John Goodman did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Walter Sobchak in The Big Lebowski.
Goodman's performance here is decidedly much different from his amazing performance in his earlier collaboration with the Coen Brothers in Barton Fink. Where his role there was hiding many dark secrets the same can't be said for Walter who makes his thoughts well known, probably a little too well known to be honest. Goodman goes for the comically absurd approach with his performance, which actually is always a risky one since it can leave to being more obnoxious than funny in no time at all. Luckily that is not the case with Goodman's performance. In addition to that Goodman approach makes absolutely sense for the character of Walter who is not suppose to be a subtle figure. Goodman's performance especially fits in well against the other bowling buddies from Donny who is always being told to shut up by Walter, which is always funny as Goodman shows Walter to seem so angry over it, and against Bridges's dude's relaxed surfer personality.
Goodman gives a larger than life performance as Walter which is fine because he's great here in portraying the character's shameless manner. While the Dude is technically the only one who should be involved in the plot Walter decides to join in when it seems like there is a potential monetary gain to be had. Although Walter is the one technically being asked to come over he kinda takes over whenever he shows up. Goodman is very funny by playing Walter's whole demeanor with the utmost conviction. Much of what Walter says and does is quite stupid actually, but Goodman brings the forcefulness of a soldier on a mission with his life on the line, even when speaking about following a Jewish religious observance. Goodman is great because he never winks with Walter's performance bringing the such purity to Walter's particular madness when seen. This particularly works well against Bridges's more easy going performance, and the two are quite the entertaining pair to watch.
Of course a great comic performance should utilize all moments to its fullest advantage and Goodman does not even have to be the loudest part of a scene to be hilarious in it. This most notably comes into play in the scenes in the bowling alley most importantly when they have to witness their main opponent in the tournament Jesus (John Turturro) who is quite the ridiculous specimen. Although I do enjoy Turturro's performance well enough Goodman really steals these scenes with his reaction as portraying Walter as almost attempting to comprehend the man while seeming to be rather disgusted by him. Goodman's physical performance is also wonderful to behold as he always carries himself in a tough guy manner, while not exactly looking like the toughest guy who ever lived. His action roll out of the car I find particularly amusing. One my favorite moments is his inept disposal of human ashes as Goodman does that accidental incompetence so perfectly.
Interesting enough there technically a great deal of time when Walter is
not on screen because many of the Dude's interactions with the strange
people involving the plot does not include Walter. Goodman's presence is
so strong here that it seems frankly he's in the film more than he is
because just how much of an impact he makes when he is onscreen. Goodman
takes every overly extreme thing Walter does and makes it humorous and
in a certain way even endearing. Although Walter technically is a fool
and is overly boisterous while being self-absorbed Goodman's manner
always has this honestly like Walter can't tell he's this way, he just
is. Although I am not the biggest fan of the Big Lebowski as a whole,
although I do like it, one aspect of the film that I do love is
Goodman's performance. Goodman's work here just is comedic gold as he makes the most of every moment he is onscreen in his particularly memorable portrayal of a very peculiar sort of insanity.