Sins of Omission: 13 Past Performances The Academy Should Have Nominated

They have a right to be pissed.

It’s the most important morning of the year. Hollywood is temporarily jolted from its stupor for a ten-minute rollercoaster of natural highs and shattered dreams. Nothing but … shattered dreams.

It’s those shattered dreams that immediately become the focus after the Oscar nominations are announced. With only five slots per category, deserving actors are excluded, and that’s when the fun begins, as the discussion about the “snubs” commences.

That was especially true this year, as a flurry of serious contenders were nowhere to be found. Charlize Theron, Tilda Swinton, Leonardo Dicaprio, and Albert Brooks were the names most bandied about, along with Andy Serkis (and they should really either nominate him, or give him a special Oscar for his unique contributions to film.)

Of course, Oscar has a history of overlooking interesting and memorable performances. Let’s take a look at a few notable Oscar omissions. Some of them may be obvious, some may be obscure, and some may be … controversial, but they all deserved that early morning wake-up call. And because an entry has to warrant an exit, we’ll kick out one of the real nominees!


Joan Cusack in Addams Family Values

The 1993 nominees for Best Supporting Actress were:

Winona Ryder in The Age Of Innocence
Anna Paquin in The Piano (winner)
Holly Hunter in The Firm
Rosie Perez in Fearless
Emma Thompson in In The Name Of The Father

Addams Family Values was vastly superior to the original film, thanks primarily to the inspired comic performance of the faboo Joan Cusack (well, and the Thanksgiving pageant, of course). Her climactic speech has been used in acting auditions and can be recited verbatim by gay boys around the world at a moment’s notice:

My parents, Sharon and Dave. Generous, doting, or were they? All I ever wanted was a Ballerina Barbie. In her pretty pink tutu. My Birthday. I was 10, and do you know what they got me? Malibu Barbie. That’s not what I wanted! That’s not who I was. I was a Ballerina, graceful, delicate! They had to go.

With Joan in, which real nominee should get the boot? Well, Holly won Lead Actress for The Piano, so her eccentric secretary can be replaced.


Cher in Mask

The 1995 nominees for Best Actress were:

Geraldine Page in The Trip To Bountiful (winner)
Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple
Meryl Streep in Out Of Africa
Anne Bancroft in Agnes Of God
Jessica Lange in Sweet Dreams

Cher had finally proven her acting chops in Silkwood, so it was a surprise she didn’t get a nod for playing Rusty Dennis, who raised her disfigured son with help from Sam Elliott and the friendliest biker gang in film history. Cher was warm, tough, and real, and even though she didn’t receive her well-deserved nom, she did receive her Academy booklet on how to dress like a serious actress.

With Cher in, which real nominee should get the boot? Anne and her shrill nun.


Rupert Everett in My Best Friend’s Wedding

The 1997 nominees for Best Supporting Actor were:

Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting (winner)
Burt Reynolds in Boogie Nights
Robert Forster in Jackie Brown
Anthony Hopkins in Amistad
Greg Kinnear in As Good As It Gets

Before he became Your Cranky Gay Uncle, Rupert stole this entire film away from Julia’s soul-crushing cackle. Funny and charming, he gave an instant star-making performance that inexplicably was ignored by the Academy.

With Rupert in, which real nominee should get the boot? Either Greg Kinnear for the cloying Simon, or Mutton Chops.


Karen Black in Come Back To The Five And Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

The 1982 nominees for Best Supporting Actress were:

Jessica Lange in Tootsie (winner)
Lesley Ann Warren in Victor Victoria
Teri Garr in Tootsie
Kim Stanley in Frances
Glenn Close in The World According To Garp

1982’s Come Back To The Five and Dime garnered a cult following in the 80’s because of its incredible cast, the melodrama, and because the three main characters were the obvious model for the popular The Golden Girls. Cher’s Sissy was the over-sexed Blanche, Sandy DennisMona was the naive-unto brain damaged Rose, and Karen Black’s Joanne was, of course, transsexual Dorothy.

Okay, maybe I’m reaching with the Golden Girls comparison, but Karen Black did play what for many of us was our first experience with a transsexual character. Of all the actresses, she had the trickiest role, and played it without going over-the-top. Well, without going too over-the-top. She is Karen Black, after all.

With Karen in, which real nominee should get the boot? This is a tough one, but Kim Stanley’s harridan mother has been done before.


Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby

The 1968 nominees for Best Actress were:

Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl (winner)
Katherine Hepburn in The Lion In Winter (winner)
Vanessa Redgrave in Isadora
Joanne Woodward in Rachel Rachel
Patricia Neal in The Subject Was Roses

How did this happen? Mia Farrow masterfully played Rosemary with a combination of vulnerability and bewilderment, and her performance still holds up 40 years later.

Not to mention that she single-handedly brought the pixie cut back, and I make it a point to try to work, “What have you done to him? What have you done to his eyes, you maniacs!” into casual conversation at least once a week.

With Mia in, which real nominee should get the boot? I’ll have to go with Patricia. Why? It’s the only nomination I haven’t seen.

John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig And The Angry Itch

The 2001 nominees for Best Actor were:

Denzel Washington in Training Day (winner)
Sean Penn in I Am Sam
Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind
Will Smith in Ali
Tom Wilkinson in In The Bedroom

Say what you will about The Golden Globes, but they do occasionally go off the beaten nomination track. That was true in 2001 when John Cameron Mitchell received a nod for Best Actor, making the overall stodginess of the Academy all the more glaring.

