Famous Actors Who’ve Surprisingly Never Won An Oscar
It's hard to believe these Hollywood legends haven't taken home an Oscar.
As awards season arrives each year, Hollywood and its fans wait to learn what stars are going to snag the golden statue this year and what movie is going to take home the big prize. However, for some A-list actors, that Oscar statuette has been elusive for years.
From major snubs to actors who have been nominated and lost more than once, the Academy Awards can sometimes be unpredictable. Although Leonardo DiCaprio finally won in 2016 for “The Revenant” (after four losses in acting categories), there are still plenty of others who are waiting to take home an Oscar for their acting chops. Here are some of the most surprising actors who’ve yet to win.
Glenn Close has been nominated a whopping six times since 1983 but is yet to win an Academy Award for her stellar acting work. Previous losses include best supporting actress for “The World According to Garp” in 1983, best supporting actress for “The Big Chill” in 1984, best supporting actress for “The Natural” in 1985, best actress for “Fatal Attraction” in 1988, best actress for “Dangerous Liasons” in 1989 and best actress for “Albert Nobbs” in 2012. This year, she stars in “The Wife” opposite Jonathan Pryce and has received positive reviews for her performance. Will it finally be her year?
Robert Downey, Jr.
After making a name for himself as a great, young actor, Robert Downey, Jr.’s reputation was less than stellar in the 1990s. He’s come back around since then, largely thanks to his turn as Tony Stark in Marvel’s “Iron Man,” which helped to launch comic book movies into a new era. However, the actor has yet to earn an Oscar despite two nominations in the past: best actor for “Chaplin” in 1993 and best-supporting actor for “Tropic Thunder” in 2009.
Sigourney Weaver has been around Hollywood for a long time but has yet to win an Oscar herself. In fact, many still maintain that the actress was robbed of an Academy Award nomination for the original “Alien” in 1979. She was nominated for best actress for the sequel, “Aliens,” in 1987, best supporting actress for “Working Girl” in 1989 and best actress for “Gorillas in the Mist” in 1989, as well.
One of the best character actors of our generation has somehow not only not won an Oscar but he’s never even been nominated! Although you might know him for masterfully playing creeps in classic movies like “Fargo” and “Reservoir Dogs,” he’s yet to score an Academy Award nod.
Although she’s been up for three Golden Globes and never won, Meg Ryan has never been up for an Academy Award. Although she doesn’t always hit it out of the ballpark for her roles, when she’s on, she is ON. Her comedic chops and easy charm in classics like “When Harry Met Sally” and “Sleepless in Seattle” should have definitely earned her at least a nomination.
His boyish good looks have often kept people from overlooking the acting prowess of Bradley Cooper. He might be best known for his role in outrageous comedies like “The Hangover” but the prolific actor has actually been nominated for four Oscars in the past. Those nominations include three in a row: best actor for “Silver Linings Playbook” in 2013, best supporting actor for “American Hustle” in 2014 and best actor for “American Sniper” in 2015. However, with the popularity of “A Star Is Born” this year, which Cooper stars in and directed, his chance for an Oscar win may finally be here.
Although she is well-known for powerhouse roles, Bassett has only been nominated once before, for her part as Tina Turner in 1994’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” She has also appeared in (and could have been nominated for) movies such as “Malcolm X,” “Black Panther” and “Akeelah and the Bee.” These days, she is appearing more on television series like “9-1-1,” “American Horror Story” and “Master of None,” so she may be more likely to win an Emmy.
The legendary actor has had many iconic roles, especially in the past few years. Despite this, and two nominations under his belt, Ian McKellen has no Oscars to call his own. He was previously nominated for best actor for “Gods and Monsters” in 1999 and best supporting actor for “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” in 2002. Although he has won plenty of other awards, the actor has recently questioned why no openly gay man has ever won best actor at the Academy Awards.
She has come close to winning an Oscar twice already, yet the award eludes Naomi Watts so far. She has previously been nominated for best actress for “21 Grams” in 2004 and in the same category for “The Impossible” in 2013. Her next big role is going to be in HBO’s prequel to “Game of Thrones” so that Oscar may not come any time soon, unfortunately.
