Prepare to put on your best WTF face because here is our list of 20 great actors who have never won an Oscar for their performance in front of the camera. For those who are still living, if they keep their fingers and toes crossed there is still time for that to change…
Things may change at the 2014 ceremony but, to date, Leonardo DiCaprio has never walked away with an Oscar. Considered to be one of the greatest actors of his generation, the Django Unchained star has been nominated four times – once for Best Support Actor (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape in1994) and on three occasions for Best Actor (The Aviator in 2004, Blood Diamond in 2006 and now The Wolf of Wall Street in 2014).
Julianne Moore is always the bridesmaid, never the bride. She’s been nominated for an Academy Award four times and in 2003 she was even nominated twice in two different categories – Best Actress for Far From Heaven and Best Supporting Actress for The Hours. The star recently told UK chat show host Graham Norton: “My daughter felt so bad for me one year that she made me some awards.”
Perhaps one of the most underrated actors of his generation Edward Norton has never won an Academy Award and he has only been nominated twice. In the Nineties he got two Best Actor nods – for Primal Fear in 1996 and American History X in 1998. He won neither.
Sigourney Weaver is another actress who has been nominated multiple times – twice in one year – and has yet to put an Oscar on her mantelpiece. In 1989 she was nominated for Best Actress for her work in Gorillas In The Mist and for Best Supporting Actress for Working Girl. She failed to impress the Academy in 1987 either when she lost out on a Best Actress Oscar for Aliens to Marlee Matlin who scooped the honor for Children of a Lesser God.
Robert Downey Jr.
Maybe Robert Downey Jr. was overlooked by the Academy because of the years he spent in and out of jail and rehab, battling his drug addiction. But surprisingly he didn’t win the Best Actor Oscar for the 1992 film Chaplin and he lost again in 2009, despite being nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Tropic Thunder.
In the four-year period from 1989 to 1993, Michelle Pfeiffer was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar three times. But she didn’t win despite putting in stellar performances in Dangerous Liaisons, The Fabulous Baker Boys and Love Field.
Samuel L. Jackson
Even more surprising than the fact Samuel L. Jackson has never won an Oscar is the fact that he has only been nominated for an Academy Award once. Jackson had that honor in 1995 when he was recognized for his work in Pulp Fiction.
In the Eighties and Nineties Tom Cruise was one of the biggest box office draws in Hollywood. And those two decades alone are littered with strong performances from the star. But despite being nominated three times – twice for Best Actor (Born On The Fourth of July in 1990 and Jerry Maguire in 1997) and once for Best Supporting Actor (Magnolia, in 2000) – Mr. Cruise has never won the coveted award.
If they were giving out Academy Awards for being cool Johnny Depp would win hands down. But he has never won an Oscar for his work despite being nominated three times in the Best Actor category. He got nods for playing Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2004, for Finding Neverland in 2005 and for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street in 2008.
Despite his strong performances in modern day classics such as Schindler’s List and The English Patient Ralph Fiennes has never won an Oscar. He was nominated for both – Best Supporting Actor for the former and Best Actor for the latter – but he walked away empty handed.
The fact that Glenn Close hasn’t won an Oscar is incomprehensible when you consider the actress has been nominated six times, half of which were in three consecutive seasons. In the space of 29 years she racked up three Best Actress nods for Fatal Attraction (1988), Dangerous Liaisons (1989) and Albert Nobbs (2012) and three Best Supporting Actress nominations for The World According to Garp (1983), The Big Chill (1984) and The Natural (1985).
Laura Linney is the definition of an actor’s actor – an unassuming chameleon who is underrated. Yet, despite three Oscar nominations in 10 years she has no Academy Awards to her name. She has received two Best Actress Oscar nods (You Can Count On Me in 2001 and The Savages in 2008) and one Best Supporting Actress nomination for Kinsey in 2005.
In January 2014 Robert Redford insisted he was “not upset” that he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for his performance in All Is Lost. But it’s not the first time the star has been snubbed by the Academy during his 50-plus year acting career. Despite receiving an honorary Oscar in 2002 for his inspiration to independent filmmakers, and a Best Director award for Ordinary People in 1980, he has only gotten one acting nomination – for Best Actor in The Sting in 1974.
What is shocking about Harrison Ford’s career is that – despite his box office success and acting prowess – he has only received one Oscar nomination. In 1986 he received a Best Actor nomination for his work in Witness.
The beloved curmudgeon has only ever received one Oscar nomination. In 2004 he was nominated for Best Actor for Lost In Translation.
It was third time unlucky for Joaquin Phoenix in 2013 when – despite his critically acclaimed lead performance in The Master – he didn’t win an Academy Award. It was his third nomination. He was also recognized in 2006 for his starring role in Walk The Line and in 2001 for Best Supporting Actor in Gladiator.
He is one of the greatest actors of all time but Richard Burton never won an Academy Award. Between 1953 and 1978 the Welsh thespian was nominated seven times for performances in classics such as Becket and Anne of the Thousand Days. Most stingingly in 1967 – although he was nominated for Best Actor for his performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – he lost while his then wife and co-star Elizabeth Taylor was crowned queen for her leading role in the same film.
“I’m still in the game and might win the lovely bugger outright.” That’s what Peter O’Toole wrote to the Academy when he initially declined the offer of an honorary Oscar in 2003. He changed his mind and accepted it. Yet the star – who died in December 2013 aged 81 – never did win the award competitively despite receiving eight Best Actor nominations between 1963 and 2007.
Angelina Jolie’s leading man has never won an Oscar despite being nominated in the acting category three times. He has two Best Actor nominations under his belt for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2009 and Moneyball in 2012. But despite being nominated in that and the Best Supporting Actor category for Twelve Monkeys in 1996 the little gold man has eluded him.
Edward G. Robinson
Edward G. Robinson is yet another Hollywood great who was snubbed by the Academy and then fobbed off with an honorary Oscar in the twilight of his career. Despite memorable performances in classic movies like Key Largo, The Cincinnati Kid and Double Indemnity he never received a single Academy Award nomination.