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These Reactions From Movie Actors Losing An Award Are Priceless

For the cinephiles of the world, the Oscars are like our Super Bowl. Bets are made, snacks are prepared, and fingers are crossed. But, unlike a sports game, there are multiple winners and losers over the course of the evening instead of just one bit one, and thus many opportunities for drama and upsets. Obviously, there have been a fair share of dramatic moments at the Oscars since the ceremony's inception in 1929, with the last few years having been particularly shocking. From the fake-out win for "La La Land," to Anthony Hopkins' shocking win over Chadwick Boseman, to the slap heard 'round the world from 2022's ceremony, there's always plenty to talk about.

Sometimes, the most entertaining part of the Oscars is not the awards themselves, but the reactions of all the celebrities in the audience. Indeed, some of the most lasting images from the great "La La Land"/"Moonlight" debacle of 2017 were the shocked faces of the actors in the audience. Of course, dramatic reactions are to be expected – these are Hollywood actors, after all.

In today's age of social media, these reactions -– which may have only occurred for a split second in real time -– can be screenshotted, gifed, and replayed over and over again thanks to the wonderful world of technology. In particular, many viewers of the Oscars love to hone in on the faces of actors who lose out on acting awards during the big night. This may be a rather unwelcome phenomenon for the actors in question, but it's great fun for us at home. If analyzing facial expressions is your thing, then look no further. Read on to discover the most hilarious and entertaining reactions to actors losing out on Hollywood's biggest night.

Robert Duvall loses to Joel Gray (1973)

The Oscar split-frame reaction has brough us a ton of joy. In particular, the split-reaction in 1973 gave us one of our first memorable reaction shots at the awards ceremony.

In 1973, the nominees for Best Supporting Actor were Eddie Albert for "The Heartbreak Kid," Joel Grey for "Cabaret," and James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Al Pacino -– the last three all for "The Godfather." The most memorable reaction from the evening goes to Robert Duvall, who lost the award to Joel Grey that night. When James Coburn and Diana Ross -– wearing an incredible silver suit -– announce Grey as the winner, Duvall has an almost scary look of anger and disappointment on his face. If this were actually the world of "The Godfather" and not a room full of rich people wearing hilariously large bow ties, we might be concerned for the other nominees' safety.

Of course, Duvall's face was far from the most dramatic moment that evening. That distinction would have to go to Marlon Brando, who declined to accept his Oscar and instead sent Sacheen Littlefeather, an actress and activist, to speak about the plight of Native Americans on his behalf. (John Wayne had to be restrained so as not to rush onto the stage.) "The Godfather" went on to win Best Picture that night, and Duvall finally got his day in the sun when he won Best Actor in 1984 for "Tender Mercies."

Samuel L. Jackson loses to Martin Landau (1995)

For those who are skilled in the practice of lip-reading, the Oscars might be even more fun than they are for the rest of us. But, even if you're not particularly good at lip-reading, there are some words that are pretty easy to make out, audio or not. It may not come as a surprise to you that one of these moments came from the king of profanities himself, the great Samuel L. Jackson.

The year was 1995, and the nominees for Best Supporting Actor were Martin Landau, Samuel L. Jackson, Chazz Palminteri, Paul Scofield, and Gary Sinise. Landau won for his role in "Ed Wood," and Jackson didn't have it in him to censor himself. When then 12-year-old Anna Paquin (who had won Best Supporting Actress the previous year) announced Landau's name, Jackson let out a word that we'll let you guess for yourselves. We don't blame Jackson one bit for expressing his disappointment –- it was definitely a more honest reaction than we see from some Oscars losers. And who would ever want to censor the great Samuel L. Jackson?

Anne Hathaway loses to Kate Winslet (2009)

The problem with observing actors' faces at the Oscars is that it's hard to tell if they're being sincere or not. They are actors, after all, being able to conjure up any emotion they want at any given moment is literally their job. Some actors appeared genuinely pleased when they lose an award, others look disappointed, and some come off as downright confused.

The award for best exuberant reaction to losing an award has got to go to the great Anne Hathaway, who lost Best Actress in 2009. Hathaway was nominated alongside Melissa Leo, Meryl Streep, and Angelina Jolie, and wound up losing to Kate Winslet. Rather than expressing disappointment (something that would be shocking to see from the smiley Hathaway), she shook her head and cheered wildly for Winslet.

While Anne Hathaway haters might say it was an all act, the joy on her face does appear genuine, at least to our gullible eyes. Hathaway would finally get her day in the sun in 2013 for her role in "Les Misérables," which earned her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. We'll leave any further analysis of Hathaway's microexpressions in this moment to the viewer's discretion.

