32 top actors who still haven't won an Oscar

Harrison Ford sits in a chair in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
(Image credit: Disney)

As the saying goes: It’s nice to just be nominated. It may surprise people to learn that even the most famous actors in Hollywood have not yet received an acting Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

Fun fact: Did you know no one knows for sure where the "Oscar" nickname comes from? Bette Davis is sometimes credited for it because she said the statuette looked like her husband, Harmon Oscar Nelson. Another theory claims Academy librarian Margaret Herrick came up with it on the basis the statues resembled her own uncle Oscar.

Actors don’t really need trophies to cement their status as the cream of the crop. But it’s still surprising to learn which A-listers haven't received golden recognition. Given that, here are 32 top actors who still haven’t won an acting Oscar, excluding lifetime honors and awards in other crafts.

32. Keanu Reeves

Keanu Reeves stands in a nightclub in John Wick: Chapter 2

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Once a teen heartthrob before graduating to blockbuster status, Keanu Reeves has not previously been nominated for anything from the Academy. But given his prominence in action fare like Speed and franchises like The Matrix and John Wick, which are typically ignored by the Oscars, it’s actually easy to see why Reeves has never taken home gold.

31. Sigourney Weaver

Sigourney Weaver wakes up on a rooftop at the end of Ghostbusters

(Image credit: Sony)

The Alien and Ghostbusters star was previously nominated for Best Actress for both Aliens (1987) and Gorillas in the Mist (1989), and for Best Supporting Actress in Working Girl also in 1989. She holds awards from other major entities like the BAFTA Awards and Golden Globes. When you’ve burned aliens and dumped a Ghostbuster, an Oscar seems like an afterthought.

30. Don Cheadle

Don Cheadle stands in front of a van in Hotel Rwanda

(Image credit: MGM)

The man who wears the armor of War Machine in the Marvel franchise was previously nominated for his performance in Hotel Rwanda in 2005. But Cheadle holds distinction for being one of the few Black artists to have received nominations for an EGOT (Emmys, Grammys, Oscars, Tonys), which is a feat even rarer than winning an Academy Award.

29. Hugh Jackman

Hugh Jackman stands on stage as P.T. Barnum in The Greatest Showman

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

He can sing, he can dance, he can slice up bad guys with his claws as the superhero Wolverine. The Australian powerhouse wasn't nominated for his X-Men movie roles, however. Instead, he was nominated for Best Actor for his lead role in the movie adaptation of Les Misérables at the 2013 ceremony. (He lost to Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln, which, understandable.)

28. Stanley Tucci

Stanley Tucci stands smiling in The Lovely Bones

(Image credit: Paramount)

Renowned as a character actor, Stanley Tucci has taken home five Emmys and two Golden Globes. He was nominated by the Academy for Best Supporting Actor in the 2009 movie The Lovely Bones. With more roles in acclaimed dramas like Spotlight and Supernova and franchise pictures like Captain America: The First Avenger and The Hunger Games, his face isn’t one to forget.

27. Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt stands in a military facility in Edge of Tomorrow

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Recognized by Forbes as one of the highest-paid actresses in 2020, Emily Blunt’s fame is attributed to her flexibility in a wide tonal diversity of movies, including The Devil Wears Prada (which she won a Golden Globe for), Edge of Tomorrow, Sicario, A Quiet Place, Mary Poppins Returns, and Oppenheimer. 

26. Timothée Chalamet

Timothee Chalamet sits on top of books staring out of a window in Call Me By Your Name

(Image credit: Sony)

Despite his youthful age, Timothée Chalamet's career resembles that of an industry veteran decades his senior. The Dune star was once nominated for Best Actor, for the 2017 drama Call Me By Your Name. He has also starred in Interstellar, Miss Stevens, Lady Bird, Little Women, Bones and All, and Wonka.

25. Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie sits in front of a see-through mirror in Barbie

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Australian dynamo burst into Hollywood in her star-making role in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street before embodying both Harley Quinn and Barbie, not to mention an angelic Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Robbie has been previously nominated for her roles in I, Tonya and Bombshell.

24. Toni Collette

Toni Collette screams in Hereditary

(Image credit: A24)

For a brief moment in 2018, Toni Collette’s harrowing performance in Hereditary generated serious Oscar buzz. But Collette was previously nominated for another horror movie, M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense. (She lost to Angelina Jolie for Girl, Interrupted.) She has also starred in Velvet Goldmine, Changing Lanes, About a Boy, Little Miss Sunshine, Fright Night, Knives Out, and I'm Thinking of Ending Things.

