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30 Great Actors Who’ve Never Been Oscar Nominated

30 Great Actors Who've Never Been Oscar Nominated

The Oscars are, to put it mildly, flawed indicators of true quality, but within the industry they’re the most influential indicators that exist, and so as much as we may hate it, they mean something. And it means something too, when you don’t get that recognition. Last week, before the Oscar nominations were announced, we took a look at 15 filmmakers who had, more or less surprisingly, never been nominated for a Best Director Oscar. This week, with Nominations Thursday now in the rearview mirror, it’s the turn of the actors and actresses who have never had their names called. As before, we have kept the list to actors still working, so that with a bit of luck, their no-show status might be rectified soon, and we’ve focused on those who are nomination-less in the four acting categories specifically — so a couple may have nods in other areas.

When drawing up the initial list prior to the announcement, it’s interesting to note that a couple of people cropped up that subsequently had to be dropped — namely Tom Hardy and Jennifer Jason Leigh, who are both enjoying their first nominations, both in the supporting categories, for “The Revenant” and “The Hateful Eight” respectively. Delighted as we are for Hardy, his surprise inclusion may have come at the cost of one name that we’d thought/hoped might get a nod but didn’t (as kind of happened with Todd Haynes last week): Idris Elba, who now duly appears below in this role-call of the unfairly overlooked. A kind of hall of fame to those who’ve never quite made into the Hall of Fame, join us on our whistle-stop tour and let us know which you consider the most outrageous miscarriage of Oscar justice in the comments below.


Donald Sutherland
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? It seems inconceivable that Sutherland, still going strong at 80, has never been nominated. With a clutch of classic ensemble films under his belt — “The Dirty Dozen,” “The Split,” “M*A*S*H,” “Kelly’s Heroes” — and latterly a host of eye-catching supporting roles that are usually catnip to the Academy — “Backdraft,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “A Time To Kill,” etc. — it’s hard to see how he avoided it. The ones he can really feel aggrieved about, though, are “Klute,” which won co-star Jane Fonda an Oscar; “Ordinary People,” which won 4 including Best Picture; and “Six Degrees of Separation” and “A Dry White Season,” both of which tick all the Oscar boxes, both of which he’s great in. However, for our money, the most egregious oversight was in not recognizing his turn in Nicholas Roeg‘s utterly indelible “Don’t Look Now,” which is a masterpiece.
Will It Happen? There is such a sense that he’s unfairly missed out that we’d imagine the Academy are actively looking for any excuse to recognize him that is not “The Hunger Games.” And if that doesn’t work out, he’s a pretty good candidate for an honorary Oscar.

Scarlett Johansson
What Should She Have Been Nominated For? Of all the transformations we’ve witnessed Johansson go through — child star to ingenue to sex symbol to muse — the most gratifying has been her recent emergence as a capital-A actor. It was Sofia Coppola‘s “Lost in Translation” that had us first see her anew, but while a nomination there would not have been out of the question (the film got four others), we’d really love to have seen her get more recognition for two more recent roles. “Under the Skin” from Jonathan Glazer was too weird for the Academy, but Johansson was extraordinary in it, uncannily embodying her alien character; while, if we lived in a more interesting world, her voice-only role in Spike Jonze‘s “Her” would’ve got a nod. That an actress so often defined by her physicality could turn in a performance of such warmth and vividness without actually appearing onscreen was quite revelatory.
Will It Happen? We believe it will, but not in the near future as her slate for the next couple of years is equal parts Marvel, voice roles, ensemble Coens comedy and “Ghost In The Shell.”

Steve Buscemi
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? For this generation of established indie filmmakers, from the Coens to Tarantino to Jim Jarmusch to Robert Rodriguez to Tim Burton, and beyond to, er, Adam Sandler and Michael Bay, Buscemi is the ultimate character actor, so he’s totemic to a whole generation of 1990s moviegoers, too. But while it’s a crime that not one of his distinctive 100+ film roles has ever netted him a nod, it’s oddly understandable: Buscemi is brilliant at playing snivelers, sneaks and weirdos. Those are roles that, no matter how well embodied, are seldom embraced by the Academy; his against-type casting on TV’s “Boardwalk Empire,” by contrast, picked up a host of awards. By rights, his turn as Mr. Pink in Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” should have seen him nominated, while it’s impossible to imagine anyone else as the “kinda funny-looking” kidnapper/woodchipper victim of “Fargo.” But the quintessential Buscemi role to us is in Terry Zwigoff‘s “Ghost World” — a part that plays on his inherent creepiness but subverts it into something human and mundanely tragic.
Will It Happen? If the Academy drops its Buscemi blinkers, he’ll give them ample opportunity: This is a guy who routinely appears in three or four films per year.