Johnny Depp has long been known to be one of Hollywood’s most versatile actors, completely transforming himself for many roles. Despite this reputation, he has yet to earn Hollywood’s biggest honor. Previous nominations include best actor for “Pirates of the Caribbean” in 2004, best actor for “Finding Neverland” in 2005 and best actor for “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” in 2008. Of course, the actor says he doesn’t want to win an Oscar anyway.
Another two-time nominee and two-time loser is Jessica Chastain, who was a frontrunner for her hard-nosed role in 2013’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” but lost to Jennifer Lawrence. That year, she was nominated for best actress and the previous year she had been nominated for best supporting actress for “The Help.” She didn’t receive a nomination this year for her role in “Molly’s Game,” and it’s not looking likely this coming year with her role in “Woman Walks Ahead” despite earlier hope for the film.
Tom Cruise was once a favorite for three Academy Awards. It’s now been 18 years since he was even nominated but previously he held the nomination for best actor in “Born on the Fourth of July” in 1990, best actor for “Jerry Maguire” in 1997 and best supporting actor in “Magnolia” in 2000. Most people would agree he was snubbed for his work in 1988’s “Rain Man,” which won best picture. These days, he is primarily known for action blockbusters, so an Oscar is likely out of the picture for now.
The beloved 93-year-old actress was once a regular Oscar favorite. It has been many years since Angela Lansbury was nominated for an Oscar but she previously lost out on three awards. She was nominated for best supporting actress for “Gaslight” in 1945, best supporting actress for “The Picture of Dorian Gray” in 1946 and best supporting actress for “The Manchurian Candidate” in 1963. She did receive an honorary Oscar in 2014, though, after 70 years of working on film.
If you only think of Jeff Daniels for his comedic roles such as “Dumb and Dumber,” then you are missing out on what the actor has to offer. He has had many impressive dramatic performances in television and film, including in HBO’s “The Newsroom” and in the 2005 film “The Squid and the Whale.” Sadly, the Academy has yet to recognize his talents. At least he’s no stranger to the Emmy Awards, where he’s won two trophies.
Nearly reaching Glenn Close for how many Oscars she has been nominated for and yet to win, Amy Adams has racked up a whopping five nods with no victories. She was first nominated for best supporting actress for “Junebug” in 2006. That role was quickly followed by a best supporting actress nomination for “Doubt” in 2009, best supporting actress for “The Fighter” in 2011, best supporting actress for “The Master” in 2014 and best actress for “American Hustle,” also in 2014. However, 2019 may be her year as she is currently a favorite for best supporting actress for “Vice,” which is about former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Will Smith has joined the zero-for-two club with Oscar nominations. He was a frontrunner for best actor for his work in “Ali” in 2002 and again was up for best actor for “The Pursuit of Happyness” in 2007. He has recently been critical of the Oscars for a perceived lack of diversity. His luck may turn around for the 2020 show, though, with the upcoming live-action release of “Aladdin,” in which he will play the beloved role of Genie.
The legendary actress has yet to score Hollywood’s top honor despite numerous nominated performances (and a famously snubbed one). She scored nominations for best supporting actress for “The Grifters” in 1991, best actress in the best picture-winning “American Beauty” in 2000, best actress for “Being Julia” in 2005 and, most recently, best actress for “The Kids are Alright” in 2011. One of the biggest Oscar snubs in recent history also belongs to Bening for her role in 2016’s acclaimed “20th Century Women.”
Before he was known as an action star thanks to movies like “Taken,” Liam Neeson was best known as the actor who lost out to Tom Hanks for the best actor Oscar in 1994. That’s right, you’d probably think that Neeson won for his superb performance in the Oscar-winning “Schindler’s List,” but Hanks won that year for “Philadelphia.” He’s probably making more money these days but none of Neeson’s latest roles have earned any Oscar nods, though he came close to being nominated in 2017 for “Silence.”
Though you might still remember her from “Dawson’s Creek,” Michelle Williams has proven herself to be a versatile actress. In fact, she has been nominated for four Academy Awards. Her nominations include best supporting actress for “Brokeback Mountain” in 2006, best actress for “Blue Valentine” in 2011, best actress for “My Week with Marilyn” in 2012 and best supporting actress for the heartbreaking “Manchester by the Sea” in 2017. In 2018, some say she was snubbed for a fifth Oscar nomination for “All the Money in the World.”
