Top 10: Great Foreign Language Performances Overlooked by Oscar


In the wake of #OscarsSoWhite, the headlines coming out of this year’s Oscar nominations were inevitably going to focus on the prevalence – or lack thereof – of persons of color. There was therefore much to celebrate when this year’s nominations featured an unusually diverse slate. Particularly in the acting categories, it was a pleasant surprise to see a record-breaking six black actors receiving nods.

Related to this push for inclusion was another significant nomination in the form of Isabelle Huppert. With her Best Actress nod for “Elle,” she became one of only 33 foreign language performances to be nominated in the 89-year history of the Academy Awards. And if she were to pull off the upset, she would join an elite group of only five winners.

Suffice it to say, the Academy’s collective taste tends to favor English-language performers. But it’s certainly not for a lack of deserving candidates. Indeed, when you look back on the history of world cinema, you’ll find that some of the most iconic performances were given in languages other than English. But even when the precursors have offered up contenders, they’ve often fallen short at the last hurdle. In this article, we’ve highlighted some of these instances where the Academy snubbed worthy contenders in foreign cinema.

Here are 10 Great Foreign Language Performances Overlooked by Oscar:

  • Matt St.Clair

    Some of my favorites:

    Adele Exarchopoulos in Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013)
    Ziyi Zhang in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
    Bibi Andersson/Liv Ullmann in Persona (1966)
    Gael Garcia Bernal in Bad Education (2004)

    • Squasher88

      Great choices! Bibi Andersson just barely missed making this list. She was next in line.

  • Nicola Maddalena

    I would add:

    Tatiana Samoilova – The Cranes Are Flying

    Toshiro Mifune – Seven Samurai

    Basically the whole cast of Ran

    Pretty much every performance of Harriet Andersson

    Toni Servillo – The Great Beauty

    And a special mention for this year breathtaking performance of Oulaya Amamra in Divines

    • Squasher88

      Nice picks. The cast of Ran really is stellar and I love Toni Servillo in The Great Beauty. Oulaya Amamra was wonderful too.

      I still need to see The Cranes are Flying and My Life to Live.

  • Peter Templeman

    Rodrigo de la Serna should have nominated for The Motorcyle Diaries too.

    Juliet Binoche for Three Colours: Blue

    Also Daniel Auteil, Gerard Depardieu and Yves Montand for Jean de Florette.

  • Javi

    Diversity isn’t black and white. 7 actors of color were nominated including Dev Patel. What minority has won the most acting oscars?

  • Roberto925

    A few of my favourites include:

    Gael Garcia Bernal, Bad Education
    Maribel Verdu, Blancanieves
    Tony Leung, Happy Together
    Tahar Rahim, A Prophet
    Noomi Rapace, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
    Faye Wong, Chungking Express

  • michaeldal65

    Setsuko Hara – Late Spring
    Jacques Tati – Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot
    Toshiro Mifune – High & Low
    Jeanne Moreau – Elevator to The Gallows
    Tony Leung – Happy Together
    Gael Garcia Bernal – Bad Education
    Noomi Rapace – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
    Antonio Banderas – The Skin I Live In
    Lambert Wilson – Of Gods & Men
    Javier Bardem – Live Flesh
    Andre Wilms – Le Havre
    Ali Mosaffa – The Past
    Luis Tosar – Sleep Tight
    Melvil Poupad – Laurence Anyways
    Johannes Bah Kuhnke – Force Majeure