The 10 Most-Celebrated Actors and Filmmakers Who Haven’t Won Oscars
The names are big -- DiCaprio! Fincher! Ford! -- but they keep coming up short.
It’s basically a lock. Leonardo DiCaprio is bound to win the Oscar for Best Actor when those shiny gold awards are given out at the end of this month. He went through absolute hell playing frontiersman Hugh Glass in awards favorite The Revenant. DiCaprio had to endure subzero temperatures in remote locales all while crawling through the muck and mud. He also ate real buffalo liver. Oh yeah, and the performance is good, too, I guess.
He’s already been nominated for 38 individual awards for his performance in the movie. Most recently, he took home the Golden Globe for Best Actor. The Oscar has eluded him all these years, despite putting in some classic performances and garnering plenty of nominations. Here are some more of the most high-profile actors and filmmakers who, no matter what they do or did, haven’t managed to bring home that coveted little gold man statue on Oscar night.
10. Brad Pitt
Pitt must be fiending for an Oscar by this point. He’s tried everything: being hunky, courting top auteurs to direct him, choosing a wide range of roles, and even appearing in Meet Joe Black. But that influence didn’t get him much in terms of Oscar clout. He technically earned an award for Best Picture for producing 12 Years a Slave, but let’s be honest, Brad Pitt is the last person responsible for making that movie into what it was. He’s still trying to get after one of his own.
9. Liam Neeson
The Schindler’s List actor has seen his fair share of plaudits over the years, but most recently he’s used the twilight years to headline increasingly ridiculous but still fairly badass action movies, à la Charles Bronson. Neeson could still have an Oscar or two in him, if he were given the right role, but we’re sure he’s comfortable, for now, collecting paychecks and remaining one of the hardest working men in Hollywood. Dude had 11 movies released in 2014 alone!
8. Tom Cruise
The Cruise man must have instantly regretted jumping on Oprah’s couch that one time because it nearly derailed his entire career — that and all the Scientology mumbo jumbo (hail Xenu). Like Neeson, Cruise has had his brush with Oscar greatness, most recently thanks to director Paul Thomas Anderson and an all-time performance in 1999’s Magnolia. But also like Neeson, Cruise seems to just stick to his own decidedly non-Oscar bait roles.
7. Sigourney Weaver
Poor Sigourney Weaver. All she did was be one of the best actresses ever and get three measly Oscar nominations. She was most notably nominated for Best Actress in her role as Ripley in James Cameron’s Aliens, a first for a sci-fi action movie. Now she’s just kind of doing whatever she wants: being in more James Cameron movies (Avatar 2) and being in movies that want to be James Cameron movies (Chappie).
6. Harrison Ford
If Sigourney is the best actress, Mr. Han Solo/Indiana Jones is arguably the greatest actor. He’s also inarguably the top-grossing actor of all-time, but conspicuously lacks any Oscar hardware to back up his other accolades. You’d think he’d have more than a single Best Actor nom for the 1985 Amish police thriller, Witness, but you’d be wrong. Maybe it’s because Ford has mostly made his mark in blockbuster popcorn entertainment instead of maudlin, awards-friendly roles.
5. Christopher Nolan
Nolan is a controversial director, mostly because he has enough autonomy to make small-minded movies on a multi-million dollar canvas. This is thanks, in large part, to The Dark Knight Trilogy. It’s that kind of power that forced the Academy to broaden its Best Picture nomination process when Nolan’s film The Dark Knight was overlooked for the top award in 2008. They gave him a mercy nom with Inception in 2010, but an Oscar has eluded him ever since. He’ll get one eventually, but as of right now he’s empty handed.
4. David Fincher
It’s almost common knowledge that David Fincher is a directorial genius. This is the guy who made something as turgid and overly sentimental as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button into a halfway-decent time at the movies. This is the dude whose legend looms so large that you could just stand right next to him screaming, “This is the guy who made The Social Network! He directed The Social Network*!” and people would just get it. Two nominations, zero Oscars. What a tragedy.
3. Stanley Kubrick
Speaking of geniuses, Kubrick is the director by which all other directors are judged. It’s a fact. Don’t dispute it. And yet ol’ Stanley never had the distinction of being named Best Director. The movies he made won plenty of Oscars, but the master behind them all, who basically defined the auteur theory, was consistently overlooked. He did earn one Oscar for Special Visual Effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey, but according to the film’s effects supervisor, Douglas Trumbull, Kubrick didn’t deserve it. “Kubrick did not create the visual effects. He directed them,” Trumbull told The Hollywood Reporter in 2014. “But the tragic aspect of it for me is it’s the only Oscar Stanley Kubrick ever won. He was an incredibly gifted director and should have gotten something for directing and writing and what his real strength was — not special effects.”
2. Alfred Hitchcock
The master of suspense was nominated for Best Director five times, and all five times he came up empty. This is mostly because Hitchcock and films like Vertigo were thought of as genre pap before the ruffians of the French New Wave reevaluated Hitchcock in the 1960s. The best the Academy could do was muster up an Honorary Oscar for him in 1967, but we all know that doesn’t count.
1. Akira Kurosawa
Like Kubrick, Kurosawa is a dude whose influence is felt everywhere. He was a Japanese director who tried to insert a Western-angled aesthetic to his own Japanese films, but ended up being the touchstone for all modern American epic filmmaking. It’s a shame the Academy couldn’t even pony up a Best Director win when they nominated him for one of his final films, Ran, in 1985. Like Hitchcock, the Academy “made up for it” by giving him an unofficial Honorary Oscar four years later. Thanks but no thanks.