Some of the biggest stars in Hollywood are also some of the most often snubbed by the Oscars when it comes to Best Actor and Actress Academy Awards. Legends like Harrison Ford, Jamie Lee Curtis, and many others have somehow had some of the most successful careers in film, but have only been nominated for one Academy Award in the acting categories.
Harrison Ford - Nominated For Best Actor (Witness)
Harrison Ford is a national treasure, most everyone will agree. Everyone, it seems, except The Academy, as he has only ever nominated once, for 1985’s Witness. This actor has been in two of the biggest franchises in history, plus the two Jack Ryan movies and so much more. He should’ve been nominated for The Fugitive at least.
Eddie Murphy - Nominated For Best Supporting Actor (Dreamgirls)
Another icon of the late 20th Century and early 21st Century is Eddie Murphy, who has only been nominated once, for Dreamgirls in 2007. This is probably more testament to the Academy's apparent lack of appreciation for some of his best comedic performances because I dare you to find better ones in history than Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop or Coming To America.
Gwyneth Paltrow - Nominated For Best Actress (Shakespeare In Love)
Gwyneth Paltrow will likely be a polarizing name on this list because the actor herself tends to be, but she’s had a number of wonderful performances over the years. Roles in The Talented Mr. Ripley, Emma, and The Royal Tenenbaums are all worthy of more consideration than she’s received over the years. She's earned just one nomination for Shakespeare in Love, for which she also won.
Taraji P. Henson - Nominated For Best Supporting Actress (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button)
Taraji P. Henson has been nominated for more than thirty acting awards across her sterling career. Somehow, only one of those was for an Academy Award. Her lone Oscar nomination was for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in 2008, and it’s frankly astounding that’s the only one. At a minimum, she should have been nominated for Hidden Figures alongside her cast-mate Octavia Spencer. Hopefully, this changes with her role in the upcoming remake of The Color Purple.
Hugh Jackman - Nominated For Best Actor (Les Misérables)
Hugh Jackman is one award away from achieving EGOT status. The “O” is missing and shockingly he’s only been nominated once for an Oscar, for his performance in Les Misérables. The multi-talented Jackman has won so many awards, but is shut out yearly at the Academy Awards. The Oscars may not show much respect to comic book films, but everyone else does, and saying he should have been nominated for Logan isn’t a stretch, nor is saying it about his performance in The Greatest Showman.
Jamie Lee Curtis - Nominated For Best Supporting Actress (Everything Everywhere All At Once)
Jamie Lee Curtis is one of the most versatile actors of her generation. Horror, comedy, drama, she does it all. And yet, she has little to show for it in terms of Oscar nominations. She finally was nominated (and won) for Everything Everywhere All At Once but where were the nominations for My Girl and A Fish Called Wanda?
Salma Hayek - Nominated For Best Actress (Frida)
It’s been more than two decades since Salma Hayek was first nominated for an Oscar, for 2001’s Frida and she’s not been nominated since. Hayek is an icon and one of the most beloved actors today, yet never seems to get the attention of the Academy. This is likely in part due to the discounting of action films, which have become Hayek’s bread and butter, but that doesn’t mean her performances in movies like Traffic and Beatriz at Dinner weren't worthy of attention.
Matthew McConaughey - Nominated For Best Actor (Dallas Buyers Club)
When Matthew McConaughey won the Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club after being nominated for the first and only time, he led his speech with his trademark “Alright, alright, alright” and while his role in Dazed and Confused is a classic, he certainly deserved nominations for other roles, like how about a nod for his supporting role in The Wolf Of Wall Street or his performance in the vastly underrated Mud?
Samuel L. Jackson - Nominated For Best Supporting Actor (Pulp Fiction)
If there is anyone on the list that should be a perennial nominee, it’s Samuel L. Jackson. His lone nomination came from his unforgettable and meme-able turn in Pulp Fiction, but he’s an actor who steals every scene he's in, in a good way. Just his roles in Quentin Tarantino films alone, like Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight, are worthy of nominations, but it hasn’t happened, sadly. Thankfully for all of us, Jackson was given an honorary Oscar in 2021 for his contributions to film, which is some consolation.
Uma Thurman - Nominated For Best Supporting Actress (Pulp Fiction)
Speaking of Pulp Fiction, the Tarantino classic also led to Uma Thurman’s one and only Academy Award nomination. Despite being one of the biggest stars on the planet, Thurman seems to have no luck getting the attention of the Academy. One role that really stands out is in the under-appreciated Prime.