Ten years after we first saw JCM don the wig in a box, his performance is still just as vibrant as ever.

With JCM in, which real nominee should get the boot? Sean Penn. Why? See Tropic Thunder.


Kathy Bates in Dolores Claiborne

The 1995 nominees for Best Actress were:

Susan Sarandon in Dead Man Walking (winner)
Sharon Stone in Casino
Emma Thompson in Sense & Sensibility
Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas
Meryl Streep in The Bridges Of Madison County

“Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold onto.”

This Kathy Bates performance was every bit the equal of her Oscar-winning turn in Misery, and may even surpass it. The fact that the movie came out in March of 95 probably doomed her chances, as well as the “Oh, another Stephen King character” mindset.

With Kathy in, which real nominee should get the boot? Sorry Sharon, but you can still come and look fabulous on the red carpet.


Jenette Goldstein in Aliens

The 1986 nominees for Best Supporting Actress were:

Dianne Wiest in Hannah And her Sisters (winner)
Tess Harper in Crimes Of The Heart
Piper Laurie in Children Of A Lesser God
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in Color Of Money
Maggie Smith in A Room With A View

How did Jenette (who is not Hispanic) get the now iconic role of Pvt. Vazquez? James Cameron was in a hurry to cast, and he needed an athletic American actress with a British Equity card. Contact lenses and makeup took care of the appearance, but it was Jenette who brought the fire and ferocity, and rivaled Ripley for sheer badassitude.

With Jenette in, which real nominee should get the boot? Piper’s role in Children Of A Lesser God was brief, and can be placed aside.

Grace Jones in Conan The Destroyer

The 1984 nominees for Best Supporting Actress were:

Christine Lahti in Swing Shift Glenn Close in The Natural
Lindsay Crouse in Places In The Heart
Peggy Ashcroft
in A Passage To India (winner)
Geraldine Page in The Pope Of Greenwich Village

Speaking of female badasses, it’s not difficult to out-act the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Wilt Chamberlain, but Grace’s sheer physical presence managed to dwarf her co-stars. She elevated this great guilty pleasure into a slightly less-guilty pleasure.

With Grace in, which real nominee should get the boot? She would win the following year, so let’s replace Geraldine .


Janeane Garofalo in Romy And Michelle’s High School Reunion

The 1997 nominees for Best Supporting Actress were:

Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential (winner)
Joan Cusack
in In & Out
Minnie Driver in Good Will Hunting
Julianne Moore
in Boogie Nights
Gloria Stuart in Titanic

If ever a role was tailor-made, Janeane’s Heather Mooney was it. Her natural snark was custom fit for this role, and she made the most of it. And she gave us another quote I try to use as often as possible.

“You, with your long hair and your long legs. Walking on your legs and flipping your hair.”

With Janeane in, which real nominee should get the boot? Either Gloria or Is It A Dwarf.


Susan Tyrrell in Night Warning

The 1983 nominees for Best Actress were:

Shirley MacLaine in Terms Of Endearment (winner)
Jane Alexander
in Testament
Meryl Streep in Silkwood
Julie Walters
in Educating Rita
Debra Winger in Terms Of Endearment

The faboo Susan Tyrrell has had a long and eccentric career in Hollywood, including an Oscar nod for Fat City, the den mother to a group of hookers in the 80’s classic Angel and its sequel, and Romana Rickettes in Cry Baby. But it was her fantastically insane performance in Night Warning that is the highpoint.

Raising her nephew (Jimmy McNichol) after his parents die in hilariously gory fashion (his dad never saw that log coming), she becomes unhinged when he decides to leave for college, and that’s where the splatter starts. Actually, there’s a lot more to Night Warning than the typical 80’s slasher film. It includes a homophobic cop, a gay gym coach, a young Bill Paxton, a topless Julia Duffy, and towering above it all is Susan’s go-for-broke performance.

With Susan in, which real nominee should get the boot? Tough choice, but I have to go with Julie.

Faye Dunaway in Mommie Dearest

The 1981 nominees for Best Actress were:

Katherine Hepburn in On Golden Pond (winner)
Diane Keaton in Reds
Marsha Mason in Only When I Laugh
Susan Sarandon
in Atlantic City
Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant’s Woman

Yeah, that’s right. I’m going there.

And why shouldn’t I? Faye’s performance as Joan Crawford put The Razzies on the map, but if you go back and take a look at how it was originally received, you’ll see something entirely different. Faye came in 2nd place for best performance of the year from both The National Society Of Film Critics, and the New York Film Critics Circle, and even Roger Ebert called her “stunningly suggestive and convincing.”

The Razzie honor and inclusion in the Camp Hall Of Fame can’t obscure that Faye kicks all kinds of ass.

With Faye in, which real nominee should get the boot? The Loons! The Loons!


Margaret Hamilton in The Wizard Of Oz

The 1939 nominees for Best Supporting Actress were:

Hattie McDaniel in Gone With The Wind (winner)
Olivia De Havilland in Gone With The Wind
Geraldine Fitzgerald
in Wuthering Heights
Edna May Oliver in Drums Along The Mohawk
Maria Ouspenskaya in Love Affair

Of all these choices, this is the most obvious, and egregious omission.

With Margaret in, which real nominee should get the boot? Edna. She looks the meanest.

Okay, your turn! What are your favorite Oscar omissions?

80's Pop Culture Expert, Shooting At The Walls Of Heartache.