7 Great Actors Who Have Never Won An Oscar


To quote Ron Swanson “I think awards are stupid. But they’d be less stupid if they went to the right people.” It can be odd to think of giving awards to – for example – the single best screenplay written in a given year, how can you compare a period drama dealing with a vicious war to an animated romantic comedy? Nevertheless, people continue to insist on giving out these awards, but there are numerous actors who despite great performance after great performance are overlooked, here are seven actors who are past due to winning their Oscar.

Amy Adams

Amy Adams in American Hustle
Amy Adams in American Hustle //credit: American Hustle Sony Pictures Releasing

It’s hard to imagine what more Amy Adams needs to do to get an Oscar, what more can she give, and what role can she take on? She has been a better Disney princess than most Disney princesses, she has acted alongside Kermit the Frog, and starred in one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time which is also one of the most heart-breaking and beautiful films of all time – Arrival. So despite six nominations, Amy Adams has never won an Oscar since DiCaprio won an Oscar and is probably the most obvious actor working without one.

Most Oscar Worthy Scene – Any of the scenes in Arrival where Amy Adams or the audience realises what is going on.

Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes in The Menu
Ralph Fiennes in The Menu //credit: The Menu, Searchlight Pictures

Fiennes has been making great films for decades now (not The English Patient though) and could have won for any number of films. He is best known for his dramatic roles in films like Schindler’s List or Quiz Show, but in more recent years has took on a number of comedic roles and excelled; Fiennes almost steals the show in In Bruges where arrives halfway through the film managing to escalate the swearing and violence against telephones. He is a stereotypical Oscar-winning actor who has not won an Oscar.

Most Oscar Worthy Scene The Grand Budapest Hotel, despite being a delicate middle-aged concierge launching himself fiercely at fascists to defend his friend.

Toni Colette

Toni Colette in Hereditary
Toni Colette in Hereditary //credit: Hereditary, A24

Toni Colette has been amazing on screen at least as early as Muriel’s Wedding in 1994. A wonderful actor who can mix comedy and sadness perfectly. Only nominated once for Sixth Sense her performance in Hereditary was thought to be a contender only to fail to be even nominated – which many including me put down to the Academy’s disdain for horror.

Most Oscar Worthy Scene – Perhaps the “I Am Your Mother” scene from Hereditary but its hard not to pick the ABBA performance in Muriel’s Wedding.

Mads Mikkelsen

Mikkelsen in The Hunt //credit: The Hunt, Nordisk Films

Surely one of the best actors working today Mads Mikkelsen has a string of roles worthy of an Oscar win; recent candidate was Another Round but only one amongst many. The Hunt, A Royal Affair are two more brilliant dramatic performances, while his portrayal as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale was surely one of the biggest reasons that film was so successful.

Most Oscar Worthy Scene – the final dance scene in Another Round.

Stanley Tucci

Tucci after being fired in Margin Call
Tucci after being fired in Margin Call //credit: Margin Call, Lionsgate

An actor who simply being mentioned is in a film will pique the interest of a fan of the art form. Tucci is a charming actor and in roles like The Lovely Bones, Julie and Julia and Margin Call he has given great performances. The fizzing charm Tucci brings to roles like Caesar Flickerman in The Hunger Games trilogy is revitalising (ps see The Hunger Games trilogy for great actors not to have won Oscars – Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Jeffrey Wright, Toby Jones…)

Most Oscar Worthy SceneMargin Call – Tucci gives a beautiful monologue concerned with the reduction of commuting times for workers.

Sally Hawkins

Mrs Brown trying to find Pepe Silvia (a niche reference)
Mrs Brown trying to find Pepe Silvia (a niche reference) //credit: Paddington 2, StudioCanal

Sally Hawkins is an absolute delight. A wonderful actor and capable of amazing performances. Whilst there is certainly much more to Hawkins’ career than The Shape Of Water it is a phenomenal performance. It is beautiful and to those who have not seen the film…her character Liza cannot talk, she uses sign language which usually has no subtitling for the audience and relies on the other characters to translate but still able to convey huge emotions deftly. Hawkins’ breakout role was in Happy-Go-Lucky a film which allowed Hawkins to be tremendously funny, sweet, vulnerable and more, showing for all her silly antics she has such strength. And it is hard to not instantly fall in love with her portrayal of Mrs Brown in Paddington as a bastion of human kindness.

Most Oscar Worthy SceneThe Shape of Water – arguing with her friend about rescuing the “monster” as she grows increasingly angry.

Ethan Hawke

Ethan Hawke having a bad day on a bus
Ethan Hawke having a bad day on a bus //credit: Training Day, Warner Bros Pictures

Hawke is a great actor who has four nominations: two for acting and two for best adapted screenplay but is yet to win. Hawke has been a fantastic actor for decades, first gaining acclaim in Reality Bites and then Before Sunrise (and the other two films in the truly spectacular Before trilogy). He starred in the underrated sci-fi gem Gattaca championing human spirit over a dystopian genetic supremacy, as well as co-starring in Training Day alongside Denzel Washington. He had a go at the actor dream role of Hamlet and has shown himself capable of playing troubled artistic souls and everyman characters you can identify with.

Most Oscar Worthy Scene – Before Sunset – the final scene in which he sits listening to Julie Delpy talk, being utterly charmed by her and knowing he will miss the plane that would have taken him away from her.

Also Read: For Your Consideration: Sci-Fi, Comedy & Oscar Snubs

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Richard Norton

Gentleman, podcaster and pop culture nerd, I love talking and writing about pretty much all pop culture.