9:00 am EDT, February 6, 2019

10 actors you won’t believe have never won an Oscar

You don't get an Oscar! You don't get an Oscar!

Each year we get excited about the annual Academy Awards, but shockingly, some of your favorites have never won the top prize. Here are 10 actors who you won’t believe have never won an Oscar.

Each winter, the Academy gives out four acting awards to some of Hollywood’s best performances of the previous year. These include Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress. This leaves many actors who gave amazing performances without an Oscar of their own, and over the years some of the best actors to ever grace the silver screen continue to get looked over.

While many actors’ dreams will come true this year when they are awarded their own golden statue, there are many incredibly talented actors who have never won an Oscar. These are some of Hollywood’s most talented stars, who we can’t believe have never won an Academy Award.

This article is current as of February 2019

Samuel L. Jackson

Total nominations: 1

Despite a whopping 182 acting credits to his name, and a career that began in the early 1970s, Samuel L. Jackson has never won an Oscar. In fact, he’s only ever been nominated once. It just goes to show you that awards don’t make a star.

Article Continues Below
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Pulp Fiction, 1995

Robert Downey Jr.

Total nominations: 2

Of course modern audiences mostly associate the name Robert Downey Jr. with Tony Stark, and of course it’s incredibly unlikely for a Marvel film to get an Oscar nomination for acting. But even before Iron Man, RDJ had an illustrious acting resume.With a career that began in the 80s and currently over 90 acting credits to his name, it’s surprising he hasn’t earned more than just two Oscar nominations, let alone that he’s never won.

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Chaplin, 1993
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: Tropic Thunder, 2009

Johnny Depp

Total nominations: 3

Any fool on the street could name at least one film and character Johnny Depp has played. Indeed, he’s probably the most iconic character actor of our time, but that is also probably why he’s never won an Oscar. Those over-the-top type caricatures don’t tend to get recognition at the Oscars. The most shocking part is probably that he doesn’t have more nominations for his earlier work.

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2004
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Finding Neverland, 2005
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 2008

Laura Linney

Total nominations: 3

Laura Linney might be one of those whose name you can’t really remember but you’ve seen her face everywhere. Odds are you know her from Love Actually, but she’s had consistent work and memorable films since the 90s. For the moment it seems Linney is quite content in the television world, but if the right film role comes around, she could easily earn herself an Oscar.

  • Best Actress in a Leading Role: You Can Count on Me, 2001
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Kinsey, 2005
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: The Savages, 2008

Sigourney Weaver

Total nominations: 3

Sigourney Weaver has never won an Oscar, yet her longstanding, accomplished presence in Hollywood would make you think she had. In fact, she’s only been nominated three times, twice in the same year. She actually hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar in 20 years. Her career is far from over though, and all it takes is one iconic role to get herself in the Oscar winners circle.

  • Best Actress in a Leading Role: Aliens, 1987
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Working Girl, 1989
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role: Gorillas in the Mist: The Story of Dian Fossey, 1989

Tom Cruise

Total nominations: 3

Despite being in so many iconic and memorable films, Tom Cruise has never won an Oscar. His propensity for action films is probably what’s hindered his chances, given that the Oscars don’t tend to favor that type of film. That said, he has earned himself three nominations, and it’s not as if his career is suffering.

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Born on the Fourth of July, 1990
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Jerry Maguire, 1997
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Magnolia, 2000

Annette Bening

Total nominations: 4

Annette Bening began her career in theatre, and quickly became a name to remember when she entered the film world. She has received four Oscar nominations so far, and it’s only a matter of time before that becomes five, and probably a removal from this list.

  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role: The Grifters, 1991
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role: American Beauty, 2000
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Being Julia, 2005
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: The Kids Are All Right, 2011

Amy Adams

Total nominations: 6

A relative ‘newcomer’ to the Hollywood scene, at least comparatively speaking, Amy Adams quickly became a household name after starring as the delightful Giselle in Enchanted. She also quickly proved herself as an actress to be taken seriously, earning six Oscar nominations, the fourth most nominations without a win.

