Some Performers Won't Make the Cut

 Ken Regan/Summit Entertainment LLC

No one ever said the awards game was fair. It's not enough to do great work -- it also has to be in the right film, at the right time, with the right campaign

Mel Gibson, The Beaver

Five years ago, before a DUI arrest in Malibu and a string of tirades that put him in the news for all the wrong reasons, he would have been applauded for taking a risk, playing a man struggling with depression in Jodie Foster's movie. Instead, he'll have to be happy with the ovation he got in Cannes.

Michael Pena, The Lincoln Lawyer

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times praised how he goes "from freaked-out innocent to stone-cold lifer in a few short scenes" in this legal thriller. But while the Lionsgate release did solid business ($58 million domestic), it wasn't positioned as an awards movie despite appreciative reviews.

Saoirse Ronan, Hanna

She was only 13 when she earned a supporting actress Oscar nom for playing a girl who forces secrets into the open in 2007's Atonement. But that was a tony British drama. Her latest film, an austere thriller, doesn't have the same snob appeal, but she's no less convincing as a wild child-turned-assassin.

Martin Sheen, The Way

In his son Emilio Estevez's latest film, the veteran actor offers a moving turn as a father who loses his son and tries to honor his memory. But few have had a chance to see The Way because distributor Producers Distribution Agency has never had it playing on more than 283 screens.

 
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