The 27 Actors You’d Think Have Won Oscars, But Haven’t

When it comes to winning an Oscar, good storytelling is often the key.

The young upstart bursts onto the scene with a brilliant debut performance. The faded star making an unlikely comeback. The inveterate actor of the Method is completely transformed at the service of his trade.

While the decision of who wins is often down to the arbitrary notion of “momentum” and who ran the most effusive behind-the-scenes campaign, many talented actors have often come up short, losing out to a more romantic narrative.

Sometimes actors have racked up a handful of Oscar nominations without winning once.

For every series winner like Daniel Day-Lewis or Frances McDormand, there is a Willem Dafoe or Glenn Close: great actors who have yet to get their due from the Academy.

Here’s a breakdown of all the living actors who have been nominated multiple times, but have never taken home an award.

near glenn

Close is tied with the late Peter O’Toole for the record for the most Oscar nominations without winning, having garnered eight over his nearly five-decade career. Although the most recent wink from him, for the bland of 2021 peasant elegyI would probably never give her an award, in fact, she had been the favorite in 2017, for her role in Wife. The bookie’s favorite lost to the real one. Favorite, however, as Academy newcomer Olivia Colman, she stole the limelight. However, she doesn’t expect this drought to last forever; there is a belief among many in Hollywood that Close is long overdue.

Glenn Close photographed in December 2021 (Getty Images)

amy adams

For whatever reason, Adams’ career has become synonymous with the idea of ​​the fellow Oscar nominee. After breaking up with the independent drama junebug in 2005 (earning him the first of six unsuccessful acting nominations), he has continued to deliver powerful performances in films like Doubt, The fighter and Teacher, but has never won an Oscar. His last nomination was in 2019, for Adam McKay’s pompous Dick Cheney biopic. Vice – but at the age of 47, there’s still plenty of time for Adams to finally get his hands on a golden statuette (or several).


In the 1970s and early 1980s, Alexander winning an Oscar must have felt inevitable. The Massachusetts-born actor was nominated four times in a span of just fourteen years, for roles in the great white hope (1970), All the president’s men (1976), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Will (1983). Will It was to be his last nomination, however, and while Alexander remains a prolific presence on TV and stage (he earned a Tony Award nomination in 2020), he has appeared in only 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 multi-talents of the New Hollywood era, Beatty has racked up a slew of Oscar nominations in various writing, acting, directing and producing categories, winning Best Director for reds in 1981. However, her performance was never considered worthy of the highest gong, despite four nominations, and what might be her best performance, in Robert Altman’s McCabe and Mrs. MillerHe wasn’t even nominated. Nonetheless, Beatty has still etched his name in the Oscars history books, playing a pivotal role in the infamous 2017 Best Picture ad blunder.

anette bening

One of the standout actresses of her generation, Bening is someone many people might assume would have already won an Academy Award. However, that is not the case, despite her four nominations, with the one from 1999 American Beauty sweeping awards in several other big categories (including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Kevin Spacey), it feels like a slight. Even more egregious of a snub was the decision not to nominate her for 2016. 20th century women; Her turn as a single mom Dorothea Fields was one of the best of the decade.

Bradley Cooper

After getting his breakthrough in libertine comedy The HangoverCooper went on to establish himself as one of Hollywood’s leading men in movies like Silver Linings Playbook, american hustle, american sniper and A star has been born, all four saw him earn acting nominations. Cooper has also been recognized by the Academy for his work as a producer and director, but has never won. While his turn in nightmare alley hasn’t been appreciated this awards season, the movie itself is at least in contention for Best Picture.

Cooper at the 94th Annual Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon on March 7, 2022, after being nominated as a producer for Best Picture nominee 'Nightmare Alley' (Getty Images)

Cooper at the 94th Annual Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon on March 7, 2022, after being nominated as a producer for Best Picture nominee ‘Nightmare Alley’ (Getty Images)

willem dafoe

Another actor you might have thought would have won an Oscar by now, Dafoe is known for his ability to captivate arthouse audiences and Spider-Man fans alike. Of the four near misses of him (Platoon; shadow of the vampire; The Florida Project; At the gate of eternity), is likely his role as a well-meaning motel manager in Sean Baker’s low-key story. The Florida Project which itches more; Dafoe was expected to win halfway at the time, only to lose to Sam Rockwell in Three billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri.

marsha mason

Actress-director Marsha Mason isn’t a household name, but her run of projects from 1973 to 1982 saw her land an impressive four nominations: for cinderella liberty (1973), the goodbye girl (1977), Chapter Two (1979), and only when i laugh (1981). Sadly, she didn’t win any of them, though she did win two Golden Globes for his efforts.

ed harris

Harris, one of the biggest curmudgeons on the movie screen, has experienced no shortage of awards throughout his acclaimed career. However, an Oscar is a trophy that eludes him; despite nominations for apollo 13, the truman show, pout and The hourshe has always left the big night empty-handed.

saoirse ronan

Irish actor Ronan’s continued presence on the ballot became almost a running joke among Oscar pundits. By the age of 24, he had been nominated four times (for the 2007 Atonement2015 brooklynand his two collaborations with director Greta Gerwig: 2017 lady bird and 2019 Little woman). It’s not a stretch to assume that the 27-year-old will end up winning one of these days. And at the rate Ronan is going, he might even end up surpassing Meryl Streep’s record for most nominations of all time.

Saoirse Ronan photographed at the 2020 Oscars (Getty Images)

Saoirse Ronan photographed at the 2020 Oscars (Getty Images)

michelle williams

Williams may be best known to mass audiences through her roles in blockbuster releases like Poison either the greatest showmanbut he’s in smaller, heavier movies (like certain women either manchester by the sea) that she really shines. Her Oscar nominated laps in 2011 blue valentine and 2018 manchester by the sea both would have been particularly worthy winners; but his other nominations, for Secret in the mountain in 2006 and for her role as Marilyn Monroe in My week with Marilyn (2012), recognition of their craft was also deserved.

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 Oscar-nominated portrayal of a seductive misogynist in Paul Thomas Anderson’s film Magnolia might be Cruise’s best work to date, and it sits alongside born on the fourth of july and Jerry Maguire as one of three nominations in total.

Matt Damon

Damon is another of Hollywood’s biggest names to have never won an Oscar, despite coming close on three occasions. In 1998, he lost after being nominated for goodwill hunting (although it did score a win in the Best Original Screenplay category). Subsequent nominations for Unbeaten and the martian followed in 2010 and 2016, to no avail. The main role of him in last year’s magnificent medieval epic. the last duel it could have been an interesting contender, but the film was dropped from the nominations list entirely.

…and the rest

There are 14 other living actors who 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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