Joaquin Phoenix seems to have a knack for Oscar-nominated roles, though he still hasn’t won one. He was previously nominated for best supporting actor for “Gladiator” in 2001, best actor for “Walk the Line” in 2006 and best actor for “The Master” in 2013. He’s not sweating it, though, since he has called the awards show hype “total, utter bulls–t” in the past. This year, he may be up for awards from two different movies: “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” and “You Were Never Really Here.”
Michelle Pfeiffer has been known for many roles throughout her decades of work in Hollywood, yet she somehow has not won an Oscar for any of them. Her previous nominations include best supporting actress for “Dangerous Liaisons” in 1989, best actress for “The Fabulous Baker Boys” in 1990 and best actress for “Love Field” in 1993. Unfortunately, since then, she has been consistently overlooked for further Academy Award nominations, including her recent turn in “Mother!”.
Although he has an impressive four Oscar nominations so far, Ed Harris has yet to win an Academy Award. He was first nominated for best supporting actor for “Apollo 13” in 1996. He was later nominated for best supporting actor for “The Truman Show” in 1999, best actor for “Pollock” in 2001 and best supporting actor for “The Hours” in 2003. He was snubbed for a nomination for 2010’s “The Way Back” but can now regularly be seen in HBO’s Emmy Award-winning “Westworld.”
The wonderful Laura Linney has been nominated for three Oscars but has yet to receive the honor of winning. She was close every year with previous nominations, including for best actress for “You Can Count On Me” in 2001, best supporting actress for “Kinsey” in 2005 and best actress for “The Savages” in 2005. She’s racked up four Emmy wins in the meantime, though.
The man with the trademark surly voice has been captivating audiences for many decades, playing various iconic roles from “Animal House” to “The Hunger Games.” Shockingly, he has never been nominated for an Oscar for any of his performances. However, he did receive an honorary award from the Academy’s Board of Governors in 2017.
The legendary actress and singer is known for many roles, but some of her best work earned her best actress Oscar nominations for “The Rose” in 1980 and “For the Boys” in 1992. Although some still believe she was robbed of the 1980 Oscar, Midler has continued to make great movies and even spoke up in 2016, urging the Academy to be more inclusive with its nominations.
Another actor who went home empty-handed after “Schindler’s List,” Ralph Fiennes was nominated for best supporting actor for the beloved movie in 1994. He also lost in 1997 for his best actor nomination for “The English Patient,” another best picture winner. Most recently, many thought he was snubbed at the 2015 Oscars for “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Also, Potterheads would have liked to see him nominated for his work as He Who Shall Not Be Named…
French actress Catherine Deneuve is known to be one of the greats. That’s why it is so surprising that she has never been won an Academy Award. She’s been in film since the 1950s and has regularly turned in great work. Her powerhouse performance in 1965’s “Repulsion” was worth a nod alone. She was nominated for best actress for “Indochine” in 1993, but hasn’t had another nod since. Meanwhile, her fellow countrywoman Marion Cotillard won an Oscar in 2007 for a French movie, no less.
Edward Norton is yet another actor who has been nominated several times but never won an Oscar. He has been nominated a total of three times: best supporting actor for “Primal Fear” in 1997, best actor for “American History X” in 1999 and best supporting actor for “Birdman” in 2015. Not only does that “American History X” loss still make no sense but him not getting nominated for “Fight Club” in 2000 is also pretty disappointing.
Helena Bonham Carter
Helena Bonham Carter is known for playing kooky, weird and completely unique roles. That’s usually Oscar bait for the Academy but she’s yet to snag the prize. She scored her first nomination in 1998 for best actress for “The Wings of the Dove.” In 2011, she received her second nomination (and second loss) for best supporting actress for “The King’s Speech.” Currently, there are early rumblings for her role in “55 Steps,” so she may be an Oscar contender again in 2019.
Although he seems to always thrive in sci-fi villain and anti-hero roles, such as Agent Smith in “The Matrix,” V in “V for Vendetta” and Red Skull in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” Hugo Weaving has yet to translate that talent into even a single Oscar nomination. His versatility and range were especially impressive in “Cloud Atlas” but his most recent role for “Black ’47” isn’t likely to finally get him that Academy Award nod.