Emma Thompson and Oprah Winfrey were among a bevy of actresses who did not have their best day last Thursday. In a year both were considered solid bets in the Best Actress Oscar category, neither of their names were announced as nominees. Instead, they join a long list of actresses whose spectacular work was passed over, and in honor of their snubs, we’ve decided to take a look at several others who were similarly ignored.
The Actress: Julie Delpy
The Role/Movie: Celine in Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2013)
The Snubs: The French actress is one-third of a filmmaking team that has created one of the most unique franchises in film history—three movies, two characters, one 18-year long love story told in nine-year increments. In that time, Delpy’s created a character with whom an entire generation of men have fallen in love, her co-star Ethan Hawke our avatar. Along with Hawke and director Richard Linklater, Delpy has at least earned a pair of screenwriting nods even as her work on screen has been ignored.
The Actress: Anne Hathaway
The Role/Movie: Lureen in Brokeback Mountain (2005)
The Snub: Of the Oscar-winning movie’s stars, Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Michelle Williams each earned a nomination; only Hathaway was ignored. While her role as Gyllenhaal’s long-suffering wife might not have been as attention-grabbing as the others, the heartbreaking phone call she shares with Ledger’s Ennis Del Mar—to tell him of the death of his lover, Jack Twist—is a tour de force.
The Actress: Sally Hawkins
The Role/Movie: Poppy in Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)
The Snub: While it was nice to see Hawkins’ name come up on Thursday for her work in Blue Jasmine, it’s still not enough to make up for this travesty. Writer-director Mike Leigh, known for overwrought, bleak stories, made a rare foray into comedy, and Hawkins carries the film with such joie de vivre that it was impossible not to walk out of the theater in a good mood. Though we won’t say who got the nomination Hawkins deserved, we will say that it was about as close to criminal as the Academy gets.
The Actress: Nicole Kidman
The Role/Movie: Suzanne in To Die For (1995)
The Snub: As sexy, manipulative, and playful as she’s ever been, Kidman was passed over for her work in Gus Van Sant’s sleeper hit in what some considered to be an anti-Scientology conspiracy, married as she was to Tom Cruise. Kidman has since received three Oscar nominations and one win, all coming after her divorce from Cruise, which may or may not be a coincidence.
The Actress: Laura Linney
The Role/Movie: Joan in The Squid and The Whale (2005)
The Snub: Noah Baumbach’s semi-autobiographical tale of a family falling apart in 1980s Brooklyn earned the writer-director a nod for Best Original Screenplay, but it was Linney’s performance as the unhappy matriarch that held the whole thing together. As Joan, she put a face on the melancholy and torpor of a kind of woman who gave everything to her family at the cost of her own goals. When Joan first achieves the writing success that has always eluded her husband, Linney’s reaction is incredibly powerful.
The Actress: Courtney Love
The Role/Movie: Althea in The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996)
The Snub: Being directed by the legendary Milos Forman, Love surprised everyone with the depth she brought to the role of Larry Flynt’s doomed wife. When word came out that Forman had found her performance in the editing room, her work was dismissed, but that’s not fair. Truth is, she gave Forman enough moments with which he could work, allowing him to make her look as good as she did. That she has never been as good since shines an even brighter light on her performance.
The Actress: Frances McDormand
The Role/Movie: Jane in Laurel Canyon (2002)
The Snub: McDormand had won a Best Actress Oscar for her role in Fargo a few years earlier, but it could be argued that her subtle work as a struggling music producer in Lisa Cholodenko’s criminally overlooked film is even better. Amidst a fantastic cast of Christian Bale, Kate Beckinsale, Alessandro Nivola and Natasha McElhone, McDormand’s performance, alternately hilarious and devastating, stands out.
The Actress: Debbie Reynolds
The Role/Movie: Beatrice in Mother (1996)
The Snub: In what many consider to be Albert Brooks’ last great film, Reynolds is a whirling dervish of sweet menace. The Hollywood legend discards vanity for comedy as she plays a monstrous woman whose own dreams were crushed decades before she takes it out on her two sons. Reynolds imbued the character with enough heart to keep her sympathetic, and when she and her son (played by Brooks) make their sudden breakthrough at the film’s climax, it’s a triumphant moment for everyone. We don’t want to pick favorites, but if we did, this would be at the top of the list of absolute hose jobs.
The Actress: Ally Sheedy
The Role/Movie: Lucy in High Art (1998)
The Snub: Another of Lisa Cholodenko’s movies features the single best performance of Sheedy’s career. People forget just how astonishing she was as the lesbian photographer exploiting, and being exploited by, a magazine intern played by Radha Mitchell. After a career in which the former Brat Packer had been relegated to B-movies and supporting roles, her star turn was thought by some to be a career resurgence, but that never materialized, and High Art instead serves as her acting pinnacle.
The Actress: Tilda Swinton
The Role/Movie: Eva in We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)
The Snub: Often described as cold, Swinton is not known for the soft touch she brings to her roles, but this is a notable exception. Her performance as a mother struggling to love a son who shows increasing signs of psychopathy is one of the most heartbreaking on this list. Swinton had previously won a Supporting Actress Oscar for her turn in 2007’s Michael Clayton, but this was unlike anything she’d ever done, and her lack of inclusion at the 2012 Oscars stunned many.
The Actress: Audrey Tatou
The Role/Movie: Amélie in Amélie (2001)
The Snub: Jean Pierre Jeunet’s beloved film wouldn’t have worked without Tatou’s performance as one of that, or any year’s, most adorable characters. The movie’s meddlesome title role could have been annoying in the wrong hands, but Tatou brought depth, understanding, romance, and compassion to the part. While the movie was nominated for Best Foreign Film, and was considered the frontrunner to take home the trophy, it was also passed over in favor of the Bosnian war drama No Man’s Land.
The Actress: Naomi Watts
The Role/Movie: Betty/Diane in Mulholland Drive(2002)
The Snub: Watts had only scored small parts in America until she burst onto the scene in David Lynch’s under-appreciated masterpiece. A dark, confusing narrative kept many from seeing it, much less understanding it, but at the center of the story, holding it all together, was Watts. Playing both a naive actress and a jaded has-been, she jumps off the screen like a rocket and announces with authority her arrival in Hollywood.