18 iconic actors who have never been nominated for Academy Awards and what they should've won for

hugh grant
Hugh Grant.Juan Naharro Gimenez / Getty Images
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  • The 2023 Academy Awards will air on Sunday, March 12, on ABC.

  • There are a few first-time nominees, including Colin Farrell and Michelle Yeoh.

  • There are many talented actors, such as David Oyelowo and Jim Carrey, who have never been nominated.

John Goodman was nominated for a Golden Globe for "Barton Fink," and that easily could've netted him an Oscar nomination, too.

john goodman
John Goodman.Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Goodman, 70, has been one of our most reliable actors for the last few decades, whether you checked in every week on "Roseanne" or stuck to his big-screen exploits.

"Barton Fink," the 1991 black comedy about a screenwriter (John Turturro) and his next-door neighbor who sells insurance (Goodman), written by the Coen Brothers, was recognized by the Academy for supporting actor, art direction, and costume design. But Goodman's turn as what you think is Barton's nice neighbor, only to be revealed as something much more sinister, deserved more awards attention.

Goodman has also been nominated across various critics associations for 'The Big Lebowski," "Argo," and most recently "10 Cloverfield Lane," which all feasibly could've earned him a nomination.

If "Crash" was always going to win best picture, the Academy could've at least nominated Thandiwe Newton.

Thandiwe Newton in a yellow dress
Thandiwe Newton.Rodin Eckenroth/Film Magic/Getty

"Crash," released in 2004, is one of the most infamous (and perhaps undeserving) best picture winners of all time. The Independent called it an "utterly tone-deaf, cloyingly sentimental ensemble film," as it only engages with racism in the most surface-level way.

So, why should Newton, 50, have been nominated? Because she plays a young Black woman who is sexually assaulted by a white racist cop played by Matt Dillon — only Dillon was nominated for an Academy Award, even though most of the emotional burden of the film rests on Newton's shoulders.

She received many other precursor awards for the film, including a BAFTA, an Empire Award, and multiple other nominations.

But, if you want to forget "Crash" exists altogether, Newton could've also been nominated for "Beloved," "The Pursuit of Happyness," or even this year's "God's Country."

David Oyelowo's snub for "Selma" still stings, nine years later.

David Oyelowo at the 2022 Oscars.
David Oyelowo.Mike Coppola/Getty Images

That Oyelowo, 46, wasn't even nominated for playing Martin Luther King Jr., remains one of the biggest Oscar snubs of all time, as he had been nominated for a Critics' Choice Award, a Golden Globe, an Independent Spirit Award, and a Satellite Award, and won an NAACP Award, for his performance as the activist.

But Oyelowo has turned in multiple other exemplary performances over the years, including in "The Butler," "Queen of Katwe," and "Middle of Nowhere."

It takes a lot for a rom-com to be recognized at the Oscars, but at least two of Meg Ryan's rom-com roles are Oscar-worthy.

Meg Ryan in a black dress
Meg Ryan.Taylor Hill/WireImage/Getty

"When Harry Met Sally..." is arguably the first modern romantic comedy, and anything that's come after has been in its shadow. Much of its enduring power comes from the sparkling screen presence of Ryan, who plays Sally across a decade of her life, from recent college grad to disillusioned single 30-something New Yorker.

After she was snubbed for that, Ryan, 61, appeared in "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail," which also depend on Ryan's likability to really work.

But if rom-coms aren't your speed, she also appeared in "Courage Under Fire," which is classic Oscar-bait, but still a performance that could've been recognized.

Ryan's "When Harry Met Sally..." co-star Billy Crystal has never been nominated either, though he's hosted the show nine times.

Billy Crystal
Billy Crystal.Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

Crystal is an iconic comedian and actor. He's won five Emmy Awards from dozens of nominations, has a Tony Award, and multiple Grammy and Golden Globe nominations. He's also universally acknowledged as one of the best hosts of the Academy Awards, a role he's had nine times.

However, he's never been nominated for an Oscar himself. If Meg Ryan deserved an Oscar nomination for "When Harry Met Sally...," so did Crystal, 74.

Crystal also could've credibly been nominated for "City Slickers" or even "Monsters, Inc.," if the Academy recognized comedy and voice-over performances the way that they should.

