Skip To Content

    25 Amazing Actors Who've Never Won An Oscar Despite Their Mind-Blowing Performances

    Take notes, Academy.

    We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community for their favorite actors who have surprisingly never won an Oscar but definitely deserve one. Here are some of the responses that we 100% agree with:

    1. Will Smith


    "How has Will Smith not gotten an Oscar already??? He’s played such huge roles so well."


    2. Jake Gyllenhaal

    Open Road Films

    "His performances in Nightcrawler, Prisoners, and Nocturnal Animals were absolutely incredible. He puts so much detail into his characters and gives his all with every performance. He’s been around FOREVER and has only been nominated once 15 years ago."


    3. Samuel L. Jackson


    "Maybe he kinda had similar roles, but he does every one of them so well. He's also been in nearly every iconic movie or saga of the last few decades, and he's always the best part of a Tarantino movie. I mean, c'mon! Considerably worse actors have received the award."


    4. Edward Norton

    20th Century Fox

    "Three times nominated (Birdman, American History X, and Primal Fear) but no wins. Not to mention his great work in The Illusionist, Fight Club, The Score, and 25th Hour. Bonus points to him for being down-to-earth and smart in real life, and for using his platform for climate change and social justice. Amazing man and actor."


    5. Glenn Close


    "Glenn Close not winning an Oscar should be considered a crime. Seven nominations and ZERO WINS?? WTF?"


    6. Saoirse Ronan


    "She has been nominated for four Oscars, and she was only 13 years old when she was nominated for her first! She is an absolutely phenomenal actress, and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for the future (hopefully an Oscar win!)"


    7. Salma Hayek


    "She is a truly phenomenal actress. Her performance in Frida was so riveting and memorable. She absolutely deserved an Oscar for it."


    8. Robert Downey Jr.

    Marvel/ Disney

    "His performance as Iron Man was phenomenal."


    9. Taraji P. Henson


    "She was SO GOOD in Hustle & Flow and everything else."


    10. Bradley Cooper

    Warner Bros.

    "He should've gotten it for Silver Linings Playbook, and if not that, then DEFINITELY for A Star Is Born."


    "He is the new DiCaprio of the Academy."


    11. Stanley Tucci

    20th Century Fox

    "The man's one of the best supporting actors out there, and one of the rare ones who manages to elevate everyone else's performances. You'd think that he would have won at least one supporting actor Oscar, but he’s only ever been nominated once, and he’s never won. It’s completely barmy."


    12. Terrence Howard

    Warner Bros.

    "Stop snubbing Black actors!!!"


    13. Amy Adams


    "Amy FUCKING Adams. She gives a stellar performance every time and is ignored. Now that Leo has his Oscar, start a campaign for Amy. Even my mother who never cares about awards season was mad about that because Amy Adams is a gift, and we don't deserve her."


    14. Lucy Liu



    15. Woody Harrelson


    "Absolutely phenomenal actor from Natural Born Killers, Larry Flynt, Three Billboards, to Zombieland. The list goes on. He has such an impressive range that it's baffling why he hasn't won an Oscar."


    16. Michelle Williams

    Amazon Studios

    "Her being nominated four times and not winning kills me, especially for the movies she was nominated for (Blue Valentine, Brokeback Mountain, My Week with Marilyn, Manchester by the Sea). Those performances blew everyone else out of the water those years."


    17. David Oyelowo


    "Oyelowo gave us one of the most unbiased, beautifully artistic portrayals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ever. Oyelowo worked behind the scenes for years, studying King through interviews, letters, documentaries, museums, and King’s family and friends. Anyone who puts that much effort and intensity into a role deserves to be freaking nominated at least! Oyelowo brings the role to life so you see King’s struggle between protecting his family versus protecting the people he’s fighting for. There are moments in the film where Oyelowo says no words, but you know what’s going on inside his heart, making you feel what King was feeling. No one will be able to re-create how Oyelowo played King."


    18. Mark Ruffalo

    Open Road Films

    "Underrated king, Mark Ruffalo. His nominations were always up against some strong performances, but I’m still shook he didn’t win for Spotlight."


    19. Winona Ryder

    Searchlight Pictures

    "She is so talented and has blessed the world with so many iconic characters and movies. Her acting is beautiful and heart-wrenching, but she’s also amazing with comedy."


    20. James McAvoy


    "In Split, he played the role of 24 different personalities, managed to switch between them at a moment's notice, and absolutely slayed every single one of them. He chilled me to the core in that movie, and he didn’t get anywhere near the recognition he deserved."


    "He is the most underrated actor out there right now."


    21. Oscar Isaac

    CBS Films

    "He is such a versatile actor and has been in some extremely underrated and amazing films! My absolute favorite movie is Inside Llewyn Davis. He plays the title role with such emotion and vigor that it just breaks my heart! He's been in a ton of popular films (like his role as Poe in Star Wars) and I just hope he gets more recognition soon!"


    22. Sir Ian McKellen

    New Line Cinema

    "He should win one for every movie he’s in."


    23. Pam Grier


    "Pam Grier was absolutely ROBBED for her performance in Jackie Brown. The fact that she wasn’t even nominated despite giving one of the best performances by an actress in that decade is absolutely ludicrous. Plus, Helen Hunt took home the statuette that year for a forgettable role in a forgettable film. It honestly just shows how behind the times the Academy was and still is. They could have made history by giving a legendary Black actress her first Oscar for portraying a complex, morally gray character, but instead they stuck with more of the same."


    24. Toni Collette


    "I'm still waiting for the Academy to mail Toni Collette her Best Actress Oscar for Hereditary."


    25. And Alan Rickman

    Warner Bros.

    "I will never give up on this. The man was one of the most talented actors who ever lived. He could literally play anything: Sheriff of Nottingham, Rasputin, Mesmer, Snape. It's insane the range he had, and how he could destroy a person with just one look or gesture. I've never seen another actor who could make me feel all the emotions a person can feel, sometimes all in one movie. The fact that he never got an Oscar is a crime."


    Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

    Who are your favorites actors who were overlooked by the Academy but totally deserve an Oscar? Let us know in the comments below!


    TV and Movies

    Get all the best moments in pop culture & entertainment delivered to your inbox.

    Newsletter signup form