Bad Education starring Hugh Jackman.
Bad Education starring Hugh Jackman.

Why Hugh won’t win Oscar for hit film

The 2020 Oscars is set to be one of the more bizarre races in history with less films coming out as the world reels from the coronavirus pandemic.

So when a film and performance like Hugh Jackman's in Bad Education brings with it near universal praise, it seems like it should be a shoo-in to take home the main trophy.

While it's been described as one of the performances of Jackman's career, the 51-year-old Australian won't be taking home the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's golden statue for this performance in the movie, which is available to stream on Binge.

The Wolverine actor plays Frank Tassone, the superintendent of a Long Island high school district whose life collapsed after he was caught in a fraud scandal described as the biggest school embezzlement case in US history.

RELATED: Jackman's new role dubbed 'Oscar worthy'

Co-starring Oscar winner Allison Janney, who plays Tassone's right-hand assistant superintendent Pamela Gluckin, the pair attempted to steal an incredible $US11.2 million ($A17m) over 12 years before they were discovered.

Jackman and Allison Janney have been praised for their roles.
Jackman and Allison Janney have been praised for their roles.

But it's Jackman's performance as a charismatic, closeted gay man that is earning praise from viewers as he shifted from big budget movie star roles into character acting while taking on the role of Tassone.

Directed by Corey Finley and adapted by screenwriter Mike Makowsky, the movie also co-stars Ray Romano as the school board president Bob Spicer, and fellow Australian Geraldine Viswanathan as high school student Rachel Bhargava.

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Variety chief film critic Peter Debruge called Jackman's performance "the best work he's ever done".

The Rolling Stone's Peter Travers described the script as "devilishly clever and detailed" as well as Jackman's work as "a career-best performance from a movie star with a genuine actor's depth and range", while the New York Times' Ben Kenigsberg labelled Jackman's performance as "darkly charismatic".'s Wenlei Ma said of the film "Fuelled by a fascinating story and its sensational performances, Bad Education is a movie worthy of its star-power and ambitions".

But it hasn't only proved a hit with the critics with social media losing it for Jackman's performance.



This may seem like an obvious question for a film released in May during the coronavirus pandemic, but the film has been done for some time, originally screening at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

Amid rave reviews for both the film and Jackman, it appeared like the Aussie was headed for his first Oscar, or at the very least a nomination.

Having been nominated for Best Actor at the 2013 Oscars for his portrayal of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, Jackman lost to Daniel Day Lewis' performance as former US president Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln.

But with Bad Education coming out as the darling of TIFF, the film surprised everyone by selling the world-wide rights to the film to HBO for a reported $US20 million shortly after the festival finished.

It was also seen as a sign of the times with mid-budget movies now a rarity on the big screen as conventional wisdom points to big budgets getting big returns.

Jackman himself was blindsided by the call.

"I have only done theatrical releases, thank goodness, since X-Men," Jackman said, as reported by Variety.

"So I was a little taken aback at first. But then I was like, 'Oh, I actually think a lot more people will see this in this format.'"

The path is well worn with many medium budget movies heading to streaming services rather than going the traditional route of getting it on screens. It means that for awards, Bad Education is a TV movie with the Emmys the big opportunity for Jackman.

Viewers think it’s Jackman’s best performance yet.
Viewers think it’s Jackman’s best performance yet.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, the group who hand out the Oscars, have long bucked the trend of recognising the new world of streaming.

Previously, films would have to spend seven days in theatres in the LA County area in order to qualify for the Oscars with Netflix particularly affected.

But late last month, the Oscars announced a big change, allowing some films released on streaming platforms and digital to qualify for the 2021 Academy Awards.

The only problem for Bad Education is that to be eligible, the film would have to have been slated for a theatrical release before the heading to streaming.

The move for the 2021 Oscars appears to be a temporary solution with the studios and the Academy appearing to want to return to the big screen in the long term after the coronavirus pandemic ends.

Bad Education is available to stream on Binge

Originally published as Why Hugh won't win Oscar for hit film