It can happen when you’re young. It can happen when you’re old. Or it can never happen at all. We’re talking, of course, about actors getting nominated for an Academy Award. It represents an appreciation of their work, a recognition of their ability and an acknowledgement of their approach to a role that was performed with such skill it can’t go unnoticed.
Getting snubbed when it comes to Academy Award nominations can be part of the gig when making movies, but there are actors with such storied careers that you can't help but be surprised to learn they have yet to receive an Oscar nod, let alone not win. Let’s take a look at some of the notable names.
His impressive resumé includes parts in nominated films such as “Mystic River,” “JFK,” “Apollo 13,” “A Few Good Men” and “Frost/Nixon,” as well as memorable roles in “Footloose,” “Murder in the First” and “The River Wild.” Surely, the star at the center of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon has been nominated, right? Nope!
On sheer volume alone, you’d think Russell would’ve gotten a nomination somewhere along the line: “The Hateful Eight” and “Silkwood” are some of the more high profile Oscar winners he’s been in, showcasing the duration of his career, which started in the 1960s. A steady and dependable performer, Oscar recognition has somehow eluded Russell.
The "Scandal" actor has come a long way from her "Save the Last Dance" days, snagging four Emmy nominations for her work on the small screen, but she has yet to get an Academy Award nomination, even though she had key and acclaimed roles in “Ray,” “The Last King of Scotland” and “Django Unchained,” all of which won Oscars.
Jamie Lee Curtis
“A Fish Called Wanda,” “True Lies,” Knives Out.” Like Russell, Curtis, who is the daughter of Hollywood legends Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis — both of whom were nominated for Academy Awards — is another Hollywood veteran with a roster of classic films under her belt who has no Oscar love to show for it.
One of the pre-eminent leading men of his generation, Gere has starred in critical and commercial hits throughout the years, but hasn’t been nominated. That’s amazing when you consider he’s been in such Oscar favorites as “Chicago,” “Pretty Woman,” “An Officer and a Gentleman” and “Unfaithful.”
You may know Thandiwe Newton (yes, that's how you spell her name) from her Emmy-winning work on “Westworld,” but Newton’s body of work goes way beyond that. “Crash” won best picture in 2006, but she was snubbed, while co-star Matt Dillon was up for best supporting actor.
Obscured by having become a tabloid fixture because of her personal life is the fact that J. Lo has put on some dazzling performances in her career, starting with her breakthrough role in “Selena.” She also generated Oscar buzz for 2019’s “Hustlers,” but failed to score a nomination.
Surely, this is a misprint, right? Nope, it’s not. Goodman, who has 11 Emmy nominations in his career — mostly for "Roseanne" — has starred in movies that have won Oscars — think “Argo” and “Monsters, Inc.” — as well as ones that have been nominated, including “Flight,” “Cars” “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” “O Brother, Where Are Thou?” and “Barton Fink.” How has he never been nominated?
She’ll always be known as Rachel from “Friends,” but Aniston has carved out a nice big screen career. While she’s hit paydirt with comedies, Aniston showed her range in critically-acclaimed roles in “Cake” and “The Good Girl,” but they failed to earn her any nominations.
The actor was already a very seasoned thespian, having starred in many movies in her home country of China, when she appeared in 2000’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” That film won four Oscars and received six other nominations, including best picture. She’s also delivered winning performances in “Memoirs of a Geisha” — winner of three Oscars — and “Crazy Rich Asians,” a hit which was snubbed altogether by the Academy. So, where's the nomination, already?
Cusack has had a solid career balancing big-ticket films with independent fare. All these years later, it seems hard to believe he was snubbed for “Say Anything” while he also got plenty of love for “High Fidelity” and “Serendipity.” A dependable and likable star, he’s also starred in the highly creative “Being John Malkovich,” which garnered a trio of Oscar nods.
Speaking of “Being John Malkovich,” Diaz received Golden Globe and SAG nominations for her part in it, as well as for her role in “Vanilla Sky.” She also received Globe nominations for “There’s Something About Mary” and “Gangs of New York.” The body of work is certainly there. She has since retired from acting, though, with her last role in 2014’s “Annie,” so who knows if she’ll get another chance to crack the Oscar code.
The “Blade” and “White Men Can’t Jump” star may not be as much of a presence on the big screen as he once was, but there was a time when it looked like he may be a shoo-in to get a nomination. With roles in “New Jack City,” “Mo’ Better Blues” and the more recent “Dolemite is My Name,” you’d think somewhere along an Oscar nod would’ve come his way, but it has yet to be.
Quaid made a splash in 1979’s Oscar-winning “Breaking Away” and he has since cemented his place in Hollywood, starring in movies like the “The Right Stuff” and “Traffic” — both of which won Academy Awards — as well as the Oscar-nominated “Far From Heaven” and critically acclaimed “The Rookie.” But he has not been nominated himself.
Perhaps the definitive rom-com queen of her time, Quaid’s ex-wife Ryan has not appeared in many blockbusters in recent years, but she wooed moviegoers in movies like “Sleepless in Seattle” and “When Harry Met Sally.” The Academy was not seduced by her charms, though.
Emerging as a soap star before she found herself a member of the 1980s Brat Pack and a Super Bowl pitchwoman, Moore has captivated audiences for decades in movies like “A Few Good Men,” “Ghost” and “G.I. Jane,” but she has yet to hit Oscar nomination paydirt.
Willis is on equal footing with ex-wife Moore. Known primarily as an action star, he cemented himself as a legitimate Hollywood heavyweight with “Die Hard,” and would deliver celebrated performance in movies like “Pulp Fiction,” “The Sixth Sense” and “In Country.” But an Oscar nomination has yet to find him.
One of the brightest stars today, Thompson has a long list of movies where she was surprisingly not honored with a nomination, including “Selma” — which won one Oscar and was also up for best picture — and “Creed,” which earned Sylvester Stallone a best supporting actor nod. Most recently, she was passed over for last year’s “Passing,” which was shut out altogether by the Academy.
Many felt he deserved a nomination for “The Truman Show,” but he was passed over. He had critics raving a year later by portraying Andy Kaufman in “Man on the Moon,” but was shut out again and later enjoyed a stellar role in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” but he has yet to earn a nomination to this day. Hey, at least he made viewers laugh playing President Biden.
The comedy icon has twice hosted the Oscars by himself, and once with Alec Baldwin, but he has never picked up a nomination, perhaps signaling how tough it is for comedy to get recognized by the Academy. He did get an honorary Oscar in 2013, so at least the “Parenthood” and “Roxanne” star has gotten some kudos.
Known for starring in blacksploitation films in the ‘70s, Grier’s most mainstream role that raised eyebrows was in 1997’s “Jackie Brown.” Lauded for her performance, she was missed out on a nomination, while co-star Robert Forster scored the film’s lone nomination, for best supporting actor.