The Academy Awards continue to be the biggest night for movie celebration since its inception in 1929. The prestigious ceremony celebrates the most outstanding cinema achievements in a given year. Being nominated, let alone winning an Oscar is the highest honor a person can receive in their filmmaking career. In the build-up to award season, speculation surrounding which celebrities will be nominated is always a fun guessing game. While some predictions end up true, there are always a handful of Oscar snubs that have the Internet in shambles.
For an association that recognizes outstanding performances, the Academy continuously overlooks talented actors and actresses who deserve the spotlight. Let’s jump into the five most shocking instances in which performers were denied nominations for the coveted Best Actor/Actress Academy Award.
5. Florence Pugh as Dani, ‘Midsommar’ (2019)
In Ari Aster’s psychological horror film, Midsommar, Florence Pugh remarkably portrays a young woman experiencing grief and personal turmoil. She demonstrates her acting range through nuanced expressions, subtle gestures, and an intense performance. Pugh has shared that she “most definitely abused myself to get that performance.”
Although Pugh received her first Oscar nomination during the 2020 Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, the Academy failed to grant her a Best Lead Actress nomination. If they did so, she would have joined her Black Widow co-star Scarlett Johansson that same year in being nominated for both Best Lead Actress and Best Supporting Actress.
Pugh has only received one Oscar nomination, but considering her career trajectory and talent, another one is most certainly on the way. Hopefully, she will receive the title of “Academy Award-winner Florence Pugh” soon.
4. Pam Grier as Jackie Brown, ‘Jackie Brown’ (1997)
In Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, Pam Grier seamlessly blends vulnerability, intelligence, and resilience as the titular character, portraying a career-defining performance. Grier displays the protagonist’s journey from a seemingly distressed airline stewardess to a fearless and strategic character in her own right. Not only was this role recognized for its exceptional performance, but also for the representation of a powerful Black woman in a leading role.
Despite the film opening doors for more people of color to play bigger parts and celebrating their stories, Grier did not join the all-white nominees for Best Lead Actress at the 70th Academy Awards. It’s unfortunate that Grier’s (arguably) top performance was not recognized, missing out on what could’ve been her first Oscar nomination. The actress has yet to receive any recognition from the Academy.
3. Chadwick Boseman as James Brown in ‘Get on Up’ (2014)
The late Chadwick Boseman played iconic figures before taking on the role of Black Panther. With his remarkable ability to embody the essence of real-life legends, Boseman delivered compelling performances that were multi-layered. His portrayal of musician James Brown in Tate Taylor‘s Get on Up undoubtedly showcased his immense talent. Boseman effectively conveyed Brown’s struggles, emotional turmoil, and personal growth.
Boseman’s charismatic presence and undeniable talent command attention throughout the film. Not only did he master Brown’s mannerisms, but Boseman also captured his vocal style and musical abilities. As if he channeled the legend himself, Boseman flawlessly executed the difficult dance moves and stage performances, bringing the highest level of authenticity to this role.
Despite all of his work in this film, Boseman did not receive any recognition from the Academy. The actor only received a posthumous nomination at the 93rd Oscars for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Unfortunately, a man of his talent did not receive the highest honor as an actor during his life. The extraordinary actor was on a streak of career-breaking roles. The world continues to mourn Boseman’s tragic passing.
2. Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in ‘The Shining’ (1980)
Even if you haven’t seen Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining, you’ve probably seen the scene above, whether as a GIF, meme, parody, or callback. This goes to show how Jack Nicholson‘s portrayal of Jack Torrance in the film is one of the most memorable performances in film history. His body language, facial expressions, and mannerisms conveyed the intensity and instability of his character.
Nicholson flawlessly depicts a descent into madness and demonstrates an impressive emotional range throughout the movie. From affection and love to aggression and malevolence towards his family, Nicholson delivers a complex portrayal of Torrance. It wasn’t only the Oscars that snubbed his performance in The Shining. Not a single association recognized Nicholson for his talent in this specific film. While the actor has received 12 nominations and three wins from the Academy Awards, disregarding his performance in The Shining was a strange decision.
1. Toni Collette as Annie in ‘Hereditary’ (2018)
We’re book-ending our Oscar snubs list with another female lead in an Ari Aster film, Toni Collette in Hereditary. Collette’s portrayal of a mother grappling with grief, trauma, and a supernatural presence is a masterclass in acting. Her ability to convey intense emotions with visceral impact allows the audience to feel her character’s torment and suffering on a deeply personal level.
Collette’s commitment to the subject in this psychological horror film is commendable. She embraces the psychological and physical demands of the role, giving a performance that lingers with the audience after seeing the flick. The actress transitioned seamlessly between moments of vulnerability, despair, and dread by controlling her facial expressions, body language, and line delivery.
Collette has only been nominated once by the Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense. If her performance in that film garnered recognition, there’s no question that her talent in Hereditary should also receive acclaim.
The Oscar Snubs List Grows Every Year
The Academy Awards have a long history of notable Oscar snubs that go beyond this list. Factors like bias, promotional efforts, and politics undoubtedly play a part in these decisions. It serves as a reminder that although an Oscar nomination/win is the highest honor in film, the decision-making process still needs work.
The Academy has taken small steps forward towards representation on the voting panel and in the films they nominate, but this doesn’t excuse the disregard for objectively talented performances. That being said, an actor’s skill level should not just be limited to accolades. Exceptional portrayals will last the test of time in the viewer’s eyes, regardless of award recognition. The impact and legacy of a performance cannot, and should not, be measured by a golden statue.
Which actor and actress do you think deserved to be nominated at the Academy Awards? Share your thoughts on the Agents of Fandom socials, and be sure to keep up-to-date with all of our entertainment coverage.