Holly Hunter loses to Anna Paquin (1994)

Sometimes, it's hard to deny that a nominee is truly excited for their fellow nominee to win an award, and that was certainly the case in 1994. That was the year that New Zealand actor Anna Paquin became the second-youngest person to win an acting award at the Oscars. That year Paquin was up against Rosie Perez, Winona Ryder, Emma Thompson, and Holly Hunter, who co-starred with Paquin in "The Piano" but was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her work in "The Firm."

When Gene Hackman opened the envelope and read Paquin's name, Hunter -– who was sitting right beside Paquin -– reached up her arms and exclaimed something that we can't quite make out. (Lip readers –- now's your time to shine.) The 11-year-old Paquin looked utterly shocked, and Hunter warmly congratulated her as she walked up to receive the award. It would be a bad look to act bitter about losing out to a child, and we're pretty confident Hunter was actually excited that her young co-star won in this moment. Plus, although Hunter lost one acting award that night, she won another one only minutes later for her leading role in "The Piano." How many actors can say that?

Ellen Burstyn loses to Glenda Jackson (1974)

While some actors work to mask their disappointment by expressing joy and excitement, sometimes the shadiness just cannot be contained. If we're being honest, those moments are our favorite to watch. The first historic thing that happened in 1974 was that 10-year-old Tatum O'Neal became the youngest person to ever win an acting award (a record she still holds today). The second-most memorable moment was Ellen Burstyn's reaction to losing the award for Best Actress.

Along with Burstyn, who was nominated for "The Exorcist," the other nominees were Glenda Jackson, Marsha Mason, Barbara Streisand, and Joanne Woodward. When Jackson -– who wasn't even in attendance –- won the award, Burstyn's shock was written all over her face. (This gif says it all.) She appeared to mouth "Okay," and then moments later "what a surprise." Woodward also had an amusing reaction to the announcement, raising her eyebrows with an incredulous grin on her face. Not to be left out, Mason also looked perplexed. Streisand was nowhere to be found, but we would have loved to see her losing face. (Though perhaps that is exactly why she didn't attend.)

Kathy Bates loses to Catherine Zeta-Jones (2003)

So far, we've discussed elation, surprise, and disappointment, but there's one emotion we haven't yet touched on: confusion. We'd imagine that being at an awards ceremony like The Oscars might be an overwhelming experience -– especially when upsets like the 2017 Best Picture debacle happen. Because of this, we're not all that surprised by what happened during one awards announcement in 2003.

The 75th Academy Awards happened to be the night when Adrien Brody (in)famously kissed Halle Berry on stage after winning Best Actor, but that's actually not what we're here to talk about right now. Earlier in the evening, the winner for Best Supporting Actress was announced. The nominees that year were Catherina Zeta-Jones, Kathy Bates, Queen Latifah, Julianne Moore, and Meryl Streep.

When Sean Connery announced that the winner was Zeta-Jones, Bates sat in her chair for a full three seconds looking stunned, and at least in our view, kind of confused. To be fair, all Connery said when announcing the winner was "Catherine," so perhaps that's where some of the confusion came from. Zeta Jones' co-star Queen Latifah immediately exclaimed in joy while Bates remained frozen in her seat. We hope she's recovered by now.

Sally Kirkland loses to Cher (1988)

Cher may very well be one of the most legendary people to ever walk down the Oscars red carpet, and her 1988 win is no less memorable. After Cher won best actress at Cannes but was ignored by the Oscars for her work in Peter Bogdanovich's "Mask," she wore a sort of "revenge dress" – complete with an enormous feathered headdress — to spite the snooty people at the Academy Awards. People were shocked, and she made headlines two years later at the ceremony in 1988.

Her 1988 dress was almost as shocking -– her midriff was once again exposed -– and so was the awards ceremony that night. Cher was nominated for Best Actress that year alongside the likes of Holly Hunter, Meryl Streep, Sally Kirkland, and Glenn Close. In what was a surprise to many, Cher won Best Actress that year, despite her statement-making antics in '86. While Streep immediately clapped and quite literally jumped for joy, Sally Kirkland was not as quick to show her appreciation.

In what is surely one of the most pronounced facial journeys we've ever seen at the Oscars, Kirkland gives the most theatrical eye-roll one could imagine and clenches her lips together so hard it looks almost painful. Probably realizing she was on camera, Kirkland quickly changed her expression into something mildly resembling grateful appreciation, but that facial exclamation is almost impossible to miss. Even if it might have been in poor taste (although who really cares), we've got to give it to Kirkland for giving us what may be the best about-face in Oscars history.

