trending »

The 38 Roles for Which Bill Murray Was Snubbed by the Oscars

Focus Features

In 2003, William James Murray (better known to those who haven't spent hours reading his Wikipedia page as Bill Murray) starred in Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation," a poignant, somber romantic comedy that spotlighted the budding relationship between an aging film star (Murray) and the lonely wife of a photographer (Scarlett Johansson) in Tokyo. Murray was nominated for an Oscar for said performance, but he ultimately lost to Sean Penn's turn in "Mystic River."

At one point, he also did the Garfield movies.

But herein lies the massive injustice. Bill Murray should have been nominated for an Academy Award for every other movie he's done. There. We said it. The following is a comprehensive list of Murray movies where the Academy unconscionably overlooked his performance, starting from the very beginning of his illustrious career.

Bill Murray in "Meatballs" Sony

 

'Meatballs' (1979)

ROLE: Tripper Harrison
ANALYSIS: We're willing to forgive this one, as the Oscar oversight was likely due to the relative unpredictability of being blown away by the charisma of an actor in his first leading role. "This is a fluke," they said at the Academy. "He can't possibly keep this up." How wrong they were. How wrong, indeed.

'Where the Buffalo Roam' (1980)

ROLE: Hunter S. Thompson
ANALYSIS: Most people think of Johnny Depp's turn in 1998's "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" as the classic Hunter S. Thompson role. Most people are dumb. Still, we're again choosing to let this one slide – after all, who hits two 500-foot home runs in his first two at bats?

'Caddyshack' (1980)

ROLE: Carl Spackler
ANALYSIS: Murray reportedly improvised his famous "Cinderella story" scene in this movie. We're assuming no one told the Academy, because the appropriate response would have been to give him all of the Oscars from the next 30 Academy Award ceremonies. No one told the Academy, right? Right?

'Stripes' (1980)

ROLE: John Winger
ANALYSIS: Murray managed to dominate this movie despite Harold Ramis (playing Murray's best friend) consciously trying to steal scenes by dressing like a lesbian John Lennon. "Stripes" was also the birth of Murray's characteristic deadpan comedy he still wields today. So, you know – good one, Academy. Because who can forget Roy Scheider's 1980 Oscar-nominated performance in "All That Jazz," other than everyone?

'Tootsie' (1982)

ROLE: Jeff Slater
ANALYSIS: Oh, suurrree, Academy – just because Dustin Hoffman "played the title character" and "had the most lines" and "was the only actor crucial to the success of the film," he gets the Oscar nomination. This is where, had we been Bill Murray in 1982, we would've been forced to conclude, "Well, the fix is in." (We also would've enjoyed wealth, fame and overall brilliance, given that we were Bill Murray in 1982).

'Ghostbusters' (1984)

ROLE: Dr. Peter Venkman
ANALYSIS: "Ghostbusters" is universally beloved. Dr. Peter Venkman is a transcendent character. Hillary Clinton could say, "So, Ghostbusters, right guys?" at the next Israel/Palestine summit and at least drum up some cordial conversation. Academy? "Not impressed. Sorry." Resentment, thy name is Oscar.

'Nothing Lasts Forever' (1984)

ROLE: Ted Breughel
ANALYSIS: We confess we've never seen this movie and neither have you, so instead let's take a look at Murray's incredible reaction to losing the Oscar in 2003 to Sean Penn:

The Razor's Edge (1984)

ROLE: Larry Darrell
ANALYSIS: To this day, if you stick your head out the nearest window, you can almost hear Murray saying, "Alright, Academy – I'll play your game." We just did, and there it was, floating effortlessly in the wind. Alas, like his previous work, Murray's first dramatic starring role did not move Oscar like it did the rest of us.

Bill Murray in "Scrooged" Paramount

 

'Scrooged' (1988)

ROLE: Frank Cross
ANALYSIS: This modern take on "A Christmas Carol" taught us all about love, gratitude and the important things in life. Oh, sorry – not all of us, because the members of the Academy chose to put their heads up their own asses again instead of recognizing greatness. So, most of us.

'Ghostbusters II' (1989)

ROLE: Dr. Peter Venkman
ANALYSIS: Offering an olive branch of sorts, Murray graciously accepted the role of Dr. Venkman again, five years after the Academy botched handing him 79 Oscars and a shoulder massage for his first go-around as the lovably wisecracking psychologist. Everyone in life should get a second chance, right? Well, Oscar spat on its second chance and then did a touchdown dance. No dice, yet again.

'Quick Change' (1990)

ROLE: Grimm
BONUS ROLE: Director
ANALYSIS: Here's an abridged list of esteemed thespians who have won Oscars as a director: Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood. We couldn't have thrown Murray on this Movie Mount Rushmore? Would it have been too damaging to the Oscar brand? That's cool. Hey, how good was "Crash," by the way?

