The Case For: is a new series here at The Nerds Templar where we make a case for, well, anything. Maybe we want to right a wrong or try to convince you that GoldenEye 007 is the best Nintendo 64 game of all time. Whatever it is, we can argue a case for it.

The first in this series is The Case For: Why Val Kilmer Deserved a Best Supporting Oscar Nomination for the film Tombstone. The 1993 Western was a commercial success with critical praise as well yet received ZERO award nominations. Addams Family Values was nominated for a Best Art Direction-Set Decoration Oscar, but not an epic Western with great set design and costuming? But I digress.


This is about Val Kilmer. Sure most people might think of him as Iceman from Top Gun (above) right away or look at his performance as Jim Morrison in The Doors as proof of his leading man potential, but it’s his Doc Holliday in Tombstone that is the most legendary. Ask anyone who’s seen Tombstone and it’s Doc they will quote first.

Don’t get me wrong I love Kurt Russell and he’s great as Wyatt Earp in the film, but it’s Val who stole scenes. Doc is our Huckleberry. He is the hard drinking, hard living, smoking, card playing former dentist whose hypocrisy knows no bounds. That’s why Kilmer’s performance is THE definition of Supporting Actor. Russell’s Earp is the lead, but Doc is there by his side at the O.K. Corral, when his brothers are hurt and when Earp seeks his revenge. Excuse me, make no mistake, it’s not revenge he’s after, it’s a reckoning.


If you aren’t familiar with the movie, I literally just quoted Doc Holliday three times in the previous paragraph. Fans of the film can tell you exactly what they are. And that’s the point. How could an actor who dominates scenes and gets quoted 20 plus years later not even get a nomination? I’m not saying Val should have won, but his performance is, again, the exact definition of supporting actor. Wyatt is our hero, Doc is our anti-hero, our Han Solo. Wyatt may have wanted justice against the Cowboys being the lawman he was, but when asked why he was doing this when he should be in bed, Holliday simply says, “Wyatt Earp is my friend”.


In the year Kilmer should have been nominated, Tommy Lee Jones won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in The Fugitive. The other nominees were What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’s Leonardo DiCaprio, Schindler’s List’s Ralph Fiennes, In the Line of Fire’s John Malkovich and In the Name of the Father’s Pete Postlethwaite. All are incredibly talented actors and DiCaprio’s performance was a game changer for him so I get their nominations. Looking at the nominees now, DiCaprio should have won with maybe Fiennes being a better choice than Jones as well. I like Jones and I liked The Fugitive, but the only thing I remember about his performance is the “I didn’t kill my wife”/”I don’t care” back and forth with Harrison Ford and his outhouse, doghouse, henhouse bit. One could even say Denzel Washington’s performance in Philadelphia should have garnered a nomination. Maybe the Academy was just too high-strung. See, I can quote Doc Holliday all day long!


People might make the argument that Kilmer’s career hasn’t maintained an upward path so what’s the big deal he wasn’t nominated? But how many other actors can say the same thing? Cuba Gooding Jr. WON a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Jerry Maguire and before he played OJ Simpson recently, he did mostly straight to video films. Haley Joel Osment was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Sixth Sense and he recently played a Canadian Nazi in a Kevin Smith movie so there’s that.

I actually prefer supporting roles and character actors more than leads. Most Best Actor/Actress winners usually don’t stand out too far from the other nominees to me. Most supporting awards have gone to actors/actresses that come in and steal scenes or pull the focus from the lead. My single favorite performance in film history is Christian Bale in The Fighter. His performance is the definition of acting. Val Kilmer’s performance in Tombstone is up there. If you know that movie, when you think of that movie, you think of his Doc Holliday as much, if not more, than Kurt Russell’s Wyatt Earp. You certainly quote Doc more. In vino veritas. That’s Latin darling, evidently Mr. Ringo is an educated man, now I really hate him.

33 thoughts on “The Case For: Why Val Kilmer Deserved an Oscar Nomination for Tombstone

  1. Val Kilmer did not just portray Doc Holiday, he literally became Doc Holiday.. Not receiving the Oscar or even being nominated was a total disgrace. I have watched Tombstone so many times just to see Doc Holiday. Oh, I mean Val Kilmer. Wait, they are one and the same.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. If I were ever asked which actor/role I felt most deserved a nomination that was never issued, my first response would be Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday. Decades later, every time I watch this movie, I still can’t believe he wasn’t nominated. I most certainly agree with this article’s author, that Kilmer’s performance as Doc Holliday was the epitome of “supporting actor.” Like the other commentator herein, the only reason i watch every rerun of this movie is to watch Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday. In fact, I’m watching it right now, which is what lead me to start googling the subject; I just knew I couldn’t be the only person thinking this. Oh, I have to go now; Doc’s shootout with Ringo is coming up!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well said. Val Kilmer’s career has been totally overlooked by the Academy, he not only deserved it for Doc Holiday but he totally channeled Jim Morrison. He was nominated for Heat but shunned once again. Watch, they will award Val posthumously when he is gone. Even this many years later Kilmer still holds the record for youngest student ever admitted to Juilliard. He is a genius.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you. Just finished watching the last third on cable–took me back twenty plus years. I was totally struck by why this movie had such a lasting impact and it’s completely Val’s performance. Val you were robbed, but thank you in particular for your last couple of scenes. “There is no normal life, Wyatt. It’s just life. Get on with it.”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Just watched the movie for the first time. I agree he was robbed of the award. Great acting by Kilmer. This is the movie that I would be watching the second time (I never like to watch rerun).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You said you didn’t know if he should have won the oscar , but should have been nominated…I disagree strongly! He deserved & SHOULD have won ! Val was utterly brilliant as Doc. I couldn’t believe he wasn’t nominated!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Beth & Meg & a True Daily Double |

