Lost But Not Forgotten: Oscar Nominees for Best Supporting Actress

With the 90th Academy Awards coming up in less than a month, I wanted to commemorate the milestone in film history with a look back at some of my favorite nominees that unfortunately never took home an Oscar, whether they received multiple nominations throughout their career or just one. So every weekend for the rest of the month, I’ll be looking at nominees from the top 5 categories: Best Supporting Actress and Actor, Best Actor and Actress, and Best Picture. And this weekend I’ll be looking at the supporting categories!

Note: I narrowed it down to just 20 favorites from each category, so of course there are several great nominees that didn’t make the cut. I also opted to not consider anything from films that were released from 2000 on, as I felt they’re still too recent. But there are some performers on this list that are still working, so there’s still a chance for them to win an Oscar someday…

Now, in chronological order, my favorite Oscar-nominated performances for Best Supporting Actress…

Judith Anderson in Rebecca (1940)

Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca
Other Nominations: N/A
Competition:
Jane Darwell for The Grapes of Wrath (winner)
Ruth Hussey for The Philadelphia Story
Barbara O’Neil for All This, and Heaven Too
Marjorie Rambeau for Primrose Path

Agnes Moorehead in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

Agnes Moorehead as Fanny Minafer in The Magnificent Ambersons
Other Nominations: Mrs. Parkington; Johnny Belinda; Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte
Competition:
Teresa Wright for Mrs. Miniver (winner)
Gladys Cooper for Now, Voyager
Susan Peters for Random Harvest
May Whitty for Mrs. Miniver

Ann Blyth in Mildred Pierce (1945)

Ann Blyth as Veda Pierce in Mildred Pierce
Other Nominations: N/A
Competition:
Anne Revere for National Velvet (winner)
Eve Arden for Mildred Pierce
Angela Lansbury for The Picture of Dorian Gray
Joan Lorring for The Corn Is Green

Jean Hagen in Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Jean Hagen as Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain
Other Nominations: N/A
Competition:
Gloria Grahame for The Bad and the Beautiful (winner)
Colette Marchand for Moulin Rouge
Terry Moore for Come Back, Little Sheba
Thelma Ritter for With a Song in My Heart

Thelma Ritter in Pickup on South Street (1953)

Thelma Ritter as Moe Williams in Pickup on South Street
Other Nominations: All About Eve; The Mating Season; With a Song in My Heart; Pillow Talk; Birdman of Alcatraz
Competition:
Donna Reed for From Here to Eternity (winner)
Grace Kelly for Mogambo
Geraldine Page for Hondo
Marjorie Rambeau for Torch Song

Patty McCormack in The Bad Seed (1956)

Patty McCormack as Rhoda Penmark in The Bad Seed
Other Nominations: N/A
Competition:
Dorothy Malone for Written on the Wind (winner)
Mildred Dunnock for Baby Doll
Eileen Heckart for The Bad Seed
Mercedes McCambridge for Giant

Juanita Moore in Imitation of Life (1959)

Juanita Moore as Annie Johnson in Imitation of Life
Other Nominations: N/A
Competition:
Shelley Winters for The Diary of Anne Frank (winner)
Hermione Baddeley for Room at the Top
Susan Kohner for Imitation of Life
Thelma Ritter for Pillow Talk

Janet Leigh in Psycho (1960)

Janet Leigh as Marion Crane in Psycho
Other Nominations: N/A
Competition:
Shirley Jones for Elmer Gantry (winner)
Glynis Johns for The Sundowners
Shirley Knight for The Dark at the Top of the Stairs
Mary Ure for Sons and Lovers

Mary Badham in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Mary Badham as Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird
Other Nominations: N/A
Competition:
Patty Duke for The Miracle Worker (winner)
Shirley Knight for Sweet Bird of Youth
Thelma Ritter for Birdman of Alcatraz
…and…

Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Eleanor Shaw Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate
Other Nominations: Gaslight; The Picture of Dorian Gray
Competition: see above

Katharine Ross in The Graduate (1967)

