From The Exorcist to 127 Hours, the 9 Most Shocking Scenes In Oscar-Nominated Roles

Chances are at least a few of your casual conversations about Bridesmaids have revolved around the scene in which Melissa McCarthy is forced to use a bridal shop sink as a toilet. The true beauty of that scene was Kristen Wiig’s Annie, sweat-drenched, trying to stay composed while she was berated over choosing a restaurant that caused some serious gastrointestinal horrors for the ladies. Not to suggest that McCarthy doesn’t deserve the praise; she’s a terrific actress (Sookie forever!).

Come Feb. 26, McCarthy will go up against fellow supporting actress Oscar nominees Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer from The Help, Janet McTeer, playing a cross-dresser in Albert Nobbs, and Berenice Bejo of silent juggernaut The Artist. Though it’s highly unlikely the shot of McCarthy perched on a bathroom countertop will play on the big screen when her name is announced inside the Kodak Theatre, the image probably won’t be too far from viewers’ minds. The Bridesmaids scene-stealer is far from the only nominee in history who grabbed the attention of moviegoers and the Academy with a role that involved a squirm-inducing scene. Below are a handful of others.

Linda Blair, The Exorcist
Blair was barely a teenager when she took on the twisted role of Regan in the scariest movie of all time. As far as which scene is most revolting, take your pick: the crucifix-crotch-stabbing, the convulsions, the levitating, the pea soup projectile vomiting. The most enduringly troubling, though, was actually cut from the movie in 1973 but reinstated for the 2000 rerelease: the spider-walk staircase scene. Regan’s freakish contortion is spine-tingling, and seeing it made me wonder what possessed me to catch the rerelease in the theater, with no blanket to duck under.

Sissy Spacek, Carrie
It takes guts to stand, caked in fake blood, and telekinetically massacre a bunch of kids and teachers at the prom. When Carrie’s suffering finally turns to rage, it’s most remarkable for her silence. Wordlessly, she burns down the auditorium while drowning in the echoes of her deranged mother’s declaration “They’re all going to laugh at you.” The catchphrase stuck, and also serves up chills thanks to the acting finesse of Spacek (and fellow 1977 Oscar nominee Piper Laurie as Carrie’s mother).

Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction
Before she became a nominee this year for playing a taciturn woman pretending to be a man in Albert Nobbs, Close was a nightmare that Michael Douglas couldn’t shake. Sure, it’s just a punchline now, but 25 years ago, the revelation that Close’s Alex had gone so far as to boil a pet rabbit in her stalkee’s home really struck a nerve and dominated talk of the movie. Close lost the Oscar to Cher in Moonstruck, who sported a similar crazy mane of hair but who had fewer aggressive tendencies (“Snap out of it!”).

Kathy Bates, Misery
Bates took home the Oscar in 1991 for playing writer- and figurine-obsessed Annie Wilkes, who holds author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) captive until he can produce a new novel that’s to her liking. The film’s infamous hobbling scene is effectively creepy because, really, no one’s ever that perky while wielding a sledgehammer. Bates’ calm demeanor before, during and after the attack is unusually winning.

Anthony Hopkins, The Silence of the Lambs
All sorts of perversions lead up to this scene, but nothing really prepares us for the moment when Hannibal Lecter finally gets his meal and escapes from prison. “Fava beans and a nice chianti [slurp]” is the big Lecter quotable, but for shock value there’s no match for the sickening sight of him peeling away the face he carved off a prison guard and wore as a mask. Hopkins, who won the best actor Oscar in 1992 for the role, keeps us on edge through the whole sequence.

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  • forever1267 says:

    I was a manager at AMC Galleria in St. Louis when "Pulp Fiction" came out. We had 2 chokings, a fainting, and a heart attack as a direct result of that scene. Customers were freaking out from that movie... and LOVING it.

    In other news, Viggo, you are so hot naked knife fighting!

  • Violet says:

    I’ve been wondering about the similar point myself recently. Glad to see somebody on the same wavelength! Nice article.

  • The ill-intentioned Toxic substances Launch in and was just stunned that this lovely device was not more easily known.