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10 incredible actors who have never received an Oscar


The Academy Awards is well-known for having its favourites, with the likes of Meryl Streep, Daniel Day-Lewis and Frances McDormand having taken home the Oscar statuette more than many other iconic industry actors.

In fact, there is a long list of significant Hollywood stars, both living and deceased, who never received the iconic golden trophy despite being fully deserving of the award. 

Some of these stars may have the chance to change their fortunes in the upcoming 2022 ceremony, with Will Smith in line for a chance of winning the Best Leading Actor award for King Richard after having been nominated three times before. Similarly, Jessica Chastain could make her nomination for The Eyes of Tammy Faye ‘third time lucky’, after missing out on an Oscar for her previous performances in Zero Dark Thirty and The Help.

With our fingers crossed for a first-time winner, the 2022 Oscars certainly has the opportunity to change the awards fortunes of several iconic Hollywood stars. Until we discover the winners of the 94th Academy Awards, let’s take a look at the list of ten incredible actors who have remarkably never received Oscar recognition for their work. 

Ten incredible actors who have never received an Oscar

10. Michelle Williams

The four-time Oscar nominee has never been lucky enough to win either the award for Best Leading Actress or Best Supporting Actress despite delivering some of the finest performances of the modern century. Her first nomination came back in 2005 when she was put forward in the supporting category for her performance in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain before being nominated again in 2010 for Blue Valentine, 2012 for My Week with Marilyn and 2017 for Manchester by the Sea.

Recognised as one of the greatest female leads of modern cinema, Williams’ biggest snub was in 2017 when her emotionally wrought performance was beaten out by Viola Davis in Fences.

9. Jake Gyllenhaal

Speaking of the greatest actors of our generation, Jake Gyllenhaal has to be included in such a conversation, with the dynamic Hollywood star featuring in everything from arthouse dramas to superhero blockbusters. Nominated only once in 2006 for his supporting role in Brokeback Mountain, Gyllenhaal was snubbed out of a nomination for his 2013 film Prisoners and his 2014 movie Nightcrawler to name just two. 

With some major cinematic collaborations on the way, we have little doubt that Gyllenhaal will one day be rewarded for his contributions to the medium. 

8. Samuel L. Jackson

A staple of the films of Quentin Tarantino, Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in the Oscar-nominated films Django Unchained, Jackie Brown and The Hateful Eight, without ever receiving a nomination for himself. The only nomination the actor has ever received was for Tarantino’s 1994 masterpiece Pulp Fiction where Jackson lost out to Martin Landau for his role in Ed Wood.

Aside from Tarantino, we think the actor certainly deserved a nod at the very least for his role in 1991s Jungle Fever and maybe for the superhero movie Unbreakable if the Academy was feeling generous.

7. Willem Dafoe

The beloved star of Spider-Man: No Way Home has been milling around in the Hollywood sphere for some time now though hasn’t been lucky enough to take home an Oscar, even though he’s been nominated for four Academy Awards. Given a nod for the 1987 war movie Platoon, as well as for Shadow of the Vampire in 2001, The Florida Project in 2018 and At Eternity’s Gate in 2019.

Gaining even greater commercial acclaim in contemporary cinema, it feels almost inevitable that Dafoe will eventually take home an Academy Award, becoming a favourite of the Oscar darling Wes Anderson.

6. Amy Adams

One of the most unfortunate contemporary actors to have never received an Academy Award, Amy Adams has been nominated for an Oscar six times, walking home empty-handed every time. Often unfairly snubbed for the award, the fact that Amy Adams didn’t swoop the Supporting Actress Oscar for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master in 2013 is criminal. 

In addition to the PTA classic, Adams also missed out on a win for Junebug, Doubt, The Fighter, American Hustle and Vice, despite delivering quality performances every time.

5. Bill Murray

Loved by both audiences and critics, Bill Murray is a classic comedian and dynamic actor who has proved his proficiency for both comedy and drama throughout his impressive career. Snubbed from winning his only Oscar nomination in 2004 for Lost in Translation, Murray has been unlucky to have not been nominated for an Academy Award since, despite strong performances in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Broken Flowers and St. Vincent since.

What’s more, quite how the actor never received appreciation for his performances in Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day and Rushmore, we’ll never know.

4. Naomi Watts

Star of Mulholland Drive by David Lynch, a film that is often considered the best movie of the 21st century, Naomi Watts has since been considered as one of the finest actors of the modern century, featuring in such films as Vice and the Best-Picture winner Birdman. None of these aforementioned films even earned Watts an Oscar nomination, however, with her only two nods coming from the 2003 film 21 Grams and 2013s The Impossible.

Capable of some truly dynamic dramatic performances, Watts will most likely claim an Academy Award in the near future. 

3. Peter O’Toole

Unfortunately for these final three actors, time has run out for them to claim a coveted Oscar statuette, and despite Peter O’Toole starring in one of the most celebrated films of all time in Lawrence of Arabia, he passed away in 2013 without an Academy Award to his name. Nominated for eight Oscars without ever winning the award, an achievement he only shares with the American actor Glenn Close, O’Toole certainly deserved praise for his impressive career. 

Nominated for Goodbye, Mr. Chips, The Ruling Class and The Stunt Man without success, O’Toole was eventually awarded an honourary award in 2003 for his contributions to cinema. 

2. Peter Sellers

For mid-20th century comedy, there are few actors you’d rather turn to than Peter Sellers, the iconic character actor and star of the Stanley Kubrick cold-war classic Dr. Strangelove. Nominated for the film, along with the 1979 film Being There, Sellers was also recognised for his work on the 1960 short film The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film that he helped Richard Lester direct.

Never actually taking home an Oscar, Seller’s iconic performances in such films as The Pink Panther, Lolita and The Ladykillers each went completely unnoticed by the Academy. 

1. Christopher Lee

Topping our list is the influential British actor Christopher Lee, the star of The Wicker Man, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Dracula, who remarkably never received one Oscar nomination despite appearing in over 200 films during his incredible career. An iconic actor who helped change the face of mainstream acting, there is truly no actor with as much of an impact on the industry who doesn’t have an Academy Award. 

There are several films Lee deserved at least a nomination for, if not a win, including The Devil Rides Out, The Curse of Frankenstein and The Man With the Golden Gun.