Harvey Keitel did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Larry Dimmick mainly known as Mr. White in Reservoir Dogs.
Harvey Kietel is not an actor known for his accents, or emphasis on any sort of mannerisms in his performances. He tends to be a rather straight to the point sort of actor, but that does not mean he can not create a variety of memorable characters. In 1992 he not only gave his absolutely incredible performance as the titular Bad Lieutenant, but as well gave this performance here as one of six criminals who do the heist that goes wrong. Mr. White seems to be one of the more experienced ones as well as one of the more professional.
Keitel is appropriately convincing in the role as the career criminal Mr. White. He portrays him as a clam headed man who knows exactly how to do what to do with a great deal of ease. Whether it it setting up the plan, spending some time with the other criminals, or killing a couple of police officers in a car moving on him, Kietel portrays it with the same cool method. He makes it obvious that Mr. White is without a doubt a career criminal who has participated in his fair share of jobs, and is able to do them efficiently without every losing his head during the situation when done right.
Kietel here is careful though in that he does not ever try to make Mr. White into some cold calculating killer or psychopath. Yes Mr. White does kill people in the film, but Kietel does always show this to be about his his survival rather than any sort of sadistic urge. This is the reason why Mr. White takes very little liking to Mr. Blond (Michael Madsen) who goes on a sadistic killing spree during the heist. Keitel is strong in his scenes because he always puts to the forefront that it is not only the lack of professionalism that offends him about Blond's reaction, but it is in fact underneath his moral code which is above murdering bystanders.
What really is the crux of his performance though is Mr. White's friendship with the younger heist member Mr. Orange (Tim Roth). Keitel is good in his scenes before and after the heist. Before he acts quite warmly as a mentor to him, just being once again very professional as he teaches the new man the ropes. Later on though after Mr. Orange is shot in the stomach, Keitel is effective in showing the guilt in Mr. White believing that he let the younger man down. Keitel makes Mr. White's eventual choice to stand by Mr. Orange almost to the end realizing White's warmth as a mentor toward Mr. Orange believably.
Keitel is strong throughout the film even though his role is some limited, as the film does try to spread out the time each character gets to shine, although the amount of time Mr. White and Orange are given would put them in lead. What he does have to work with though Keitel does make the most out of giving a believable portrait of this career criminal. His performance here never is even close to the power of his incredible performance in Bad Lieutenant, but this performance though still stands as a testament to Kietel's considerable strength as an actor.