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25 Brilliant Performances That Lost the Oscar to Lesser Performances

October 24, 2016
4 min read

How many times have we watched in horror as a performance for the ages, one we know will be remembered for all of film history loses the Academy Award to a lesser piece of work. Too many!!

The reasons are often crazy, perhaps the performance hit a nerve in pop culture for a very short time and then faded, but not before winning an Oscar, perhaps the performance lost to an actor who was supposedly due, whatever that means, or they lost to the person of the moment. Whatever the reason it is obscene that great performances lose, and it could happen this year. Natalie Portman gives one of the greatest performance I have ever seen and could lose the Oscar for the simple reason she won a few short years ago and the Academy may think she has been rewarded enough. They have had no issue awarding Sally Field five years apart for Best Actress, or Jodie Foster or Hilary Swank!!

I went back to 1950 and selected twenty five brilliant performances that somehow lost the Oscar to a lesser performance that had been nominated. Understand please, I did not include non-nominated performances, that article is coming. Also I focused this article on the leading actor and leading actress, no other category.

The twenty five performances robbed are:

1950: GLORIA SWANSON in ‘SUNSET BOULEVARD’ loses to Judy Holliday in ‘Born Yesterday’

1951: MARLON BRANDO in ‘A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE’ loses to Humphrey Bogart in ‘The African Queen’

1954: JUDY GARLAND in ‘A STAR IS BORN’ loses to Grace Kelly in ‘The Country Girl’

1961: PAUL NEWMAN in ‘THE HUSTLER’ loses to Maximilian Schell in ‘Judgement at Nuremberg’

1962: KATHARINE HEPBURN in ‘LONG DAYS JOURNEY INTO NIGHT’ loses to Anne Bancroft in ‘The Miracle Worker’

1967: PAUL NEWMAN in ‘COOL HAND LUKE’ loses to Rod Steiger in ‘In the Heat of the Night’

1969: JANE FONDA in ‘THEY SHOOT HORSES DON’T THEY’ loses to Maggie Smith in ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’

1973: MARLON BRANDO in ‘LAST TANGO IN PARIS’ loses to Jack Lemmon in ‘Save the Tiger’

1974: AL PACINO in ‘THE GODFATHER PART II’ loses to Art Carney in ‘Harry and Tonto’

1982: DUSTIN HOFFMAN in ‘TOOTSIE’ loses to Ben Kinglsey in ‘Gandhi’

1985: MERYL STREEP in ‘OUT OF AFRICA’ loses to Geraldine Page in ‘A Trip to Bountiful’

1988: MERYL STREEP in ‘A CRY IN THE DARK’ loses to Jodie Foster in ‘The Accused’

1990: ANJELICA HUSTON in ‘THE GRIFTERS’ loses to Kathy Bates in ‘Misery’

1992: DENZEL WASHINGTON in ‘MALCOM X’ loses to Al Pacino in ‘Scent of a Woman’

1997: ROBERT DUVALL in ‘THE APOSTLE’ loses to Jack Nicholson in ‘As Good As It Gets’

1997: JUDI DENCH in ‘MRS. BROWN’ loses to Helen Hunt in ‘As Good As It Gets’

1998: CATE BLANCHETT in ‘ELIZABETH’ loses to Gwyneth Paltrow in ‘Shakespeare in Love’

1998: EDWARD NORTON in ‘AMERICAN HISTORY X’ loses to Roberto Benigni in ‘Life is Beautiful’

2000: ELLEN BURSTYN in ‘REQUIEM FOR A DREAM’ loses to Julia Roberts in ‘Erin Brockovich’

2000: TOM HANKS in ‘CAST AWAY’ loses to Russell Crowe in ‘Gladiator’

2002: JACK NICHOLSON in ‘ABOUT SCHMIDT’ loses to Adrien Brody in ‘The PIanist’

2005: HEATH LEDGER in ‘BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN’ loses to Phillip Seymour Hoffman in ‘Capote’

2011: GEORGE CLOONEY in ‘THE DESCENDANTS’ loses to Jean Dujardin in ‘The Artist’

2011: VIOLA DAVIS in ‘THE HELP’ loses to Meryl Streep in ‘The Iron Lady’

2013: LEONARDO DI CAPRIO in ‘THE WOLF OF WALL STREET’ loses to Matthew McConaughey in ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

Read More: Every Best Picture Winner Since 2000, Ranked

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