Daniel Craig is two-for-two on Golden Globe nominations for playing Benoit Blanc, but he still hasn't secured an Oscar nomination.

Daniel Craig in pink velvet jacket
Daniel Craig.Jeff Spicer/Getty

Craig's iconic Southern accent is Oscar-worthy enough, but the 55-year-old is basically unrecognizable as the same guy who played James Bond for 15 years in "Knives Out" and "Glass Onion." He also pretty much holds both films together as an audience surrogate, peering into the lifestyles of the rich and famous, while simultaneously trying to solve a murder.

But, Craig arguably could've scored a nod from the Academy for 2006's "Casino Royale" as well, ushering in a new era for 007 and starring in a legitimately terrific film to boot.

Danny Glover won an honorary humanitarian award from the Academy in 2021, but his acting deserves to be recognized, too.

danny glover in 2022
Danny Glover.Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Realistically, Glover, 76, was never going to win an Oscar for playing Roger Murtaugh in the "Lethal Weapon" franchise, even if he probably deserves it.

But he's been in so many phenomenal movies over the course of his career, including "Dreamgirls," "The Last Black Man in San Francisco," "Beloved," "To Sleep with Anger," "The Royal Tenenbaums," "Sorry to Bother You," "The Dead Don't Die," and more. We're so lucky to have Glover as a movie star — the Academy should take notice.

Somehow, Isabella Rossellini has never been nominated for an Oscar.

Isabella Rossellini in 2015
Isabella Rossellini.Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

If the Oscars created an award for voice-acting, perhaps the 70-year-old would've made it in this year for her heartbreaking performance as Connie in "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On." But alas, they don't have that category yet.

But Rossellini should've been celebrated for other roles, like her iconic performance as the mysterious lounge singer Dorothy in "Blue Velvet," or even in the camp classic "Death Becomes Her."

We'd say Ewan McGregor's biggest snub is for "Trainspotting," though the Scottish actor has proven himself a movie star time and time again.

ewan mcgregor
Ewan McGregor.Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

McGregor has two Golden Globe movie nominations under his belt, for "Moulin Rouge!" (which also could've been an Oscar role) and for "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen."

But we'd say McGregor, 51, deserves the Oscar for bursting onto the scene in 1996 playing heroin addict Mark Renton in "Trainspotting." It feels as though, if "Trainspotting" had been released in 2023, McGregor would've easily made the cut, but the film was a little too indie, nihilistic, and ahead of its time to get recognized.

Somehow, Martin Sheen has never been nominated for an Oscar, nor did he win an Emmy for "The West Wing."

Martin Sheen in 2017
Martin Sheen.Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AFI

We'd contend that Sheen, 82, should've been nominated for the Vietnam War epic "Apocalypse Now," for which he was nominated for a BAFTA. Sheen basically carries the movie, as he plays Captain Benjamin Willard, whom the movie follows as he makes his way through Vietnam on a mission.

He's also great in "The Departed," which is full of A-listers like Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Vera Farmiga, and Jack Nicholson. You even could've thrown him a supporting nod for stealing scenes in "Catch Me If You Can," which also stars DiCaprio, alongside Tom Hanks.

While Sheen's biggest contributions now are on TV, between "The West Wing" and "Grace and Frankie," he's had a successful movie career, and deserves to be recognized.

Claire Danes provided an Oscar-worthy performance in "Little Women" as Beth.

claire danes
Claire Danes.Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The People's Choice Awards

Danes, 43, is also predominantly a TV star now after "Homeland," "The Essex Serpent," "Fleishman Is in Trouble," and even "My So-Called Life," but she was turning in solid performances in the '90s on screen, most notably in the 1994 remake of "Little Women" — only Winona Ryder as Jo was recognized by the Academy — and the 1996 Baz Luhrmann adaptation of "Romeo + Juliet."

Idris Elba deservedly had Oscars buzz for "Beasts of No Nation" in 2015, but his performance didn't make the cut.

idris elba
Idris Elba.Joe Kohen / Getty Images

Elba, 50, is a star. He was a star on "The Wire," in "Luther," and even in terrible horror movies like "Prom Night."

But in 2015, when he starred in "Beasts of No Nation," a film centered around a young African boy who becomes a child soldier in his country's civil war, it seemed like it was time for the Academy to take notice. He was nominated for a Golden Globe, a SAG Award, and a BAFTA. But Oscar voters snubbed him.

