The Worst Acting Snubs in Oscars History

Now that we’ve all had the chance to let last week’s Oscar nominations sink in, the general consensus of complaint (and that’s always what they boil down to) appears to have settled on the acting nominations — specifically, the rather shocking number of brilliant performances that were snubbed outright, against expectations. Tilda Swinton, for example, was presumed a shoo-in; same goes for Albert Brooks and, to a lesser degree, Charlize Theron and Kirsten Dunst. We won’t rehash everyone who got shafted; the point is, it happened, as it seems to every year. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has a long and storied history of shutting out great performances; after the jump, we’ve assembled ten iconic acting turns that we were stunned to discover weren’t even nominated for the Oscar.

Louise Brooks, Pandora’s Box (1929)
OSCAR WINNER: Norma Shearer, The Divorcee
OSCAR NOMINEES: Nancy Carroll, The Devil’s Holiday; Ruth Chatterton, Sarah and Son; Greta Garbo, Anna Christie and Romance; Norma Shearer, Their Own Desire; Gloria Swanson, The Trespasser

The Oscars have always been as much about politics as performance, and the great silent actress Louise “Lulu” Brooks couldn’t have ingratiated herself to the Hollywood Establishment when she left Paramount to travel to Europe and work for G.W. Pabst. But there’s no denying the power of their collaboration: Pandora’s Box is a haunting, thrilling, magnificent piece of work, and Brooks is tremendous in it. The performances that were nominated over hers in the third Academy Awards are mostly forgotten; her nuanced and naturalistic (not to mention achingly sexy) work is still beloved by film fans.