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Actors Who Have Never Won an Oscar (But Deserved To)

The Academy Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars, have been traditionally viewed as one of the most prestigious awards an actor can receive. Countless actors have received recognition from the Academy, and yet some, despite all expectations and their talent, are still waiting for their award. This became a long-running joke among actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio, who was notoriously snubbed of the award for years until his performance in The Revenant earned him his first Oscar in 2016. Though many well known actors receive recognition at other ceremonies, it is still perplexing to see those who haven’t received an Academy Award. This is a list of brilliant, well-deserved actors who have come close, or deserved to win in years past.

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8 Bradley Cooper

Bardley Cooper spray on tan - A Star Is Born

Bradley Cooper has definitely acquired Oscar buzz throughout his career, but unfortunately has yet to take one home. He has been nominated for eight Oscars, many stemming from his directorial debut feature with Lady Gaga, A Star is Born in 2019. Making his feature film debut in the 2001 comedy, Wet Hot American Summer, Cooper has been on the scene for two decades. He was nominated for Best Actor for his roles in Silver Linings Playbook and A Star is Born. He also received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor in American Hustle in 2014.

7 Salma Hayek


Salma Hayek’s “breakout role” was Carolina in 1995’s Desperado. After bouncing around in several films, Hayek was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of Frida Kahlo in Frida. The film saw success from other ceremonies and received Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Makeup. Being considered one of Hayek’s most notable roles and for her beautiful portrayal of Kahlo, this Oscar feels snubbed. Still active on the screen, most recently appearing in House of Gucci, we hope to see Hayek earn her first Oscar soon.

6 Michelle Yeoh

Columbia Pictures

After years of popular action films in Hong Kong, Michelle Yeoh made her Hollywood debut in 1997 in Tomorrow Never Dies as Wai Lin. In 2000, Yeoh portrayed Yu Shu Lien in the ten-time Academy Award nominated film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which held the most nominations for a non-English film ever during its time. Most recently, Yeoh portrayed Eleanor Sung-Young in 2019’s Crazy Rich Asians. The film was unfortunately not nominated for any Academy Awards, which comes as a disappointment especially due to Yeoh’s memorable role as an overbearing, villainous mother in the film. Yeoh is set to appear in the new Avatar sequel, which is sure to gather nominations.

5 Naomie Harris


Having acted in over twenty feature films in under fifteen years, Naomie Harris made a name for herself after winning a Black Reel Award for Outstanding Breakthrough Performance for her role as Selena in 28 Days Later. Harris eventually was nominated for her first Academy Award for her role as Paula in 2016’s Moonlight. Her nomination was for Best Supporting Actress and was certainly worthy of the award. Her crushing performance of a drug-addicted mother whose abusive tendencies damage her relationship with her son still stings in the hearts of audiences. We hope Harris will pull more nominations again and finally get her award.

4 Johnny Depp

Via IMDb

Having starred in numerous iconic films and for his diverse portrayals of zany characters, it is genuinely surprising that Johnny Depp has no Oscar wins on his shelf. Depp made his debut in 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, and has played memorable roles such as Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka, Sweeney Todd, and more. Although being Academy nominated for Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Finding Neverland, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Depp has stated he doesn’t ever want to win an Oscar. He is, however, honored by the nominations he has received, saying they are enough.

Related: Johnny Depp to Play King Louis XV in Maiwenn’s Next Film

3 Samuel L. Jackson

Jules in Pulp Fiction (1994)

One of the highest-grossing actors of all time, Samuel L. Jackson has starred in countless critically acclaimed films. In 2021, it was announced that he would receive an honorary Academy Award. So close to the real thing. Before this, his only Academy recognition was for his role as Jules Winnfield in Pulp Fiction. Despite receiving his honorary Academy Award, we are interested to see if Jackson can still obtain the classic, golden man in the future.

2 Willem Dafoe

At Eternity's Gate Poster Has First Look at Willem Dafoe as Vincent Van Gogh

Willem Dafoe received his first Oscar nomination for his role as Sergeant Elias Grodin in Platoon back in 1986. Thirty-six years later, we are still waiting for Dafoe’s first award. Dafoe received a second nomination for Best Supporting Actor as Max Schreck in the 2000 film Shadow of the Vampire. Since then, Dafoe has portrayed various notable characters in films such as At Eternity’s Gate, which he received a Best Actor nomination for, The Florida Project, he again received a Best Supporting Actor nomination, and The Lighthouse. There seems to be no stopping Dafoe as he continues to be casted in various films across all genres, so there is hope for him in the near future.

1 Kristen Stewart

Spencer Kristen

Kristen Stewart’s style of acting was harshly criticized after her breakout role as Bella Swan in the Twilight franchise. Her brooding demeanor only needed to be placed in new settings where it could flourish. Since then, her style has shaped and come into itself, as seen in her role as Sabina Wilson in 2019’s Charlie’s Angels. Stewart is one of the most resilient actresses in Hollywood and has had recent Oscar buzz for her portrayal of Princess Diana in Spencer. Having won multiple awards and receiving well over thirty nominations so far, many are of the opinion that Stewart is destined for her first Oscar nomination this year. Only time will tell if she actually wins the coveted statue at the awards ceremony in March 2022.

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