Oscar banter is hitting a fever pitch and comedic actor Will Forte is being thrown into the line-up as a possible best supporting actor nominee for his new movie. So, wait, the dude who played MacGruber on “Saturday Night Live” might be nominated for a little black-and-white film called “Nebraska”? Possibly.
“Nebraska,” from the Academy Award-winning director of “Sideways” and “The Descendants” Alexander Payne, tells the bittersweet story of a father and son’s road trip from Montana to Nebraska to claim what the father believes is his Mega Sweepstakes prize. From each group of people and their time together, the son (Forte) learns about his father (Bruce Dern) and understands him better as a person. Unlike his other films, Payne did not participate in crafting the script.
Upon its premiere at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Dern earned the best actor award. Forte has since garnered his own praise and Oscar buzz for his dramatic role, even though he’s more famous for comedic characters like MacGruber, the “SNL” parody of “MacGyver” and its full-length film adaptation, or TBS founder Ted Turner on “Conan.” His previous work in films and TV (“Rock of Ages,” “That’s My Boy,” “Parks and Recreation,” and even his appearance with Andy Samberg as a male cheerleader in “Grown Ups 2“) doesn’t bring to mind Oscar gold — maybe a Razzie instead. But Payne reportedly liked Forte’s audition so much that he found him believable as both Dern’s son and just a regular guy, so that helped him beat out Paul Rudd, Casey Affleck, and Matthew Modine to land the role.
Despite Payne’s faith in Forte, can he really be taken seriously enough to even get an Oscar nom after his 10-year stint on “Saturday Night Live”? If Forte is nominated, he joins nine “SNL” alums who received invitations to the Oscars. Best actor nominations have gone to Robert Downey Jr. and Bill Murray, while Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, and Randy Quaid have received best supporting actor nominations. Joan Cusack racked up two nominations for best supporting actress and Kristen Wiig earned one for best original screenplay. George Coe has a best short subject producer nomination and Michael McKean rounds out this talent list with a best original song nomination. But to date, no “SNL” alum has ever won an Oscar.