Benedict Cumberbatch - Nominated For Best Actor (The Imitation Game)
One has to believe that more nominations will be coming for Benedict Cumberbatch. Thus far, his only acknowledgment from the Oscars was for his wonderful performance as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. There are plenty of other roles he could have been nominated for, especially as William Bulger in Black Mass and Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate and that’s just the roles in which he’s played real people!
Mark Wahlberg - Nominated For Best Supporting Actor (The Departed)
In 1990, no one would have expected “Marky” Mark Wahlberg to appear on any kind of list like that, but almost 35 years later, it’s astounding his only Oscar nomination has been for The Departed (one of our picks for the 100 best movies of the 2000s). You have to question why he was ignored for Boogie Nights, for sure. The Fighter is another clear snub, though he was technically nominated for Best Picture as a producer of the film.
Halle Berry - Nominated For Beat Actress (Monster's Ball)
When Halle Berry earned her one Oscar nomination for 2001’s Monster’s Ball, she was the odds-on favorite to win. She had become one of the biggest stars of the 1990s and now was her time to shine. She won, of course, but sadly, it would be the last time Berry would be nominated, so far, at least. It’s a shame because there are plenty of roles she’d be deserving of a nomination, like Frankie & Alice, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe.
Laurence Fishburne - Nominated For Best Actor (What's Love Got To Do With It)
This could be the most shocking on the list. At first thought, you might guess Laurence Fishburne was nominated for his amazing work as Furious Styles in Boyz n the Hood or Professor Phipps in John Singleton’s other masterpiece, Higher Learning. Alas, the Matrix star has only one nomination, for playing Ike Turner in What’s Love Got To Do With It, and he didn’t win.
Josh Brolin - Nominated For Best Supporting Actor (Milk)
Josh Brolin has been a favorite since he was a teenager in The Goonies. He’s also starred in some powerhouse movies, like Sicario and, most of all, No Country For Old Men. No Country won a slew of Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor for Javier Barden, and yet Brolin wasn’t even nominated. It frankly doesn’t make sense. Brolin’s lone nomination came from his wonderful performance in Milk, but that was the year that the late Heath Ledger won for The Dark Knight.
Sharon Stone - Nominated For Best Actress (Casino)
You could argue that while Sharon Stone was brilliant in Casino, it wasn’t even her best performance, though it’s the only time she’s been nominated. She wasn’t nominated for Basic Instinct, despite winning the Golden Globe for the role, nor for the underrated The Muse in 2000. At least we have Casino.
Tilda Swinton - Nominated For For Best Supporting Actress (Michael Clayton)
2007's Michael Clayton was awash in acting nominations, including George Clooney for Best Actor and Tom Wilkinson for Best Supporting Actor. The only winner of the night, though, was Tilda Swinton for Best Supporting Actress. Over her incredible career, Swinton has been honored for other roles, like her parts in The Deep End, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and even Snowpiercer, but this remains her only Oscar nod.
Liam Neeson - Nominated For Best Actor (Schindler’s List)
Long before Liam Neeson re-invented himself as an action star in summer blockbusters, he was a character actor carving out a nice career in film. Then came the epic Schindler's List. He was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actor in a movie, though he lost out to Tom Hanks for Philadelphia. In the 30 years since, Neeson has not been nominated, not even for fantastic turns in The Gangs of New York, Michael Collins, or Rob Roy. For shame.
Lupita Nyong'o - Nominated For Best Actress (12 Years A Slave)
Lupita Nyong'o burst onto the Hollywood scene with her heartbreakingly beautiful performance in 12 Years A Slave. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress and has since been racking up the accolades everywhere... except the Oscars. Despite well-received turns in Us and Queen of Katwe, not to mention her roles in the Black Panther films, she hasn't again been nominated.
Sean Connery - Nominated For Best Supporting Actors (The Untouchables)
Sean Connery was one of the biggest movie stars in the world, and yet he was virtually ignored by the Academy for his whole career. Setting aside his brilliance as James Bond, Connery should’ve earned nods for The Hunt For Red October, and The Name Of The Rose, at least. Instead, his only nomination came for The Untouchables, which, thankfully, he won.
