Top 5 Polar-Opposite Roles From Actors With Oscar Nominations

As the Academy Awards ceremony approaches, film buffs are scrambling to see this year’s nominated films to form their own opinions on which movies, directors and actors should be taking home the famed gold statuette.

Often, viewers can kill a few birds with one stone — as usual, many of the films nominated for best picture or director this year also feature actors with Oscar nominations for best performance in a lead or supporting role. (In fact, for the first time since 1991, two actors from the same film are up for the same award: Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson are competing for best supporting actor for their performances in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.)

Many of the usual suspects in the acting category are present. Awards show staples such as Meryl Streep, Frances McDormand, Denzel Washington and Daniel Day-Lewis have proven their ability to convincingly take on vastly different characters throughout their long careers. Other nominees like Timothée Chalamet and Daniel Kaluuya are newcomers to the awards show circuit with fewer roles in their past that can indicate their range. But there are also nominees who have had lengthy and prominent careers, but who may not first cross your mind for the diversity of their roles.

Here we examine five of this year’s Oscar-nominated actors and their two most divergent roles throughout their careers.


5.) Allison Janney in ‘I, Tonya’ vs. ‘The West Wing’

Allison Janney’s turn as Tonya Harding’s harsh and unloving mother LaVona Harding in I, Tonya landed her the first Oscar nomination in her decades-long career. As I, Tonya is told from Tonya Harding’s perspective, LaVona is a monster in the film … even if she’s a monster who made Tonya “a champion.”

Janney is one of few actresses who has not been pigeonholed into only playing comedic or dramatic roles. Though she often plays the role of a mother, from her portrayal of the understanding and protective stepmother in Juno to her current role on CBS’ sitcom Mom, she originally established herself as a household name as C.J. Cregg, the fair but stern press secretary in the presidential television drama The West Wing.

BONUS: The same year The West Wing premiered, Janney stole scenes in 1999’s 10 Things I Hate About You as guidance counselor and aspiring romance novelist Ms. Perky. She even improvised one of her most memorable lines, showing off the comedic chops she now regularly shares on Mom.