Ask any Oscar fanatic about their favorite actors passed up by the Academy you’re likely to hear an earful. Every year ole uncle Oscar does seem to forget a few. It’s perfectly understandable some are left out. The categories do have only five slots after all. But here are the forgotten entries that particularly irk me:


Judy Garland, Wizard of Oz (1939)

Here’s a criminal offense, Judy Garland absent from best actress in one of the most beloved movies of all time. The Wizard of Oz never really earned its love until years later, yet how it escaped voters’ minds is beyond me.

Anthony Perkins, Psycho (1960)

Much of Hitchcock’s film relies on Anthony Perkins’ performance, and Perkins is pitch perfect in the role of the mama’s boy turned cross-dressing murder. Perkins was able to slide into the disturbed character so naturally. It’s a frightening character study, yet has oddly moving moments. Most notably seen in his conversation with Marion (Janet Leigh) in his parlor. A great, if underrated, piece of acting.

Jennifer Garner, Juno (2007)

Gardner’s soft touch in Juno is always what stands out when I revisit the film. Her performance as Vanessa Loring, a desperate wife who yearns for motherhood, is quite moving. Gardner was however unfairly left out of all the awards the film received. The scene in particular that stands out as brilliant is when she feels the kick of Juno’s unborn baby in a mall.

Matt Damon, Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

It’s interesting to note that Matt Damon’s Tom Ripley is more sympathetic than the one Patricia Highsmith’s wrote of in her 1955 novel. And that says a lot for a man who’s a sociopath.  Damon’s very underrated performance has fascinating depth that wasn’t really explored on the page. Damon’s Ripley speaks of a man who’s lonely, and desperate for a human connection. It was Jude Law’s Dickie who got all the praise, but it’s really Damon who caries the film.

Reese Witherspoon, Election (1999)

Although Reese Witherspoon won her Oscar portraying June Cash in Walk the Line, she really should have won it for her scene-stealing role in 1999’s Election. Witherspoon as Tracy Flick, an over achieving high school student who will stop at nothing to win student body president, is nothing sort of brilliant. The role perfectly demonstrates Witherspoon’s quick wit as an actress.

Kate Wisnlet, Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Kate Winslet in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures is one of the most striking film debuts in film history. Her performance is funny, moving, and at times quite chilling. One can’t but keep their eyes off her when she’s on screen. The Academy has a track record of nominating debut performances, but this is one sadly absent from the list. Since Winslet would later be nominated for five Oscars, including one win, this one can probably slide.

Julianne Moore, A Single Man (2009)

Julianne Moore was robbed last year when she failed to appear on the best supporting actress list for A Single Man. As the fading British party girl who was in love with her gay BFF George (Colin Firth) I for one think she should not have only been nominated, but should have won the damn thing. Her scenes with Colin Firth are heartbreaking, and is film acting at its finest.

Johnny Depp, Ed Wood (1994)

Johnny Depp has made a career out of playing social misfits, and his performance in Ed Wood has always been a personal favorite of mine. Depp’s affectionate portrayal of the “worst film-maker of all time” is classic, and one sadly overlooked by the Academy.

Naomi Watts, Mulholland Drive (2001)

Much like the character she plays in the film before Mulholland Drive, Naomi Watts was just another struggling actress trying to follow her dream. It was perfect casting on the part of David Lynch for a role that would launch her career in America. Watt’s performance in the film is a revelation. The role goes into dark places that only would have taken a skilled actress to pull off, but Watts seemed to do it effortlessly.

Julie Harris, East of Eden (1955)

All of East of Eden’s acclaim comes mostly from James Dean and Jo Van Fleet, (who won best supporting actress for the film), but it’s really Julie Harris who is its emotional anchor. Her scenes demonstrate a soothing presence she had as actress, and she deserved an Oscar nomination for the role.

Sigourney Weaver, The Ice Storm (1997)

Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm was pretty much ignored when it had its quite released in late 1997.  Maybe all the press Titanic and The Full Monty were getting bulldozed the film’s critical reception. Sadly the film was overlooked, particularly the brilliant performances. Sigourney Weaver rightly deserved a nomination for her cold turn as a bored suburban housewife.

Nicole Kidman, To Die For (1995)

Although Nicole Kidman won a Golden Globe for 1995’s To Die For, she failed to receive her first Oscar nomination for it. The role was a career maker for Kidman, who was portrayed by the media merely as a trophy wife. This film put her on the radar, and proved that she truly was a great actress.

Mia Farrow, Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

There’s a scene in Rosemary’s Baby that puts shivers down my spine. It’s the scene where Mia Farrow lays eyes on her newly born child. The look on her face is one of being utterly terrified. And the baby is not even shown. Her face tells us all that we need to know. That scene right there should have nominated of her an Oscar.

John Wayne, The Searchers (1956)

Wayne won his Oscar for True Grit in 1969, but he really should have been nominated, if not have won, for his iconic role in John Ford’s The Searchers. John Wayne’s Ethan Edward’s is the one role that stands out in his filmography. What makes this role so important is that it takes the iconic movie star and makes him blatantly racist. One can’t help but morally doubt this man’s motives through the film. Westerns had never quite seen a character like him, and perhaps what Ford was up to was to reflect the social changes America was going through at the time the film was made.