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15 Best Oscars Lineups of All Time

Looking back at the Academy Awards’ most rock-solid ‘Murderers’ Row’ nominee rosters

Best Oscars Line-up

Everett Collection (3)

Arguing about the Academy Awards is as much an American passion as watching the movies they honor, and there’s not a single film fanatic out there that won’t argue about why X should not have won over Y, or moan over how their personal pick for the year’s real Best Picture (or Actor, or Actress, or … ) of the year wasn’t even able to score a nomination. We still get into knock-down, drag-out fights over Dances With Wolves winning over GoodFellas back in 1991. For real.

But some years, Oscar gets it very, very right. We’ve gone through nine decades of history and selected the finest “Murderers’ Row” lineups of nominees for each of the six major categories — Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Supporting Actor. Consider this the Oscar for Best Oscars.

Oscar; All Star Categories; Line-up

CAPOTE, Bob Balaban, Bruce Greenwood, Philip Seymour Hoffman, 2005, © Sony Pictures Classics/courtesy Everett Collection

Everett Collection

Best Actor, 2005

Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote – winner), Terrence Howard (Hustle and Flow), Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain), Joaquin Phoenix (Walk the Line), David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck)

It's impossible to look at this year's Best Actor slate and not wonder what might have been. Hoffman and Ledger are now lost to us, and for a while it seemed like Howard and Phoenix might have been headed that way as well, though by very different paths. Here, each of them turned in top-notch work (though Hoffman and Phoenix would hurdle over that high bar together in The Master a few years later), leaving the always watchable Strathairn to play straight-man to a top-notch tortured-artist quartet.

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