Thursday, February 23, 2012

All-Time Top 10: Actresses Without Oscars

The countdown to Oscar night is on, and while I'm sort of hoping I won't have to add Michelle Williams to this list in the future, I'm also sort of ambivalent about the whole thing.  Will I liveblog?  Yes, I will. Will it likely be exceptionally negative and deprecating?  Probably.  For now, though, let's just talk about these ladies.  What began as two separate lists of Oscar-snubbed actresses has been merged to include talented women past and present.  While some still have a shot at a statuette, we watched the careers of others end long ago.  In no particular order, I present for your consideration ten actresses (+Charlotte Rampling) who deserve(d) the recognition. 

1. Deborah Kerr
Number of Nominations: 6
Stand-Out Roles: The King and I, From Here to Eternity, Black Narcissus, The Innocents, An Affair to Remember, and I kind of love her in Night of the Iguana
What is the What: Kerr received an honorary Oscar in 1994, but never received a statuette for any single, specific performance.  I've long considered her an incredibly versatile actress, one who resisted the pigeon-holing of Hollywood's golden age iconography and who disappeared into her roles whether a tea-sipping gentlewomen or adulterous beach-comber.

2. Judy Garland
Number of Nominations: 2
Stand-Out Roles: Wizard of Oz, A Star is Born, Meet Me in St. Louis
What is the What: Garland received 'Juvenile' recognition for her role as Dorothy but was neglected adult recognition. She burned with a manic energy and seemed to bring her tragic real life to the screen in ways that made her every appearance somehow surprising.

3. Isabelle Huppert
Number of Nominations: 0
Stand-Out Roles: The Piano Teacher, La Ceremonie, Violette, 8 Women
What is the What: She may be French and her roles may be primarily French-speaking (though she was great fun in I Heart Huckabees), which makes her an unlikely Oscar contender, but Huppert is a formidable on-screen presence whose every character seems to demand that we take the time to peel back the layers and analyze what's going on there.  

4. Catherine Deneuve
Number of Nominations: 1
Stand-Out Roles: Repulsion, Belle de Jour, Last Metro, 
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Indochine
What is the What: While Deneuve is certainly more of a European presence, she seems to have been a muse to the whole of the continent. She's a bold beauty, an art house icon, and the sort of import you'd be totally justified in assuming had an Academy Award.

5. Greta Garbo
Number of Nominations: 4
Stand-Out Roles: Ninotchka, Camille, Anna Christie, Queen Christina, Mata Hari
What is the What: Garbo was a gravelly-voiced enigma with the perfect face for silent cinema and the ability to speak volumes with those arched eyebrows.  For all the mystery and drama she brought to the screen, however, she also a sort of preternatural knack for comic timing...

6. Barbara Stanwyck
Number of Nominations: 4
Stand-Out Roles: The Lady Eve, Double Indemnity, The Furies, Stella Dallas
What is the What: When she appeared on screen she dominated not because of some haunted glamour, but because she exuded the same self-assured, gutsy confidence of her characters.  Even when she's playing vulnerable, there's a trace of a bad ass just below the surface. 

7. Liv Ullmann
Number of Nominations: 2
Stand-Out Roles: Persona, Autumn Sonata, Face to Face, Scenes from a Marriage, 
What is the What: Ullmann was, perhaps, Ingmar Bergman's go-to actress of choice, and their match made for a great artistic collaboration.  Where Ullmann may not be suited to larger-than-life roles, she plays small, quiet ones with a sublimely understated grace and an always present depth of feeling.

8. Charlotte Gainsbourg
Number of Nominations: 0
Stand-Out Roles: Antichrist, Melancholia, The Science of Sleep
What is the What: Really, guys, I'm putting her on here because her work with Lars Von Trier has been nothing short of phenomenal.  Even if you're a die hard Von Trier detractor, you can't argue with the wrenching strength of Gainsbourg's performance in Antichrist.  

9. Julianne Moore
Number of Nominations: 4
Stand-Out Roles: Far From Heaven, The Hours, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, 
A Single Man, Safe, The Kids Are All Right
What is the What: It's easy to think of the seemingly quite affable Moore as somehow like her recurring 30 Rock character, but that may qualify as underselling her a little.
 Ok, maybe a lot.

10. Helena Bonham Carter
Number of Nominations: 2
Stand-Out Roles: Fight Club, King's Speech, Sweeney Todd, Howards End, 
Wings of the Dove, A Room with a View
What is the What: A consummate character actor who seems to be in a constant state of on-screen reinvention. She's as poised as the queen mother and as colorful as a cartoon.

Honorable Mentions: 
Charlotte Rampling, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich, Emily Watson, 
Laura Linney, Catherine Keener, Annette Bening, Gloria Swanson, Michelle Williams


  1. Hello?

    Can we please talk about the biggest snub by the Academy ever when Leonardo DiCaprio was not nominated for Titanic?


  2. Well, Kat, we certainly can...when we get to the actors (though it may be phrased more along the lines of 'how did he not win for The Aviator'?).

  3. Also, I just noticed that this lines up right now (as it's the top entry on the page) so that Charlotte Gainsbourg is staring straight at her parents in the sidebar. I LOVE IT.


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