When it comes to winning an Oscar, good storytelling is usually key.
The young upstart stormed onto the stage with a smashing debut. The faded star is staging an unlikely comeback. The diabolical method actor who transforms himself completely into the service of his craft.
While the decision of who wins often hinges on the arbitrary notion of “momentum” and who ran the most effective behind-the-scenes campaign, many talented actors have often narrowly suffered, losing to a more romantic narrative.
Sometimes actors have garnered a handful of Oscar nominations without ever winning a single one.
For every series winner like Daniel Day-Lewis or Frances McDormand, there’s a Willem Dafoe or Glenn Close: great actors who didn’t get their entitlement from the academy.
Here’s a breakdown of all the living actors who’ve been nominated multiple times — but have never taken home an award.
Close is tied with the late Peter O’Toole for the record for most Oscar nominations without a win, having received eight nominations in her nearly five-decade career. While her final nod for 2021 is bland Backwoods MiegyShe would probably never bag her an award, in fact she was the 2017 nominee for her role in The woman. The bookmaker’s favorite lost to the real one favourite, however, when academy freshman Olivia Colman stole her thunder. However, don’t expect this drought to last forever; Many in Hollywood believe Close is long overdue.
For whatever reason, Adams’ career has become synonymous with the idea of Oscar history. After the breakthrough with the indie dramedy Junebug In 2005 (which earned her her first of six unsuccessful nominations for acting), she appeared in films such as doubt, The fighter and The master, but has never won an Oscar. Her last nomination was in 2019 for Adam McKay’s biopic Markets Dick Cheney. Vice But at the age of 47, there’s still plenty of time for Adams to finally get his hands on a gold statuette (or several).
In the 1970s and early 1980s it must have felt like an inevitability that Alexander would win an Oscar. The Massachusetts-born actor has been nominated four times in just fourteen years – for roles in The great white hope (1970), All the President’s men (1976), Kramer against Kramer (1979) and testament (1983). testament However, this was to be her final nomination, and while Alexander continues to have a prolific presence on television and on stage (having only been nominated for a Tony Award in 2020), she has only appeared in three films since 2009.
One of the best multi-talents of the New Hollywood era, Beatty has amassed a plethora of Oscar nominations in various categories as writer, actor, director and producer and has won Best Director Red in 1981. However, despite four nominations—and perhaps his best performance in Robert Altman’s—his acting was never considered worthy of the highest gong McCabe & Mrs. MillerShe was never nominated. Nonetheless, Beatty wrote his name in the Oscars history books, playing a crucial role in the infamous blunder in announcing the best picture of 2017.
One of the pre-eminent female actresses of her generation, Bening is someone many would assume has already won an Oscar. However, despite her four nominations – with 1999 – that is not the case american beauty It’s won awards in several other major categories (including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor for Kevin Spacey) and feels like a snub. Even more egregious was the decision not to nominate her for 2016 20th Century Women; Her role as single mother Dorothea Fields was one of the best of the decade.
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After his breakthrough in the extravagant comedy the HangoverCooper established himself as one of Hollywood’s leading men in films like Hollywood silver linings Playbook, American hustle, American sniper and The star is born, all four of which saw him earn acting nominations. Cooper was also recognized by the Academy for his work as a producer and director, but never won. While it’s his turn nightmare alley was not recognized this awards season, the film itself is at least in the competition for best picture.
Dafoe is another actor you might have thought had already won an Oscar. He is known for his ability to wow art house audiences and Spider-Man fans alike. Of his four near misses (plato; Shadow of the Vampire; The Florida Project; At the gate of eternity), it’s probably his role as the well-meaning motel manager in Sean Baker’s understatement The Florida Project what stings the most; Back then, it was half expected that Dafoe would win, only to lose to Sam Rockwell Three billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri.
Actress and director Marsha Mason isn’t a household name, but her streak of projects from 1973 to 1982 earned her an impressive four nominations: for Cinderella Freedom (1973), The farewell girl (1977), Chapter Two (1979) and Only when I laugh (1981). Unfortunately, she didn’t win any of them, although she received two Golden Globes for her efforts.
As one of cinema’s biggest screen curmudgeons, Harris has had no shortage of accolades throughout his acclaimed career. An Oscar is a trophy that eludes him; despite nominations for Apollo 13, The Truman Show, pollock and The hourshe always left the big night empty-handed.
Irish actor Ronan’s continued presence on the ballot has become almost a running gag among Oscar pundits. At the age of 24, she was nominated four times (for 2007). atonement2015 Brooklynand her two collaborations with director Greta Gerwig: 2017’s lady bird and 2019 little woman). It is not difficult to assume that the 27-year-old will win one day. And at the rate at which Ronan is progressing, she might even end up crushing Meryl Streep’s record for all-time nominations.
Williams is perhaps best known to mass audiences for her roles in tentpole publications poison or The greatest showmanbut they are smaller, heavier movies (like Certain women or Manchester by the sea) that she really shines. Her Oscar-nominated turns in 2011 Blue Valentine and 2018 Manchester by the sea would have both been particularly worthy winners; but her other nominations, e.g Brokeback Mountain 2006 and for her role as Marilyn Monroe in My week with Marilyn (2012), were also well-deserved recognition of their craft.
While the later years of Cruise’s career were defined by high-octane blockbusters, they were once capable of nuanced performances. His Oscar-nominated role as the misogynistic pickup artist in Paul Thomas Anderson’s magnolia could be Cruise’s best work yet and is sitting next to it Born on July 4th and Jerry Maguire as one of a total of three nominations.
Damon is another of Hollywood’s biggest names who has never won an Oscar — despite coming close three times. In 1998 they missed the nomination goodwill hunt (although it did score a win in the Best Original Screenplay category). Subsequent nominations for Invictus and The Martian followed in 2010 and 2016 in vain. His leading role in last year’s great medieval epic The last duel could have been an interesting contender – but the film was completely dropped from the nomination list.
… And the rest
There are 13 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.
Will Smith and Jessica Chastain have both received three nominations as well, although they both have the possibility of winning with their third. Smith is the current leader in the Best Actor category for his role in the tennis biopic King Richardwhile Chastain is a strong contender for best actress for her role in Tammy Faye’s eyes.