With the movie award season stirring and film fans gearing up for the big ceremonies and award presentations, we’ve got celebrated actors on the brain. Obviously, the show that everyone is most anxiously waiting on is the Academy Awards. It’s the big dog. Every year, around this time, people start talking about who could win and who should win. When it comes to actors, there are two groups that get a lot of airtime: those who have won the most and those who have never won. If you started to go through all the actors who have never won an Academy Award, you would probably be shocked at how many amazing talents you would see. Amy Adams, Peter O’Toole, Joaquin Phoenix, Glenn Close, honestly, the list goes on and on. For the last several years, Leonardo DiCaprio has acted like an umbrella for many other great actors who have been shut-out, shielding them from the discussion while everyone talked about him and his lack of Oscars. Well, Leo won last year, so now we’ve moved on to talking about everyone else.
This is going to be different than the usual. Like we said, the list of actors who haven’t won an Academy Award goes on and on, and no one has time for on and on. With the Golden Globes in our midst, however, we thought it would more interesting to look at actors who have never won a Golden Globe or an Academy Award. Sure, you might argue that the BAFTAs are the more prestigious award, especially with the Golden Globes somewhat checkered past, but the 20 million viewers who tune into the Golden Globes might disagree with that. Besides, nearly everyone on this list has also been overlooked by the BAFTAs, so it’s not like it would change drastically. What we found in this exercise are the actors who have made losing into an art form. With such a range of categories between the two award shows, it takes true finesse to miss out year after year. Some actors herein have received numerous nominations, while others have never even received one. Here, we’ve prepared a true smorgasbord of underappreciated actors for you. Here are 15 actors you wont believe have never won an award.
15. Liam Neeson
Despite his more recent foray into the land of action films, Liam Neeson was, for a long time, a drama man, and he was recognized as a great one at that. Way back, during the 1993 award circuit, Neeson was the toast of the town with his brilliant performance in Schindler’s List. He was nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. But it wasn’t enough. Tom Hanks was wonderful in Philadelphia, winning his first of back-to-back Best Actors, and Neeson went away sad. We all figured he would be back. But, sadly, that would be it for Neeson and Academy recognition. He would, however, get a couple more nods from the Golden Globes for his roles in Michael Collins and Kinsey. Once again, he would leave both of these ceremonies empty handed and sad.
14. Gene Wilder
It’s not necessarily crazy to learn that Gene Wilder, the late great comedian, never won an Academy Award. After all, comedies have long been overlooked at that ceremony. But the Golden Globes have an entire category dedicated to comedy. You would think that he would have won something there somewhere along the line. Nope. Wilder did receive a few nominations in his lifetime, however, Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards for The Producers, Best Actor at the Golden Globes for Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory and Silver Streak, as well as a writing nomination for Young Frankenstein from the Academy, but no wins. Not one. He did win an Emmy as a guest actor on Will & Grace, but that’s an award show that we’re not considering here.
13. Ewan McGregor
It might be true that Ewan McGregor is lambasted for his roles as often as he is celebrated for them, but this is still one of the greats in the field we’re talking about. Yet, even with all the fantastic performances he’s logged throughout the years, he’s never even earned a single nomination from the Academy. He does, at least, have two Golden Globe nominations for Moulin Rouge! and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen to hang his hat on. He’s also got a few Screen Actors Guild Award nominations, but they were all for an ensemble cast: Little Voice, Moulin Rouge! and August: Osage County, which is never quite as nice as an individual recognition.
12. Sam Rockwell
For a long time, Sam Rockwell has been one of the most talented but undervalued actors out there. It’s not just by the fans either. Rockwell has never received a single nomination from the Academy Awards, the Golden Globes or the BAFTAs. The only times he’s ever had his name in an important acting award category was when he and his fellow cast members were nominated in the ensemble cast category at The Screen Actors Guild Awards for The Green Mile and Frost/Nixon. There’s a good argument that says Rockwell hasn’t been snubbed; he just hasn’t had the proper vehicle yet, which is probably true. But, when he does win in the future, think of us. Remember back to this moment.
11. Jennifer Jason Leigh
When Jennifer Jason Leigh was nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Hateful Eight, it marked her very first nomination at those awards, a truly remarkable feat for someone who’s been as talented as she has for as long as she has. She also got a BAFTA and Golden Globe nomination for that same role. Outside of that Quentin Tarantino film, Leigh also earned Golden Globe nominations (but no wins) for her performance in Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, as well as being part of the ensemble cast in Short Cuts. It’s not like Leigh hasn’t been in great films either. Several of her roles have been considered, but she’s been a victim of circumstance more than anything else.
10. Ralph Fiennes
Even though most film fans associate Ralph Fiennes with Voldemort these days, there was a time when he was considered one of the best and most versatile in the business, a title that he will no doubt get back. He is one of only three actors on this list who have won a BAFTA, so he shouldn’t be too hard on himself. It was for his work in Schindler’s List that Fiennes won the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor, but, outside of that recognition, he’s been shut-out. For that same role, Fiennes earned nominations from the Academy and the Golden Globes. He also earned nominations from all three awards for playing Count Almásy in The English Patient, losing to Geoffrey Rush, who swept every major award that year for his incredible performance in Shine.
9. John Malkovich
For all the amazing work that John Malkovich has done in film, he has never won either an Academy Award, a Golden Globe or even a BAFTA. Pretty incredible, right? While he’s been in a number of great films, he’s only ever been recognized twice by the Academy, both for Best Supporting Actor, one for his role in Places in the Heart and the other for In the Line of Fire. At the Golden Globes, Malkovich earned nominations for Death of a Salesman, In the Line of Fire and Heart of Darkness. We will also mention that he was nominated for but didn’t win a BAFTA for In the Line of Fire as well. Damn you, Tommy Lee Jones!