23. Adam Driver

Adam Driver stands smiling in his home in Marriage Story

(Image credit: Netflix)

From strutting around New York in the TV show Girls to trying to rule over a galaxy far, far away in the Star Wars movies, Adam Driver has made his mark in Hollywood in a relatively short time. He has been previously nominated twice for his roles in BlacKkKlansman and Marriage Story. His other films include Frances Ha, Lincoln, Logan Lucky, The Last Duel, House of Gucci, and Ferrari.

22. Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston stands in a ruined home in Godzilla

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Bryan Cranston came a long way from voicing monsters on Power Rangers. His thunderous performance in the TV juggernaut Breaking Bad gave the actor a truckload of Emmys. But as far as the cinematic Oscars go, Cranston has been previously nominated once for Trumbo. That year, he lost to an actor whose name used to top these lists: Leonardo DiCaprio, for The Revenant.

21. John Malkovich

John Malkovich stands with his arms wide wearing a vest in Red 2

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

You know you’re a big deal when you have an entire movie named after you. The celebrated actor has previously received two Oscar nominations, for his roles in the movies Places in the Heart and In the Line of Fire. He's also starred in the films Empire of the Sun, Dangerous Liaisons, Of Mice and Men, Con Air, and Red. On top of that, audiences know what it’s like to be John Malkovich.

20. Sandra Oh

Sandra Oh stands with a lantern near her face in Umma

(Image credit: Sony)

Sandra Oh is beloved across TV and film, but her most celebrated work comes from TV. She starred in seven seasons of the HBO comedy Arliss before her star-making gig in the ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. She gained further acclaim in the BBC spy thriller Killing Eve. Her film work includes The Princess Diaries, Under the Tuscan Sun, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Umma.

19. Liam Neeson 

Liam Neeson as Ra's Al Ghul in Batman Begins

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

He trained Obi-Wan and Batman, and has a set of very specific skills. But the towering Irish actor (he stands 6-foot-4) was previously nominated for an Oscar for a more noble character: Oskar Schindler, a real-life German businessman who saved over a thousand Polish-Jewish refugees during World War II in Steven Spielberg’s classic Schindler’s List. 

18. Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender on stage rehearsing a presentation in Steve Jobs

(Image credit: Universal)

Actor and race car driver Michael Fassbender has been nominated for movies like 12 Years a Slave (in the category of Best Supporting Actor) and for Steve Jobs, in his transformative performance as the Apple founder. He is also known for movies like Inglourious Basterds, Jane Eyre, Macbeth, Prometheus, The Killer, and Marvel's X-Men films.

17. Oscar Isaac

Oscar Isaac wears space armor in Dune

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Since his star-making performance in Inside Llewyn Davis, Oscar Isaac has been an in-demand talent appearing in adult dramas and franchise blockbusters alike. His accolades include a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy nomination. He's also starred in the films Drive, A Most Violent Year, Ex Machina, Triple Frontier, The Card Counter, Dune, and the Star Wars sequel trilogy.

16. Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley stands with a book in the film version of Pride and Prejudice

(Image credit: Focus Features)

Keira Knightley boasts worldwide fame from her roles in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series, the enduring rom-com Love Actually, and really any movie that requires British accents. She’s been previously nominated by the Academy for both Pride and Prejudice and The Imitation Game.

15. Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, laying flat in Marvel's The Avengers

(Image credit: Marvel)

Samuel L. Jackson was previously nominated for his role as mob hitman Jules in Quentin Tarantino’s game-changing Pulp Fiction. In 2021, he received an Honorary Academy Award that recognizes his career as a whole, which includes classic films like Jurassic Park, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Shaft, The Negotiator, Chi-Raq, and the Marvel franchise.

14. Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling wearing his iconic jacket in a crowded city in Blade Runner 2049

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Canadian heartthrob has demonstrated greater range than his rom-com looks imply (though he’s great in rom-coms too). His films include Barbie, Lars and the Real Girl, Crazy Stupid Love, Blade Runner 2049, The Nice Guys, Drive, and Only God Forgives. His previous Oscar nominations have been for the movies Half Nelson and La La Land, but he alone will always be Ken-ough.

13. Annette Benning

Annette Benning holding a glass of wine in The Kids Are All Right

(Image credit: Focus Features)

An acting heavyweight whose career spans decades, Annette Benning has been nominated several times for movies like The Grifters, American Beauty, Being Julia, and The Kids Are All Right. She’s also received nominations from the Emmys and Tonys, and has won Golden Globes.

12. Michelle Pfeiffer

Michelle Pfeiffer wearing a red dress singing on a piano in The Fabulous Baker Boys

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Michelle Pfeiffer was nominated three times in the span of four years, for the films Dangerous Liaisons, The Fabulous Baker Boys, and Love Field. But the fact she pulled off her whip tricks as Catwoman (for Tim Burton’s Batman Returns) in just one take means she’s always a winner.