'What About Bob?' (1991)

ROLE: Bob Wiley
ANALYSIS: As if starring in a film with an unironic mullet wasn't impressive enough, Murray managed to make an obsessive-compulsive whose entire character direction was "just be obnoxious" absolutely hilarious and likable. Oscar instead chose to reward Anthony Hopkins for "Silence of the Lambs," a respectable choice before it was later revealed in a "20/20" special that Hopkins himself was a cannibal.

'Groundhog Day' (1993)

ROLE: Phil Connors
ANALYSIS: Tongue-in-cheekishness aside for a second, on facial expressions alone, this four-minute clip contains the best comedic acting of all time:

Seriously, though. He should have been nominated for an Oscar for this movie.

'Mad Dog and Glory' (1993)

ROLE: Frank Milo
ANALYSIS: Murray accidentally broke Robert De Niro's nose while filming this movie. That's a pretty cool claim to fame, no? Why couldn't the Academy have invented an award for that?

'Ed Wood' (1994)

ROLE: Bunny Breckinridge
ANALYSIS: Murray's Ed Wood cast mate Martin Landau infamously beat out both Samuel L. Jackson in "Pulp Fiction" and Gary Sinise in "Forrest Gump" for Best Supporting Actor in 1995. Academy, If you're going to embarrass yourselves, why not let us at least watch a funny speech?

'Kingpin' (1995)

ROLE: Ernie McCracken
ANALYSIS: Rarely does Oscar swing and miss so violently as it did when it neglected to touch "Kingpin" at all. But if it was going to start anywhere, it naturally would have been with Murray's brilliantly re-watchable performance as Ernie McCracken, which is basically the 2.0 version of Christopher McDonald's portrayal of Shooter McGavin in "Happy Gilmore" a year earlier. (That's a big, big compliment).

Bill Murray in "Larger Than Life" United Artists

 

'Larger Than Life' (1996)

ROLE: Jack Corcoran
ANALYSIS: All those hours you'd spent before 1996 trying to convince every toddler you knew that Murray deserved every acting Oscar since the Carter administration became justified with the premiere of "Larger Than Life," featuring a predictably underrated virtuoso performance from Murray. Sadly, Abigail Breslin was NOT president of the Academy at that time.

'The Man Who Knew Too Little' (1997)

ROLE: Wallace Ritchie
ANALYSIS: Unfortunately, this movie's lack of Oscar recognition was a mere matter of timing; 1997 was the year James Cameron's "Titanic" swept almost every major award. Insiders blamed the oversight on director Jon Amiel's fatal last minute decision to cut out a scene featuring Murray sketching a nude Kate Winslet.

'Wild Things' (1998)

ROLE: Ken Bowden
ANALYSIS: Is there any real argument to be made that Bill Murray deserved an Oscar for "Wild Things?" No. Would it have been amazing to hear someone like Judi Dench say, "And the winner is, Bill Murray, 'Wild Things?'"

Bill Murray in "Rushmore" Touchstone

 

'Rushmore' (1998)

ROLE: Herman Blume
ANALYSIS: Though Murray and Wes Anderson’s marriage is still not valid in California via a controversial ballot question in 2008, we’ve seen the beautiful results of their union ever since they first got together for Anderson’s Rushmore. Despite what the bigots at the Academy would have you believe, Murray’s performance is most definitely Oscar-worthy. For shame, Academy.

'Cradle Will Rock' (1999)

ROLE: Tommy Crickshaw
ANALYSIS: Haven't you ever helped out a friend in need? Murray's friend Tim Robbins wrote and directed this, and Murray was all but happy to oblige his friend's request to be in his film – not to mention knock viewers' socks off with a performance that would make Daniel Day-Lewis become a carpenter. The Academy has no friends.

'Hamlet' (2000)

ROLE: Polonius
ANALYSIS: The Academy had embarrassingly drooled all over "Shakespeare in Love" only a couple of years earlier, so when Murray's role in "Hamlet" proceeded to rock faces around the world, the Academy was memorably forced to come out with an impromptu statement that contained the words, "Sorry, Bill, we're a little Shakespeared out. ;-)." As if the Academy hadn't inflicted enough harm on the world, this is cited as the unofficial birth of the emoticon.

'Charlie's Angels' (2000)

ROLE: John Bosley
ANALYSIS: We're sure the Academy was prepared to finally nominate Murray for this one; however, Murray warned that he wouldn't show up to the festivities in protest of his not being mentioned by Destiny's Child in its song, "Independent Women" with his co-stars Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore. Totally understandable. Oscar is off the hook here.

'Osmosis Jones' (2001)

ROLE: Frank Detorre
ANALYSIS: The Academy controversially ruled "Osmosis Jones" a documentary, thus making Murray ineligible for award consideration.

