12 Actors Who Won Oscars For The Wrong Film | GigaReel
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12 Actors Who Won Oscars For The Wrong Film


Sometimes, the Academy sets out to right an Oscar mistake, finally giving top awards to the most deserving of actors and directors… but not for their best work. Which stars have won Academy Awards, but a few years too late?

For actors and directors who’ve made it big in Hollywood, there’s no award like an Academy Award. No accolade is more prestigious than the Oscar: it is the high water mark of a career and no actor is the same after a win or even a nomination. Unfortunately sometimes the Academy gets it wrong.

Morgan Freeman


The Film He Won For: Million Dollar Baby
The Film He Should Have Won For: Shawshank Redemption

Million Dollar Baby is a wonderful film, but it’s not Shawshank Redemption. Shawshank is currently sits atop many a best movies of all time list and Morgan Freeman is the heart of that film. He should have won Best Actor for Shawshank, long before he won Best Supporting Actor for Million Dollar Baby.

Al Pacino


The Film He Won For: Scent of a Woman
The Film He Should Have Won For: The Godfather

This almost goes without saying. Scent of a Woman is a great dramedy, but The Godfather is universally agreed upon as nearly perfect. Pacino not winning for that powerhouse performance is one of the worst snubs of all time.

Martin Scorsese


The Film He Won For: The Departed
The Films He Should Have Won For: Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino, Taxi Driver, The Color of Money

And the legacy Oscar goes to… Sure, The Departed was great. But how is it possible this was Scorsese’s first and only Oscar win? This man made many of the greatest films in history, all well before he made The Departed. Martin Scorsese should not be one-time Best Directing award winner.

Leonardo DiCaprio


The Film He Won For: The Revenant
The Film He Should Have Won For: Catch Me If You Can, The Departed, The Aviator, Gangs of New York

Leo has been in so many great films that it was beginning to get awkward when he still didn’t have an Oscar in 2016. While The Revenant was a beautiful film, many wondered how much of that was due to Le’s actual acting. He has shown far more range and acting chops in other roles – the above mentioned films are just four examples. 

Jack Nickolson


The Film He Won For: As Good as It Gets
The Films He Should Have Won For: Chinatown, The Shining

Sure, Jack Nicholson was great in the sugary sweet As Good as It Gets. But that performance pales in comparison to both Chinatown and The Shining, each a cinema classic.

Jeff Bridges



The Film He Won For: Crazy Heart
The Films He Should Have Won For: The Big Lebowski, The Contender, The Fisher King

The entire Crazy Heart Oscar campaign felt like a legacy run. “This is Jeff Bridges! He’s been great for decades!” Sure, Crazy Heart was fantastic, but was it better than his other excellent work?

Denzel Washington


The Film He Won For: Training Day
The Film He Should Have Won For: Malcolm X

Denzel’s Oscar for Training Day came at a time when he was known for playing the respectable, ethical, intelligent, articulate lead. In short: the good guy. He earned the Oscar by playing very well against type, but 25 years earlier his brilliant portrayal of Malcolm X should have received much more love.

Jodie Foster


The Film She Won For: The Accused
The Film She Should Have Won For: Taxi Driver

Jodie Foster was nominated in 1976 – at just 14 years old – for her performance in Taxi Driver. After a string of lesser roles she was finally back in full force, locking in a nomination and eventual win for her turn in The Accused. But many saw this as more of a comeback award, and a long-delayed Oscar for her original glory in Taxi Driver.

Kate Winslet


The Film She Won For: The Reader
The Film She Should’ve Won For: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Even Kate Winslet admits that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the role that got critics and casting directors beginning to see her as a more versatile performer. Coincidentally Eternal Sunshine is the performance she credits with getting her roles like the one she had in The Reader.

Jennifer Lawrence


The Film She Won For: Silver Linings Playbook
The Film She Should Have Won For: Winter’s Bone

In this situations she really should have won both times. Before she was a franchise darling she tore through the indie circuit with one of the most critically acclaimed performances by a young actress in years in Winter’s Bone. Two years later she won for Silver Linings Playbook, which felt more like a win for both performances.

Russell Crowe


The Film He Won For: Gladiator
The Film He Should Have Won For: The Insider

Gladiator was a roaring success and Crowe turned in a great performance but at that point it felt like a career award. He was, after all, nominated for four Golden Globes over the course of six years.  The role that should have won him the Academy Award was his incredible turn in The Insider, keeping up with Al Pacino.

Dustin Hoffman


What Film He Won For: Kramer vs Kramer, Rain Man
What Film He Should Have Won For: Midnight Cowboy

Hoffman has been nominated a whopping seven times and won twice. But one of his best and boldest performances,Midnight Cowboy, only earned him a nomination. He lost due to John Wayne’s career Oscar for True Grit.

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