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Oscar Loves a Woman on the Edge: Eight Iconic Best Actress Snubs (CLIPS)

Photo of Ryan Lattanzio By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! February 25, 2014 at 1:40PM

Why does cinema favor the mad woman? It's easy to see why Oscar does: roles like Jasmine French give an actress space to not only chew but swallow and spit up scene after scene. Cate Blanchett will almost certainly win Best Actress this year for her frittered, diabolical performance in "Blue Jasmine" as cinema's archetypical woman-on-the-verge: that pill-popping, martini-swilling mad Medea who men fear and women sometimes dream of (being? playing? escaping into?).
Annette Bening

Who Won: Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry")
Who Should've Won: Annette Bening ("American Beauty")
Who Else Was Nominated: Janet McTeer ("Tumbleweeds"), Julianne Moore ("The End of the Affair"), Meryl Streep ("Music of the Heart")

Annette Bening lost twice to Hilary Swank, first in 2000 and again in 2005, for Best Actress--but where few remember Swank's performance in "Boys Don't Cry," Bening's performance as suburban housewife Carolyn Burnham is unforgettable. She plays it tough and brittle throughout, but her deep-seated desperation and insecurity emerge quietly in a few key scenes -- namely, in the empty living room of the house she can't sell, pulling herself together, a flickering votive in cinematographer Conrad Hall's visual cathedral.

Ellen Burstyn

Who Won: Julia Roberts ("Erin Brockovich")
Who Should've Won: Ellen Burstyn ("Requiem for a Dream")
Who Else Was Nominated: Joan Allen ("The Contender"), Juliette Binoche ("Chocolat"), Laura Linney ("You Can Count On Me")

Julia Roberts dishes up some plucky charm in Steven Soderbergh's whistleblower docudrama "Erin Brockovich" -- the film that got Hollywood to take the seasoned romcom movie star seriously. But no brassy courtroom verbiage compares to Ellen Burstyn's indomitable performance as starry-eyed spinster housewife Sarah Goldfarb. Yes, there's that famous "red dress" monologue where she spills her broken guts to her drug addict son (watch it after the jump), but let's not forget all the manic pill-popping, amphetamine-addled delusion that showcases her fearlessness as an actress -- while at the same time dragging us down to hell.

Amour, still

Who Won: Jennifer Lawrence ("Silver Linings Playbook")
Who Should've Won: Emmanuelle Riva ("Amour")
Who Else Was Nominated: Jessica Chastain ("Zero Dark Thirty"), Quvenzhane Wallis ("Beasts of the Southern Wild"), Naomi Watts ("The Impossible")

We all fell head-over-heels for Jennifer Lawrence as a grungy, all-cards-on-the-table kind of gal in "Silver Linings Playbook" -- but did her win have more to do with Harvey Weinstein's hawking and the Oscar machine than anything else? It's hard to imagine that any female performance in 2012 could have been better than French actress Emmanuelle Riva's startling work in Michael Haneke's suffocating and tense "Amour" as a wife and mother who suffers a stroke and slowly, thereafter, debilitates. The performance lies mostly in silence and body language -- no large feat coming from the star of Alain Resnais' hushed (and doomed) 1959 romance "Hiroshima Mon Amour."

Clips, after the jump.

This article is related to: Awards, Awards Season Roundup, Academy Awards, Blue Jasmine, Cate Blanchett, Features

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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.