29+ Stars Who We Can't Believe Never Won An Oscar
| LAST UPDATE 05/31/2022
Most actors embark on their careers with the hopes of one day accepting an Academy Award. Surprisingly, these stars prove that one doesn't need an Oscar to become one of the biggest names in Hollywood.
He may be the Hollywood heartthrob, but Ryan Gosling has yet to steal the hearts of the Academy with an acting performance. He's earned himself two Oscar nominations but never managed to take it home.
Nominated for Best Actor in 2007 for Half Nelson and then again in 2017 for La La Land, he lost out to his fellow nominees both times. While unfortunate, he is Ryan Gosling, after all. Something tells us he still has a long-acting career ahead of him.
In 1993, Liam Neeson had audiences worldwide in tears with his portrayal of the hero, Oskar Shindler, in Shindler's List. Beautifully taking on the role of the man who saved thousands of Jews during the holocaust, he earned himself an Oscar nomination for his performance.
Despite the critical acclaim he received, the nomination did not turn into a win, going to his fellow nominee, Tom Hanks. Although Neeson has not been nominated again since then, he's continued to make box office hits. Seriously, can anyone get enough of the Taken franchise?
Although most of us would say that his take on the iconic character Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean was Oscar-winner-worthy, the Academy apparently disagreed. He was nominated in 2004 for the role but was beaten out by the competition.
Depp has been nominated two other times, in 2005 for Finding Neverland and 2008 for Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Unfortunately, he left both these events empty-handed and hasn't been nominated for any role over the past fourteen years.
His name is almost synonymous with blockbuster hits, but it seems the Academy does not take box office figures into account when handing out Oscar awards. Tom Cruise has earned himself a handful of nominations but never had his chance to walk toward the stage and make his thank-you speech.
In 1990 and 1997, Cruise made two movies that earned him Best Actor award nominations: Born on the fourth of July and Jerry Maguire. In 2000, he earned a Best-Supporting Actor nomination for his role in Magnolia but lost out to Michael Caine. His appearances at the Oscars have been limited to presenting duties ever since.
After landing the role of Han Solo in Star Wars, Harrison Ford was put on a fast track to fame and fortune. Making it even bigger with his Indiana Jones character, the actor became one of Hollywood's most popular action stars. Surprisingly, this incredibly adored actor is also not an Academy Award winner.
Over the course of his extensive acting career, he has only been up for the award once - and interestingly for one of his lesser-known roles. Nominated in 1985 for his performance as Detective John Book in Witness, he was beaten by William Hurt. Could he still make it happen? And does he even care at this point?
Glenn Close is a record holder in the Academy, but probably not for the reason she'd like. The talented actress who rose to global levels of fame with her performance as Cruella de Vil in the 1996 Disney film 101 Dalmations has been nominated for an Oscar without winning a record-breaking amount of times. Ouch.
Over the years, from 1983 until 2021, Glenn was nominated eight times for her various performances, each time being beaten by the competition. Most recently, in 2021, she lost out to Youn Yuh-Jung in the Best-Supporting Actress category, who won for her performance in Minari.
Taraji P. Henson
As the undeniable star of the 2016 film Hidden Figures, we were shocked to discover Taraji P. Henson doesn't actually have an Oscar Award to her name. Moreover, she didn't even receive a nomination for this performance which, in our humble opinion, is the biggest surprise of all.
While her role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button earned her a nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category, it still was not enough for a win. Perhaps her work on her upcoming 2023 film, The Color Purple, will earn her the recognition she deserves...
Rising to fame with her role as Jen Lindley in Dawson's Creek, Michelle Williams has made a serious name for herself in Hollywood as an actress. Appearing in numerous Oscar-worthy projects from the years from 2005 to 2011, the star has four Oscar nominations on her resume.
Nominated in 2006 for her role in Brokeback Mountain, Michelle Williams has since been a regular attendant at the Oscars ceremony. She was up for Best Actress in 2011 for Blue Valentine and My Week with Marilyn in 2012 and almost won Best Supporting Actress in 2017 for Manchester by the Sea. So close, yet so far.
Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen may have been deemed worthy of a knighthood in the eyes of the Queen of England, but that doesn't mean he's good enough for the Academy. The actor, who has been in the game for longer than most, has a variety of awards on record... except an Oscar.
In 2002, he was nominated for Best Actor as his most iconic character Gandalf in The Lord of The Rings franchise but was not crowned the winner. Thankfully he had his losing face perfected as just three years before that, he had been nominated for his role in Gods and Monsters and lost out then too.
Following in the footsteps of her Hillbily Elegy co-star Glenn Close, Amy Adams has plenty of Oscar nominations to boast about - but unfortunately, no wins. With five nominations in the Best Supporting Actress category and one in the Best Actress category, Adams has been nail-bitingly close to winning numerous times.
Sadly, her time as the winner has yet to come. Managing to be nominated six times over the years from 2006 to 2019, Adams has shown the longevity of her career and her commitment to working on Oscar-worthy projects. Stay tuned; perhaps her winning moment is just around the corner.
Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson has been part of some of the most successful movies of all time, such as Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained. Regardless, he has still not won an Oscar. Having been nominated once in 1995 in the Best Supporting Actor category, he hasn't been nominated again since.
Considering the fact that he is one of the highest-grossing actors of all time, understandably, even the Academy themselves were confused by the oversight. For this reason, they decided to award Jackson the Honorary Academy Award in 2021 in recognition of his lifetime achievements in the film industry. That's better than nothing!
Robert Downey Jr.
According to Forbes, Robert Downey Jr. is one of the highest-paid actors in the world. A high price tag reflects a high demand for the actor to appear in a project. Based on this alone, it would be fair to assume Robert has some prestigious Academy Awards in his name. Surprisingly he has none.
Despite his unbelievably successful movie career, which started at the age of five, the star's talents have never been officially recognized by the Academy. Yes, he was nominated twice, but he never managed to beat the competition. With the projects and paychecks he's currently receiving, we can't imagine he's too down about it.
Jake Gyllenhaal's acting resume is filled with critically acclaimed movie blockbusters. Despite the fan and critical praise most of these films received, many of them, such as Donnie Darko, Nightcrawler, and Nocturnal Animals, were surprisingly not regarded high enough by the prestigious Academy.
Gyllenhaal has been nominated only once in 2006 in the Best Supporting Actor category for his performance in Brokeback Mountain. Running up against George Clooney for his role in Syriana, the odds of winning the award that year were not looking too good for Jake. Fingers crossed, he will have his chance again.
There's really no film genre that Woody Harrelson hasn't sunk his teeth into. From young-adult dystopian films like The Hunger Games to thrilling War dramas like The Messenger, Harrelson gives every film project his all. Sadly, it's never proven to be enough in the eyes of The Academy.
On three occasions, Woody was in the running to take home an Oscar but left the ceremony disappointed every time. In 1996, he was up for the Best Actor award for The People vs. Larry Flynt and was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Messenger (2009) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017).
Steve Martin is here to prove that one can be one of the most iconic actors of all time, and still, their catalog of work can, time and time again, miss the Oscar-worthy mark. Despite making us laugh with every movie he appears in, he has yet to earn himself even an Oscar nomination.
Like Samuel L. Jackson, the Academy recognized the actor's adoration and awarded Steve the Honorary Academy Award in 2013 for his lifetime achievements. Maybe the Academy will come around eventually. After all, Steve Martin is an icon. Just like our next actor...
Throughout Hollywood history, Ralph Fiennes has portrayed some of the most evil characters known to mankind. Of course, most notably, he was the face behind Lord Voldemort, the dark wizard out to destroy Harry Potter. But it was another terrifying character that had the Academy talking.
In 1993, he played Commandant Amon Goeth in Shindler's List - the Nazi guard who took pleasure in the plight of Jews. Like his co-star Liam Neeson, the actor was nominated for an Academy Award for his acting performance. Despite not taking home the Best Supporting Actor award, his career has been on the up ever since.
While most movie fanatics will be familiar with Bill Murray and his collection of work, most would be surprised to learn that the actor has been honored with very few awards for his work. Having been nominated seven times for Golden Globe awards, he only managed to take home one of them.
That win was for his performance in Lost in Translation, which was widely critically acclaimed and even earned him a Best Actor nomination at the Oscars. Being his only Oscar nod so far in his career, the pressure to win was likely intense. However, it appears it was not meant to be, as Sean Penn was announced as the winner.
Believe it or not, despite Michael Keaton's long and successful Hollywood career, he went most of the years without receiving any Oscar nominations. Most disappointingly, his movie, The Founder, in which he plays the struggling salesman who sets up McDonald's, caused a stir when the Academy overlooked it.
Finally, in 2015, the Academy acknowledged his talents, nominating Keaton for his lead acting performance in Birdman. Although he lost out to Eddie Redmayne, he still had his moment on stage as his movie Birdman took home the Best Picture Oscar that year. That must soften the blow a little bit.
This one had us do a double-take. We can't believe that the hilarious Jim Carrey has never been awarded or even nominated for an Oscar. He has a bunch of Golden Globes nominations and wins on his record - but it appears perhaps the only people he hasn't managed to win over are the Academy.
He's appeared in critically acclaimed movies such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Truman Show. Still, even these stellar performances did not manage to capture the attention of the Academy. We're hoping this isn't the reason he's been mostly limiting himself to television roles over the past few years...
Ethan Hawke's acting catalog is extensive. Appearing in indie projects such as Reality Bites and the Before Trilogy and mainstream blockbusters such as Dead Poets Society and Gattaca, he put himself in the position to receive Oscar nominations numerous times. However, he received the official nod on only two occasions.
In 2002, he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in Training Day, but it was awarded to Jim Broadbent. Thirteen years later, he found himself again anxiously awaiting the name of the Best Supporting Actor. That time it went to J.K Simmons, who wowed the Academy with his performance in Whiplash.