Since then, Elba has continued to generate buzz, for appearances in films like "Molly's Game," "The Harder They Fall," and "Three Thousand Years of Longing," but "Beasts of No Nation" remains his peak.

Jeffrey Wright has played so many scene-stealing supporting characters, it's hard to pick just one.

Jeffrey Wright in 2015
Jeffrey Wright.Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

Wright, 57, has received awards attention for his performances in "Syriana," "The Manchurian Candidate," "Cadillac Records," "Basquiat," and "The Ides of March."

However, we'd put forth that his Oscar nomination should have come from "The French Dispatch" in 2021, where his vignette is the most heartbreaking of the five segments of director Wes Anderson's anthology film. He plays the secretly gay food journalist Roebuck Wright.

We're still upset Pam Grier was snubbed for "Jackie Brown."

Pam Grier
Pam Grier.Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Tribeca Festival

Grier has had a decades-long career in Hollywood, first appearing in many blaxploitation films in the '70s before being truly celebrated for her talent in Quentin Tarantino's love letter to blaxploitation in 1997's "Jackie Brown."

Grier, 73, plays the title character Jackie, a smuggler and flight attendant who is not to be messed with. While she and her co-star Samuel L. Jackson were both nominated for Golden Globes, this was before every Tarantino movie was nominated for at least two or three Oscars, and the two were snubbed.

Like Meg Ryan, Hugh Grant wasn't nominated for any of the three iconic rom-coms he starred in.

hugh grant
Hugh Grant.Juan Naharro Gimenez / Getty Images

"Notting Hill," "About a Boy," and "Four Weddings and a Funeral" are all some of the best examples of romantic comedies ever. But Grant's performances were snubbed by the Academy, whether he played the nerdy (yet sweet) owner of a travel bookstore, a womanizing man-child who bonds with an actual child, or a hopeless romantic who keeps trying to run into a specific woman at various weddings.

We should say, both "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "About a Boy" were each nominated for other Oscars — just Grant was snubbed.

Grant, 62, also should've been nominated for his iconic performance in "Paddington 2," but we digress.

It's hard to believe Jim Carrey wasn't nominated for "The Truman Show," "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," or "Man on the Moon."

Jim Carrey attends the 2017 Venice Film Festival.
Jim Carrey.Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Staff / Getty Images

You might be racing to Google to double-check that Carrey, 61, has never been nominated for an Academy Award. You might be thinking that surely he was nominated for playing Truman Burbank, the unsuspecting reality star who begins thinking his entire life is a lie — he definitely deserved a nomination for that, if not a win.

But, somehow, it's true. Although Carrey took home back-to-back Golden Globes for "The Truman Show" and the Andy Kaufman biopic "Man on the Moon," he didn't receive a nod from the Academy for either.

His "Eternal Sunshine" co-star Kate Winslet received an Oscar nomination for the film, but Carrey was once again snubbed.

Jennifer Lopez should've been nominated for "Hustlers," period.

jennifer lopez
Jennifer Lopez.Jon Kopaloff/Stringer/Getty Images

Lopez is one of Hollywood's truest triple threats: She can act, sing, and dance. But while she's been nominated for multiple Grammys and danced her way across the stage at the Super Bowl Halftime Show, the 53-year-old has never been nominated for an Academy Award.

That should've changed with 2019's "Hustlers," in which Lopez plays Ramona, a veteran NYC stripper who begins an operation of ripping off her rich clients by drugging and then stealing from them. She received tons of Oscar buzz, plenty of precursor nominations and wins, including a Golden Globe nomination, but she didn't make the final five that year.

Donald Sutherland is a veteran of Hollywood who somehow has never been nominated, although he should've been for at least "Klute" and "Ordinary People."

Donald Sutherland
Donald Sutherland.Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Sutherland, 87, has been nominated for nine Golden Globes over the last 60 years, but he has somehow never earned enough traction with the Oscars to secure a nomination.

We can't get into every iconic performance Sutherland has given, but we can focus on 1980's "Ordinary People," which was nominated for six Oscars, winning four, including best picture, best director, best screenplay, and best supporting actor for Timothy Hutton. Sutherland's other two co-stars, Judd Hirsch and Mary Tyler Moore, scored nominations as well.

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