Isabella Rossellini
What Should She Have Been Nominated For? She might come, almost literally, from cinematic royalty, but while her mother Ingrid Bergman won three Oscars and was nominated for a further four, Isabella Rossellini has, shockingly, never been nominated. In fairness, her tastes lean a little more experimental than her ma’s, but even so, the Academy have had multiple opportunities to nominate her: her devilish supporting turn in “Death Becomes Her,” for instance; or Peter Weir’s powerful “Fearless.” But the obvious one would have been her breakthrough, in David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet,” a searing, surprising and raw performance that launched her to stardom and won her a Spirit Award for Best Female Lead. And while you might think that the film would be too out there for the Academy, you’d be wrong: Lynch was nominated for Best Director at that year’s Oscars. If only Rossellini could have followed him.
Will It Happen? We thought it might happen this year: Rossellini stands out without a ton of screen time in David O. Russell’s “Joy,” but lukewarm reaction to the movie ended that possibility. Hopefully it reminds other filmmakers of how potent she can be, though.

Danny Glover
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? Perhaps a victim of #OscarsSoWhite even before the hashtag, and indeed Twitter, existed, Danny Glover’s career trajectory is exactly the sort that should have seen him cozily racking up the nominations. After all, the Academy usually loves a commercial actor (and Glover’s “Lethal Weapon” stint certainly qualifies him as such) who goes “serious.” And it’s remarkable that Glover didn’t get recognized for “The Color Purple” (which picked up 11 other nods) or for his memorable villain turn in “Witness” (which had eight). And while the film is further outside the Academy’s purview, he was also outstanding in Lars von Trier‘s undervalued “Manderlay.” But for now, it’s his work on TV, especially in “Lonesome Dove” and “Mandela,” that has seen him meet with most awards success.
Will It Happen? We’d have said it felt unlikely (while desperately suppressing a “getting too old for dis shit” reference), but Glover’s upcoming slate (he has 17 projects in various stages of production! 17!) makes us think that a late-career nod might yet happen, and soon, if just one of those titles turns out better than any of his nine 2015 movies.

Gong Li
What Should She Have Been Nominated For? As wildly underrepresented as black actors are in the acting categories at the Oscars, Asian actors are even more so. And those who do pick up rare nominations tend to get them for English-speaking roles. So perhaps it’s not a surprise that Gong Li, who despite a couple of English roles (notably in “Miami Vice,” the turgid “Shanghai,” and playing Japanese in “Memoirs of a Geisha“) is best known for her Chinese films, doesn’t have a nomination. It is, however, a disappointment, seeing as she’s maybe the ultimate icon of Chinese cinema and six of her films have been Oscar-nominated elsewhere. Of those, the most egregious oversights in regards to her acting are Zhang Yimou’s “Ju Dou,” his “Raise the Red Lantern” and Chen Kaige‘s “Farewell My Concubine,” while her performance in the otherwise soapy ‘Geisha’ is terrific (if culturally problematic), and she’s a sublime part of the enigmatic puzzle that is Wong Kar-Wai‘s “2046.”
Will It Happen? It’s starting to feel pretty unlikely, as her forays into English-speaking cinema have fared so poorly and the pace of her output overall has slowed recently.

Martin Sheen
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? While nothing could ever make us wish he had not taken the role, it’s possible that the years Sheen spent on “The West Wing” saw him become so associated with the character of Jed Bartlett, that, like co-star Allison Janney, it’s been hard for the Academy to get back to considering him a big-screen star. But frankly, by the time that show started, Sheen should already have had several nods handily on his resume and probably a couple of statues on his mantle — as the anti-Bartlett in “The Dead Zone;” as General Lee in “Gettysburg;” as the archetypal rebel-on-the-run in “Badlands;” and, of course, a million times over, for his near-fatal performance in Coppola‘s “Apocalypse Now.” Since the end of “West Wing,” he could have picked up a legacy nomination for “The Departed” (it worked for Scorsese) or “Talk to Me” or for the underseen “The Way,” directed by his son, Emilio Estevez
Will It Happen? With an inarguable body of work behind him, and some enticing prospects in the cards, we’d say yes, providing his recovery from bypass surgery continues to go smoothly.

Meg Ryan
What Should She Have Been Nominated For? It’s been too long since we’ve seen Meg Ryan on the big screen (her last job was an ABC Family movie, depressingly), but though her career is a bit rocky now, she has a long-enough list of great past roles that it’s a little bewildering she never picked up an Oscar nod. She was good in more serious fare “When A Man Loves A Woman” and “Hurlyburly,” while her most obvious Oscar play, “Courage Under Fire,” was ignored despite being a well-reviewed hit. But it’s her romantic-comedy roles, in particular “When Harry Met Sally…,” that were her greatest achievements. It’s hard to get recognized for comedy in general, but Ryan was so effortlessly, impossibly good in Rob Reiner and Nora Ephron’s film that we feel that she should have been a no-brainer nominee, but the Golden Globes were as far as her awards run went that year.
Will It Happen? As we said, Ryan hasn’t been in a major movie since 2008’s “The Women,” so it’d take a major comeback to happen. But Hollywood does love a comeback story…