Minnie Driver loses to Kim Bassinger (1998)

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if an actor is being sincere or not in their reactions to losing an award, and sometimes it's fairly obvious that sarcasm is in the air. That was the case in 1998 when Kim Bassinger won Best Supporting Actress for her role in the neo-noir "L.A. Confidential." Bassinger was up against Joan Cusak for "In and Out," Julianne Moore for "Boogie Nights," Gloria Stuart as Rose in "Titanic," and Minnie Driver for "Good Will Hunting."

When Cuba Gooding Jr. announced that Bassinger won the award, Driver's face was hard to ignore. Her eyes went wide, her eyebrows nearly disappeared into her hairline, and she let out a very obvious exclamation of "wow!" We can't be one hundred percent sure that Driver's "wow" here is sarcastic, but her face –- which looks dangerously close to breaking out into a smirk –- isn't really transmitting sincerity. Either way, her facial expression is extremely entertaining, even if she clearly would have preferred to be up on that stage herself. Sometimes having an expressive face can be a blessing and a curse.

Talia Shire loses to Faye Dunaway (1977)

We can't blame the actors who don't take care to contain their expressions into cheerful excitement when they lose an award -– getting all dressed up and ready to win an award only to walk away empty-handed has got to be a tough pill to swallow. (Although Meryl Streep has swallowed many a pill with grace, having lost a record 18 Oscars.)

1977 was one of those years where not all of the nominees were just "happy to be nominated," as the saying goes. The 49th Academy Awards was the year the legendary Faye Dunaway finally secured her first Oscar for "Network," having been nominated previously for both "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Chinatown." It was a deserved award by most accounts, but Talia Shire, who was nominated for "Rocky," didn't look so happy about the turn of events that evening. Rather than gamely smiling and cheering for Dunaway, Shire had a look of pure disgust on her face as she robotically clapped. Liv Ullmann didn't look particularly pleased to lose to Dunaway either, but Shire's face really takes the cake here.

Cate Blanchett loses to Marion Cotillard (2008)

In some cases, it seems pretty clear that actors are legitimately happy for one another when they win awards, something that isn't that hard to believe when you consider many of these actors do actually know each other in real life. One of the most jubilant reactions we've ever seen is Cate Blanchett's response to losing Best Actress to Marion Cotillard.

Cotillard was nominated that year for her astounding work as Edith Piaf in "La Vie En Rose," while Blanchett had received a nomination for "Elizabeth: The Golden Age." The two were nominated alongside Laura Linney, Julie Christie, and Elliot Page. When Forest Whittaker announced that Cotillard won, Blanchett was the first of the nominees to react and seemed even more excited than Cotillard herself. Her mouth dropped open in surprise, and she immediately started clapping wildly and cheering for Cotillard. It's hard to deny that Blanchett was anything other than happy for her friend here — and we imagine that Blanchett wasn't as invested in winning anyway, since she had already won an Oscar three years prior for her role in "The Aviator." We could all use a friend like Cate Blanchett to cheer for us.

Lauran Bacall loses to Juliette Binoche (1997)

Sometimes, even the people who win the awards are surprised that the award didn't go to someone else. (Remember when Adele said Beyoncé should have won the Grammy instead of her?) This seemed to be the case in 1997, when one of the biggest acting awards upsets shocked the audience at the ceremony.

At the 69th Academy Awards, it seemed all but certain that Lauren Bacall would take home the award for Best Supporting Actress. 72 years old at the time, Bacall was a Hollywood legend who had been long overlooked by the Oscars, having only received her first nomination that same year. (She was nominated for "The Mirror Has Two Faces," in which she plays Barbara Streisand's mother.) Of course, anything can happen at the Oscars, something we learned when Chadwick Boseman failed to take home a posthumous award for Best Actor in 2021.

In one of the biggest-ever upsets in the category, Bacall did not win the Oscar, and the award instead went to Juliette Binoche for her role in "The English Patient." When Kevin Spacey announced Binoche as the winner, Bacall was momentarily stunned, taking a moment before clapping and looking over at Binoche. Joan Allen also tried to hide her shock, raising her eyebrows in surprise before clapping good-naturedly, while Barbara Hershey looked from left to right like she was trying to figure out what happened. Even Binoche herself couldn't believe she won the award, and she went on stage and said what everyone must have been thinking at that moment: "I thought Lauren was going to get it."