The benchmark for great actors usually involves an Oscar win. In movie previews — regardless if it’s a stoner comedy or a historical drama — “Oscar Winner” always appears before the actor’s name. (When it says, “Oscar Nominated,” if always feels a little sad somehow, doesn’t it?) But let’s be honest: the winner is not always chosen for their work on a specific movie. Often it’s the culmination of a career (i.e., sheer inevitability) and/or their likability. Ergo, Judi Dench and Sandra Bullock. So as we continue counting down to the Oscars on February 24th, it’s time we look at those truly great actors and directors who’ve never won a competitive Oscar. Some who can’t even have “Oscar Nominated” before their names. As you’ll see, it’s time to reevaluate whether winning an Oscar truly defines a great performers or filmmaker.
Four nominations for Best Actor and one for Best Supporting, but Daddy Warbucks remains empty handed.
Yep. Two nominations, but received only a “Juvenile” award.
Seven nominations. One honorary.
Of the three films he was credited for being in, he received two Best Actor nominations for East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause. Both of which came after the young actor’s death in 1955.
Probably one of the most shocking additions to this list—after all, Close is one of the most highly regarded actresses working today. But, like Kerr, Close has been nominated six times (three Best Actress, three Best Supporting) but has yet to win. Not even for Fatal Attraction, where she lost to Moonstruck’s Cher.
Twelve (!) nominations: four for directing, eight for screenplay. Per usual, only an honorary.
James Earl Jones
One of our greatest stage and screen actors—plus the voice of CNN, Darth Vader and Mufasa—received one nomination in 1971 for The Great White Hope. The honorary Oscar he received in 2011 just doesn’t cut it.
Four nominations: one for Best Supporting and three for Best Actress, two of which were lost to Hillary Swank.
The genius behind Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Beetlejuice, and Big Fish has earned two nominations. For Best Animated Feature. I guess he, too, will get the honorary award some day.
Many thought his performance in 2012’s Arbitrage would finally bring Gere his first nomination. It did not.
The legendary actress is tied with Julie Harris and Audra McDonald for an actress winning the most Tony Awards, five. Yet this never translated to her screen work: three Oscar and 18 primetime Emmy noms but no wins.
Peter O’Toole holds the (dis)honor of being the actor with the most number of nominations, eight, and no wins. His honorary Oscar in 2002 seems paltry for the man who was Lawrence of Arabia, Henry II, and Alan Swann.
She gave birth to Satan’s spawn, but that wasn’t even enough to garner her an Oscar nomination.
There have only been 10 actors/actresses who have been nominated for lead and supporting in the same year. Seven of whom have won. Unfortunately, though Moore was nominated for both Far From Heaven and The Hours in 2002 (after receiving nominations in 2000 and 1998), she lost.
Three nominations: two for Best Actor and one for Best Supporting—which he should have won for his work in Magnolia.
Today, Kerr is not a household name. But this internationally acclaimed actress—in The King and I and From Here to Eternity, to name a couple of her big films—earned six Best Actress nominations. Like so many others, the honorary Oscar, was too little, too late.
Yes, that’s right. Alfred Psycho Hitchcock never won. He received five nominations for directing, but the honorary award would be the only golden bald man he had.
An Academy record: five nominations, five categories (directing, adapted screenplay, Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor). No wins.
Technically I’m cheating here; Kubrick did win a Special Effects award for his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey. But with 13 nominations—four for directing, five for screenplay and three for producing—the effects award would be his only one.