Idris Elba
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? Elba had been a TV actor for nearly a decade before breaking through as Stringer Bell in “The Wire,” but, perhaps because of the scope and intensity of that role, there was never any question that this was a movie star waiting to happen. Elba’s charisma and magnetism are inarguable, and while by and large Hollywood just hasn’t seemed to know quite how to use him — squandering him in bit parts in “Thor” and supporting roles in “Pacific Rim” and “Prometheus” — there were a couple of times that he should have picked up a nomination. “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” is not a great film, but it is a highly Academy-friendly one and Elba is very strong in it. And his nearest miss was just this past Thursday, when the Supporting Actor nominations were announced and Elba’s name, for his monumental turn in “Beasts of No Nation,” was conspicuous in its absence.
Will It Happen? Yes, or we’ll revolt, though it’s hard to see it happening soon with his current, commercial-leaning slate. Maybe if his rumored casting in “The Dark Tower” takes hold, and the multimedia nature of the project doesn’t put the Academy off?

Jamie Lee Curtis
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? Curtis’ early career is completely iconic, but mostly encompassed roles in two genres the Academy traditionally disdains — first horror, and then comedy. It’s a great shame, because even discounting her run as the queen of the Scream Queens in the late ’70s/early ’80s, Curtis showed real comedienne chops in films such as “Trading Places,” “A Fish Called Wanda,” “True Lies” and more recently “Freaky Friday,” and could have rightly snuck a supporting nomination for any of those, had the Academy the gumption to take comedy seriously. Recently she’s found more of a home on TV, as the linchpin of Ryan Murphy‘s current “Scream Queens” (of course) and with recurring roles on “New Girl” and, erm, “NCIS,” a show that, forgive us, we just don’t understand why the hell it exists, let alone is so popular.
Will It Happen? Her current roster makes it look unlikely, but Curtis is one eye-catching-role-in-a-breakout-indie away from a career renaissance, should she want it.


Ewan McGregor
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? When McGregor’s films are good, they’re very, very good, and when they’re bad they’re “Mortdecai,” as the saying goes. Ok, it doesn’t, but it’s certainly true that the Scottish actor has straddled the quality spectrum quite spectacularly since breaking out in Danny Boyle‘s excellent “Shallow Grave.” So while he might want to forget about “Cassandra’s Dream” or “Amelia” or indeed the ‘Star Wars‘ prequels, Oscar nominations could easily have come for “Rogue Trader,” “Young Adam,” “The Impossible” or the widely beloved “Beginners.” And they should have come for his excellent turn as glam rocker Curt Wild in Todd Haynes‘ uneven but occasionally spectacular “Velvet Goldmine,” and of course for Renton in “Trainspotting,” still the most unforgettable role on his resume and a true masterpiece.
Will It Happen? It feels like it has to, with his prodigious work rate and his admirably courageous approach to role selection. And maybe soon, if Le Carré adaptation “Our Kind of Traitor” works out, or if the ambitious gamble of his own feature directorial debut “American Pastoral” pays off. And if not, there’s always the “Trainspotting” sequel…

Gugu Mbatha-Raw
What Should She Have Been Nominated For? Younger and newer than most of the actors and actresses here, Mbatha-Raw only landed on radars recently, but had two performances in 2014 that were undeniably worthy of nomination. First, she played the mixed-race heiress in Amma Asante’s “Belle,” a performance that didn’t just give her a powerful arc of a sheltered, spoiled girl becoming aware of a place in the world, but also had incisive things to say about racial identity. Then, she might have been even better in Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “Beyond The Lights,” as a Rihanna-ish pop star living a life she didn’t want. Both won raves from critics, but despite a weak Best Actress field, didn’t get much support from their studios, and ended up losing out to lesser turns when Oscar nods were announced last year.
Will It Happen? She’s immensely talented (she won raves in London on stage recently too), but she’ll need roles meatier than her underwritten supporting turn in “Concussion” to do it. Hopefully this summer’s “Free State Of Jones” gives her more to do.


Guy Pearce
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? Sadly, an Emmy win for “Mildred Pierce” is the closest the Australian actor’s come to an Oscar nod, though he’s now been a familiar face on U.S. screens for twenty years. Perhaps if he’d been better established already, his transformative turn in breakout “The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert” might have got some attention, while though “L.A. Confidential” received multiple nods, Pearce’s terrific weaselly-yet-principled performance as Ed Exley wasn’t among them. He’s done other work that deserved more attention — “The Rover,” “Results” and “Breathe In” in particular recently — but the miss that seemed most egregious for the star was his Best Actor-worthy turn in Christopher Nolan’s “Memento,” where he takes a near-impossible task and tears into it with relish, bringing noirish leading man chops, pathos and a light, wry touch to the puzzle-box structure.
Will It Happen? Pearce could have been a megastar, but seemed to actively steer away from it. We certainly wouldn’t rule it out, though, should the right role come along, though we suspect it’d be for a supporting role these days.

