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The 15 Greatest Movie Performances That Didn’t Receive Oscar Nominations (2010-2014)

18 November 2014 | Features, Other Lists | by Matthew Stanley

oscar snubbed performances

We love movies and all those talented folks who help create the wonderful worlds we can momentarily inhabit. So naturally film audiences love award shows devoted to honoring the best of the best.

How many times have audiences tuned in to check out the academy award nominations being announced only to come away feeling someone had been sorely omitted from the list of nominations that have been announced? Robbed would be the popular term that is often used when describing it.

People talk about it every year. How this person wasn’t nominated for this or that. Again and again it is brought up and discussed after the nominees are announced. The main categories that seem to garner the most complaints are for acting. There is always someone left out in every category, but, acting seems to be the one that everyone comments on the most.

Film goers love a real competition between actors and films. Cinephiles can enjoy debating which of their favorite actors deserved to be nominated, win, and who was severely overlooked. There are countless websites, blogs, and forums dedicated solely to just complaining about how the academy got it so wrong again. So here we go with 2010-2014.


15. Javier Bardem in Skyfall


When the producers introduced a new James Bond almost ten years ago we were given a brand new relativized James Bond. And “Skyfall” was probably the best true Bond film in years if you go by word of mouth. The film captured the old school feel of a film like “Goldfinger” or “A Spy Who Loved Me”. All the trappings of a classic Bond film are present here, gadgets, quips, henchman, Q, Moneypenny, and a villain that oozes villainy right from the start.

Bardem’s Silva is manically calculated sadist who wants nothing more than to see MI6 burn to the ground, along with M herself. Many Bond fans have called Silva “the Joker” of the Bond franchise. Clearly the filmmakers wanted to introduce a character that could math Bond. Javier Bardem relishes the opportunity to play up each scene he is in with glee.


14. Richard Gere in Arbitrage

Richard Gere in Arbitrage

Richard Gere is an actor who can exude cockiness like behavior so well. Few actors can do this with such ease. Here he is given the opportunity to play one of the more challenging roles of his career. It is such a fantastic portrayal of a narcissist that it is absolutely astounding that he was not nominated.

Gere plays a man who has everything it seems in the way of money, the perfect business, friends, and wife. So it is only natural that he adheres to the tradition of rich men having a mistress whom he really loves and wants to leave his wife for. But one fateful night will change his life and those closest to him forever.


13. Sam Shepard in Blackthorn

Sam Shepard in Blackthorn

Sam Shepard is probably one of America’s best kept secrets when it comes to what he has delivered as an artist. Not only is he an accomplished playwright, but he is also an actor who comes across in every role as someone whom is simply being and not acting. He encompasses that southern Tennessee Williams like quality in his performances. A man from another time and place who has been dropped into our time.

This is wildly on the display in the criminally under seen film, “Blackthorn”. Here he plays Butch Cassidy living in the mountains of South America as James Blackthorne. He has surprisingly having survived the Bolivian army thought to have killed him and the Sundance kid. A letter from a former lover soon comes and informs him of a son he never knew of. What comes next is man willing to risk death in order to see his son before time finally catches up with him.

The performance is subdued and filled with pain and angst. Not only that, but this film just happens to be a great western on top of all that.


12. Julianne Moore in Don Jon

Julianne Moore in Don Jon

“Don Jon” is the debut film of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s hopefully long career as a director as well as an actor. For a first film it boasts many fine elements. And although film itself is lacking in certain areas it does boast some terrific performances from its actors.

With Mrs. Moore being the standout as a woman overcome by grief over the death of her husband and child. She is filling the empty void in her life with empty sex. Knowing that people are out there who actually experienced this in their life really adds another element to her performance.

And while Joseph Gordon Levitt may be the star of this film, all eyes are own Moore in every scene she is in. She inhabits a woman uncomfortable in her own skin who is dealing with her grief in the only way she knows how, by fucking the pain away. One of the best scenes involves her telling Levitt’s character what happened to her that lead to her becoming a person who feels nothing and deals in empty sexual acts like it is a simple shaking of the hands.


