Why Jim Carrey Didn’t Win an Oscar for ‘The Truman Show’

The year was 1998, and people could not stop talking about The Truman Show

The critically-acclaimed drama follows Truman Burbank, a naive insurance salesman who lives the most perfect life. But as time progresses, he grows skeptical of things and sets out in search of answers. He eventually learns that he’s the unwitting star of his own TV series, The Truman Show and that his entire life has been a lie.

The film received massive box office success and overwhelmingly positive reviews not just because of its interesting plotline but also because of Jim Carrey’s performance. The actor would go on to win a trove of awards for his role, including a Golden Globe for Best Actor, but Jim Carrey (somehow) did not win an Oscar for the flick. 

Let’s talk about how and why Carrey missed out for his part in this masterpiece.

Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey | Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Carrey faced stiff competition

There’s no doubt that Carrey put on a stellar performance in The Truman Show. But many other actors also put on acclaimed acts around the same time — and only so many of them could make the cut for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the 1999 Oscars.

In the end, officials narrowed the nominee list down to Tom Hanks (Saving Private Ryan), Ian McKellen (Gods and Monsters), Nick Nolte (Affliction), Edward Norton (American History X), and Roberto Benigni (Life Is Beautiful).

Benigni ended up taking home the award for the 1997 film, which tells the story of a Jewish librarian and his son who become victims of the Holocaust. According to IMDb, the man “uses a perfect mixture of will, humor, and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp.” Not only did Benigni have a starring role in the critically-acclaimed film, but he also co-wrote and directed it.

But the movie itself was nominated

So, the Oscars didn’t totally snub The Truman Show. The satirical science drama received three nominations. Ed Harris, who orchestrated the TV series in the movie, earned a nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Peter Weir received a nomination for Best Directing. And Andrew Niccol received one for Best Writing.

But they also faced some heavyweight contenders and ultimately did not win any awards. Harris lost to James Coburn (Affliction). Weir lost to Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan), and Niccol was edged out by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love).

How Carrey feels about the snub

It’s been more than 20 years since the release of The Truman Show, and many fans would still argue that the film deserves an Oscar. But the leading star himself isn’t losing any sleep over the snub. While speaking to the press on Aug. 2 in promotion of his Showtime series, Kidding, the 57-year-old actor said he’s never felt “left out.”

“I’ve never felt left out or passed over. These are words that other people create around me. I don’t live in that world,” Carrey said of not getting an Oscar (via People).

He continued, “All gifts are welcome. All recognition is appreciated, but none of it is needed. I’m so lucky creatively and personally. That’s not a need that I have.”

The Truman Show is its own gift,” he continued. “Whether it had Oscars attached to it or not, that’s not what makes kids in college want to study the papers on your film. It’s the truth behind the film that makes that happen.”

Carrey added, “That comes from the actors who are honest. That comes from wanting to do a great piece of work aside from all of the mirroring of awards and the PR side of things. It’s the art. When the art transcends, those things come.”

Carrey has recently returned to the spotlight following 2014’s Dumb and Dumber To, so, with any luck, he’ll be able to secure an Oscar win soon. But if not, it seems like he’ll be OK with that.