I was recently watching Pulp Fiction for the first time in years. I love this film. It's one of my favorites that I've seen at least a half dozen times now. It's full of wonderful performances, from the leads to every member of the supporting cast (except for Tarantino's role as Jimmy as that's awful), but the one that always just blows me away is Samuel L. Jackson's Jules. All I can say about it: wow.
In the fifteen years since Pulp Fiction came out Jackson has kind of turned into an actor who delivers the same kind of performance each time out of the gate. We know what to expect from him as he dishes up variations of the same role again and again. In 1994, this was not the case. He was just exploding into a popular actor and this role is by far his most electric, charismatic, intense, humorous, dangerous and interesting. It's a wonderful, riveting performance that even has him sporting great facial hair and a throwback hairstyle.
Jackson was nominated for best supporting actor but didn't win. What a freakin' rip off! Looking at the list of fellow actors nominated, it is even clearer he was cheated for the award. The winner was Martin Landau for Ed Wood. Landau gave a good performance in a film from Tim Burton but let's be frank here--Landau's winning was a combination of role + age + reward for career achievement. While a fine job, I don't think Landau's individual performance was anywhere near what Jackson did in Pulp Fiction.
Other nominations were Chazz Palminteri for Bullets Over Broadway; Gary Sinise for Forrest Gump and Paul Scofield for Quiz Show. I'm kind of surprised Sinise didn't win because Forrest Gump was such a sentimental favorite that year. Maybe Tom Hanks took all the glory and credit in the title role? Palmenteri was solid and funny as a mobster with dreams of being a writer in Woody Allen's sharp comedy but Scofield I don't even remember so let's forget about him. That leaves Landau and Jackson as the two serious contenders.
Voters went for Landau. What a mistake that was--one that looks more glaring with every passing year. Watch Ed Wood and watch Pulp Fiction; Samuel L. Jackson is my choice every time between these two performances and it's not really even that close.