Katharine Ross as Elaine Robinson in The Graduate
Other Nominations: N/A
Competition:
Estelle Parsons for Bonnie and Clyde (winner)
Carol Channing for Thoroughly Modern Millie
Mildred Natwick for Barefoot in the Park
Beah Richards for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles (1974)

Madeline Kahn as Lili Von Shtupp in Blazing Saddles
Other Nominations: Paper Moon
Competition:
Ingrid Bergman for Murder on the Orient Express (winner)
Valentina Cortese for Day for Night
Diane Ladd for Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
Talia Shire for The Godfather: Part II

Lily Tomlin in Nashville (1975)

Lily Tomlin as Linnea Reese in Nashville
Other Nominations: N/A
Competition:
Lee Grant for Shampoo (winner)
Ronee Blakley for Nashville
Sylvia Miles for Farewell, My Lovely
Brenda Vaccaro for Once Is Not Enough

Piper Laurie in Carrie (1976)

Piper Laurie as Margaret White in Carrie
Other Nominations: The Hustler (Best Actress in a Leading Role); Children of a Lesser God
Competition:
Beatrice Straight for Network (winner)
Jane Alexander for All the President’s Men
Jodie Foster for Taxi Driver
Lee Grant for Voyage of the Damned

Dyan Cannon in Heaven Can Wait (1978)

Dyan Cannon as Julia Farnsworth in Heaven Can Wait
Other Nominations: Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice; Number One (Best Short Film, Live Action)
Competition:
Maggie Smith for California Suite (winner)
Penelope Milford for Coming Home
Maureen Stapleton for Interiors
Meryl Streep for The Deer Hunter

Lesley Ann Warren in Victor Victoria (1982)

Lesley Ann Warren as Norma Cassady in Victor Victoria
Other Nominations: N/A
Competition:
Jessica Lange for Tootsie (winner)
Glenn Close for The World According to Garp
Teri Garr for Tootsie
Kim Stanley for Frances

Lorraine Bracco in Goodfellas (1990)

Lorraine Bracco as Karen Hill in Goodfellas
Other Nominations: N/A
Competition:
Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost (winner)
Annette Bening for The Grifters
Diane Ladd for Wild at Heart
Mary McDonnell for Dances with Wolves

Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction (1994)

Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace in Pulp Fiction
Other Nominations: N/A
Competition:
Dianne Wiest for Bullets Over Broadway (winner)
Rosemary Harris for Tom & Viv
Helen Mirren for The Madness of King George
Jennifer Tilly for Bullets Over Broadway

Lauren Bacall in The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996)

Lauren Bacall as Hannah Morgan in The Mirror Has Two Faces
Other Nominations: N/A
Competition:
Juliette Binoche for The English Patient (winner)
Joan Allen for The Crucible
Barbara Hershey for The Portrait of a Lady
Marianne Jean-Baptiste for Secrets & Lies

Toni Collette in The Sixth Sense (1999)

Toni Collette as Lynn Sear in The Sixth Sense
Other Nominations: N/A
Competition:
Angelina Jolie for Girl, Interrupted (winner)
Catherine Keener for Being John Malkovich
Samantha Morton for Sweet and Lowdown
Chloë Sevigny for Boys Don’t Cry

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4 thoughts on “Lost But Not Forgotten: Oscar Nominees for Best Supporting Actress

  1. I adore this article! So many of these are spot on. 1962 was an incredible year for acting, so that must have been an incredibly tough call to make (though I would have gone with Patty Duke too). Best Actor was a doozy too with Jack Lemmon truly deserving it for Days of Wine and Roses, though he was up against Gregory Peck for To Kill A Mockingbird, Burt Lancaster for Birdman of Alcatraz, Marcello Mastroianni for Divorce, Italian Style, and Peter O’Toole for Lawrence of Arabia. I’ve always said that it was the toughest competition for that category in Oscars history, as each of those performances truly defined the actor’s career. Thanks again for paying tribute to so many incredible women!

    • 1962 was really such a terrific year for performances! I revisited The Miracle Worker last year, and really loved both performances from Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, so I do think their wins were well-deserved.

  2. Simply mentioning the words “Academy Awards” and “GoodFellas” immediately puts me in “tirade” mode. In this case, the question becomes how the eff did Lorraine Bracco not win???

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