Robin Wright
What Should She Have Been Nominated For? Robin Wright’s had a funny sort of career: She was seemingly destined for megastardom in the 1980s and 1990s with first “The Princess Bride” and then “Forrest Gump,” but often seemed to shy away from it, only to become a household name, and Golden Globe and Emmy nominee, at last with “House Of Cards.” Wright’s arguably been doing the best work of her career on the Netflix show, but it still feels odd that she’s never been Oscar-nominated, given how good she is not just in the two movies above, but also in “State Of Grace,” “The Crossing Guard,” “Moll Flanders,” “Hurlyburly,” “The Pledge,” and many others. She’s definitely become better and better over time, so our votes would have been for one of two recent performances: Rebecca Miller’s disappointingly underseen “The Private Lives Of Pippa Lee;” and Ari Folman’s animated misfire “The Congress,” a strange, messy movie which Wright is undoubtedly fantastic in.
Will It Happen? “House Of Cards” has clearly given her career a boost, so we hope it’ll lead to more big-screen roles, too.


David Oyelowo
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? A pretty big name in the U.K. for his theater and TV work for a while, Oyelowo was one of those people who suddenly appeared to be everywhere overnight, Hollywood-wise, and racked up tiny roles in Oscar fare like “The Last King Of Scotland,” “The Help” and “Lincoln” before people really knew his name. He was terrific in supporting roles in “The Butler” and “A Most Violent Year” once he got more attention, but his lack of nomination for playing Martin Luther King in “Selma” is one of the biggest disgraces in recent Academy history. Being British and bearing relatively little resemblance to Dr. King, Oyelowo seemed like an odd choice, but with his “Middle Of Nowhere” director Ava DuVernay, he was transformed, embodying the spirit and the soul of the great man while shedding new light on him: This was MLK the politician, the flawed human, the husband. Last year was competitive in Best Actor, but we’d have taken Oyelowo over any of the eventual nominees (as would, it seems, Brad Pitt, who was so angry that the actor was snubbed that he convinced HBO to buy a tiny indie Oyelowo had starred in).
Will It Happen? It seems like only a matter of time, particularly given the projects he has coming up: “A United Kingdom” from “Belle” director Amma Asante, Mira Nair’s “Queen Of Katwe,” “Americanah” with Lupita Nyong’o, and a potential reunion with DuVernay.

Claire Danes
What Should She Have Been Nominated For? Some might call Claire Danes predominantly a TV actress, and it’s true that she’s bookended her career to date with two of her best-known roles, in “My So-Called Life” and “Homeland” (the latter of which has won her two Emmys, plus another for HBO movie “Temple Grandin”). But for the 15 years in between, Danes appeared exclusively in movies, and racked up as impressive a run of films as any actress of her generation. Films like “Little Women,” “Brokedown Palace,” “The Hours” and “Stardust” all feature excellent Danes performances, but the one we think should have brought her the most awards attention is Richard Eyre’s little-seen period drama “Stage Beauty.” Co-starring Billy Crudup, the film let Danes do everything that Gwyneth Paltrow did in “Shakespeare In Love” and more, and more effectively, and while the movie isn’t entirely successful, Danes was excellent in it.
Will It Happen? It depends. As and when “Homeland” ends, Danes could stay on the small screen, but if the right movie comes calling, her awards run on that show could well help.


John Goodman
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? In 2011 and 2012, John Goodman was the only actor to appear in both Best Picture winners, “The Artist” and “Argo” (and also cropped up in a third, “Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close,” and in a perfect world would have had another with “Inside Llewyn Davis” in 2013). Despite this achievement, and being one of the busiest actors around, one few other actors can match, Goodman’s never been nominated for an Oscar. If it was going to happen, it should have been for films with his most regular collaborators, the Coens, and more specifically his force-of-nature supporting turns as the demonic Charlie Meadows in “Barton Fink” (which did get a supporting nod, but for Michael Lerner), or as Walter Sobchak in “The Big Lebowski,” two of the filmmakers’ most vivid and enjoyable creations, and perhaps the performances (so far) that Goodman will be remembered for.
Will It Happen? Goodman seems like someone who’d be prime for being given a tragicomic lead in a Sundance movie that would take off (à la Richard Jenkins), but we’d settle for the Coens, who are now more Oscar-friendly that they used to be, penning another great role for him.

