When we think of the Oscars, we all remember who won. We remember the tearful speeches, the triumphant photos, the joy or the outrage that followed. But hey, let’s not forget the overlooked nominees — especially those who have missed out on having their moment in the spotlight multiple times. Here are the artists who have gotten the most nominations without ever taking home the gold in competitive categories.
Sound engineer Greg P. Russell has racked up the most nods without a win, having received 16 nominations. But he’s not the only one in that department who’s had repeat disappointments: Sound engineers Rick Kline (11 nominations) and Anna Behlmer (10 nominations) have also never had their moment at the podium.
Tied for second place among the repeat losers are art director Roland Anderson and composer Alex North, both of whom received 15 nominations that never culminated in a competitive victory (though North did receive an Academy Honorary Award in 1986).
North isn’t the only composer who’s had a difficult time sealing the deal with Oscar. Thomas Newman’s work has earned him 14 nominations but no golden accolade, Walter Scharf remained empty-handed after 10 nominations, and Diane Warren picked up her ninth nod this year but is still waiting for that final recognition. Legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins is also nominated again this year, for Blade Runner 2049; we’ll soon find out if the 14th time is the charm for him. Deakins’ latest nod puts him one past fellow DP George J. Folsey, whose 13 appearances on the short list never ended in Oscar glory.
Among actors, Peter O’Toole holds the record for the most nominations without a trophy, having made the list eight times. In 2002, however, the actor’s long career was recognized with an Academy Honorary Award. Following O’Toole are Richard Burton, whose seven nominations never resulted in any hardware; Glenn Close, Thelma Ritter, and Deborah Kerr, all of whom have six nods to their names but no competitive wins (though Kerr too received an Academy Honorary Award in 1994); and Amy Adams, who has been recognized five times now, but still has yet to claim the top prize.
Shockingly enough, when it comes to directors (and writer-directors), neither Federico Fellini (with 12 nominations) nor Ingmar Bergman (with nine) ever took home a statue with their name on it in a competitive category. However, Fellini received an Academy Honorary Award in 1993, and Bergman was honored with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1971, and four of Fellini’s pictures and three of Bergman’s won Best Foreign Language Film, which is technically awarded to the film’s country of origin rather than its director.
A few other beloved filmmakers have experienced Oscar disappointment in the single digits, including Stanley Kramer, whose nine competitive nods never netted him a trophy (but whose long career did net him an Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1962); Robert Altman, who won an Academy Honorary Award in 2006 after seven unsuccessful nominations; Clarence Brown, who was left hanging six times; Sidney Lumet, King Vidor, and Alfred Hitchcock, all of whom got five fruitless nods (though Lumet won an Academy Honorary Award in 2005, Vidor was awarded the same in 1979, and Hitchcock received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1968); and Ridley Scott, who’s still waiting after being nominated four times. We’ll find out this weekend whether Christopher Nolan, whose fourth and fifth nominations (for Dunkirk) are currently pending, will officially join the list of the most overlooked.
The 90th annual Academy Awards telecast airs live Sunday, March 4, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC. Here’s hoping Warren, Deakins, and Nolan break their streaks!