8. Samuel L. Jackson
If you consider that Samuel L. Jackson has been in just about 13,000 films, you would think his odds of winning an award here or there would increase exponentially. Well, maybe his odds did increase, which only makes this poor SOB even more unlucky. But even though he’s been in countless movies, he only has one Oscar nomination and one BAFTA nomination, both for Best Supporting actor when he was in Pulp Fiction. The Golden Globes have been kinder to him (or meaner depending on your angle), nominating him a total of four times for his roles in Against the Wall, Pulp Fiction, A Time to Kill and Jackie Brown. To be honest, it doesn’t seem like Jackson has any awards in mind when he selects roles. To be even more honest, Jackson seems like he chooses roles by throwing a dart at a list of potentials.
7. Tom Hardy
Okay, Tom Hardy has a BAFTA for Rising Star. We’re not counting that contest. Moving on. Can you believe that Hardy has never been nominated for a Golden Globe? Not for Bronson, Warrior, Locke, Legend, The Revenant or Mad Max: Fury Road. That’s incredible, isn’t it? At least the guy got a nod from the Academy Awards for The Revenant. That might soften the blow of being snubbed over and again by the Hollywood Foreign Press voters. We give it five years, five years until Hardy has multiple awards. With so many great names on this list, it’s tough to say that one is better than the rest, but, make no mistake, Hardy is not only one of the best actors on this list, but he is one of the best working actors in the industry and he will be recognized as such in the very near future.
6. Helena Bonham Carter
Like some of the others on this list, Helena Bonham Carter did win a BAFTA. She won hers for her performance in The King’s Speech; let’s get that out of the way first. She’s also been nominated but came away empty-handed four other times at the BAFTAs for roles in Howards End, The Wings of the Dove, Enid and Burton & Taylor. The Academy Awards have recognized Bonham Carter twice, once for The Wings of a Dove and once for The King’s Speech. Compared to these two award ceremonies, the Golden Globes have been vile to Bonham Carter, nominating her a total of seven times for her TV and film performances without ever giving her a win.
5. Bradley Cooper
It hasn’t been a very long period of time that Bradley Cooper has been considered a great actor, but he’s received a number of nominations in that time nevertheless. From the Academy, Cooper received acting nominations in three consecutive years with Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle (supporting) and American Sniper. He also earned two nominations from BAFTA and the Golden Globes for Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. He’s earned nominations for three Screen Actors Guild Awards and one Tony Award, too. Among all that, and with the added consideration that he’s done it in back-to-back years, Cooper has yet to win. He does have a Razzie Award though for All About Steve.
4. Gary Oldman
Gary Oldman is one of the best actors in Hollywood and, despite having only one Academy Award nomination, that for his performance in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, he may be the most talented actor not to have a win. If the gods are just, Oldman will get his Oscar in the next few years, but it’s not only the Academy that’s overlooked him. While Oldman did win BAFTAs for Best British Film and Original Screenplay for his film Nil by Mouth, he missed out on the acting categories when he was nominated for Prick Up Your Ears and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Oh, and as for the Golden Globes, Oldman has been very vocal and very critical about how he feels about them, possibly even preventing himself from ever winning. Every year, it seems, Oldman is insulting the Globes publicly, going so far as to call for a boycott recently.
3. Will Smith
If we were talking Grammys, Will Smith wouldn’t be on this list. He has four of those. We’re not though, talking about Grammys. We’re talking about acting and Smith has heard his name called for a nomination a total of seven times, five at the Golden Globes and two at the Academy Awards, but he’s never once been called the stage to touch the prize. For a long time, there’s been a talk of a lack of diversity at the Oscars, so the fact that Smith has never won one of those prestigious awards isn’t all that shocking; what is, is the fact that both times he was nominated for Best Actor (Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness) he lost to other black actors (Denzel Washington in Training Day and Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland). Smith also received noms at the Golden Globes for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (twice), Ali, The Pursuit of Happyness and Concussion.
2. Harrison Ford
For over 40 years, Harrison Ford has been delivering memorable performances in some of the biggest films in history. Yet, with the exception of the Cecil B. DeMille Award that he received for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment” at the 2002 Golden Globes, Ford has never won any of the major awards for acting. Even if you consider Ford an “action star,” it still is beyond belief that he’s never won. Incredibly, throughout his entire career, Ford has only received one Academy Award nomination; that was at the 58th Academy Awards for his performance in Witness. He also received a Golden Globe and BAFTA nomination for that same role. Over the next decade, he would receive three more Golden Globe nominations for The Mosquito Coast, The Fugitive and Sabrina.
1. Viola Davis
Of everyone on this list, Viola Davis might be the one that won’t be here next year. On the list we mean; she won’t be on the list, not she won’t be among the living. Heck, by the time you read this, she might not even qualify. Davis is also an actress who has won a lot, but she has never won an award for her movie roles from one of the big shows, yet. That being said, she’s been nominated for an Academy Award for acting twice, once for her supporting role in Doubt and another for Best Actress in Help (three times if she gets one this year). For the latter role, she also received a BAFTA nomination. At the Golden Globes, Davis has been even more unlucky, nominated for Doubt, The Help and How to Get Away with Murder (twice). Still, as we mentioned, Davis has won some nice awards. She has won three Screen Actor’s Guild awards, an Emmy and two Tony Awards. Now that she’s been nominated once again at this year’s Golden Globes and almost certainly at the Academy Awards as well for her role in Fences, Davis looks to break her unlucky streak once and for all.