Skip to main content

Top 10 Most Underwhelming Best Actress Oscar Winners



Every year, the eyes of all moviegoers and film fans turn to the Academy Awards, where the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences pick the best five performances by leading actresses and end up awarding one.

Of course, these recognition is according to the criteria of aforementioned members and sometimes we don't agree with their decisions, but that doesn't mean their mistakes are to be forgotten.

In this post you'll find a list of Oscar-winning performances by actress in leading roles that, according to a majority of the public, did not deserve the highest honor in the film industry.

Katherine Hepburn, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967)

Fellow nominees:

Anne Bancroft "The Graduate"
Faye Dunaway "Bonnie & Clyde"
Edith Evans "The Whisperers"
Audrey Hepburn "Wait Until Dark"

"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" is the final film of late Hollywood legend Spencer Tracy, who passed away that same year and it starred, of course, his long time friend Katherine Hepburn who had earned icon status herself. It was due to the mixture of sentimentality on Mr. Tracy's behalf as well as the fact that Mrs. Hepburn hadn't won an Oscar since 1933 that earned her a such achievement only to be proved one year later to be a tired and simplistic performance when she won for her most acclaimed role in "The Lion in Winter".

Should have won:

Faye Dunaway "Bonnie & Clyde"

Halle Berry, "Monster's Ball" (2001)

Fellow nominees:

Judi Dench "Iris"
Nicole Kidman "Moulin Rouge"
Sissy Spacek "In the Bedroom"
Reneé Zellwegger "Bridget Jones's Diary"

In 2001, Halle Berry made history as she became the first African-American to win the Oscar for Best Actress. Despite this historical achievement, the performance is still lacking something, called inconsistent and inauthentic, to this day it's cringe-worthy to even think she beat Nicole Kidman and Sissy Spacek, who delivered more graceful and memorable performances, as well as Naomi Watts for her extraordinary work in "Mulholland Dr.", which wasn't even nominated.

Should have won:

Nicole Kidman "Moulin Rouge"

Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side" (2009)

Fellow nominees:

Helen Mirren "The Last Station"
Carey Mulligan "An Education"
Gabourey Sidibe "Precious"
Meryl Streep "Julie & Julia"

Once again, Academy members awarded a moving performance that, despite of the sentimentality, feels average at best even when the actress had more to deliver in coming years. Sandra Bullock's best performance was in 2013's "Gravity", which earned her a second nom, but was awarded for a cliched, eventually racist and over the top portrayal of a real-life story that works only because Mrs. Bullock grounds the film with her emotion, but it wasn't good enough when compared to the excellence shown by Carey Mulligan and Gabourey Sidibe.

Should have won:

Carey Mulligan "An Education"

Elizabeth Taylor, "Buterfield 8" (1960)

Fellow nominees:

Greer Garson "Sunrise at Campabello"
Deborah Kerr "The Sundowners"
Shirley McLaine "The Apartment"
Melina Mercouri "Never on Sunday"

Right before the 1960 Oscars, Elizabeth Taylor suffered a bout of pneumonia and had to undergo tracheomy, and because the industry had almost lost one of its most talented and iconic stars the Academy decided to award Mrs. Taylor her first Oscar for her overacted performance in this absurd melodrama  that would now be classified as "trash".

Should have won:

Shirley McLaine "The Apartment"

Julia Roberts, "Erin Brokovich" (2000)

Fellow nominees:

Joan Allen "The Contender"
Juliette Binoche "Chocolat"
Ellen Burstyn "Requiem for a Dream"
Laura Linney "You Can Count on Me"

Playing the type of role she has played time and again, Julia Roberts earned the highest honor of her career with one of her most forgettable, shallow, annoying and cliched performances. It is kind of an insult calling "Erin Brokovich" the peak of her career, when her previously nominated roles for "Steel Magnolias" and "Pretty Woman" were greater in depth and grace, or for her nominated work in "August: Osage County" thirteen years later. No matter what angle you see it from, this seems like a joke.