'The Royal Tenenbaums' (2001)

ROLE: Raleigh St. Clair
ANALYSIS: Murray's second go-around with Wes Anderson resulted in the role of Raleigh St. Clair, a man jilted by his wife because she wants to be with her step-brother. Murray reportedly stayed in character on set by watching endless episodes of Jerry Springer on DVD in his trailer. Wasn't good enough for the Academy, but then, what is? That's right: Jon Voight in "Ali," nominated that year.

'Speaking of Sex' (2002)

ROLE: Ezri Stovall
ANALYSIS: No one has seen this movie – not even Bill Murray. He doesn't have to. He knows it’s superb. That's what 20 years of capital buys you. Sadly, the Academy has a shorter memory than the guy in "Memento."

'Coffee and Cigarettes' (2004)

ROLE: Bill Murray
ANALYSIS: Murray is in the following eight-minute clip of this Jim Jarmusch movie, playing himself. Watch it, then get upset that Bill Murray wasn't handed an Oscar for it, thus making it more ubiquitous on Youtube.

'The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou' (2004)

ROLE: Steve Zissou
ANALYSIS: For his third duet with Anderson, Murray shines yet again as brilliant oceanographer Steve Zissou. In an unfortunate coincidence, however, 2004 was the year the Academy was diagnosed with an allergy to all things Wes Anderson. No known cure exists, but scientists fight hard every day to find one despite viruses like "The Darjeeling Limited."

'Broken Flowers' (2005)

ROLE: Don Johnston
ANALYSIS: Murray's flowers may be broken, but his streak of unreal acting performances snubbed by Oscar continues unharmed (other than "Lost in Translation"). Pretty much all Murray does in this movie is walk around looking sad and who wouldn't, when you've delivered your entire career without any hardware to show for it?

'The Darjeeling Limited' (2007)

ROLE: The Businessman
ANALYSIS: Murray has no lines and only appears for a couple of minutes at the beginning of the movie. Hey, why not, right? It sounds like just the type of meta performance the Academy would reward to remind themselves of their own pretentiousness.

'Get Smart' (2008)

ROLE: Agent 13
ANALYSIS: More like Oscar 13, if the Academy was competent.

Bill Murray in "City of Ember" Fox

 

'City of Ember' (2008)

ROLE: Mayor Cole
ANALYSIS: The film's IMDb page features Murray wearing a giant chain necklace and a cape. Need you see more? (Side note: Would you be surprised if Murray showed up to a college party this weekend wearing that outfit? Neither would we. That's why he rules the world. And needs an Oscar.)

'Zombieland' (2009)

ROLE: Bill Murray
ANALYSIS: Not satisfied merely being the actor with the most unofficial Oscars of all time, Murray also manages to snag the title of the single greatest cameo in any movie, ever. Did you cry when… well, what happens to him, happens to him? We thought so.

'Get Low' (2009)

ROLE: Frank Quinn
ANALYSIS: "Get Low" is a period peace set in 1930s Tennessee amidst the backdrop of the depression, featuring a sterling cast including Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black, Bill Murray and Bill Murray's Real, Actual Moustache that somehow wasn't immediately handed an Oscar itself just for existing.

'The Fantastic Mr. Fox' (2009)

ROLE: Badger
ANALYSIS: If you'd asked us before we saw "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" if we ever thought actors like George Clooney and Meryl Streep could be out-acted in an animated film, we would've laughed and called you crazy. Then we would've watched "The Fantastic Mr. Fox, begged profusely for your forgiveness and wondered when the Academy was going to stop drinking moonshine during the middle of the day.

Bill Murray in "Passion Play" Image Entertainment

 

'Passion Play' (2010)

ROLE: Happy Shannon
ANALYSIS: The image to your right. Fin.

'Moonrise Kingdom' (2012)

ROLE: Walt Bishop
ANALYSIS: Not to say Murray phoned this one in, but his role in "Moonrise Kingdom" just happened to come out the same year as…

'Hyde Park on Hudson' (2012)

ROLE: Franklin D. Roosevelt
ANALYSIS: Let's see – Bill Murray: Check. Bill Murray playing a former President of the United States: Check. Bill Murray playing an extremely influential former President of the United States, with a contrived, folksy accent: Check. An actress like Laura Linney to lend the rest of the film some credibility in the eyes of the Academy: Check. This is the year, folks! So long as Daniel Day Lewis isn't in a movie with the exact same qualifications and Sally Field in the Laura Linney role, we're talking smooooooth sailing to the 2013 Best Actor Oscar. Exhale, Bill Murray Nation. This is your moment.

Related Stories

  • back
  • close

Most Popular Videos

Get More »

Also Check Out

More from MTV Networks
2010 - 2014 MTV Networks, and ™ MTV Networks. All Rights Reserved.