Pam Grier
What Should She Have Been Nominated For? Want proof of the Academy’s unconscious racial bias (he laughed, as if proof was needed)? Robert Forster picked up a Supporting Actor nomination for Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown,” while Pam Grier as the title character, giving arguably the best performance ever in a Tarantino movie, didn’t, despite Globe and SAG nominations, and a less-than-stellar five-nominee line-up that included Judi Dench in “Mrs. Brown” and Kate Winslet in “Titanic.” In fairness, we suppose, as a ’70s Blaxploitation veteran, Grier hadn’t done all that much stuff that would be considered Oscar fare before that movie. But Grier’s still a great actress and an icon, who didn’t just deserve a nomination for “Jackie Brown,” but deserved five roles just as good.
Will It Happen? Grier hasn’t appeared in a feature since RZA’s “The Man With The Iron Fists” three years ago, so it seems like it might be a little bit of a stretch. But wouldn’t be great if Tarantino penned her another comeback role?

Jeffrey Wright
What Should He Have Been Nominated For: From 007 to the Hunger Games, Jeffrey Wright is one of those actors that you’re glad to see wherever he pops up, even if the movie he’s in stinks. He won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his supporting turn in “Angels In America,” but has never really gotten close to an Oscar nod, though we could point to more than one turn that he knocked out of the park. “Syriana” was arguably the most likely — George Clooney won for the film, but Wright was at least his equal in a more subtle role — while he excelled in Ang Lee’s “Ride With The Devil” too. But his best turn to date was probably his breakthrough in Julian Schnabel’s “Basquiat.” A movie a little more conventional might have gotten the momentum for a nod (see Javier Bardem’s nomination for Schnabel’s follow-up, “Before Night Falls”), but sadly his spectacular, unmannered turn didn’t register.
Will It Happen? Wright works most consistently on HBO these days, following “Boardwalk Empire” with “Westworld” and “Confirmation,” but he just needs the right indie director to give him the right showcase.

Julie Delpy
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? While we were delighted to see Patricia Arquette pick up the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” it did make us feel for Julie Delpy, whose own decades-spanning experiment in time with Linklater, the ‘Before‘ Trilogy, never got the same recognition. And arguably, being as Delpy co-wrote the two sequels (and was Oscar-nominated as a writer for both), her input was even more invaluable. Really, she could have been nominated for all three films, but was perhaps most unfairly overlooked for the last, “Before Midnight” which is a tremendously wise and well-observed movie, and Delpy is quite extraordinary in it. Elsewhere, she’s great in Kieslowski‘s “Three Colors: White” but it is the lightest of that particular trilogy, while her self-penned, self-directed “Two Days in Paris” is also a terrific showcase for her warm, neurotic, funny performance.
Will It Happen? We’re not sure it’s going to happen for Delpy as an actress if it hasn’t already, mainly because she seems more interested in pursuing her (very welcome) writing/directing career, and because her roles tend to be in the kind of comedic register the Academy finds it easy to ignore.


Oscar Isaac
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? He’s literally only just become a household name (and the internet’s boyfriend) thanks to Poe Dameron and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” but it speaks to the immensity of Oscar Isaac’s talent that cinephiles already consider him overdue for some awards recognition. In fact, all of the last three years have seen Isaac given turns that, in a just world, would have been nominees. In 2013, he gave one of the great Coens leading turns as the incorrigibly prickish, somehow still sympathetic title character in “Inside Llewyn Davis.” The next year, he was an honest man trying to get by in a dishonest world in J.C. Chandor’s tremendous “A Most Violent Year.” And last year, he was incredible as the billionaire software genius in “Ex Machina.” Three wildly different performances — a run that ’70s Pacino or De Niro would be proud of, and yet entirely ignored by the Oscars.
Will It Happen? Obviously. “Star Wars” has given him the spotlight that should bring him to voters’ attentions, and it’s only a matter of time: Terry George’s “The Promise,” co-starring Christian Bale, could give him the opportunity.

Allison Janney
What Should She Have Been Nominated For? Perhaps because she came to attention on TV (“The West Wing“) or because she’s rarely seen in a lead, Janney’s name might not be top of mind. But, when you do think of her in this context, it’s flabbergasting that she hasn’t got a shedload of supporting actress nominations. Of course she’s a terrific ensemble player, but when you consider that many of her films garnered nods/wins for her co-stars (“The Help,” “The Hours,” “American Beauty“) it feels like Janney is past due. She also could have picked up more notice for “The Way Way Back” or Stanley Tucci’s undervalued “Big Night” or Sam Mendes’Away We Go” had any of those films caught on. But probably her nearest miss to date was for “Juno,” again in a supporting role, where she played Juno’s dotty but wonderful stepmother, opposite JK Simmons — and if there’s any actress who deserves similar success to that which Oscar-winner Simmons enjoyed for “Whiplash,” it’s Janney.
Will It Happen? Yes, absolutely, she’s a supporting nominee waiting to happen. And perhaps if something like Campbell Scott’s “Book of Common Prayer” takes off, she could leapfrog into a Best Actress nod.