Should have won:

Ellen Burstyn "Requiem for a Dream"

Grace Kelly, "The Country Girl" (1954)

Fellow nominees:

Dorothy Dandrige "Carmen Jones"
Judy Garland "A Star is Born"
Audrey Hepburn "Sabrina"
Jane Wyman "Magnificent Obsession"

Judy Garland became an Oscar favorite when she delivered the performance of a lifetime for "A Star is Born". Grace Kelly, on the other hand, was at her heels with two terrific performances in Hitchcock masterpieces "Dial M for Murder" and "Rear Window"so, of course it was a surprise when neither of those two performances were nominated, and instead Kelly was awarded for this monotonous mess no one even remembers.

Should have won:

Judy Garland "A Star is Born"

Helen Hunt, "As Good As It Gets" (1997)

Fellow nominees:

Helena Bonham Carter "The Wings of the Dove"
Julie Christie "Afterglow"
Judi Dench "Mrs. Brown"
Kate Winslet "Titanic"

Obnoxious. Laughable. Plain. Static. Ridiculous. Those are some words that have been used to describe this performance. In 1997, Helen Hunt was the only American nominee, and since "Titanic" was already going to win Best Picture, maybe it was a good idea to award a domestic player, right? WRONG. Helen Hunt went down in history as the woman who stole Judi Dench's Oscar for her career-defining "Mrs. Brown".

Should have won:

Judi Dench "Mrs. Brown"

Gwyneth Paltrow, "Shakespeare in Love" (1998)

Fellow nominees:

Cate Blanchett "Elizabeth"
Fernanda Montenegro "Central Station"
Meryl Streep "One True Thing"
Emily Watson "Hilary & Jackie"

Looking back at "Shakespeare in Love", very few people will still agree that it was as good as the Academy thought it was back in 1998. The film took 7 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress. There isn't anything "technically" wrong with this performances, as Gwyneth shines more than ever, but still, compared to the fact that Cate Blanchett was a clear front-runner for her groundbreaking work in "Elizabeth" leaves many of us completely shocked. We can't help but agree with Paltrow herself when she admitted to feel undeserving in her acceptance speech.

Should have won:

Cate Blanchett "Elizabeth"

Cher, "Moonstruck" (1987)

Fellow nominees:

Glenn Close "Fatal Attraction"
Holy Hunter "Broadcast News"
Sara Kirkland "Anna"
Meryl Streep "Ironweed"

If you ask anyone who doesn't know Cher won an Oscar back in the day the most likely reaction you'll get is: "WTF?". Believe it or not, Cher was very famous, and in 1987 "Moonstruck" was a critical and box office hit. Now, looking at the film there aren't any moments or scenes that are "Oscar-worthy", but what you find instead is a poor and confusing film without any depth or actual complexity. Cher's performance isn't layered or graceful, but over the top and exaggerated in all possible ways. On top of that, add Glenn Close losing despite having the performance of a lifetime and what you have is one, if not the biggest Oscar mistake of all time.

Should have won:

Glenn Close "Fatal Attraction"

Popular posts from this blog

Movie Review: "Colossal"

Strange, quirky and, yet, in a very original manner, a fine piece of art.

Led by outstanding  performances by Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis, 'Colossal' is a comedy, that not only explores science fiction, but romance, drama and action as well. Wrapping it up with a beautiful ribbon, showing that original filmmaking can still be found in the most unlikely places.
Walking in to 'Colossal' I had high expectations, since I loved the trailer, but the movie didn't only fulfill my expectations, but exceeded them by a huge margin.


The film revolves around Gloria, an unemployed party girl who is forced to leave her life in New York and move back to her hometown after her boyfriend kicks her out. As news about a giant creature destroying Seul, South Korea start to break out, she slowly comes to the realization that she is, in some way, connected to the monster. When events start to get out of control, Gloria must determine why her, seemingly, insignificant existence has …

Screenwriting 101

Screenplays are often defined as the blueprints for a movie, the document that will guide the filmmaking and storytelling processes from beginning to end. Screenwriting is also conceived as one of the most difficult writing tasks in the world, due to its limitations (page count, writing style, tense, etc.), limitations novelists and poets don’t have. This post is the first one, in a series, to bring a wider understanding of what screenwriting is, its purpose and tips on how to write better screenplays. With that said, first things first: What is a screenplay? Wikipedia defines a screenplay as: A written work by screenwriters for a film, video game or television program. These  screenplays can be original works or adaptations from existing pieces of writing. I think this is a great definition of what a screenplay is; like I said before a screenplay is the blueprint for a story, any type of story that is set to become an audiovisual production. It is also a group of different factors, …