At last Sunday’s Academy Awards Jeff Bridges was finally rewarded for his illustrious career with a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in Crazy Heart. The actor, who has amassed 5 nominations, has long been considered ‘due’ for a win at the illustrious award show. Meryl Streep, already a two-time winner, was passed over for 1st time nominee Sandra Bullock despite growing buzz that she is deserving of a 3rd trophy. In fact, outside of Best Actor, all of the top 8 categories went to 1st time nominees. The Oscars can sometimes be sentimental, especially in Best Supporting Actor, when handing out awards to perennially passed over veterans. Unfortunately, some actors have yet to benefit from these wins that are often more about rewarding the career of a performer more so than their specific performance.
With that, I bring you a list of 10 actors who are “due” for a win. First, a few factors to consider:
- Performers who have been awarded the Honorary Oscar have been left off the list (Peter O’ Toole and Lauren Bacall)
- An actor must still regularly work in film to be considered.
- This list leans heavier towards actresses mainly because the Oscars are better at rewarding older men than they are women thus there are more glaring oversights in the actress field.
- I also limited myself to only previous Oscar nominees which unfortunately eliminates someone like Alan Rickman who has been consistently great for decades.
- I am not intending to suggest that all of these actors deserve an Oscar, simply that based on their status/nomination history it would seem sensible for them to win at some point in their career.
Honorable Mention: Angela Bassett, Debra Winger, Jude Law, Naomi Watts, Laura Linney, Samantha Morton, Joan Allen, Viggo Mortensen, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Joaquin Phoenix, Don Cheadle, Bill Murray, Tom Wilkinson and Ed Harris.
10. Johnny Depp (3 nominations)
Although I question the worthiness of most of his nominations, it does seem absurd that an actor as popular and consistently good like him is Oscarless. Unfortunately, unless Depp breaks free from Tim Burton’s gothic wasteland (or unless Burton finally makes another good film again) I can’t see him winning. Depp is definitely capable and luckily has the most opportunity of anyone on this list. Now that Sean Penn is a double winner it seems especially easy to give Depp the gold in 2003.
Should Have Won For: Pirates of the Caribbean (lost to Sean Penn in Mystic River)
9. Annette Bening (3 nominations)
Like Depp, I question some of the worthiness of Bening’s nominations (mainly Being Julia) but she also seems like an actress that should have won by now. Unfortunately, on her two best attempts at an Oscar she lost to far superior work. Most of the drive for rewarding Bening seemingly comes from the fact that she lost twice to the same person (Hilary Swank). Unless the right role comes along I don’t see her picking up another nomination, much less a win.
Should Have Won For: Nothing (However, had Whoopi Goldberg won in 1985, I wouldn’t begrudge Bening a win in 1990 for The Grifters).
8. Edward Norton (2 nominations)
Norton, at one point, seemed destined to become the next Robert Deniro but after two richly deserved nominations in the late 90’s his momentum has appeared to stall. He still shows up in well received independent dramas but his last major success was the Spike Lee join 25th Hour (unless you count the bizarrely miscast appearance in The Hulk reboot). With his next performance being dual roles in the stoner comedy Leaves of Grass, things aren’t looking great for Mr. Norton on the awards front.
Should Have Won For: Primal Fear (lost to Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire)
7. Michelle Pfeiffer (3 nominations)
Pfeiffer has the unfortunate distinction of being an actress who won every single major precursor award but lost the Oscar. She was more than a lock in 1989 for her performance in The Fabulous Baker Boys then Mo’nique or Christoph Waltz were this year. She lost, however, to career validating win for Jessica Tandy in Driving Miss Daisy. After a successful run of box office hits in the 90’s, like many actresses over 40, Pfeiffer’s career hit a snag. In 2007, and at 50 no less, she managed a box office comeback playing roles in the hits Hairspray and Stardust. Unfortunately, her Oscar comeback vehicle, Cheri, bombed both critically and financially.
Should Have Won For: The Fabulous Baker Boys (lost to Jessica Tandy in Driving Miss Daisy)
6. Ian McKellan (2 nominations)
McKellan is the type of actor the Oscars would love to reward with a career capping Supporting Actor win. So it seems sort of strange that they didn’t with his iconic turn as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. At 70, Sir Ian is the oldest actor on this list but actors as old as 82 have managed nominations but I wouldn’t advise the Academy to make Mr. McKellan wait much longer.
Should Have Won For: Gods and Monsters (lost to Roberto Benigni in Life Is Beautiful)
5. Sigourney Weaver (3 nominations)
After winning two Golden Globes in 1988, Weaver became the first actor with double Oscar nominations to go home empty handed. She’s given many Oscar worthy performances in her career but for some reason has been snubbed for most of them. Her career best performance in The Ice Storm landed her a Golden Globe nod and a BAFTA award but no Academy Award nomination. Her performances in Death and the Maiden and Imaginary Heroes went unnoticed all together. Perhaps the high profile exposure of Avatar will lead to better opportunities for Ms. Weaver.
Should Have Won For: Aliens (lost to Marlee Matlin in Children of a Lesser God)
4. Ryan Gosling (1 nomination)
Okay, hear me out. Although Gosling only has one nomination to his name, he is an actor that has been snubbed at least twice for his stand out work in The Believer and Lars and the Real Girl. Thus, in my mind he is 0-3. Unfortunately Best Actor is never kind to the younger men in competition so he will be waiting another 10 years before he wins an Oscar. Hopefully, he keeps up with performances like we saw this past decade and he should have no problem.
Should Have Won For: Nothing (yet).
3. Will Smith (2 nominations)
Will Smith is the kind of actor the Oscars would have rewarded without question if he was female; a box office superstar with a fairly competent performance (sort of like Sandra Bullock). Will Smith has been incredibly smart with his career and his two Oscar nominations show that. I have no doubt he will secure another nomination and most likely win for it.
Should Have Won For: Nothing (yet).
2. Glenn Close
Although Close has resigned herself mostly to TV these past few years there is still hope for this actress to score another nomination with the right film. Close managed 5 nominations throughout the 80’s for her work in classics such as Fatal Attraction and Dangerous Liaisons. If her hit TV show Damages had been a film instead of a TV series I faithfully believe she would have taken home an Oscar for it.
Should Have Won For: Fatal Attraction (lost to Cher in Moonstruck).
1. Julianne Moore (4 nominations)
Although Ms. Moore has one less nomination than Close, her 2X loss in 2002 (for her lead performance in Far From Heaven and her supporting turn in The Hours) is one of the most crushing defeats in Oscar history. Also, Moore is still working consistently in film and thus her chances of winning are exponentially higher. As displayed by her snub this year for A Single Man, it has become clear that the Academy isn’t going to nominate her again unless she has a strong chance for a win. She has two baity performances coming out this year; the Atom Egoyan thriller Chloe and the Sundance hit The Kids Are Alright. Hopefully one of these projects will be enough for Moore to finally clinch the award.
Should Have Won For: Far From Heaven (lost to Nicole Kidman in The Hours)
Who do you think is ‘due’ for a win?