Every year, we marvel at the performers who have been nominated for Oscars. We rave about the ones we love, jeer at the names we don’t think deserve it, and, most notably, cry afoul at who is missing. Below are a handful of actors who, despite having illustrious film careers, have never garnered a competitive acting Oscar nomination. Today, we look at the men, tomorrow, the ladies. And believe me, I know there are plenty performers who didn’t make the cut here (sorry, Jim), so do pleasure share your favorites.
One of the most distinguished actors currently in the game, I’m shocked that Steve Buscemi’s impeccable indie cred has yet to merit an Oscar nomination. Like many contemporary actors, Buscemi had to land on television before striking awards gold. His Nucky Thompson from Boardwalk Empire has earned him a number of TV awards honors, but that Oscar nom still eludes him. Should’ve been nominated for: Fargo (1996), Ghost World (2001).
John Cazale only starred in five films before dying of lung cancer, and any one of them could have earned him an Academy Award, let alone a nomination. In a decade where the Academy got so much right, the omission of a Cazale nomination is easily of their biggest errors. Should’ve been nominated for: At the very least, The Godfather Part II (1974), Dog Day Afternoon (1975).
I can forgive the Academy for overlooking Lewis’ many splendid comedy performances (because, historically, comedy ain’t the Academy’s bag), but it still blows my mind that Lewis’ role reversal in The King of Comedy wasn’t recognized with an Oscar nom. Should’ve been nominated for: The Nutty Professor (1963) and/or Boeing, Boeing (1965), The King of Comedy (1982).
This shouldn’t even be an issue. Liotta’s trademarked volcanic rage deserved a few Oscar nominations by now. Period. Should’ve been nominated for: Something Wild (1986), Goodfellas (1990), Narc (2002).
I had a genuine How did this happen? moment when I discovered that Peter Lorre had never been nominated for an Oscar. The man was a staple of so many classic works of film; but perhaps too hidden and mysterious for the Academy’s consideration. Should’ve been nominated for: M (1931), The Maltese Falcon (1941), Casablanca (1942).
Michael Keaton and Ray Liotta are in the same boat here. They hit it big around the same time, and they’ve played an equal amount of lead roles and supporting characters, almost always to thrilling success. Yet, for whatever reason, an Oscar nomination has always been out of their reach. Should’ve been nominated for: Beetlejuice (1988), Clean and Sober (1988).
Edward G. Robinson
One of cinema’s best and most memorable character actors, Edward G. Robinson deserved to leave this world a multiple Oscar nominee (or winner). Sadly, the Academy waited until two months after his death to award him with an honorary award. Too little, too late, if you ask me. Should’ve been nominated for: Little Caesar (1931), Double Indemnity (1944), Key Largo (1948).
There were many contemporary actors to choose from for this list, but Peter Sarsgaard was the name I could never let go of. Oddly, many of his Oscar-worthy roles were in films that generated a lot of Oscar attention for other stars in those specific films. Shame the he has yet to break through and land a nom. Should’ve been nominated for: Boys Don’t Cry (1999), Shattered Glass (2003), An Education (2009).
This was another one of those Are you serious? moments. With his 245 (!) listed credits on IMDb, it’s simply baffling that Sheen doesn’t have a single Oscar nomination. Should’ve been nominated for: Badlands (1973), Apocalypse Now (1979), Wall Street (1987).
Much like Martin Sheen, Donald Sutherland has so many credits to his name (176, by IMDb’s count), that odds alone should’ve merited him an Oscar nomination by now. Oh, and it helps that he’s a damn fine actor, too. Should’ve been nominated for: MASH (1970), Klute (1971), Ordinary People (1980), JFK (1991).