  8. I agree with all the comments mentioned. Val was snubbed. While he dominated the movie with his performance, lets not overlook the other great performers in the movie: Kurt was great as Earp but what about Stephen Lang’s performance as Ike Clanton? Or Powers Boothe, or Sam Elliot and a young Billy Bob Thornton? You see my point? Val was at the top of the mountain in that movie with a great supporting cast that was just a notch below him. In the last 25 years I cannot think of a better Western than Tombstone. I wonder what Val thought about when he wasn’t nominated. He might have said this:
    “Why, Academy, are we cross? I thought I was rolling in this movie!I was in my prime!Piss on you Academy!”

    Had Kilmer been nominated and won, I am sure when accepted the Oscar he would have said: “I’m Your Huckleberry!”

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I just watched Tombstone again for at least the tenth time, and Val Kilmer was the best part of the movie. I know the dialogue almost by heart – at least Val’s! I guess only other actors vote for the Academy Awards, not the general public. That’s why I don’t put much faith in the Academy Awards.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I could not agree more with you! Kilmer should have gotten the Oscar. I watch that movie over and over and every time Kilmer’s performance gets more of my attention and awe. In fact I compare it to Joaquin Phoenix as the emperor in Gladiator, who also deserved the Oscar.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I am not a Val Kilmer fan. Having said that, for the past 26 years it has really upset me that he didn’t get an Oscar. It was in my opinion one of the few best performance ever by any actor before or since and the entire cast and movie itself should have won many awards. I should be put up again for awards.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. In my lifetime; I have come to realize that those few humans (like Val K.) who are just damn good at whatever they attempt, look good doing it, well trained, and extremely cool, are usually shunned by those who could never be. It just seems to be a quirk in the human thought process. People are just jealous.
    And I agree with all of you, that he absolutely stole all his scenes!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I just watched Tombstone 3 x in two weeks. I could have played the role of Tommy Lee Jones in the Fugitive. It was just not right.

    Val Kilmer’s performance in Tombstone may be the best supporting actor of all time. Watch Tombstone then watch Kevin Costner Dennis Quaid in Wyatt Earp same story but very different movies largely because of Kilmer and whoever played Johnny Ringo.

    Kilmer was small in top gun, the saint was a train wreck. Heat was a great movie but Kilmer’s performance was nothing special. He was not a good batman and nothing special in the Doors. All that said, he should have an Oscar for what he did in Tombstone.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Hollywood Plagiarism: Same Movie but Different Studios - Hollywood Insider

  15. It’s 2021 and I’m watching TOMBSTONE again. Anytime it’s on TV I tune in because Val Kilmers performance as Doc Holiday is one of the best performances I’ve ever scene in a western. I too quote his lines many times!! I just googled him to see if he won an academy award and was shocked to see he did not!!! What were they thinking????? His performance was stellar!! Amazing!!! He IS doc holiday!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. It seems that everyone who has seen Tombstone at least twice can remember And quote at least 3 of doc’s lines. Tombstone one of the best westerns ever and Top Gun 1 of the best war movies ever. Val Kilmer made tombstone and hIs supporting role in Top Gun was excellent

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The Academy members who failed to nominate Val Kilmer for an Oscar in Tombstone need to be smacked upside their apparently empty knuckle heads with a cast-iron skillet. His performance was brilliant. He presented us with a masterful Doc Holliday who was the best I’ve ever seen. A man whose eyes no one wanted to see staring at them from over his pistol. Johnny Ringo had no chance. He’s my huckleberry for sure

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Here is the reason that Val Kilmer deserved the award: I NEVER was interested in watching ANY western. His performance was absolutely brilliant and got me interested in an entire genre of film. How does that not warrant a win?


  19. Saw him at a coffee shop after the nominations and told him he was robbed!
    He humbly blushed and said thank you!
    He was phenomenal as Doc!
    He should have been nominated and won!
    One of the best all time performances in history!
    Hollywood is simply disgraceful when it comes to picking the actors that tow the line!
    Kilmer is brilliant, underrated, and a THE REAL DEAL!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s