Actors and actresses have been receiving Academy Awards since 1929. In that time period, multiple winners such as Meryl Streep, Katherine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson. A number of top actors and actresses, though, have never won the Academy Award for their performances. Several of these men and women have maintained solid careers, even garnering Oscar nominations and critical acclaim.
Cary Grant, a two-time Oscar nominee, is probably the forefather of the romantic comedy leading man. Despite solid performances in movies such as “The Philadelphia Story” and “North by Northwest,” Grant has never won an Academy Award. In 1970, the Academy gives him an honorary award, an award usually given to actors and actresses who’ve been denied the award.
James Earl Jones is a one-time Academy Award nominee, for his role in “The Great White Hope.” He is the winner of an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe and a Tony Award. Although he’s best known as the voice of Darth Vader in the “Star Wars” trilogy, he has produced numerous great performances.
Anthony Perkins should have received an Academy Award nomination for his chilling performance as Norman Bates in “Psycho.” He did, however, earn an Academy Award nomination in 1957 for Supporting Actor in “Friendly Persuasion.”
Samuel L. Jackson is a case of a good character actor who picks bad roles. He was nominated for “Pulp Fiction,” and his role as a drug addict in “Jungle Fever” demonstrates his ability to really dive into the role. Like many Academy Award winners, sometimes the right role at the right time turns the tide, and actors bring Oscar home with them.
Alfre Woodard is one of the most under-utilized actresses in Hollywood, maybe one of the reasons she’s only been nominated for an Academy Award once. Although she’s received an Oscar and multiple Emmy nominations, Woodard has not won. Critics enjoy her performances, even when they pan the movies.
Deborah Kerr, known for her roles in “The King and I” and “From Here to Eternity,” has received six Academy Award nominations but never one. Her performance in “From Here to Eternity” is iconic; however, she settled for Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994.
Julianne Moore is one of the best actresses of the late 1990s and 2000, earning four Oscar nominations. Moore, however, has never won. Her performance in “Far From Heaven” is one of her best. In 2010, the Academy snubbed her performance in “A Single Man,” likely because the field of female performances was steep.
Angela Bassett received an Oscar nomination for her role as Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do with It.” She should have been nominated for her roles in “Malcolm X” and “Waiting to Exhale.” Bassett’s performance in “Waiting to Exhale” redeemed the movie. In time, she may finally win an Academy Award.
These are just a few of the top actors and actresses of their era to not win an Academy Award. While some performers are no longer with us and have to settle for a Lifetime Achievement Award, others are still alive and still have a chance to win. Sometimes, it takes the right role at the right time for actors to win.