in with Voldemort. He implores Harry to take the single tear running down his face, which in turn will give the boy wizard access to his memories. It's a gut-wrenching sequence because Rickman - through subtle facial expressions - suggests all the remorse and regret Snape possesses, as well as his desire to leave this earth having made up for it in some small way.

    That moment puts a powerful cap on the totality of Rickman's performance throughout.

  • Throughout Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, Sean Astin makes Sam a character who is the epitome of loyalty. Whenever he comes on screen, we rest a little easier because we know Frodo has a true-blue companion who will have his back no matter what.

    In the third and final installment, The Return of the King, Astin really gets to show his stuff. Because this is where all the big drama really goes down, the potency of the performance truly pays off. In particular, think of the scene in which Frodo goes to throw the ring into the fire, only to find it having a pull on him. Sam emotionally pleads with him to toss the ring, recognizing that his pal has become vulnerable. His heart visibly breaks when Frodo succumbs to the temptation and puts it on his finger. 

    In that moment, Astin conveys the weight of what's potentially lost, both in terms of the mission and for his best friend.

  • Patrick Stewart nicely played Charles "Professor X" Xavier in the X-Men franchise. He was a great choice, embodying the leadership quality the character needed to successfully make the leap from the pages of a comic book to the big screen. The casting was perfect.

    Those movies didn't give him the chance to show his stuff quite like the spinoff Logan did, however. In this 2017 drama, Xavier is old and infirm. He realizes that his days are coming to an end. Stewart brings a mournful quality to that idea, while simultaneously showing how his character is proud of the work he's done, even if he might have one or two regrets. That was a whole new way to present Professor X, and the actor handled it with grace. 

  • When Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was released, there was a heated debate online as to whether Andy Serkis deserved an Oscar nomination for his performance as Caesar. While it's true that the character is computer-animated, his movements and facial expressions are pure Serkis. The actor wore a motion capture suit to portray the ape. 

    In the end, an apparent bias against mo-cap work prevented him from receiving a nomination. Let's be honest though: He almost single-handedly makes the film work. First of all, he's playing an ape, which requires a ton of physical acuity. Serkis also generated the facial expressions that let the audience know what Caesar is feeling. Finally, if the character doesn't feel authentic, the entire story falls to pieces. 

    Because of the exemplary work Serkis does, Caesar is a credible and intelligent hero throughout the Apes series.