Sam Rockwell
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? Pretty much everything? Well, maybe not: Rockwell’s always the best thing in whatever he’s in, but for the most part, the kind of films he’s been doing recently haven’t been the best showcases — see, or rather don’t, “Better Living Through Chemistry,” “Don Verdean,” “Mr. Right.” But the great character actor elevates everything he does, and seems crying out for the kind of role that would let this true actor’s actor get the recognition he deserves. He’s great in films as different as “Galaxy Quest,” “Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind” and “The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford,” but his peak to date is undoubtedly Duncan Jones’ “Moon.” Playing two (or more) roles, it’s all but a one-man show, and lets the star show off the dizzying breadth of his range at its best.
Will It Happen? We’d like to think so, but if someone doesn’t hurry up and give him the role he deserves, we worry Rockwell will end up using his talents on TV instead.

Rosario Dawson
What Should She Have Been Nominated For? With a career that’s spanned indies, blockbusters, prestige fare, TV, and sometimes just crap, Rosario Dawson has felt kind of omnipresent for 20 years now without ever really coming close to Oscar recognition. The actress has been an obviously huge talent since “Kids,” and while that movie was never going to be on Academy radars, she could have, and maybe should have, figured in for her turns in “25th Hour” and even “Rent.” Her best work has come more recently, though: sShe was phenomenal in Danny Boyle’s unfairly unloved “Trance,” and simply terrific in Chris Rock’s “Top Five,” a movie that briefly got awards buzz without ultimately going anywhere, and in which she elevated a part that could have felt like a trope. Dawson’s only getting better with age, though, so we live in hope.
Will It Happen? Though she’s seemingly going to be spending some of the next few years doing the Marvel/Netflix thing, that does leave plenty of room, so we certainly hope so.

Anthony Mackie
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? Now a big star thanks to his Marvel appearances, Anthony Mackie’s been slogging away for a while before he got famous, and has racked up more than a few performances that deserved more attention, awards-wise. Putting aside all the various movies where he’s played cops or FBI agents, and his good performance in Spike Lee’s otherwise questionable “She Hate Me,” we’d particularly highlight “Half Nelson,” in which Mackie exploded off the screen as a manipulative, insidious drug dealer; and obviously Best Picture winner “The Hurt Locker,” which Mackie damn near steals from under Jeremy Renner. But while the movie got nine Oscar nods, Mackie wasn’t among them.
Will It Happen? Unless he’s lost completely to the MCU, we hope so: Mackie’s been developing projects like a Jessie Owens biopic (likely killed by the upcoming “Race,” but still), so he certainly seems to be working towards it.

Hope Davis
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? We’ve double- and triple-checked and it’s official: Hope Davis has never been Oscar-nominated, despite appearing regularly in the kind of (usually supporting) roles that the Academy looks fondly on. She probably came closest to a nomination with “American Splendor,” which certainly saw her recognized at many of the precursor awards, and her performance as Jack Nicholson‘s exasperated, soon-to-be-married daughter in “About Schmidt” is the other one that really feels like it ought to have been noticed, though co-star Kathy Bates soaked up the Supporting Actress kudos there. But she’s reliably excellent, from “Infamous” to “Synecdoche, New York” to “The Hoax” to “Charlie Bartlett” to her recurring role on TV with “In Treatment,” ever since her breakout roles in indies “Next Stop Wonderland” and “The Daytrippers,” both of which saw her co-stars (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Stanley Tucci respectively) go on to the kind of success she fully deserves.
Will It Happen? Davis hasn’t taken many film roles recently, being involved instead in TV (“Wayward Pines,” “Allegiance,” “The Newsroom“), so it might not happen for a while, but we can’t believe it never will.

Jeff Goldblum
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? Almost impossibly tall, and moving and talking like no other human being alive, Jeff Goldblum is one of cinema’s most singular presences, but he’s always done kind of whatever the hell he feels like, and ‘getting an Oscar nomination’ doesn’t seem to be very high on his list, favoring mostly small supporting roles for people like Wes Anderson (when he’s not blockbustering, at least). But there’ve been a few major opportunities to nominate the great star that the Academy overlooked: first, with his great leading turn in David Cronenberg’s “The Fly;” and more recently, Paul Schrader’s “Adam Resurrected.” The film, in which Goldblum plays a circus clown who survived the holocaust, is in some respects ill-conceived and messy, but it’s also fascinating, in large part thanks to a staggering, against-type turn from the actor.
Will It Happen? If Goldblum ever decides he’s interested in such a thing, maybe — all it would take would be for Wes Anderson to give him a larger role than usual.

