10 Great 2023 Movie Performances Snubbed By The Oscars

The “snub” might not be the right word here and it’s probably overused these days but it’s the popular term to describe the buzzy performances that don’t get the nomination in the end. Every year is full of great performances but some just come out at the right time and then generate certain buzz, then get awards attention. Sometimes critics push them, sometimes strong campaigns launched by the studios bring them to attention and in the end, some of those get nominated for the biggest award of the season: the Academy Awards. Each year, some films get underseen or some just don’t appeal to AMPAS members and they end up not getting recognized.

Obviously, there are only five slats in each acting category but these are the performances that you might think were better than some of the nominated ones. We love to watch the films we love getting recognized because we believe this will help similar types of quality projects get greenlit. All mentioned performances are the ones that had an award buzz, some major wins or nominations to a certain degree. Otherwise, yes, we could just put Milo Machado-Graner here.


10. Glenn Howerton – Blackberry

Competed for the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, “Blackberry” was one of the most acclaimed true-story films of the year as critics found the story behind the rise and fall of the world’s first smartphone surprising, engaging, and compelling. The Canadian film was also noted for its sharp writing, humor, and the acting, particularly Glenn Howerton’s performance.

He’s perhaps best known for playing Dennis Reynolds on the well-beloved comedy show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” on FX/FXX, a series he also co-developed. He’s basically a revelation here as Jim Balsillie, a tantrum-prone businessman. His over-the-top performance is devilishly entertaining. This Is a type of performance that makes you both hate and love the character and since the character is constantly angry, it gives lots of great moments for a successful cringe comedy.

By the end of the year, Howerton had received nominations for the Independent Spirit Award, Gotham Award, and some critics groups like some major ones such as Chicago, Las Vegas and Toronto but still lack of nominations for any televised award and strong campaign caused him to not be in any serious Oscar conversation. Still, it’s an unexpected role for him and might bring him more interesting roles in the past.


9. Nicolas Cage – Dream Scenario

It’s only a matter of time for Nicolas Cage to get back into the Oscar glory again and “Dream Scenario” made it one step closer. Cage was one of the most acclaimed actors from early 80s to the mid-90s, then he established himself a major commercial movie star who still works with auteurs. At some point in his career, due to his problems with taxes and the lack of good offers, he started to make low-quality projects back-to-back and out-of-context scenes from his early films, particularly with his outbursts and quirks, have become internet memes.

Cage is now back and taking films that could easily be another meme and turn them into actual serious projects. He didn’t play Dracula like a joke in “Renfield”, he rose above the memes in “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” and here’s once again he’s playing a man whom everyone obsessed with; they all see him in their dreams and they all think they know him but they don’t. Just like those who know Cage by memes don’t know how actually strong his body of work is.

It’s hard for genre films to breakthrough with the Academy but finally Cage was a Golden Globe nominee again, a recognition he didn’t have since “Adaptation”. With projects like “Pig”, it’s obvious that Cage is re-establishing himself and reminding the younger generation once again how great he can be. He’s excellent in the film in a type of character he never portrayed before, once again proving himself as an artist who constantly surprising audiences.


8. Dominic Sessa – The Holdovers

There’s always something so impressive about strong debuts and some of it are clearly evident in Dominic Sessa. He doesn’t feel like he’s new to the game even though he never acted in front of the camera before and something about his looks makes him a perfect fit for what kind of movie “The Holdovers” is. You feel like he’s some young actor from the 70s whom you can see in a Neil Simon adaptation or a film called “Paper Chase”. At the same, he looks distinctive enough to make him stand out even if it was an large ensemble film.

“The Holdovers” feels like a film from that era in so many ways; not just because of the setting and the impressive cinematography but because it avoids any kind of traditional happy ending and instead gives a bittersweet finale to all of its characters with chances to grow further. Sessa plays it all so beautifully and his arc feels so satisfying because of how naturalistic his portrayal feels like and how he handles every part of his character with nuance.

It’s hard for young actors to break through in the awards race, especially for a debut performance unless you have a strong hype (Edward Norton – “Primal Fear”). Sessa didn’t have it, and surprisingly didn’t even get much awards attention but important is he has a bright future ahead of him if he keeps on getting the right roles and delivering performances like this. Being nominated for a BAFTA award for an Oscar-nominated Alexander Payne film will certainly help.


7. Rachel McAdams – Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret

Abby Ryder Fortson would be a deserved nominee as well or Kathy Bates in the supporting role but the critics have pushed Rachel McAdams in the acting categories for to represent “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret”. It’s abysmal that this beautiful film which so beautifully and candidly portrays adolescence and the confusion over religion and sexuality at that age for girls were ignored. There are several reasons behind it; the film was released too early and as Roger Ebert complained once, the Academy voters usually ignore what didn’t come out in the fall.

Another reason is it was unfortunately a box office flop and the studio didn’t bother with campaigning. Seemingly Rachel McAdams is also no fan of campaigning for awards, because she’s been nominated for many critics’ prizes but she didn’t seem to care to capitalize on it to get another Oscar nomination. She’s obviously respected enough to get nominated once but “Spotlight” was a BP-nominee that were widely seen by most voters.

This would be a well-deserved nomination as well because she’s so good in the film, so naturalistic, and in one particular monologue, she’s heartbreaking. McAdams had been a naturalistic presence in movies for so long and also happen to carry films like a movie star. She’s not prolific but always choose great projects, so perhaps, one day she’ll get another nomination anyway and maybe even win? Who knows? Then again, she should’ve been nominated for “Disobedience”.


6. Koji Yakusho – Perfect Days

Venice actor winners have more of a chance to happen at the Oscars these days because Venice has now become part of the award season, it’s in the fall overall! In the last yean years only Antonio Banderas and Bruce Dern happened at the Oscars as well. One would wish their magic happen for Koji Yakusho’s incredibly beautiful performance in Wim Wenders comeback film “Perfect Days” but things didn’t work out for him unfortunately. It’s hard for a performance like this to crack a line-up anyway.

It’s probably not the best comparison but it makes sense to compare in some ways: Adam Driver had a similar type of subtle role in a film about everyday life in “Paterson” and he didn’t get much traction. It’s even harder for a non-American in a foreign-language film but Yakusho’s performance is outstanding. He brings so much kindness and warmness to the part and for a character doesn’t have many dialogues, it’s up to his facial expressions and general nuances to show us the inner world of his character.

Not every actor is great with close-ups, it makes them too self-aware sometimes, they panic but not Yakusho; he’s more than up to the task and handle the challenge of making quiet performance engaging exceptionally well. Koji Yakusho got some mentions from critics; such as from Toronto and Seattle but it didn’t pan out.