11. Kate Winslet in Labor Day

Kate Winslet in Labor Day

Critics lambasted Jason Reitman’s film, “Labor Day”, but, gave Winslet some of the best reviews of her career. Kate Winslet gives one of her best performances to date as a single mother who has been completely destroyed by her husband’s leaving her some years prior.

Leaving her young son to basically raise her and himself. Soon an escape convict, played by a brooding, but kindly Josh Brolin enters their lives. The two people damaged by their pasts embark on a love affair that is formulaic in its concept, but, beautiful in its execution.

What carries this is the chemistry between Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet. With Kate Winslet being the standout. She embodies a person who is depressed, confused, and filled with sadness. Only to be suddenly given hope of a future love in the most unlikely of lovers in Josh Brolin. What exists here onscreen is an honest portrayal of love and sadness.


10. Christopher Walken in Seven Psychopaths

Christopher Walken in Seven Psychopaths

Christopher Walken is a fan favorite of sorts. Known for playing strange and odd characters throughout his career. Delivering his lines with no sense of punctuation, however, with intense purpose. Many have felt that he has spent a career giving performances that are worthy of award consideration.

In Martin McDonagh’s, “Seven Psychopaths”, Christopher Walken plays Hans, one of the aforementioned psychopaths. It is a weirdly poetic and loving performance of a man who is witnessing the love of his life slip away and is contemplating his own mortality.

In a film full of great turns by all involved, it is ultimately Walken who comes away giving an honest portrayal of a psychopath. Christopher Walken inhabits crazy, sad, confused, and whacky better than most and he is at his Walken best here. In recent years most could make an argument that he has played mostly crazy characters because of past roles influencing his casting. And while that may be the case here as well, the viewer cannot help but get lost in those crazy eyes of Walken’s.

The scene that really earns his place here comes late in the film while visiting his wife in the hospital. It is a spoiler for those whom have not seen it. On display here, is probably some of his calmest most calculated acting.


9. Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained

django unchained (2012)

DiCaprio has spent a career being nominated only to see that he loses time and time again. And with each new role he brings something new. This is the kid that many joked about being just a pretty boy with no talent and he is now one of the premiere actors in Hollywood.

DiCaprio has made a living on playing likable do well sorts, a con man, a shut in billionaire philanthropist, a mental patient, and countless other fantastic roles. Here he plays Calvin Candie owner and operator of the largest slave plantation in the South right before the start of the Civil War. He owns the aforementioned title character’s wife and he is one sadistic SOB.

DiCaprio shows great range here as the manically obsessive slave owner who relishes the use of his male slaves in Mandingo fighting. Maybe it was the character’s obvious flaws or the sadistic nature of the performance but something clearly turned off academy voters. There is a scene involving a skull of a former slave that is so chilling that it in itself should have garnered the nomination.



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  • John Davidsson

    Mads Mikkelsen for The hunt, Choi-min Sik for Oldboy, Jim Carrey for Man on the moon & Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, Naomi Watts for Mulholland drive, Andy Serkis for LOTR & King Kong, Rutger Hauer for Blade runner and so on…

    • RockyJohan


  • John Davidsson

    Uma Thurman for Kill Bill & Nymphomaniac

    • RockyJohan

      Kill Bill was in 2003/4

  • Aimad Beddouza

    Leo DiCaprio for Inception

    • Ricardo Correia

      One of the most ridicolous comments in have ever read in this site

  • Ted Wolf

    some great calls. Charlize I can see because the character was so unlikeable and the academy doesn’t usually grant nods for that. Albert Brooks was unforgivable for me.

  • RockyJohan

    matthew mcconaughey for Mud
    (You got Take Shelter in there so there is really no excuse) 😉

  • Javier Cornejo Subiabre

    Absolutley agree with Fassbender in Shame. I would add Joaquin Phoenix’s “Two lovers” and Hugh Jackman’s “The Fountain” performances. And of course Vigo Mortensen in “The Road”.

    • Brian Lussier

      All the films you named came before 2010. The list says 2010-2014.