Alec Baldwin - Nominated For Best Supporting Actor (The Cooler)
Another fantastic performance in The Hunt for Red October that didn’t get recognition is Alec Baldwin’s as Jack Ryan. Baldwin could’ve been nominated for either of his two on-screen performances in 1992, Glengarry Glen Ross, and Prelude To A Kiss, but again he was snubbed. His only nomination came for his role in The Cooler.
Diane Lane - Nominated For Best Actress (Unfaithful)
Diane Lane found her footing in film in the late 1990s with outstanding performances in movies like A Walk on the Moon and The Perfect Storm, either of which could've been award-winning. Instead, it wasn't until 2002's Unfaithful that she got the recognition she deserved when she was nominated for Best Actress.
Bill Murray - Nominated For Best Actor (Lost in Translation)
The Academy has missed out on great performances by one of the best comedic actors the world has ever seen in Bill Murray. Stripes, Ghostbusters, What About Bob?, and Groundhog's Day are some of the most beloved comedies of all time, and Murray was never recognized. Nor was he for his brilliant turns in Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. Murray's sole nomination came, deservingly, for 2003's Lost In Translation.
Jennifer Connelly - Nominated For Best Supporting Actress (A Beautiful Mind)
Jennifer Connelly has been wowing audiences for decades, including in 2022's massive hit Top Gun: Maverick. It appears though, that she has not been wowing the Academy, as she's only ever been nominated for one Oscar, which she won, for her role in 2001's A Beautiful Mind. Other roles have earned her other awards, like her parts in Requiem For A Dream and The House of Sand and Fog, but to date, nothing from the Academy Awards.
Kathleen Turner - Nominated For Best Actress (Peggy Sue Got Married)
Despite massive hits like Body Heat, Serial Mom, and of course, Romancing The Stone, Kathleen Turner has only earned one Oscar nomination, for the vastly underrated Francis Ford Coppola film from 1986, Peggy Sue Got Married. Surely this icon of the screen deserves more.
Robert Redford - Nominated For Best Actor (The Sting)
It’s astounding that the great Robert Redford has only one acting nomination in his whole career, for The Sting. Though he defined what a movie star is, Redford never received Oscar attention for roles in All The President’s Men, All Is Lost, Out Of Africa, and Three Days of the Condor, among many others. The list is endless here. He has been nominated twice for Best Director, for Ordinary People and Quiz Show, and won for the former. Redford also received an Honorary Oscar in 2002.
Catherine Zeta-Jones - Nominated For Best Actress (Chicago)
At the 75th Academy Awards, Chicago was the biggest winner of the night, garnering 13 nominations and winning six of them, including Catherine Zeta-Jones for Best Actress. Alas, this, so far, is the only time the Welsh actress has even been nominated, despite powerhouse roles in Traffic and Entrapment. At least she shares this dubious distinction with her husband Michael Douglas.
Micheal Douglas - Nominated For Best Actor (Wall Street)
Gordon Gekko in Wall Street is one of the all-time great cinema villains and Michael Douglas richly deserved the Academy Award he won for playing the part in 1988. An actor with a slew of amazing performances from Falling Down, to Traffic, to Fatal Attraction and more, with only one acting nomination. He was also nominated/won for Best Picture in 1976 as the producer of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Lauren Bacall - Nominated For Best Supporting Actress (The Mirror Has Two Faces)
Lauren Bacall was one of the true icons of the Golden Age of Hollywood, starring in such films as The Big Sleep, Key Largo, and many, many more over her career. Shockingly, it took until 1997 for the Academy to recognize her work when she was finally nominated for a Best Supporting Actress role for The Mirror Has Two Faces. She did finally receive a well-deserved honorary Oscar in 2000.
Kevin Costner - Nominated For Best Actor (Dances With Wolves)
Dances With Wolves was the darling of the Oscars in 1991. It was nominated for 12 awards, winning seven, including Best Director for Kevin Costner and Best Picture, which Costner won as a producer. It was also the one and only time Costner has been nominated for an acting Academy Award. There are so many other iconic parts he should’ve gotten more credit for, like JFK, Bull Durham, The Untouchables, and Hidden Figures, just to name a few.
It just goes to show that even being a huge box office draw, and a megastar doesn't mean you'll get recognition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Oscars are incredibly hard to win and even being nominated is an honor, they say. Still, for everyone on the list, you'd think they'd have more than one.