11. Bill Murray

Bill Murray wearing a tuxedo for a Japanese whiskey commercial in Lost in Translation

(Image credit: Focus Features)

A string of successful comedies throughout the 1980s like Stripes, Tootsie, and Ghostbusters afforded Bill Murray fame, but it wasn’t until 2004 when Murray earned his first Oscar nomination (for Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation). Win or lose, Bill Murray comes off like the kind of guy who doesn’t really care.

10. Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton walks down the street haunted by his Birdman alter ego in Birdman

(Image credit: Fox Searchlight)

Michael Keaton has played Batman in several films, including one that audiences will never see. But Keaton’s first Oscar nomination came for playing a winged “superhero” of a different sort, in the 2015 black comedy Birdman from director Alejandro González Iñárritu. Fittingly, Keaton's role in Birdman is that of a faded movie star trying desperately to step out of his own shadow.

9. Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. trying out early Iron Man armor in Iron Man

(Image credit: Marvel)

One of the most prolific movie stars in the world, Robert Downey Jr. has been previously nominated by the Academy for his roles in Chaplin and Tropic Thunder. Tragically, there is no Oscar for Best Heartbreaker, which RDJ would have clinched from Avengers: Endgame.

8. Amy Adams

Amy Adams stands with her hands on her head in an open field in Arrival

(Image credit: Paramount)

A modern movie star in every sense, Amy Adams has a whopping six nominations for movies like Junebug, Doubt, The Fighter, Vice, and more. Her other major movies include Catch Me If You Can, Enchanted, Sunshine Cleaning, Julie & Julia, The Muppets, Nocturnal Animals, and several DC superhero movies.

7. Matt Damon

Matt Damon sits in a police precinct office in The Departed

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

One of Boston’s finest guys has been nominated several times by the Academy, for movies like Good Will Hunting, The Martian, and Invictus. Damon does in fact have an Oscar, just not for acting; he co-wrote the screenplay of Good Will Hunting with his BFF, Ben Affleck, which the Academy awarded both men for. 

6. Willem Dafoe

Willem Dafoe with his hands on his hips in front of a motel room in The Florida Project

(Image credit: A24)

Willem Dafoe has literally been Jesus Christ (for a movie), and has previously been nominated for his roles in Platoon, Shadow of the Vampire, The Florida Project, and At Eternity’s Gate. However, his true victory in Hollywood rests in his eerie ability to be an endless source of memes.

5. Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford stands in front of a computer in A Clear and Present Danger

(Image credit: Paramount)

From Star Wars to Indiana Jones to Jack Ryan, Harrison Ford has captivated generations of moviegoers. He has been within spitting distance of an Oscar before, for the 1986 film Witness. Late in his career, he has made an unexpected move into television as the co-star of the comedy-drama Shrinking on Apple TV+.

4. Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams holds her head in her hand on a bus in Blue Valentine

(Image credit: The Weinstein Company)

Michelle Williams was not new to acting when she starred in the teen drama Dawson’s Creek, but her work in adult dramas and collaboration with auteurs has given her rarified air as an actor’s actor. She boasts multiple nominations for movies like Blue Valentine, My Week with Marilyn, Brokeback Mountain, and The Fabelmans.

3. Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson sitting in a bathroom in Asteroid City

(Image credit: Focus Features)

One of the biggest movie stars in the world, Scarlett Johansson has her feet planted in both superhero franchises (with Marvel movies like Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Black Widow) and arthouse pictures, like Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin and Wes Anderson's Asteroid City. In 2020, she was nominated twice for two movies: Marriage Story and JoJo Rabbit.

2. Glenn Close

Glenn Close pours a cup of tea in Dangerous Liasions

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

A true titan of industry whose career spans four decades, Glenn Close has numerous Oscar nominations for movies like The Big Chill, Fatal Attraction, and Dangerous Liaisons. In the 2000s, Close made the transition to TV and was one of the first major Hollywood movie stars to do so in that era. She won further acclaim in the medium as the star of the FX legal drama Damages.

1. Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise stands in an office in Jerry Maguire

(Image credit: Sony)

Arguably the complete embodiment of the Hollywood movie star, Tom Cruise has received four nominations for movies like Born on the Fourth of July, Jerry Maguire, and Top Gun: Maverick. His filmography boasts equal parts popcorn fare like the Mission: Impossible series and more challenging films like Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut and Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky. He’ll win an Oscar should he choose to accept it.

Eric Francisco

Eric Francisco is a freelance entertainment journalist and graduate of Rutgers University. If a movie or TV show has superheroes, spaceships, kung fu, or John Cena, he's your guy to make sense of it. A former senior writer at Inverse, his byline has also appeared at Vulture, The Daily Beast, Observer, and The Mary Sue. You can find him screaming at Devils hockey games or dodging enemy fire in Call of Duty: Warzone.