Last year, Leonardo DiCaprio finally got what he's been thirsting for: his first Oscar.
For what felt like forever, Leo was the ultimate poster boy for acclaimed actors still waiting for that official Academy recognition — but he was far from the first or the only one. As long as there have been Oscars, there have been shocking snubs and just plain bad luck. But each year is another opportunity for the Academy to right their wrongs and award the extremely patient with their first little gold statue.
That's what is poised to happen this year with Viola Davis, a three-time nominee and the most nominated black actress of all time, who is practically a lock to win on Sunday thanks to her supporting role in Fences. If Davis wins, it will be an overdue victory for the star (she was thisclose five years ago for The Help) and she can finally graduate from the hoards of perennially snubbed to the esteemed company of Oscar winners.
In Davis' honor, let's pour one out for these 16 other actors who are still waiting for that much deserved, but elusive Academy Award.
1. Gary Oldman
Oldman has such a long and impressive resume, it's truly shocking that he has never won an Oscar — let alone the fact that he has only been nominated once! This critically acclaimed actor scored his first and only Oscar nod for his starring role in 2011's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy only to wind up losing to Jean Dujardin's performance in The Artist.
2. Glenn Close
Close has been nominated (and lost) six times at the Academy Awards, tying her with Deborah Kerr and Thelma Ritter as the biggest female losers of all time. Close scored most of her nominations at the peak of her career in the '80s for projects like The World According to Garp, The Big Chill,The Natural, Fatal Attraction and Dangerous Liaisons. She then went through a two-decade dry spell until landing her most recent nomination for 2011's Albert Nobbs.
3. Albert Finney
Finney's roles in Tom Jones, Murder on the Orient Express, The Dresser, Under the Volcano and Erin Brokovich earned the actor his five nominations. That makes the British actor the biggest male Oscar loser among living actors. (The late Peter O'Toole holds the record for all-time biggest loser with his 0-8 record, although he did eventually receive his own honorary Oscar. But who counts that, amirite?).
4. Amy Adams
It's been 11 years since Adams scored her first nomination for Junebug. Since then, she's been nominated for Doubt, The Fighter, The Master and American Hustle, bringing her to a grand total of five nominations and five losses — a dismal track record that is tied only with Albert Finney, Irene Dunne and Arthur Kennedy. Maybe it's a good thing she didn't make the cut this year for Arrival.
5. Edward Norton
Norton has delivered so many Oscar-worthy performances over the years, but only Primal Fear, American History X and Birdman got him nominations. And while we would have been happy with Norton winning any of those years, we do love how he handled his loss in 1998. Ahead of the ceremony, Norton and fellow nominees Ian McKellen and Nick Nolte made a pact to drink at the bar together if Roberto Benigni won for Life Is Beautiful. After Benigni's name was announced, the trio of losers followed through on their deal, leading to lots of delightful razzing over why each other's roles didn't earn them the statue.
6. Ian McKellen
After getting his first nomination in for 1998's Gods and Monsters, McKellen only received one other nod from the Academy for playing Gandalf as The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. But don't cry for McKellen. He's one of England's most iconic actors and has racked up Laurence Olivier Awards, a Tony, a Golden Globe, a SAG, two Saturn Awards and so much more.
7. Sigourney Weaver
Weaver might have won two Golden Globes in one year for her 1988 films Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girl, but this three-time Oscar loser is also the only double nominee in one year to remain Oscar-less. (Julianne Moore also shared that honor until she won for Still Alice in 2015.)
8. Harrison Ford
In addition to his iconic work in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, Ford has starred in countless award-worthy films. However, Ford has only been nominated for a single Academy Award, and it's for Witness of all things.
9. Michelle Williams
After her role on Dawson's Creek, Williams proved herself to be a formidable actress, earning nominations for Brokeback Mountain, Blue Valentine, My Week with Marilyn and Manchester by the Sea. Sadly, it doesn't seem like fourth time's the charm since Williams would have to beat frontrunner Viola Davis in the supporting actress category at this year's ceremony.
10. Tom Cruise
Before Cruise jumped on Oprah's couch, he was the biggest star in the world. And yet even that didn't help Cruise score an Oscar when he was nominated for Jerry Maguire, Magnolia or Born on the 4th of July. Two of his exes, Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz, have gone on to win Oscars.
11. Annette Bening
Bening might not have the big-time name recognition of many stars on this list, but she's an acting powerhouse. That's why it's no surprise she's been nominated four times thanks to her standout performances in The Grifters, American Beauty, Being Julia and The Kids Are All Right. She came closest to a win for American Beauty, but lost to Hilary Swank (Boys Don't Cry)... and then lost to her again five years later when Swank won for Million Dollar Baby.Bening'srecent role in 20th Century Women failed to even earn her nomination, although the film is up for original screenplay at this year's ceremony.
12. John Travolta
Travolta has anchored some of the most iconic and celebrated films, but only was nominated twice: for Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction. Despite both films being remembered as two of the greatest ever made, Travolta is a two-time loser. And it's not just the Academy that Travolta has failed to connect with. He's only won a single Golden Globe out of his six total nominations.
13. Angela Lansbury
Lansbury is a living legend, securing her first Oscar nomination for 1944's Gaslight. She followed that up a year later with a nod for The Picture of Dorian Gray, making her, at the age of 20, the youngest actress to receive two nominations. Her final nomination was for 1962's The Manchurian Candidate. The Academy awarded her an honorary Oscar in 2013, but it's truly shocking this five-time Tony winner and six-time Golden Globe winner failed to win one the old fashioned way. Then again, it's not as bad as her 0-18 record at the Emmys.
14. Johnny Depp
Before Depp's shtick began to wear thin, the Academy loved his theatrical performances in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Finding Neverland and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. However, Depp failed to win any of those times, and we can't see the new Pirates film scoring him another nomination.
15. Michelle Pfeiffer
Michelle Pfeiffer is a cultural icon. That's why it's so inconceivable that she has yet to win an Oscar. Although she has been nominated three times: for Dangerous Liaisons, The Fabulous Baker Boys and Love Field. Her second loss was the most surprising since she was generally considered a lock for Best Actress until Jessica Tandy won for Driving Miss Daisy in a surprise upset.
16. Donald Sutherland
At 81 years old and with nearly 200 acting credits under his belt, an Oscar has continued to elude Sutherland. Although he's been in several Academy Award-winning features — most notably Ordinary People, which won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor — Sutherland has never even scored a single acting nomination. What will it take for this acting legend to get his due?
The 89th Academy Awards airs Sunday at 8:30/7:30c on ABC.