  • Writerman

    When younger, I thought the Academy Awards were so very important. Then, as I grew older and learned how the awards really work, I’ve learned to take them with a grain of salt. It’s not always about artistic merit. The campaigning and politics are disgusting. In addition, not all members see the nominated films. Pretty sad, right?

    Bottom line: Great work is great work. The lack of gold-plated statues does not negate this. Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, and Stanley Kubrick are still two of the best directors ever to make a film. Just because they never won competitive Oscars does not mean Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole are lacking as actors. Ditto the stunning Glenn Close.

    Many of the performances in the above list are great ones. Save for DiCaprio. Chewing scenery is not equatable to great acting.

    • You are so correct. One thing that does irk me a bit however, was DiCaprio in WOLF OF WALL STREET. I felt like it was an extreme example of “scenery-chewing” and poor DiCaprio should have WON for his first nomination in WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE. I think the politics that year said: “He is a genius & so young his day will come!” Yet it never has, and DiCaprio should have been recognized for DJANGO UNCHAINED! Talk about master craft! He became the epitome of the villain you love to hate…

    • John W. Thackery

      Orson Wells and Kubrick won competitive Oscars, just not for directing.

  • MarionCotillard

    Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone

  • Ghasem Najjary

    That’s it. 100% agreed.

  • Pavan Kumar

    Christian Bale for American Psycho

    • John W. Thackery

      Read the title, 2010-2014

  • Brian Lussier

    If you were going to put Scarlett Johansson for her vocal performance in Her, it is shameful of you to have NOT put Andy Sarkis as Gollum in either LOTR or The Hobbit!!! You should be ashamed of yourself for neglecting him!

    • Brian Lussier

      LOTR was pre-2010. You’re right about The Hobbit, I guess, but the Academy had already seen Gollum before, so they weren’t as impressed as in 2002.

    • Dimitrije Stojanovic

      Scarlett should be mentioned for Under the Skin, great role in great movie.

  • Brian Lussier

    I can think of dozens of performances that weren’t nominated that were better than at least half of these. And BTW, Calvin Candie does not operate the biggest plantation in the South in Django Unchained, he operates the third biggest plantation in Mississippi. Do your research!

  • Scheme Gene

    Her is in every single list… This one twice..

  • Michel Muñoz

    No Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler?!

    • jann1k

      Agreed. Should actually be the #1 spot.

    • Ricardo Correia

      He is good, but not fantastic, not even close

  • Wolfgang

    Naomi Watts for Mulholland Dr. – just one of the best performances of all time.

    • John W. Thackery


      • Wolfgang

        Oh, sorry… my mistake

      • Wolfgang

        Oh, my mistake…

  • shomik chakraborty

    taste of cinema is obsessed with Her , almost every list has Her in it . Very annoying , especially because it doesn’t deserve this much accolade .

    • Cassandra Atticum

      I didn’t like it and was confused as to why the critics seemed to love it.

    • Jake

      Thank you for calling BS on ToC for shoving Her into every list they can. It’s a cute movie, but it’s too schmaltzy and as much as I respect Scar-Jo and Phoenix, they’ve done much better work. Also, the Screenplay Oscar for Her was undeserved.

  • Juan Prada Goyeneche

    What about Ralph Fiennes for The Grand Budapest Hotel? That was a serious nomination snub.

  • Eric Newman

    Fassbender puts in one of the best performances I have ever seen, also Jake Gyllenhaal for prisoners

  • Adel Narimani

    Add Jake Gyllenhaal for prisoners, nightcrawler, enemy, end of watch.
    and Mads Mikkelsen for The Hunt. also shahab hosseini for A seperation, Tom hardy for Locke/The drop, Jesse Eisenberg for The double , Amy adams for Big Eyes , Russel Crowe for Noah, Berenice bejo for The past, Tom hanks for Cloud Atlas , Dicaprio for shatter Island and it’s just acting category!

