10 Great 2023 Movie Performances Snubbed By The Oscars

5. Willem Dafoe – Poor Things

For a certain moment, especially after “The Florida Project” and “At Eternity’s Gate”, it felt like a moment where finally the industry recognized that Willem Dafoe is one of the greatest actors working today who often didn’t get the recognition he deserve from the AMPAS. He didn’t get a nom for “The Last Temptation of Christ” and even missed for some BP-winning/nominated material like “Mississippi Burning” and “The English Patient” while some of his contemporaries got in for doing much less. The iconic roles like Bobby Peru also didn’t get him the nomination.

However, since then he was snubbed for “The Lighthouse” and this year for “Poor Things”. Mark Ruffalo certainly had a showier and a flashier part and it makes sense that he got in but Dafoe is basically the heart of the movie, his last scene is heartbreaking and just generally ends up being a warm paternal figure for Emma Stone’s Bella.

Despite being covered up in make-up and mask, Dafoe plays the character so naturally, never stepping into the caricature territory. He’s often so great that sometimes it feels like the audiences take him for granted. In the same year, he was incredible in another totally different part in a film called “Inside’. Dafoe has got nominations for the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award but him missing BAFTA shortlist showed that there’s not enough of passion for his performance which is a shame.


4. Penélope Cruz – Ferrari

Michael Mann is back, so it’s surprising that his new film is this much of a non-event despite mostly positive reviews. Yes, it doesn’t have the best sound mixing but the central marriage drama in the film is extremely compelling, the racing sequences are thrilling and it does one hell of a great climax. Then again, it’s the internet world and sometimes you take a shot out of context and mock it to death as “bad CGI” when the scene in the particular context works amazingly well.

That said, even “Ferrari” detractors has to agree on one thing: Penélope Cruz is sensational in this. So much has been said about her facial expression in the scene where she reads something important (and spoilery) in “Parallel Mothers” but here in one particular scene, where she’s in grief and doesn’t say anything is even better. Cruz’s performance is loud and showy but it’s also those silent moments that makes the performance powerful and through the film, you get to witness a complex female character.

Just watch her before the make-love sequence, Cruz’s face speaks louder than words in the film. Since it’s a showy performance that received a nomination at the Screen Actors Guild, it’s just weird that the performance missed in the end. Cruz was out there campaigning even. Pity because it’s not less strong than some of her nominated work. Guess not enough voters gave “Ferrari” a chance, maybe thought It’s yet another “Lamborghini” and not a Michael Mann film, but in the end, it was their loss.


3. “Past Lives” trio (Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, John Magaro)

Celine Song’s bittersweet modern romance “Past Lives” was one of the most acclaimed films of the year and deservedly so. It’s such a heartbreaking, simple story that deals with human emotions and how, even if we’re satisfied with the present, never stop asking “what if?”s in our lives, about our past. It’s intimacy is one of film’s strengths and you need all the right actors to give you that feeling, to make you convince that what you see on the screen is totally honest and real.

Greta Lee is luminous and she gently expresses how her characters finds herself over the years. It’s all very subtle of course, which is the type of performance AMPAS voters tend to ignore and that’s a shame. While most of the attention was focused on Lee in award season, Teo Yoo gave a beautiful performance as well and for a film like this work, you need the right chemistry. In any scene where our two leads were together, even in Skype call or split screen, you could feel their emotional connection.

Another highlight is John Magaro, another sensitive performance who also happens to be much complex which is very welcome here because in another, lesser film he would be pushed to the sidelines. But here he almost came close to stealing the show. It’s hard to decide which performance was better because they completed each other perfectly and they all deserved bigger recognition than they got. Then again, it’s great that the small, quiet film like this got the recognition.


2. “May December” trio (Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Charles Melton)

Speaking of performances completing each other perfectly, one can’t ignore “May December”. Todd Haynes’s masterful direction and handling of tones that goes between drama, black comedy and almost a psychological thriller resulted in one of the most delicious, complex and surprising features of the year. It’s not even just the three lead performances because even the minor roles are so well-cast and well-played but of course, the show belonged to our trio.

Natalie Portman is excellent at playing “performative” women, characters who wear a mask and pretend to be one another. She’s brilliant here and sells some moments that could be tough to sell (like the one in the basement). Julianne Moore brings a lot of complexity to a character who could just be played as a straight villain by a lesser actress. Her manipulative nature is so well-portrayed on screen that sometimes we forget we’re watching an actual child molester.

Charles Melton plays someone who’s almost a child trapped in an adult man’s body. Melton’s performance almost swept the critics but he didn’t gain much traction from televised awards outside of Golden Globes and Critics Choice, because the Academy rarely gives young men a nomination, especially for a film like this. Portman and Moore should’ve been a shoo-in but the film’s satirical way of looking at how shallow actors could get probably didn’t appeal to some voters of the acting branch. The film only got a screenplay nomination.


1. Andrew Scott – All of Us Strangers

It’s kind of bizarre that “All of Us Strangers” didn’t get any nomination in any category at all. What makes it further strange is that at BAFTAs, where the film had more recognition, the lead actor Andrew Scott still got snubbed. It’s a fantastic and poetic film about memory, about the past, about love, about traumas, about so many other things. What’s so special about the film is that it doesn’t explain itself, it trusts the audience enough. The AMPAS famously ignores more arty films but the film has such a strong emotional resonance and so many heartbreaking sequences that it’s hard to understand why it didn’t connect with the voters. Perhaps just a matter of a weak campaign which resulted in fewer voters seeing it.

The entire cast is brilliant and Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, and especially Claire Foy would all be worthy of nominations but Andrew Scott’s rich performance here is what keeps the film together. He’s in almost every sequence of the movie and in each scene, he finds a new way to impress. It’s a kind of performance that would get in with the passion votes in the leading actor category, similar to Willem Dafoe in “At Eternity’s Gate”. He’s already a respected actor with a certain fame, thanks to “Fleabag”, but this film will probably change the way how many see him because he never had a role this soulful, this rich, and this challenging.

It’s not only one of the best performances of the year but might be THE lead male performance of the year. The film is a hauntingly beautiful study of love, loss, and grief and Scott’s performance embodies all those perfectly.