While it’s not exactly the kind of consolation prize the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, Ralph Fiennes, David Oyelowo, Rene Russo, Josh Brolin and Jessica Chastain wanted this morning, they have now entered into a different kind of Oscar history: The long-standing tradition of undeserved acting snubs. It is a club that is just as prestigious — if not more so — than the one made up nominees themselves, even if it comes without any sort of official celebration.
READ MORE: The 10 Biggest Surprises of the 2015 Oscar Nominations
Consider the company: Bette Davis for “Of Human Bondage” or Dennis Hopper for “Blue Velvet” or Judy Garland for “The Wizard of Oz” or Jimmy Stewart for “Vertigo.” Or the following ten folks, who make up our obviously subjective list of the 10 worst acting Oscar snubs of the past 10 years. And we definitely encourage thoughtful use of the comments to offer your own picks for tragic Oscar misses.
Maria Bello (“A History of Violence,” 2005)
It’s true that the 2005 Best Supporting Actress category was pretty stacked with nominees that might very well be on this list if they hadn’t made the cut. Think Michelle Williams in “Brokeback Mountain” or Amy Adams in “Junebug.” But room definitely should have been made for what was in our eyes the best supporting performance of the year: Maria Bello in David Cronenberg’s “A History of Violence.” Bello is precise and sexy and surprising in the complex role of a woman unaware that her husband is a killer. It was enough to get her top honors with the New York Film Critics Circle, but somehow not enough for Oscar voters (a fate that also met Timothy Spall today).
Sacha Baron Cohen (“Borat,” 2006)
It’s absolutely not new news that getting an Oscar nomination for comedy is about as rare as getting one for fishing. And while Robert Downey Jr. and Melissa McCarthy are two recent exceptions to that rule, Sacha Baron Cohen was not when it came to his gloriously hilarious portrait of Mr. Borat Sagdiyev in 2006’s “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” He got a much more substantial consolation prize than most considering he did a screenwriting nomination for the film (not to mention a Golden Globe). If you have a friend who thinks Will Smith’s nominated performance in “The Pursuit of Happyness” was more admirable than Cohen in “Borat,” stop being friends with them.
Julie Delpy (“Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight,” 2004 & 2013)
Like Sacha Baron Cohen, Julie Delpy has the odd distinction of being snubbed for a film she was also nominated for — twice. Delpy received screenwriting nominations for both “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight” alongside collaborators Richard Linklater and Ethan Hawke, but did not get an official stamp of approval from the Academy’s acting branch. Which is just not right given her creation in the “Before” trilogy, Céline, is one of the most complex and interesting portraits of a woman in recent cinematic history. And it wasn’t just because of the writing.
Shareeka Epps (“Half Nelson,” 2006)
Also beating out Sacha Baron Cohen (but in a much more deserved fashion) was Ryan Gosling for his work in Ryan Fleck’s “Half Nelson.” But unfortunately Gosling was that film’s only nomination, leaving out the stunning work his co-star Shareeka Epps offered in her film debut. As the student that forms a friendship with Gosling’s drug-addicted teacher, Epps is half of “Nelson”‘s truly astonishing two-hander. But Oscar voters questionably felt Abigail Breslin was a suitable nominee for “Little Miss Sunshine.” At least Epps did win an Independent Spirit Award for the performance, back when those awards were about more than rewarding folks who are most likely to win Oscars the next night.
Michael Fassbender (“Fish Tank,” 2010)
When Michael Fassbender finally got nominated last year for “12 Years a Slave,” it came after multiple seemingly close calls — “Hunger,” “A Dangerous Method,” “Shame.” But the most shameful Fassbender-related snub in our eyes is for a film that didn’t stand much of a chance when it came to Oscar: Andrea Arnold’s wonderful British indie “Fish Tank.” The story of a teenage girl (Katie Jarvis, who was also award worthy) who has a sexual relationship with her mother’s boyfriend Connor (Fassbender), “Fish Tank” would not have worked if Fassbender hasn’t managed to make Connor — a borderline pedophile — so effortlessly charming and dangerously sexy. That’s no small task, and makes the experience of watching “Fish Tank” an exceptionally disturbing one (much more so than “Shame,” in our opinion).
Ryan Gosling (“Blue Valentine,” 2010)
We noted that Ryan Gosling was the only member of “Half Nelson”‘s remarkable acting dual to get an Oscar nod, but a few years later he was on he opposite end of that situation. His arguably career-best work in Derek Cianfrance’s brutal relationship drama “Blue Valentine” was overlooked, while his co-star Michelle Williams (very deservedly) got in. Which might be easier to swallow if Gosling hadn’t also been snubbed for “Lars and the Real Girl” and “Drive.” It’s about time to make Ryan Gosling more than a one-time Oscar nominee, Academy members.
Sally Hawkins and Lesley Manville (“Happy-Go-Lucky,” 2008; “Another Year,” 2010)
Timothy Spall enters into some very good company this year: He’s among the many wonderful performances in Mike Leigh films to go unrecognized by Oscar voters. While this awful tradition dates back to Jane Horrocks David Thewlis for “Life is Sweet” and “Naked,” respectively, the two standouts from the past decade have to be Sally Hawkins and Lesley Manville, whose performances in “Happy-Go-Lucky” and “Another Year” are both absolutely flawless. At least the Golden Globes were smart enough to give Hawkins a trophy for the film.
Joaquin Phoenix (“Her,” 2013)
Last year’s Best Actor race was so packed that just as many worthy men were left out as there were this year. Oscar Isaac for “Inside Llewyn Davis.” Robert Redford for “All is Lost.” Tom Hanks for “Captain Phillips.” But in our opinion none of them were as tragic was Joaquin Phoenix missing out for Spike Jonze’s “Her.” We know Phoenix has openly said he doesn’t care about this kind of recognition anyway (which is good since he didn’t make the cut again this year for “Inherent Vice”), but he’s just so, so good in “Her.” He (along with Scarlett Johannson) made us somehow buy his character’s relationship with an operating system, even leading us to get a little teary eyed when it was all over.
Tilda Swinton (“Julia,” “I Am Love,” “We Need To Talk About Kevin, 2009-11)
Yes, we know Tilda Swinton already has an Oscar. But it’s getting more and more ridiculous that it’s her only nomination. Today she was collectively snubbed for “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Only Lovers Left Alive” and “Snowpiercer,” which is almost as shameful as the three years she went unnoticed for what she’s termed the “motherlode” trilogy: “Julia,” “I Am Love” and “We Need To Talk About Kevin.” She’s referencing the various depictions of maternal love offered in the three films, but it could definitely also refer to how amazing she is in all three films. I mean, she learned to speak Italian with a Russian accent in “I Am Love.” We’d like to see Meryl Streep top that.