Along with being one of the greatest actors who ever lived, the late Peter O’Toole had another, far more dubious achievement. He holds the record for being nominated the most times for Best Actor without actually winning. Over the course of his long career, Peter O’Toole was nominated 8 times without winning.
But, at least O’Toole was nominated!
Below are 16 excellent actors who have NEVER been nominated for an Oscar. 10 of these actors still have a chance to get that first nomination. For the rest, the opportunity has sadly past.
- Kevin Bacon
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t like Kevin Bacon? Amazingly, despite several decades of good performances in good films, Kevin Bacon has yet to be nominated. That said, he seems destined to be nominated some day. If nothing else, he deserved some sort of award for being the most successful cast member of the original Friday the 13th. (As well, 40 years after the fact, his cry of “All is well!” from Animal House has become one of the most popular memes around.)
2. Brendan Gleeson
This brilliant Irish actor deserved a nomination (and probably the win) for his brave performance in Calvary. But, even if you ignore Calvary, his filmography is full of award-worthy performances. From The General to Gangs of New York to 28 Days Later to In Bruges to The Guard, Gleeson is overdue for some recognition.
3. John Goodman
John Goodman deserved to be nominated this year, for his performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane. He brought warmth to both Argo and Inside Llewyn Davis. And he was absolutely terrifying in Barton Fink. John Goodman is one of the most underrated actors working today.
4. Malcolm McDowell
It’s obviously been a while since Malcolm McDowell had a truly great role. But who could forget his amazing performance in A Clockwork Orange? For that matter, I liked his sweetly gentle performance in Time After Time. Someone give this man the great role that he deserves!
5. Ewan McGregor
Ewan McGregor is an actor who is oddly taken for granted. His performance in Trainspotting remains his best known work. But, really, he’s been consistently giving wonderful performances for twenty years now. Sometimes — as in the case of the Star Wars prequels — the films have not been worthy of his talent but McGregor has always been an engaging and compelling screen presence. When it comes to playing someone who is falling in love, few actors are as convincing as Ewan McGregor.
6) Franco Nero
Franco! If for nothing else, he deserved a nomination for playing not only Lancelot in Camelot and not only the original Django but also for playing Intergalactic Space Jesus in The Visitor. I also loved his work in a little-known Italian thriller called Hitchhike. Nero is still active — look for him in John Wick 2 — and hopefully, he’ll get at least one more truly great role in his lifetime.
7) Sam Rockwell
Let’s just get this out of the way. In a perfect world, Sam Rockwell would already have an Oscar. He would have won for his performance in 2009’s Moon. He also would have received nominations for The Way, Way Back and Seven Psychopaths. Sadly, Sam’s still waiting for his first nomination. Again, the problem may be that he’s such a natural that he just makes it look easy.
8) Andy Serkis
Andy Serkis has never been nominated, despite giving some of the best performances of this century. He should have been nominated for Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. He should have won for Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
9) Harry Dean Stanton
Harry Dean Stanton has been around forever and he’ll probably outlive everyone else on the planet. He often seems to be indestructible. Harry Dean is the epitome of a great character actor. He’s a modern-day John Carradine. And, just as John Carradine was never nominated, Harry Dean seems to destined to suffer the same fate. Oscar may have forgotten him but film lovers never will.
10) Donald Sutherland
It’s hard to believe that Donald Sutherland has never been nominated for an Oscar but it’s true. He probably should have been nominated for his work in Ordinary People and JFK. Even his work in The Hunger Games franchise was an absolute delight to watch. I imagine that Sutherland will be nominated someday.
Finally, here are 6 actors who sadly were never honored by the Academy and who are no longer with us:
- John Carradine
I mentioned John Carradine earlier. Carradine was a favorite of many directors and he brought his considerable (and rather eccentric) talents to a countless number of films. Among his best performances: Stagecoach and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
2. John Cazale
Before his untimely death, John Cazale acted in 5 films: The Godfather, Godfather Part II, The Conversation, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Deer Hunter. All five of them were nominated for best picture. 12 years after his death, archival footage of him was used in The Godfather Part III. It was also nominated for Best Picture. Not only is Cazale alone in having spent his entire career in films nominated for best picture but, in each film, Cazale gave a performance that, arguably, deserved to be considered for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Cazale was an amazing actor and it’s a shame that he wasn’t able to give us more great performances.
3. Oliver Reed
Oliver Reed was a legendary drinker but he was also an amazingly entertaining actor. I’m not a huge fan of Gladiator but his final performance was more than worthy of a posthumous nomination.
4. Alan Rickman
When it comes to the late Alan Rickman, it’s not a question of whether he should have been nominated. It’s a question of for which film. I know a lot of people would say Rickman deserved a nomination for redefining cinematic villainy in Die Hard. Personally, I loved his performance in Sense and Sensibility. And, of course, you can’t overlook any of the times that he played Snape.
5. Edward G. Robinson
Edward G. Robinson was never nominated for an Oscar!? Not even for Double Indemnity? Or his final performance in Soylent Green? Horrors!
6) Anton Yelchin
It’s debatable whether or not Anton Yelchin ever got a chance to give a truly award-worthy performance during his lifetime. I would argue that his work in both Green Room and Like Crazy were pretty close. But, if Yelchnin had lived, I’m confident he would have eventually been nominated. We lost a wonderful talent when we lost him.