Another Hunger Games alumn on this list, Stanley Tucci, has too found a wealth of success in Hollywood without an Oscar award to back it up. With his memorable performances in Julie & Julia and Big Night being looked over by the Academy, it seemed it was just never going to happen for the actor.
Finally, in 2010, the actor landed a career-changing role in The Lovely Bones. His outstanding performance in this film earned him acting award nominations at the BAFTAs, Golden Globes, and, yes, even the Oscars. Sadly, none of these nominations turned into wins, but an Oscar nomination is more than most actors can claim.
Despite contrary belief, it seems appearing in the Harry Potter franchise does not foreshadow an Oscar win in the future. As the second Harry Potter star on this list, Alan Rickman, who played Severus Snape, proves that being part of a globally popular franchise is not always a one-way ticket to an Oscar award.
Before his passing in 2016, Rickman built himself a critically acclaimed acting career, appearing in projects such as Die Hard, Love Actually, and Alice Through the Looking Glass. However, this was never enough to earn him an Academy Award nomination. He did receive a bunch of other very impressive awards, though.
Jamie Lee Curtis
Born to movie stars Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis, a successful acting career was seemingly in Jamie Lee's DNA. After making her acting debut at twenty years old in Halloween, Curtis set herself up as an iconic horror movie star. Venturing out into other genres, she won many awards for her versatile acting abilities.
Unfortunately, she did not follow in her parent's footsteps in regard to the Oscars. While both her mother and father earned Best Actor/Actress nominations over the span of their acting careers, Jamie Lee Curtis's acting skills have not yet been honored in this way by the Academy.
Hugh Jackman is one Oscar award away from making it into the EGOT club. Being the multi-talented man he is, it makes sense he has already won himself an Emmy, Grammy, and Tony award. That leaves just the O left, and we can imagine it's only a matter of time until he gets that too.
Shockingly, Jackman has only been nominated for an Academy Award once. In 2013, Jackman came close to completing his award set, being nominated for his performance as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables. Sadly, he lost out to Daniel Day-Lewis, who took home the award for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln.
While Bradley Cooper had been acting throughout the early 2000s, it wasn't until his role as Phil in the hilarious 2009 film The Hangover that he became a household name. That being said, only in 2013 was he taken seriously as an actor by the Academy, with his performance opposite Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook.
He earned a Best Actor nomination for this performance, and although he did not win, he continued to make a name for himself as a talented actor in Hollywood. In total, Cooper has eight Oscar nominations to his name, with four of those being for acting performances. Still, no-win, though. Ninth times a charm - right?
As soon as Benedict Cumberbatch entered Hollywood, he was the talk of the town. Taking on the role of Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, there was perhaps no doubt his performance would be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar in 2015. While he did receive the nomination, he didn't go on to win, as Eddie Redmayne was the chosen one.
In 2022, after being nominated for his leading role in Power of the Dog, Cumberbatch was given a second shot at taking the Best Actor crown. Despite being the favorite to win, Will Smith took home the award for his performance in King Richard. Considering his undeniable talent, we've got a feeling he'll eventually get there.
Unlike most of the actors on this list, Matt Damon has had the honor of holding a golden Oscar award in his hand. However, it wasn't for an acting performance that he was awarded this prize. Alongside best friend and co-writer Ben Affleck, he won the Best Original Screenplay Award at the 1997 Oscars for Good Will Hunting.
In addition to writing the script, Damon starred as the movie's lead character. Although he was additionally nominated in the Best Actor category that year for this performance, he did not win. He was nominated for his acting skills twice more, in 2010 for Invictus and in 2016 for The Martian, but was not successful in either case.
Emily's silent performance in A Quiet Place ironically had everyone talking. Well, except for the Academy, unfortunately. The role, which she played alongside her real-life husband, John Krasinski, earned her a prestigious Screen Actors Guild Award but was overlooked for an Oscar nomination.
That same year, she also made waves when she took on the iconic role of Mary Poppins, earning her Critic's Choice and Golden Globe nominations. This project, too, did not catch the attention of the Academy, who, to this day, has not nominated Blunt for any project. Oh well, there's always next year...
Keanu Reeves is a highly regarded actor in Hollywood, despite his award record not backing it up. In fact, not only has Reeves never been nominated for an Oscar or Golden Globe award, he actually has eight Golden Raspberry nominations which is the awards actors don't want to receive.
In 2014, Reeves managed to revive his career with his work as the lead in the action thriller John Wick. His performance as the vengeful retired hitman earned him two People's Choice Award nominations. With his loyal fanbase behind him, something tells us he'll be taking home Academy Awards in no time.
Last but certainly not least is Mark Ruffalo. After literally stealing the hearts of women all over as the lovable Matty in 13 Going on 30, the actor set out to prove he could dazzle in more serious films too. Appearing in The Kids are All Right, Foxcatcher, and Spotlight, he certainly achieved his mission.
Rightly so, the Academy recognized his strong performances in all three of these films and nominated him for Best Supporting Actor each time. However, he did not manage to take the award home on all three occasions. With his IMDb page listing many more projects in production, he's seemingly not quitting till he's made it.