The 10 Most Unexpected Oscar Nominations That Surprised Everyone
Shocking (in a good way)!
Andrea Riseborough was nominated for an Oscar for her performance in the independent film "To Leslie." Her last-minute campaign worked, winning over AMPAS with a nomination that seemed to come out of thin air.
Like Riseborough, many other actors received unexpected Oscar nominations. Despite not receiving any major nominations from guilds or critic groups, these actors have defied the odds to earn the industry's biggest recognition. While the nominations stunned everyone, most are fondly remembered, if only for their impressive beating of other, better-stated, higher-profile contenders.
1 Lana Turner
Best Actress in 'Peyton Place' (1957)
It's hard to believe that Lana Turner, one of Hollywood's most iconic classic femme fatales, has only been nominated for one Oscar in her entire career. Despite iconic turns in films like "Somewhere I'll Find You" and "The Postman Always Rings Twice," Turner's only Oscar nomination came in 1958 for her role in the 1957 drama " Peyton Place as a suburban widow.
Turner's performance in Peyton Place is good, but her ranking in the leading actress category is questionable. It's also puzzling that she's included in that category, since she doesn't get the attention of other organizations like the Golden Globes or Baftas. at least she received Nominated, but given the strength of her highly regarded filmography, it's odd that it came from such a forgettable film.
2 Marisa Tomei
Best Supporting Actress in 'My Cousin Vinny' (1992)
The supporting actress competition ended shockingly in 1993, when Marisa Tomei won the coveted Statue despite having no previous backing for her. Joan Plowright won a Golden Globe, Miranda Richardson won a BAFTA, and there were no SAGs then. Tomei came into the Oscars without any front-runner nominations, only to pull away from her competition and take the win.
Her victory was so unexpected that it was even questioned in the following years. Malicious and unreasonable rumors claimed host Jack Palance mispronounced the name. The truth, however, is that Tomei's performance was memorable, energetic, scene-stealing, and the top and most inspiring victory in her category. The Oscars should give comedy more rewards, and Tomei's award is the best proof.
3 James Cromwell
Best Supporting Actor in 'Babe' (1995)
George Miller has mastered a variety of genres, including the 1995 family comedy Baby. The film was a far cry from "Oscar bait," but had a stellar performance during awards season, earning seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Visual Effects.
Bebe's most unexpected nomination was Best Supporting Actor nomination for James Cromwell. The veteran actor plays Bebe's owner, Farmer Hoggart. Cromwell missed every major precursor, but 1996's supporting actor race was all over the place, and no actor won a Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA at the same time. Still, Cromwell's inclusion in the Oscar 5 is a pleasant but surprising development.
4 Marcia Gay Harden
Best Supporting Actress in 'Pollock' (2000)
Speaking of all competitions, 2001's Best Supporting Actress has gone down in Oscar history. Kate Hudson won a Golden Globe, Judi Dench won a SAG, Julie Walters won a Bafta and Frances McDormand Frances McDormand won the Critics' Choice Award. No one knows which of them will win at the Oscars, and everyone has a real chance of winning.
Then Marcia Gay Harden won. The actress received no nominations for her work on Pollock. She literally came out of nowhere to get the nomination, and no one thought it meant much given her previous lack of support. Harden's victory was and still is a shocker and remains a hot topic among Oscar lovers. In a 2021 interview, Harden claimed one of her nominees wasn't happy with her win, making her one of the Oscars' most notorious choices.
5 Laura Linney
Best Actress in 'The Savages' (2007)
Laura Linney Receives Third of Her Three Oscar Nominations In recognition of her lead role in the 2007 dark comedy Savage, one of the many hidden gem comedies of the 2000s. Linney's performance was critically acclaimed, but received little attention throughout the season; she wasn't even nominated for a Golden Globe, while her co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman was.
However, it was Linney who was named in the morning nominations. The actress took the place of Angelina Jolie, who became ubiquitous for her stellar performance in the biopic "A Mighty Heart." Unfortunately, The Savages is Linney's last Oscar nomination, but here's hoping she gets another vehicle worthy of her talent soon.
6 Tommy Lee Jones
Best Actor in 'In The Valley Of Elah' (2007)
Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones received his third of four Oscar nominations and his only Best Actor nomination for the 2007 crime drama The Valley of Elah. Jones missed every major precursor on his way to the nomination, and the film itself didn't premiere.
In these instances, Jones bumped into two actors who were vying for fifth place. The first is James McAvoy, who is in the running for best picture nominee "Atonement." The second is Ryan Gosling, hoping for his second Oscar in a row Nominated for her performances in the quirky indie films Russ and Real Girls.
7 Maggie Gyllenhaal
Best Supporting Actress in 'Crazy Heart' (2009)
If life was fair, Maggie Gyllenhaal would win at least one Oscar, as the "Lost Daughter" screenplay-CODA win will haunt the Academy for years to come. However, Gyllenhaal has had an equally impressive acting career, with memorable turns in both "The Secretary" and "Kindergarten Teacher." Still, her only Oscar nomination came in 2010 for her supporting role in Scott Cooper's drama Crazy Heart.
Jeff Bridges won all the major awards for his performance in the film, but Gyllenhaal's work was not recognized at any of the major awards ceremonies. However, AMPAS favored her, earning her a hard-won Best Supporting Actress nomination.
8 Jonah Hill
Best Supporting Actor in 'The Wolf Of Wall Street' (2013)
After earning an Oscar nomination for Moneyball in 2011, Jonah Hill entered the "prestige" era of his career. His next high-profile job was starring opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese's 2013 black comedy The Wolf of Wall Street. Based on true events, the film chronicles the rise and fall of stockbroker Jordan Belfort.
Scorsese, DiCaprio, and the film itself received numerous nominations throughout the season, with DiCaprio winning a Golden Globe. However, Hill is not accredited by Globes, SAG, BAFTA or Critics Choice, Rush's performance as Daniel Brühl would normally score a coveted fifth place in the supporting actor category. Hill ultimately had the last laugh when his name was called on the morning of the Oscar nominations.
9 Michael Shannon
Best Supporting Actor in 'Nocturnal Animals' (2016)
Michael Shannon at the 2017 Academy Awards. The Oscar-nominated actor, who co-stars in Tom Ford's divisive neo-noir "Nocturnal Animals," plays the no-nonsense fictional detective who hunts down Aaron Taylor-Johnson ) as unhinged and violent criminal Ray Marcus.
Throughout the season, Taylor-Johnson received the most attention, even winning a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. His eventual support role is far from a sure thing, but if any actor in Nocturnal Animals has a chance of being nominated, it's him. However, the Academy had other plans and gave Shannon the fifth spot in the category. Both performances are memorable, and it's hard to argue against a still underrated actor like Shannon getting his due.
10 Marina De Tavira
Best Supporting Actress in 'Roma' (2018)
Alfonso Cuarón's semi-biographical masterpiece "Roma" has positioned itself as a leading contender for the 2019 Oscars after it premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Most of the attention, however, has been on Cuarón and the film's heroine, newcomer Yalitza Aparicio. Supporting actress Marina de Tavira was not nominated by the main organization, The fifth spot in that category is usually filled by First Man's Claire Foy.
Alas, de Tavira's surprise appearance in Best Supporting Actress knocked Foy out of the category. Her inclusion is shocking, but Roma's performances throughout the season should be a clear indicator. De Tavira has no chance of winning, but for her, a nomination is a win.