John Cusack and Spike Lee at the premiere of "Chi-Raq"

John Cusack, left, and Spike Lee during the premiere of “Chi-Raq” at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York.

The Associated Press

Always known best for his adolescent, underdog roles in 80s romantic/comedy films, Evanston-born John Cusack has had quite the resurgence in 2015. 

Every year when the Academy Award nominations are announced what follows is the predictable talk of who got snubbed. There are too few spots for all the great performances throughout the year, but if I had to list a snub it would be for Cusack, who had not one, but two Oscar-worthy roles last year.

First it was as Beach Boy Brian Wilson in "Love & Mercy." Cusack followed that with his role as Fr. Mike Corridan in Spike Lee's "Chi-Raq." Cusack, who played a priest based on Chicago's own Fr. Michael Pfleger, killed it in his small role, particularly the eulogy scene during a funeral for a murdered child. 

Cusack could have earned an Oscar nomination for his role as Lloyd Dobbler in the 1989 classic "Say Anything" - a movie that should have been nominated. It certainly has remained popular in pop culture and the hearts and minds of movie-goers compared to actual nominees "My Left Foot" and "Driving Miss Daisy." 

Heck, Cusack should get an honorary Oscar for his roles in "Say Anything" and the other teen classics (yep, classics!) "The Sure Thing" and "Better Off Dead."

And let's not forget Cusack was part of the geek squad in another classic, "Sixteen Candles." 

Cusack couldn't play a quirky and offbeat, lovelorn teen forever. There are a few really good "adult" films he made in the 90s, but my favorite might be "The Thin Red Line" from 1998. He had a small but what I thought was a stand-out role as Capt. John Gaff in the World War II drama that was nominated for Best Picture. But so was "Saving Private Ryan," which was also released that year. Neither won the award. Guess what beat them? "Shakespeare in Love." Talk about Oscar injustice. 

The Cusack most of us knew and loved returned in yet another classic "High Fidelity" in 2000. A great Chicago film by the way. 

Another decade goes by and yea, "Hot Tub Time Machine" was OK, and had some callback to the early Cusack roles, but to me his "comeback" role was "Adult World" in 2014. Cusack starred alongside Emma Roberts, playing poet Rat Billings with great lines like:

"Love... love until you hate. Then learn to hate your love. Then forgive your hate for loving it."

“If you want to make art, you have to fail. And so, the hardest job is to fail better.”

"You're dumb but you're not stupid."

Another thing about Cusack - he's both a Cubs and a White Sox fan (he was great as White Sox Buck Weaver in "Eight Men Out"). He's gotten some flack for that, which I say is nonsense. It's a myth that you can't be a fan of both teams. And if anyone can be a fan of both teams, it's Lloyd Dobbler. 


Rob covers urban affairs and other matters in Crown Point, St. John, Winfield and beyond. Previously he covered Valparaiso, Hammond, Gary and East Chicago. He's also written for various magazines and pens a culture blog for The Times.