Mia Farrow
What Should She Have Been Nominated For? Now nearly 50 years into her screen career, Mia Farrow’s personal life and charity campaigning sometimes overshadow her acting, but it’s still sort of staggering to realize that Farrow has never been Oscar nominated. She received multiple Golden Globe or BAFTA nods for her work in Woody Allen’s films, and Oscar nods for any of “Broadway Danny Rose,” “The Purple Rose Of Cairo,” “Hannah And Her Sisters” or “Alice,” among others, would have been thoroughly deserved. But of everything she’s ever done, her star-making turn in “Rosemary’s Baby” might still be her greatest achievement. Again winning a BAFTA and Golden Globe nomination, her descent into, and ultimate acceptance of, madness and evil is sad and terrifying in equal measure, and all the more impressive for having been filmed when she was just 23.
Will It Happen? Farrow doesn’t act that often these days, but she’s impressive when she does: She was great in Todd Solondz’s “Dark Horse,” and was the only good thing about “The Omen” remake. Hopefully someone finds her something substantial to do somewhere.

Gael García Bernal
What Should He Have Been Nominated For? Excluding perhaps Javier Bardem, he’s as well-known a Spanish-language male star as we have right now, and as of last weekend is a surprise Golden Globes winner for starring in “Mozart In The Jungle,” but Gael García Bernal has never been so much on the Academy’s radar, it seems. It’s probably in large part because he’s mostly shied away from ‘going Hollywood,’ still working predominately in his native tongue and acting in English only when a top-flight auteur is involved. As such, almost all of his most worthy roles (he was terrific in Jon Stewart’s “Rosewater,” even if the movie itself was a miss) have been in Spanish, and we know how reluctant the Academy are to nominate foreign-language performances. Which is a shame, because any of “Y Tu Mamá También,” “Bad Education,” “No” or in particular “The Motorcycle Diaries” were thoroughly awards-worthy.
Will It Happen? Reuniting with “No” director Pablo Larraín on biopic “Neruda” might not do the trick unless the foreign-language movie gets absolute critical raves, but we feel like sooner or later, Bernal will land the right part.

Isabelle Huppert
What Should She Have Been Nominated For? Sure, it’s harder for a foreign actor, but when you consider this is Isabelle Huppert, often almost casually dubbed the greatest actress currently working, her lack of nominations feels pretty incredible. Especially as Juliette Binoche has two (and won one), Penélope Cruz has three (and won one) and relative blow-in Marion Cotillard has two (and won one). She does work in English (in famous flop “Heaven’s Gate,” and for David O. Russell and Hal Hartley, for example) but her really indelible roles have been in French, and she ought to have picked up a nod for her chillingly precise work in Michael Haneke‘s “The Piano Teacher” (or indeed a supporting nod for “Amour“), or for Claude Chabrol‘s “La Cérémonie.” If we were in charge, however, she would have not just been nominated be for her turn in Claire Denis‘ amazing 2009 film “White Material,” she would have won (with apologies to Sandra Bullock).
Will It Happen? Not just one of the best but one of the most prolific actresses around, we have to believe it will, and her immediate slate has a couple of possibles in Mia Hansen-Løve‘s next film and Paul Verhoeven‘s first feature in a decade.

Of course, there are more actors who haven’t been nominated for Oscars than those who have, and it includes a number of big names who you could have sworn were already Academy-lauded. Among the men are Richard Gere, John Cusack, Alfred Molina, Kevin Bacon, Paul Dano, Steve Martin, Dennis Quaid, Peter Sarsgaard, Ving Rhames, Hugh Grant, Jim Carrey, Bruce Willis, Malcolm McDowell, Bill Paxton, Harry Dean Stanton, Ray Liotta, John Turturro, Michael Sheen, Brendan Gleeson, Stacy Keach, Brian Cox, Giancarlo Esposito, Colin Farrell, Antonio Banderas, Brian Dennehy, James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Sam Neill, Bill Nighy, Paul Bettany, Paddy Considine, Val Kilmer, Kurt Russell, Ray Winstone, Eric Bana and Michael B. Jordan.

Notable women who’ve gone nomination-free so far include Shelley Duvall, Thandie Newton, Brigitte Bardot, Anna Karina, Michelle Yeoh, Regina King, Carrie Fisher, Bibi Andersson, Catherine O’Hara, Ellen Barkin, Demi Moore, Ashley Judd, Cameron Diaz, Kate Beckinsale and Kerry Washington.

And there are some who sadly won’t have a chance to win, as they passed away before the Academy could recognize them. This long list includes Klaus Kinski, Maureen O’Hara, Myrna Loy, Raul Julia, Toshiro Mifune, Peter Lorre, Joseph Cotten, Edward G. Robinson, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Warren Oates, John Cazale, among many others. And most recent and heartbreakingly, Alan Rickman who we were actually going to include in this feature until he passed away last week, joined their ranks. His nomination, and indeed eventual win, had seemed only a matter of time, which goes to show just what an impressive body of work he leaves behind.

