50 Greatest Best Actor Oscar-Nominated Performances Not To Win

The following are all Oscar Nominated Performances in the Best Actor category. The year following the Movie/Performance listed is the year of the Oscar telecast.
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1.
Al Pacino
Al Pacino received his first Best Actor Oscar nomination for Serpico (1973); he was also nominated for The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and ...And Justice for All (1979) and won the award in 1993 for his performance as a blind Lieutenant Colonel in Scent of a Woman (1992). For his performances in The Godfather...
“ Dog Day Afternoon (1976)
Sonny Wortzik  ” - cjlynch007
 
2.
Al Pacino
Al Pacino received his first Best Actor Oscar nomination for Serpico (1973); he was also nominated for The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and ...And Justice for All (1979) and won the award in 1993 for his performance as a blind Lieutenant Colonel in Scent of a Woman (1992). For his performances in The Godfather...
“ Godfather, Part II, The (1975)
Michael Corleone  ” - cjlynch007
 
3.
Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson, an American actor, producer, screen-writer and director, is a three-time Academy Award winner and twelve-time nominee. Nicholson is also notable for being one of two actors - the other being Michael Caine - who have received Oscar nods in every decade from sixties through the naughts...
“ Chinatown (1975)
J.J. Gittes  ” - cjlynch007
 
4.
Heath Ledger
Heath Ledger work comprised nineteen films, including 10 Things I Hate About You (1999), The Patriot (2000), A Knight's Tale (2001), Monster's Ball (2001), Ned Kelly (2003), The Brothers Grimm (2005), Lords of Dogtown (2005), Brokeback Mountain (2005), Casanova (2005), Candy (2006), I'm Not There (2007)...
“ Brokeback Mountain (2006)
Ennis Del Mar  ” - cjlynch007
 
5.
Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, rivaled only by the more theatrically oriented Laurence Olivier in terms of esteem. Unlike Olivier, who preferred the stage to the screen, Brando concentrated his talents on movies after bidding the Broadway stage adieu in 1949...
“ Streetcar Named Desire, A (1952)
Stanley Kowalski  ” - cjlynch007
 
6.
Robert De Niro
Actor, Goodfellas
Robert De Niro, thought of as one of the greatest actors of all time, was born in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York City, to artists Virginia (Admiral) and Robert De Niro Sr. His paternal grandfather was of Italian descent, and his other ancestry is Irish, German, Dutch, English, and French. He was trained at the Stella Adler Conservatory and the American Workshop...
“ Taxi Driver (1977)
Travis Bickle  ” - cjlynch007
 
7.
Denzel Washington
Denzel Washington is an American actor and filmmaker. He has received three Golden Globe awards, a Tony Award, and two Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actor for the historical war drama film Glory (1989) and Best Actor for his role as a corrupt cop in the crime thriller Training Day (2001). Washington has received much critical acclaim for his film work since the 1990s...
“ Malcolm X (1993)
Malcolm X  ” - cjlynch007
 
8.
Anthony Hopkins
Actor, Hannibal
Anthony Hopkins was born on December 31, 1937, in Margam, Wales, to Muriel Anne (Yeats) and Richard Arthur Hopkins, a baker. His parents were both of half Welsh and half English descent. Influenced by Richard Burton, he decided to study at College of Music and Drama and graduated in 1957. In 1965, he moved to London and joined the National Theatre...
“ Nixon (1996)
Richard Nixon  ” - cjlynch007
 
9.
Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, rivaled only by the more theatrically oriented Laurence Olivier in terms of esteem. Unlike Olivier, who preferred the stage to the screen, Brando concentrated his talents on movies after bidding the Broadway stage adieu in 1949...
“ Last Tango In Paris (1974)
Paul  ” - cjlynch007
 
10.
Orson Welles
His father was a well-to-do inventor, his mother a beautiful concert pianist; Orson Welles was gifted in many arts (magic, piano, painting) as a child. When his mother died (he was seven) he traveled the world with his father. When his father died (he was fifteen) he became the ward of Chicago's Dr...
“ Citizen Kane (1942)
Charles Foster Kane  ” - cjlynch007
 
11.
Mickey Rourke
Mickey Rourke was born Phillip Andre Rourke, Jr. on September 16, 1952, in Schenectady, New York, the son of Annette (Cameron) and Phillip Andre Rourke. His father was of Irish and German descent, and his mother was of French-Canadian, English, and German ancestry. When he was six years old, his parents divorced...
“ Wrestler, The (2009)
Randy "The Ram" Robinson  ” - cjlynch007
 
