The 27 actors you’d expect have won Oscars – but didn’t

When it comes to winning an Oscar, the key is usually a good story.

The young upstart bursting onto the scene with a sparkling debut performance. The star faded on stage with an unlikely comeback. The actor hell-bent Method transformed themselves completely in the service of his craft.

While the decision as to who won often boils down to the arbitrary notion of “momentum” and whoever campaigned the most effectively behind the scenes, many talented actors often fall short. – which prevents them from having a romantic narrative.

Sometimes, actors without ever winning have accumulated a whole handful of Oscar nominations.

For every serial winner like Daniel Day-Lewis or Frances McDormand, there is a Willem Dafoe or Glenn Close: great actors who have not yet been given their due by the Academy.

Here’s a breakdown of all the living actors who have been nominated many times – but never took home an award.


Close is tied with the late Peter O’Toole for the record for the most acting Oscar nominations without a win, having achieved eight over a career spanning nearly five decades. And her latest nod, for 2021 insipid Hillbilly Elegyshe never seemed to win an award, in fact she was a front runner back in 2017, for her role in The Wife. A favorite lost the bookie out with the truth you prefer, however, when Academy newcomer Olivia Colman stole her thunder. Don’t expect this drought to last forever, though; Many in Hollywood believe that Close is now overdue.

Glenn Close pictured in December 2021 (Getty Images)

Glenn Close pictured in December 2021 (Getty Images)

Amy Adams

For whatever reason, Adams’ career has become synonymous with the idea of ​​the Oscar as well. After breaking through with the indie dramedy Junebug in 2005, (which earned her the first of six unsuccessful acting nominations), she has delivered powerhouse performances in films such as doubt, The Fighter and The master, but never won an Oscar. Her last nomination was back in 2019, for Adam McKay’s turgid Dick Cheney biopic Interest – but at the age of 47, Adams still has plenty of time to get his hands on a golden statue (or several).

Jane Alexander

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Alexander winning an Oscar must have felt inevitable. The Massachusetts-born actor was nominated four times within a fourteen-year period – for roles in The Great White Hope (1970), All the President’s men (1976), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Testament (1983). Testament However, it was her last nomination, and although Alexander is still a prolific presence on television and on stage (receiving Tony Award nominations as far back as 2020), she has only appeared in three films since 2009.

Jane Alexander pictured at the 2021 Tony Awards (Getty Images for Tony Awards Pro)

Jane Alexander pictured at the 2021 Tony Awards (Getty Images for Tony Awards Pro)

Warren Beatty

One of the greatest talents of the New Hollywood era, Beatty has collected numerous Oscar nominations in various writing, acting, directing and producing categories, winning Best Director for Red in 1981. His performance was never considered worthy of a top gong, however, despite four nominations – and perhaps his best performance, in the Robert Altman program. McCabe & Mrs. Miller, was never even nominated. However, Beatty still has her name etched in the Oscar history books, playing a central role in the famous short that was announced as Best Picture in 2017.

Annette Bening

Bening is one of the most remarkable actresses of her generation, one who many would assume would have already won an Academy Award. This is not the case, however, despite the four nominations she made – since 1999 American beauty sweeping the awards in several other major categories (including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Kevin Spacey), it feels like something of a snub. Even more significant was the decision not to nominate her for 2016 Women of the 20th Century; Her turn as single mother Dorothea Fields was one of the best of the decade.

Bradley Cooper

After he progressed in comedy debached The hangoverCooper went on to establish himself as one of Hollywood’s leading men in films such as Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, American sniper and A star was born, all four of which earned acting nominations. Cooper has also been recognized by the Academy for his acting and directing work, but has never won. And turn in Alley Nightmare The film itself is at least in contention for Best Picture.

Cooper at the 94th Annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon on March 7, 2022, after being named a producer on Best Picture contender 'Nightmare Alley' (Getty Images)

Cooper at the 94th Annual Oscar Nominees Luncheon on March 7, 2022, after being named a producer on Best Picture contender ‘Nightmare Alley’ (Getty Images)

Willem Dafoe

Another actor who you thought would already win an Oscar, Dafoe is known for his ability to wow art house audiences and Spider-Man fans alike. Of his four near misses (Squad; Shadow of the vampire; The Florida Project; At the Gate of Eternity), his role as a well-meaning motel manager is probably played by Sean Baker The Florida Project most lie; Dafoe hoped to win at the time only to lose Sam Rockwell i Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Marsha Mason

Actress and director Marsha Mason is not a household name, but her run of projects from 1973 to 1982 saw four notable nominations: for Freedom Cinderella (1973), The Good Girl (1977), Chapter Two (1979), and Except when I laugh (1981). Unfortunately, she won none of them, although she did pick up two Golden Globes for her efforts.

Ed Harris

One of cinema’s greatest screen heroes, Harris has no shortage of awards throughout his illustrious career. Oscar is one trophy that doesn’t leave him, however; despite nominations for Apollo 13, The Truman Show, Pollock and The Hourshe has always walked away from the big night empty-handed.

Saoirse Ronan

The continued presence of Ronan, the Irish actor on the ballot, was almost a laughing stock among the Oscar crowd. By the age of 24, she had been nominated four times (for 2007’s Atonement2015’s Brooklynand his two collaborations with director Greta Gerwig: 2017’s Mary’s bird and 2019 Little Women). It’s no stretch to assume the 27-year-old will win one of these days. And at the rate Ronan is going, she could even push Meryl Streep’s record for the most nominations ever.

Saoirse Ronan at the 2020 Oscars (Getty Images)

Saoirse Ronan at the 2020 Oscars (Getty Images)

Michelle Williams

Williams may be best known to mass audiences through his roles in blockbuster releases such as Venom or The Greatest Showmanbut it’s in smaller, heavier films (like Certain Women or Manchester by the Sea) that she really shines. She was nominated for an Oscar in 2011 Valentine blue and 2018 Manchester by the Sea both would be worthy winners; but her other nominations, for Brokeback Mountain in 2006 and from her turn as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn (2012), as well as recognition of her craft.

Tom Cruise

While the later years of Cruise’s career have been defined by high-octane blockbusters, he was once capable of nuanced performances. His turn as a misogynistic pickup artist in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia it may be Cruise’s best work to date, and it sits alongside him He was born on the Fourth of July and Jerry Maguire as one of three nominations in total.

Matt Damon

Damon is another one of the biggest names in Hollywood who has never won an Oscar – despite coming close three times. In 1998, he lost out after being nominated for Goodwill Debt (although it did manage to win in the Best Original Screenplay category). Later nominations for Invictus and The Martyr subsequently in 2010 and 2016, to no avail. He played a leading role in last year’s epic medieval epic The Final duel it might have been an interesting contender – but the film was completely removed from the nomination list.

…and the rest

14 other living actors have been nominated three times without winning: Joan Allen, Johnny Depp, Woody Harrelson, Diane Ladd, Angela Lansbury, Piper Laurie, Laura Linney, Viggo Mortensen, Nick Nolte, Edward Norton, Michelle Pfieffer, Mark Ruffalo, Sigourney Weaver, and Debra Winger.

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