10 Actors Who Clearly Deserve An Oscar, But Have Never Won

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During almost every awards season, along with all of the buzz about who is nominated and who will win, there seems to be a discussion of past awards when people should have won but lost to someone else.

Actors that may act for decades are seen in incredible roles and still never receive the award recognition that they deserve, and we can all come up with our favorites that fit these criteria.

Here is a list of 10 actors that certainly deserve to have won an Oscar by now, but for some mysterious reason, have not.

10. Leonardo DiCaprio

He has become a bit of a contemporary legend and it seems like every year we see Leo getting nominated, but the Oscars just give him a big tease and never actually give it to him. He has been nominated for the Best Actor award four times, but clearly his performances should have earned him even more than that and the Golden Globes even nominated him against himself in 2007. The four films that did get him nominated were The Wolf Of Wall Street, Blood Diamond, The Aviator, and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

9. Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson has had one of the most prolific careers of any contemporary actor, and while he has had his fair share of misfires, he has also been in a number of Oscar-nominated films. At the age of 66, he continues to appear in multiple films almost every year it seems like, and will be seen next in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. His only Oscar nomination came from Pulp Fiction, but he has had many Oscar worthy appearances in his career including Coach Carter and A Time To Kill.

8. Johnny Depp

Okay, so Johnny Depp is not someone who has been in tons of Oscar-nominated films, but he is one of those stars that everyone loves and you figure he probably received one at some point right? Well, that’s not the case, but he has been nominated for the Best Actor award 3 times for Pirates Of The Carribean: Curse Of The Black Pearl, Finding Neverland, and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Perhaps there are just not enough nominations to go around, but you’d think he could have been nominated for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? along with Leo and how could they have completely ignored Edward Scissorhands?

7. Tom Cruise

Yes, Tom Cruise has received plenty of criticism in the public eye in recent years especially, and not everyone loves him, but he has had some great roles throughout his career. Jerry Maguire is often considered one of the greatest sports movies of all time and Top Gun and Mission Impossible are clearly two of the most popular movies for people to quote and have fun while watching over and over again. He has received 3 nominations for Born On The Fourth Of July, Magnolia, and Jerry Maguire.

6. Edward Norton

He is one of the best and most diverse actors of recent years, but somehow has never managed to claim an Oscar for himself. One thing that may surprise most people since it is one of his most memorable roles is that he was not even nominated for Fight Club. How did that happen? He had quite a year in 1999 since it was the same year that he was nominated for American History X. In addition to American History X, he received nominations for his role in Primal Fear and Birdman.

5. Ethan Hawke

Although you may feel that he is not on the same level as some of the other actors with several award nominations, he has certainly had some great roles over the course of his career and he is certainly deserving of an Oscar. Some of his best work comes when he works with fellow friend and collaborator Richard Linklater, who directed him to an Oscar nomination in arguably the best film of 2014, Boyhood. In addition, he received an acting nomination for Training Day and screenwriting Oscar credits for Before Sunset and Before Midnight.

4. Don Cheadle

He has worked with some of the best actors and directors around throughout his somewhat short and prolific career that is only going to continue to grow. Cheadle has received more Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for his role in House Of Lies, which is a great show, but it seems like a silly statistic to be associated with his name. He has been in numerous award-worthy roles, but he has received only one Oscar nomination, which was for his role in Hotel Rwanda.

3. Robert Downey Jr.

He is one of the biggest stars currently working in Hollywood, and in recent years, he has been known to many as Iron Man, although somehow Robert Downey Jr. has never managed to win an Oscar. He has been in many award-worthy performances and has received two nominations throughout his lengthy and diverse career. He was nominated for his roles in Tropic Thunder and Chaplin, but 82 credits to his name, surely we can think of way more than those that deserved the attention.

2. Ed Harris

One of the most talented actors and one who has also been around a long time, somehow has still not won an Oscar. He has nearly 100 credits to his name and has been in numerous films that were nominated for Oscars, including four for his own acting, although the Academy seems to be missing something every time he gets nominated. However, in their defense, he has had some stiff competition each time he was nominated, but where was his nomination for A Beautiful Mind? His four nominations came from Pollock, Apollo 13, The Truman Show, and The Hours.

1. Laurence Fishburne

His roles might not stand out quite as much as someone like Samuel L. Jackson, and sometimes people even confuse the two of them for some reason, but Fishburne is definitely one of the finest actors around. Although it may not be Oscar-worthy, no one can forget his role as Morpheus in The Matrix or the classic Boyz N The Hood and he even made his first appearance in Apocalypse Now. He did receive one Oscar nomination for his role in What’s Love Got To Do With It, but ironically, he has received more Emmy nominations than Oscars.

Tell US: Which actors would you add to this list? How many of the ten on this list do you think will make it through their career with no Oscars?

If you enjoyed this list, check out our list of 10 Great Movies That You May Have Overlooked, especially since it features films with several actors on this list.

About The Author
Tobias Roth
Tobias Roth received his bachelor's degree in English with a concentration on Film Studies from Michigan State University. He loves movies, being outdoors and enjoys a good game of ultimate frisbee. He also has a passion for animals, the environment, and learning new things.