12.
Peter O'Toole
A leading man of prodigious talents, Peter O'Toole was raised in Leeds, England, the son of Constance Jane Eliot (Ferguson), a Scottish nurse, and Patrick Joseph O'Toole, an Irish bookie. As a boy, he decided to become a journalist, beginning as a newspaper copy boy. Although he succeeded in becoming a reporter...
“ Lawrence Of Arabia (1963)
Thomas Edward Lawrence  ” - cjlynch007
 
13.
John Travolta
John Joseph Travolta was born in Englewood, New Jersey, one of six children of Helen Travolta (née Helen Cecilia Burke) and Salvatore/Samuel J. Travolta. His father was of Italian descent and his mother was of Irish ancestry. His father owned a tire repair shop called Travolta Tires in Hillsdale, NJ...
“ Pulp Fiction (1995)
Vincent Vega  ” - cjlynch007
 
14.
Woody Harrelson
Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award winner Woody Harrelson was born on July 23, 1961 in Midland, Texas, to Diane Lou (Oswald) and Charles Harrelson. He grew up in Lebanon, Ohio, and, after receiving degrees in theater arts and English from Hanover College, had a brief stint in New York theater. He was soon cast as Woody on TV series Cheers...
“ People vs. Larry Flynt, The (1997)
Larry Flynt  ” - cjlynch007
 
15.
Edward Norton
Actor, Fight Club
Edward Norton is an American actor, filmmaker and activist. He has been nominated for three Academy Awards for his work in the films Primal Fear (1996), American History X (1998) and Birdman (2014). He also starred in other roles, such as Everyone Says I Love You (1996), The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996)...
“ American History X (1999)
Derek Vinyard  ” - cjlynch007
 
16.
William Hurt
William McChord Hurt was born in Washington, D.C., to Claire Isabel (McGill) and Alfred McChord Hurt, who worked at the State Department. He was trained at Tufts University and The Juilliard School and has been nominated for four Academy Awards, including the most recent nomination for his supporting role in David Cronenberg's A History of Violence...
“ Broadcast News (1988)
Tom Grunick  ” - cjlynch007
 
17.
Peter Sellers
Often credited as the greatest comedian of all time, Peter Sellers was born to a well-off English acting family in 1925. His mother and father worked in an acting company run by his grandmother. As a child, Sellers was spoiled, as his parents' first child had died at birth. He enlisted in the Royal Air Force and served during World War II...
“ Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying & Love The Bomb (1965)
Group Captain Lionel Mandrake; President Merkin Muffley; Dr. Strangelove  ” - cjlynch007
 
18.
Sean Penn
Sean Penn is a powerhouse film performer capable of intensely moving work, who has gone from strength to strength during a colourful film career, and who has drawn much media attention for his stormy private life and political viewpoints. Sean Justin Penn was born in Los Angeles, California, the second son of actress Eileen Ryan (née Annucci) and director...
“ Dead Man Walking (1996)
Matthew Poncelet  ” - cjlynch007
 
19.
Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson was born on June 7, 1952 in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, UK, to Katherine (Brown), a cook, and Bernard Neeson, a school caretaker. Liam worked as a forklift operator for Guinness, truck driver, assistant architect and an amateur boxer. He had originally sought a career as a teacher by attending St...
“ Schindler's List (1994)
Osker Schindler  ” - cjlynch007
 
20.
Richard Burton
Probably more frequently remembered for his turbulent personal life and multiple marriages, Richard Burton was nonetheless regarded as one of the great British actors of the post-WWII period. Burton was born Richard Walter Jenkins in Pontrhydyfen, Wales, to Edith Maude (Thomas) and Richard Walter Jenkins...
“ Who's Afraid Of Virginia Wolff? (1967)
George  ” - cjlynch007
 
21.
Gene Hackman
Actor, Unforgiven
Eugene Allen Hackman was born in San Bernardino, California, the son of Anna Lyda Elizabeth (Gray) and Eugene Ezra Hackman, who operated a newspaper printing press. He is of Pennsylvania Dutch (German), English, and Scottish ancestry, partly by way of Canada, where his mother was born. After several moves...
“ Mississippi Burning (1989)
Agent Rupert Anderson  ” - cjlynch007
 
22.
Warren Beatty
One of the most fascinating characters in Hollywood history, Warren Beatty was born Henry Warren Beaty in Richmond, Virginia on March 30, 1937. His mother, Kathlyn Corinne (MacLean), was a drama teacher from Nova Scotia, Canada, and his father, Ira Owens Beaty, a PhD. of educational psychology, public school administrator...
“ Bonnie & Clyde (1968)
Clyde Barrow  ” - cjlynch007
 