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Junebug, 2006
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Doubt, 2009
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: The Fighter, 2011
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: The Master, 2013
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: American Hustle, 2014
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Vice, 2019

Glenn Close

Total nominations: 7

It’s amazing to think that an actress revered as much as Glenn Close has never won an Oscar. She’s one of those you’d put in a category with Meryl Streep, a seemingly obvious Oscar winner. She does though hold the record for living actor with most nominations without a win. Nominated again in 2019, it’s possible this could be her year.

  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role: The World According to Garp, 1983
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role: The Big Chill, 1984
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role: The Natural, 1985
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role: Fatal Attraction, 1988
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role: Dangerous Liaisons, 1989
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Albert Nobbs, 2012
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: The Wife, 2019

Peter O’Toole

Total nominations: 8

Holding the record for most nominated actor without a win is Peter O’Toole. Despite being a millennial who was not even alive for most of his career, to me, the name Peter O’Toole is synonymous with acting royalty. It’s one of those names that’s always mentioned in a ‘top actors of all time’ list, and yet he never won an Oscar. He did at least receive an Honorary award in 2003, for his longstanding achievement in film.

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Lawrence of Arabia, 1963
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Becket, 1965
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: The Lion in Winter,1969
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Goodbye, Mr Chips,1970
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: The Ruling Class,1973
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: The Stunt Man,1981
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: My Favorite Year,1983
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Venus, 2007

Honorable Mentions

The following actors are among the group of most nominated for an acting Oscar but never won.

Keira Knightley

Total nominations: 2

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Pride & Prejudice, 2006
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: The Imitation Game, 2015
Jessica Chastain

Total nominations: 2

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: The Help, 2012
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Zero Dark Thirty, 2013
Brad Pitt

Total nominations: 3

  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Twelve Monkeys, 1996
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 2009
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Moneyball, 2012
Edward Norton

Total nominations: 3

  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Primal Fear, 1997
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: American History X, 1999
  • Best Performance by and Actor in a Supporting Role: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), 2015
Joaquin Phoenix

Total nominations: 3

  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Gladiator, 2001
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Walk the Line, 2006
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: The Master, 2013
Montgomery Clift

Total nominations: 4

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: The Search, 1949
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: A Place in the Sun, 1952
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: From Here to Eternity, 1954
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Judgment at Nuremburg, 1962
Ed Harris

Total nominations: 4

  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Apollo 13, 1996
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: The Truman Show, 1999
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Pollock, 2001
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: The Hours, 2003
Michelle Williams

Total nominations: 4

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Brokeback Mountain, 2006
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Blue Valentine, 2011
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: My Week with Marilyn, 2012
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role: Manchester by the Sea, 2017
Bradley Cooper

Total nominations: 4

  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Silver Linings Playbook, 2013
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: American Hustle, 2014
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: American Sniper, 2015
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: A Star Is Born, 2019
Willem Dafoe

Total nominations: 4

  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Platoon, 1987
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Shadow of the Vampire, 2001
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role: The Florida Project, 2018
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: At Eternity’s Gate, 2019
Richard Burton

Total nominations: 7

  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: My Cousin Rachel, 1953
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: The Robe, 1954
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Becket, 1965
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, 1966
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 1967
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Anne of the Thousand Days, 1970
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Equus, 1978

Each year there are more and more actors that enter Hollywood and put out incredible performances, and each year many of them go unnoticed by the Academy. It’s the name of the game, but we have to imagine a lot of the actors seen above will get their night to shine at some point in the future.

Related: Oscar category chaos: 5 new categories the Academy needs to add to the lineup

Many of these talented actors are still very active in Hollywood, and we look forward to enjoying more of their work. Hopefully one day, all of these brilliant nominees will be acknowledged for their amazing performances, and they’ll finally be able to join that exclusive club.

Which actor’s Oscar-less career surprises you most?

We want to hear your thoughts on this topic!
Why not write a comment below or submit an article to Hypable.

Introducing the Hypable app

Free for iOS and Android