As film careers go, Joe Pesci’s run in pictures has been among the most unusual. After getting his start as a musician and comedy partner of Frank Vincent, Pesci landed his first major role at the age of 33 in The Death Collector (1976).
While that film isn’t much to speak of, it turned out to be huge for Pesci because Robert De Niro remembered him in it. That led to an audition for De Niro and Martin Scorsese for the role of Jake La Motta’s brother in Raging Bull (1980). Pesci got it, and his first Oscar nomination followed.
After getting steady work in the ’80s, Pesci’s career took flight with his performance as Tommy De Vito in Goodfellas (1990). Once he won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, Pesci was a household name.
But by the end of the decade, Pesci had effectively dropped out of the film business. It took until Scorsese’s blockbuster The Irishman (2019) for Pesci to be coaxed out of retirement. For film fans, it was worth the wait. And for Pesci, a Golden Globe nomination has pointed the way back to the Oscars.
Pesci ranks among the favorites for Best Supporting Actor
As recently as November, Pesci didn’t rank among the top five for the supporting actor Oscar on prediction site Gold Derby. However, that changed with the announcement of Pesci’s Golden Globe nomination on December 9.
Pesci now sits in fourth place on Gold Derby site as he continues marching up the list. At the top is Brad Pitt, who’s been holding down the spot for his performance in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. A win by Pitt, who took the prize from the National Board of Review, wouldn’t surprise anyone.
But Pesci has more than Pitt ahead of him on the list. Pesci’s Irishman co-star Al Pacino has held second place on Gold Derby for months. And Pacino also has won one race (a Hollywood Film Award).
That leaves Tom Hanks, whose performance in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood earned him Golden Globe, Critics Choice, and SAG Award nods.
Pesci already won the NY Film Critics Circle award in the category
While front-runners Pitt and Pacino already have awards for their 2019 work, Pesci’s racked up a win in the supporting actor category as well. On December 4, the New York Film Critics Circle handed Pesci this year’s award over that stiff competition.
When the 2020 Golden Globe Awards go out January 5, 2020, we’ll get another indicator of the field’s chances. Of course, the entire discussion will be null if Pesci doesn’t get an Oscar nomination the week after the Globes.
If Pesci manages another Oscar nomination, it will be his third such recognition overall (and his third from a Scorsese film). Given his reluctance to get back into the fray — and the level of success he’s enjoyed — we may be seeing Pesci’s final Oscar race.