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Comments

Jeb

Not surprised. Everyone on this list is not oscar worthy accept for Steve Buscemi who prhaps should have won it for RD. Hell, only until this year did Leonardo DiCaprio win it; so what does that say about the award? –There’s NO giveaways. Hope it stays that way. As a sidenote, to all the Will Smiths and Spike Lees of the world, STFU. Whoopi Goldberg will tell you straight! There are no giveaways!

Andre

Is deeply disheartening to see so many amazing, iconic talents in this list. And, as mentioned, I only found out Alan Rickman has never been nominated a few weeks before his death.

glenn

What about Evan Rachel Wood? She is an amazing actress.

Ana B.

I can’t believe Maggie Cheung wasn’t even mentioned…

Oliver Lyttelton

Because Johnny Depp has been nominated three times.

Kieran

Johnny Depp? How in the world is he not on the list?

Hugo

I am really surprised bibi andresson, her work with bergman was amazing!

jrose

Joao: Good catch. Funny how Indiewire listed so many people but forgot her. She’s bound to be nominated someday though.

Rusty Citron

A deserving list of actors and some of them are already eligible for induction into The Actors Hall of Fame. We honor actors from film, television and theater.

Nathaniel

This list is the reason that whenever someone whines about their precious Leo not winning one, I want to slap them. Hard.

Lestat

Jennifer Garner

Del

WHY no mention of gong Li’s amazing recent performance in Zhang yimous "coming home"?

Liz

They didn’t forget. Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated a number of times, including this year.

Jules

Leo deCaprio!!!! How could you forget?!

John Stark

In 25 years of my own personal film awards list, I have awarded nominations to the following people you listed: (1991 thru 2015)
Scar Jo: Translation/ Buscemi: Res Dogs, Ghost World/ Jamie Lee: True Lies/ Ewan McGregor: Moulin Rouge!/ Robin Wright: Gump, She’s So Lovely/ John Goodman: Barton Fink, Lebowski/ Jeffrey Wright: Cadillac Records/ Julie Delpy: Before Sunset/ Sam Rockwell: Dangerous Mind, Moon, Conviction/ Hope Davis: About Schmidt/ Alfred Molina: Frida/ Jim Carry: Man on the Moon/ Bill Paxton: Simple Plan/ Liotta: Blow/ Turturro: Quiz Show/ Michael Sheen: The Damned United/ Brendan Gleeson: In Bruges/ James McAvoy: Last King of Scot/ Val Kilmer: Tombstone, Doors/ Catherine O’Hara: For Your Consideration/ Ashley Judd: High Crimes/
And for 2015 I’m seriously considering Patrick Stewart for "Match". All of the above were for the top 4 acting categories. I also have of ancillary awards like best small part, Hero, Villain, Cameo, Duo, Funniest Actor. With those awards in consideration, I have almost the entire list covered:
Alan Rickman, Raul Julia,Cameron Diaz, Ray Winstone, Paul Bettany, Bill Nighy, Antonio Banderas, Colin Farrell, Brian Cox, Bruce Willis, Hugh Grant, Ving Rhames, Steve Martin, Paul Dano, Kevin Bacon, John Cusack, Jeff Goldblum, Allison Janney, Oscar Isaac, Guy Pearce, Martin Sheen, Meg Ryan, Danny Glover & Donald Sutherland.
Love to see GREAT TALENT get the recognition for the right films at the right time. Not the make up Oscar or Career Oscar. Last Note about my list:
Life Time Achievement Award for a Career Cut Too Short is called "The John Cazale Award"
Formerly "The Brandon Lee Award"

Eric

I’d throw Ben Forster into the conversation as well; another actor who like Rockwell is the best thing about whatever he’s in. This one also seems inevitable if he manages to steer away from character actor territory.

Antonio

Emily Blunt, Kirsten Dunst and Daniel Craig!

thepixinator

So shocking that Myrna Loy and Joseph Cotten were never nominated. And Rita Hayworth! Crazy.

Mitchell

I know this comment section will inevitably be filled up with "HOW COULD YOU FORGET" comments, but I do have to say I was surprised that Jeff Daniels wasn’t included, not even as an honorable mention.

cirkusfolk

If we are just counting acting awards, Mel Gibson has never received a nomination.

Alessandra

Definitely Emily Blunt and Cillian Murphy are two names that come immediately to my mind.

seth maccabe

where is cillian murphy?

Joao

Emily Blunt wasn’t even mentioned.

Theschu

Edward Norton has been nominated three times. For Primal Fear, American History X and Birdman.

The Josh

Fernando… LITERALLY LAST YEAR

Fernando

Edward Norton… NEVER

Kevin Anthony Reynart

WHERE AREN’T TOBEY MAGUIRE, ERIC BANA, KIRSTEN DUNST, JENNIFER GARNER, JENNIFER CONOLLY, LIV TYLER, AND TYLER MANE ON THIS LIST???

    Stevenson

    Well I know for a fact that Jennifer Connelly won an Oscar unless there is some actress names Conolly that I’ve never heard of.

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