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The Oscar Quest: Best Actresses Who Didn’t Win Best Actress

Another entry into this series — now it’s all the great Best Actress-nominated performances that didn’t win the Oscar.

This is probably the one category of all of them (alongside Best Picture) that holds the best performances. Because, unlike any of the other acting categories, Best Actress, to me, is the most “political.” More like — the actresses that win (especially now) are the actresses they decide they like at that moment. Julia, Reese, Sandra — it’s not always about the performance. So this category more than others is filled with great performances that didn’t win. This is the reason I wanted to do these lists.

Seriously — watch these performances. They’re terrific.

Miriam Hopkins, Becky Sharp (1935)

Carole Lombard, My Man Godfrey (1936)

Irene Dunne, The Awful Truth (1937)

Janet Gaynor, A Star is Born (1937)

Wendy Hiller, Pygmalion (1938)

Norma Shearer, Marie Antoinette (1938)

Greta Garbo, Ninotchka (1939)

Joan Fontaine, Rebecca (1940)

Greer Garson, Blossoms in the Dust (1941)

Teresa Wright, The Pride of the Yankees (1942)

Jean Arthur, The More the Merrier (1943)

Claudette Colbert, Since You Went Away (1944)

Barbara Stanwyck, Double Idemnity (1944)

Ingrid Bergman, The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945)

Gene Tierney, Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

Celia Johnson, Brief Encounter (1945)

Rosalind Russell, Mourning Becomes Electra (1947)

Olivia de Havilland, The Snake Pit (1948)

Irene Dunne, I Remember Mama (1948)

Anne Baxter/Bette Davis, All About Eve (1950)

Gloria Swanson, Sunset Boulevard (1950)

Julie Harris, The Member of the Wedding (1952)

Leslie Caron, Lili (1953)

Deborah Kerr, From Here to Eternity (1953)

Maggie McNamara, The Moon is Blue (1953)

Dorothy Dandridge, Carmen Jones (1954)

Judy Garland, A Star is Born (1954)

Audrey Hepburn, Sabrina (1954)

Jane Wyman, Magnificent Obsession (1954)

Susan Hayward, I’ll Cry Tomorrow (1955)

Carroll Baker, Baby Doll (1956)

Katharine Hepburn, The Rainmaker (1956)

Deborah Kerr, The King and I (1956)

Deborah Kerr, Separate Tables (1958)

Rosalind Russell, Auntie Mame (1958)

Elizabeth Taylor, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)

Audrey Hepburn, The Nun’s Story (1959)

Katharine Hepburn/Elizabeth Taylor, Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)

Deborah Kerr, The Sundowners (1960)

Shirley MacLaine, The Apartment (1960)

Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

Piper Laurie, The Hustler (1961)

Natalie Wood, Splendor in the Grass (1961)

Lee Remick, Days of Wine and Roses (1962)

Leslie Caron, The L-Shaped Room (1963)

Shirley MacLaine, Irma la Douce (1963)

Natalie Wood, Love with the Proper Stranger (1963)

Debbie Reynolds, The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)

Julie Andrews, The Sound of Music (1965)

Samantha Eggar, The Collector (1965)

Elizabeth Hartman, A Patch of Blue (1965)

Ida Kaminska, The Shop on Main Street (1966)

Anne Bancroft, The Graudate (1967)

Faye Dunaway, Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

Audrey Hepburn, Wait Until Dark (1967)

Geneviève Bujold, Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)

Jane Fonda, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969)

Liza Minnelli, The Sterile Cuckoo (1969)

Ali MacGraw, Love Story (1970)

Julie Christie, McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

Janet Suzman, Nicholas and Alexandra (1973)

Ellen Burstyn, The Exorcist (1973)

Faye Dunaway, Chinatown (1974)

Valerie Perrine, Lenny (1974)

Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

Ann-Margret, Tommy (1975)

Talia Shire, Rocky (1976)

Sissy Spacek, Carrie (1976)

Marsha Mason, The Goodbye Girl (1977)

Jill Clayburgh, An Unmarried Woman (1978)

Bette Midler, The Rose (1979)

Goldie Hawn, Private Benjamin (1980)

Mary Tyler Moore, Ordinary People (1980)

Diane Keaton, Reds (1981)

Marsha Mason, Only When I Laugh (1981)

Julie Walters, Educating Rita (1983)

Debra Winger, Terms of Endearment (1983)

Whoopi Goldberg, The Color Purple (1985)

Kathleen Turner, Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)

Sigourney Weaver, Aliens (1986)

Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction (1987)

Holly Hunter, Broadcast News (1987)

Glenn Close, Dangerous Liaisons (1988)

Meryl Streep, A Cry in the Dark (1988)

Anjelica Huston, The Grifters (1990)

Geena Davis/Susan Sarandon, Thelma & Louise (1991)

Laura Dern, Rambling Rose (1991)

Jodie Foster, Nell (1994)

Elisabeth Shue, Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

Brenda Blethyn, Secrets & Lies (1996)

Emily Watson, Breaking the Waves (1996)

Annette Bening, American Beauty (1999)

Ellen Burstyn, Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Julianne Moore, Far From Heaven (2002)

Kate Winslet, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Felicity Huffman, Transamerica (2005)

Julie Christie, Away from Her (2007)

Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married (2008)

Carey Mulligan, An Education (2009)

Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine (2010)

Also check out:

Best Pictures That Didn’t Win Best Picture

Best Directors Who Didn’t Win Best Director

Best Actors Who Didn’t Win Best Actor

Best Supporting Actors Who Didn’t Win Best Supporting Actor

Best Supporting Actresses Who Didn’t Win Best Supporting Actress

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