Who Are The Best Actors Without Oscars?

Oscar speculation and commentary never sleeps. It feels like we only just declared 2017’s winners, and yet here we are at the beginning of autumn, on the cusp of another season full of award contenders.

We have yet to see which 2018 films and performances will emerge as contenders for the next Academy Awards. While we’re in between cycles, however, it’s a good time to think about the Oscars in a broader sense. In this case, that led us to thinking about the best actors who are still without hardware.

Best in film, is always subjective. But these are the actors who come to mind.


Now that Leonardo DiCaprio has his Oscar (earned for his incredible leading performance in The Revenant), Tom Cruise is the first actor that comes to mind here. Despite a career spanning roughly 40 years and comprised of innumerable hits in all different genres, Cruise has never taken home Oscar gold. This seems wrong, simply because he’s helped to define Hollywood for so long.

And despite the fact that he had a turbulent relationship with the public for a few years, people are still rooting for him. Not long ago it was suggested that it might be time for an honorary Oscar for the beloved actor. That may not be necessary though. Something tells me Cruise still has one or two dynamite roles left in him.

Like Cruise, Depp has been a true master of Hollywood for a long time. He’s been involved in numerous serious projects with major clout and, one would think, award show pedigree. Somewhat ironically however the closest he’s come was for the first Pirates Of The Caribbean (for which he may have actually deserved Best Actor), and it also seems to be that film that made him a less serious actor. Since Pirates, Depp has been largely type-cast as an eccentric or mad genius, time and time again. Should he decide to get serious again however, Depp has the talent to get into the Oscar conversation.

Matt Damon has a lot of hobbies. He appears in cameos everywhere from the HBO show Entourage to Jimmy Kimmel Live. He’s devoted a ton of attention to providing fresh water to areas that don’t have enough (not exactly a hobby, but still). He’s known to have been a regular at major celebrity poker games over the years. However, his lack of Oscar hardware isn’t due to his spending too much time off-screen, because he’s made plenty of worthy movies. He was nominated for The Martian, Good Will Hunting, and Invictus, and certainly could have been for Rounders (which incidentally was about poker). Damon did win an Oscar in 1998, but it was for the Good Will Hunting screenplay. He’s still waiting in the acting categories.

There may not be an actor who throws himself into roles quite like Joaquin Phoenix does. In fact, he almost seems to rub everyone the wrong way by doing so. Still, he’s turned in a number of the most stunning performances in recent memory – and may be at it again, as he’s apparently looking noticeably thinner while preparing to play the iconic villain The Joker. Phoenix’s best shot at an acting Oscar may well have been in The Master, but he churns out so much good work you have to figure he’ll be recognized eventually – even if there’s no telling what it will be like to watch this ultra-talented Hollywood oddball accept a statue.

Norton has been a little quiet in recent years, but he has incredible range and talent, as he liked to remind us more frequently earlier in his career. It’s really hard to believe he didn’t snag an Oscar for his role in American History X (he lost out to Roberto Benigni from Life Is Beautiful), but a recent Best Supporting Actor nomination for Birdman proves he’s still in the game. He doesn’t seem like quite as much of a guarantee as Phoenix or Damon, but he can amaze in the right role – and he’s young enough that it very well may still be out there.

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