    • Really my friend? With no insult to you, NOAH was a shame of a movie with Crowe’ s cardboard acting only being one of its many problems. No disrespect to Crowe either…he’s one of our generation’s best…

      • Adel Narimani

        Noah is spectacular movie. The kind that you either love it or hate it. few movies in recent history can be that radical.

        • Doby Gillis

          Noah was a piece of shit, Period. End of story.

  • Thank you for Leonardo DiCaprio for DJANGO! Disagree with a voice being worth a nomination still. And I’d have to include Emma Thompson, SAVING MR. BANKS; Eddie Redmayne, LES MISERABLÉS; Ryan Gosling, BLUE VALENTINE; Ewan McGregor, THE IMPOSSIBLE. For good measure, let’s just give Oscars away to DiCaprio (shoulda won for GILBERT GRAPE), Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Edward Norton, and Tom Cruise (yep…I said it). Let’s give them all trophies because they have nailed it & never won.

    • Ricardo Correia

      Terrible comment

  • Stephen Royce Mills

    Joaquin P in The Master

    • John W. Thackery

      He was nominated for that performance.

      • Stephen Royce Mills

        Oops! I stand corrected. Thanks

  • John W. Thackery

    Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler, Ralph Fiennes for The Grand Budapest Hotel and David Oyelewo for Selma??

  • Abhishek Joarder

    where is the name of Jake Gyllenhaal in “Nightcrawler”?there is no reason to exclude this performance!

  • Soumya Dham

    Idril Elba for everything m/

  • Patrick Hill

    Pretty much every role Brad Pitt has taken is Oscar worthy but not winning for “12 Monkeys”, with almost no nominations in a career filled with Oscar worthy performances, were can one start really?

  • SergioRosetti

    John Hawkes “The Sessions”

  • BK207

    Chris Evans in Snowpiercer? or better Song Kang Ho, Tilda Swilton?
    Daniel Bruhl in Rush? or Chris Hemsworth?
    Tom Hardy/ Joe Edgerton/ Nick Nolte in Warrior?
    BTW people they dont nominate actors(in the main category*) that work in non-americans productions…

  • warrenzoell

    Hey look! a movie list without that movie “Her”in it. Oops! My mistake, there it is.

  • sikele

    Top list. Maybe Fassbender should be higher, i like also Carey Mulligan in Never Let Me Go

  • Abhishek

    If you are considering Jackman for Prisoners, you ought to consider Jake as well for that movie. And where on earth is Jake for Nightcrawler which was as worthy as it could be.

    • Ricardo Correia

      Pitt? For the love of god, he is atrocious, that isn’t acting

  • Matthew T Looper

    Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewn Davis should have at least been nominated.

  • jann1k

    Not including Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler is a mayor gaffe, seriously. Probably one of the biggest Oscar snubs of all time.- all from 2010 to 2014.

    Some others that came to my mind:
    Robert Redford – All Is Lost (almost as big as Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler)
    Tilda Swinton – We Need to talk about Kevin
    Scott Haze – Child of God
    Albert Brooks – Drive
    Ralph Fiennes – Grand Budapest Hotel
    Essie Davis – The Babadook
    Ewan McGregor – The Ghostwriter
    Macon Blair – Blue Ruin
    Ben Mendelsohn – Animal Kingdom
    Olivia Colman – Tyrannosaur
    Michael Fassbender – Shame, Frank
    Jake Gyllenhaal – Enemy, Prisoners, End of Watch
    Domnhall Gleeson & Rachel McAdams – About Time
    Jack O’Connell – Starred Up
    Jesse Eisenberg – The Double (was actually kinda impressive and unexpected)
    Basically the whole cast of Carnage.

  • jovan

    Daniel Brühl Rush 2013

  • bourgeoisie scum

    John Goodman for The Big Lebowski

  • Ted Wolf

    Michael Shannon is a treasure. His performance in nocturnal animals was incredible (and of course take shelter, midnight special…)

  • Ricardo Correia

    There are many performances more deserving of being in the list, you have choosen some really poor ones in fact, and why the fuck there are only american films right here?
    Just to mention two: Ryan Gosling (Blue Valentine) and Theódór Júlíusson (Volcano)