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They never got an Oscar for interpretation (I)

Updated on February 9, 2013

The American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a professional honorary organization, composed of over 6,000 motion picture professionals. This institution is better known for its annual Academy awards, the so-called “Oscars”. This film competition is very serious, every actor and director dreams about getting an Oscar, at least one, in his/her lifetime. And this is a normal thing, the Oscar is an excellent card for any professional film career.

However, there are actors who were never good enough (according to the Academy standards) in order to get an Oscar for acting (Charlie Chaplin, Peter O’Toole, Harrison Ford are just a few names). These actors are big names, they are (or were in some cases) actors with an impressive acting gift, but, in spite of their talent, good critics, favorable public, they have been overlooked by the picture professionals from the Academy, they never got an Oscar for acting. In some articles I will remind you some of these very good actors, simply because I don’t think we must forget them.

1. Charlie Chaplin

The well-known tramp from the film history is, probably, the best example. We are still watching his movies, he was an excellent comedian of the last century, he appeared in so many silent films, nevertheless he didn’t have an Oscar in acting categories. In spite of this, Chaplin won two honorary Oscars, in 1929 for The Circus and another one in 1972. He won another Oscar a year later, for Best Music, original Dramatic Score for Limelight (this film was made in 1952, but it was released 20 years after (it was possible according to Academy rules from that period).

Chaplin got his first Academy Award at the very first Oscar ceremony. In spite of the fact that The Circus was favorite in that competition, the Academy decided to withdraw the film from all categories and instead gave Chaplin his first honorary award. This decision didn’t make Chaplin happy. However, at the 44th Annual Academy Awards (1972), Chaplin received his first honorary award after his exile. With that occasion, he received the longest standing ovation in the history of the Academy Awards (it lasted 12 minutes).

Charlie Chaplin


2. Cary Grant

Not very long ago, Cary Grant’s chin dimple was the most beautiful thing on this planet, according to the feminine half of the world population.One of the biggest American stars of the Hollywood never received an Oscar for interpretation. On April 7, 1970, at the 42nd Oscar ceremony, Grant received a special Oscar, for three decades of film continuous achievement. The award was presented by Frank Sinatra, and the inscription Sinatra read said the following: “To Cary Grant for his unique mastery of the art of screen acting with the respect and affection of his colleagues”. Later on, Sinatra commented: “No one has brought more pleasure to more people for many years than Cary Grant has, and nobody has done so many things so well”.

With Frank Sinatra, April 7, 1970
With Frank Sinatra, April 7, 1970 | Source

3. Richard Burton

Before Angelina Jolie and Brat Pitt, there were Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Probably, they had the most beautiful love story from the XXth century. Burton was nominated six times for Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Robe (1953), Becket (1964), The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Anne of the Thousand Days (1969), Equus (1977), and once for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, for My Cousin Rachel (1952).


4. Peter O'Toole

Peter O’Toole got eight Oscar nominations but received none in the end for his acting. In 2003, he received an honorary award because his “remarkable talents have provided cinema history with some of its most memorable characters”. In 2012, before turning 80, he made a statement saying that his career (on stage and on screen) fulfilled him emotionally and financially. “However, it’s my belief that one should decide for oneself when it is time to end one’s I bid the profession a dry-eyed and profoundly grateful farewell”. His performance in Lawrence of Arabia is still considered the best.

Peter O'Toole
Peter O'Toole | Source

5. Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood is one of the most important actors for Americans. However, he hasn’t received an Oscar for interpretation. He got two statuettes, for Best director and Best film for Unforgiven (1992) and another two for the same categories for Million Dollars Baby (2004).

Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood | Source

6. James Dean

James Byron Dean is considered a rebellious child of the Hollywood. He received an Oscar nomination for the film adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel East of Eden (1955). Another starring role, in Rebel Without a Cause (1955), made him an icon for his generation. He received another nomination for his role in Giant (1956). Shortly after completing work on Giant, he was killed in a car crash.

James Dean
James Dean | Source

7. Fred Astaire

He is considered, by many, the greatest popular music dancer of all time. He brought into the light the musical movie, with his seemingly effortless dance style. No many know that Astaire’s style was not so easy, it was a consequence of endless practice hours. The man was a perfectionist. After his first test for the screen, somebody noted: “Can’t act. Can’t sing. Balding. Can dance a little”. Yes, he could dance “a little”, this is why he is considered a film legend. He got just one Oscar nomination in 1950, for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, for The Towering Inferno (1974) and an honorary Oscar, in 1950, “for his unique artistry and his contributions to the technique of musical pictures”.

Fred Astaire - Putting on the Ritz

8. Johnny Depp

I know, I know, it’s unfair. Johnny Depp hasn’t have until now an Oscar for interpretation, just few nominations for Sweeney Todd (2007), Finding Neverland (2004) and Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Plack Pearl (2003). Nor even Alice in Wonderland (2010), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) or Edward Scissorhands (1990) could help him.

Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp | Source

9. Leonardo di Caprio

As far as I know, di Caprio was the second favorite actor of Martin Scorsese (the first is Robert de Niro). He received his first Oscar nomination when he was 19, for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993). Other two nominations were brought by The Aviator (2004) and Blood Diamond (2006). But he hasn’t received yet an Oscar for interpretation.

Leonardo di Caprio
Leonardo di Caprio | Source

10. Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt is a very handsome man. He is a talented actor too, and we can see this with every film of his. From Interview with the Vampire, Legends of the fall (1994), Seven Years in Tibet (1997), Se7en (1995), Fight Club (1999) and Moneyball (2011), he always impressed with his acting. However, he never managed to get the golden statuette. But he received three Oscar nominations for his role in Twelve Monkeys (1996), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2011), Moneyball (2011).

Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt | Source


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    • Mihaela-2012 profile image

      Mihaela Raileanu 4 years ago from Bucharest, Romania

      Thank you for your appreciation. And yes, you are right, for Leo and Brad it could be just a matter of time to get an Oscar. It depends on their future roles and success. It is very sad to see great actors receiving honorary awards...they deserve awards for acting. There are more surprises in this story, but I will come back in the next days. Have a sunny day!

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      I think that it's only a matter of time for Leo and Brad but not sure about Johnny. He does great work but it's considerably off-beat and not the type of film most academy voters go for. But I think they all have great talent.

      As for the Old Hollywood stars mentioned, it goes to show that the academy doesn't get it right. I'm especially surprised about Charlie Chaplin- he was film's first real comedy star. Sure there were others but he was the one who made comedy a legitimate genre in film.

      Interesting hub! Voted up and shared.