23.
John Travolta
John Joseph Travolta was born in Englewood, New Jersey, one of six children of Helen Travolta (née Helen Cecilia Burke) and Salvatore/Samuel J. Travolta. His father was of Italian descent and his mother was of Irish ancestry. His father owned a tire repair shop called Travolta Tires in Hillsdale, NJ...
“ Saturday Night Fever (1978)
Tony Manero  ” - cjlynch007
 
24.
Jack Lemmon
Jack Lemmon was born in Newton, Massachusetts, to Mildred Burgess LaRue (Noel) and John Uhler Lemmon, Jr., the president of a doughnut company. His ancestry included Irish (from his paternal grandmother) and English. Jack attended Ward Elementary near his Newton, MA home. At age 9 he was sent to Rivers Country Day School...
“ Some Like It Hot (1960)
Jerry  ” - cjlynch007
 
25.
Bill Murray
Bill Murray is an American actor, comedian, and writer. The fifth of nine children, he was born William James Murray in Wilmette, Illinois, to Lucille (Collins), a mailroom clerk, and Edward Joseph Murray II, who sold lumber. He is of Irish descent. Among his siblings are actors Brian Doyle-Murray, Joel Murray...
“ Lost In Translation (2004)
Bob Harris  ” - cjlynch007
 
26.
George Clooney
Actor, Gravity
George Timothy Clooney was born on May 6, 1961, in Lexington, Kentucky, to Nina Bruce (née Warren), a former beauty pageant queen, and Nick Clooney, a former anchorman and game show host (who was also the brother of singer Rosemary Clooney). He has Irish, English, and German ancestry. Clooney spent most of this youth in Ohio and Kentucky...
“ Michael Clayton (2008)
Michael Clayton  ” - cjlynch007
 
27.
Russell Crowe
Actor, Gladiator
Russell Ira Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to Jocelyn Yvonne (Wemyss) and John Alexander Crowe, both of whom catered movie sets. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Wemyss, was a cinematographer. Crowe's recent ancestry includes Welsh (where his paternal grandfather was born, in Wrexham), English...
“ Insider, The (2000)
Jeffrey Wigand  ” - cjlynch007
 
28.
Daniel Day-Lewis
Born in London, England, Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is the second child of Cecil Day-Lewis (A.K.A. Nicholas Blake) (Poet Laureate of England) and his second wife, Jill Balcon. His maternal grandfather was Sir Michael Balcon, an important figure in the history of British cinema and head of the famous Ealing Studios...
“ In The Name Of The Father (1994)
Gerry Conlon  ” - cjlynch007
 
29.
Michael Caine
Michael Caine was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in London, to Ellen Frances Marie (Burchell), a charlady, and Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, a fish-market porter. He left school at 15 and took a series of working-class jobs before joining the British army and serving in Korea during the Korean War, where he saw combat...
“ Educating Rita (1984)
Dr. Frank Bryant  ” - cjlynch007
 
30.
Jack Lemmon
Jack Lemmon was born in Newton, Massachusetts, to Mildred Burgess LaRue (Noel) and John Uhler Lemmon, Jr., the president of a doughnut company. His ancestry included Irish (from his paternal grandmother) and English. Jack attended Ward Elementary near his Newton, MA home. At age 9 he was sent to Rivers Country Day School...
“ Apartment, The (1961)
C.C. Baxter  ” - cjlynch007
 
31.
William Holden
William Holden was born William Franklin Beedle, Jr. in O'Fallon, Illinois, to Mary Blanche (Ball), a schoolteacher, and William Franklin Beedle, Sr., an industrial chemist. He came from a wealthy family (the Beedles) that moved to Pasadena, California, when he was three. In 1937, while studying chemistry at Pasadena Junior College...
“ Sunset Boulevard (1951)
Joe Gillis  ” - cjlynch007
 
32.
Michael Caine
Michael Caine was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite in London, to Ellen Frances Marie (Burchell), a charlady, and Maurice Joseph Micklewhite, a fish-market porter. He left school at 15 and took a series of working-class jobs before joining the British army and serving in Korea during the Korean War, where he saw combat...
“ Quiet American, The (2003)
Thomas Fowler  ” - cjlynch007
 
33.
Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage was born in Long Beach, California, the son of comparative literature professor August Coppola (a brother of director Francis Ford Coppola) and dancer/choreographer Joy Vogelsang. He is of Italian (father) and German, English, and Polish (mother) descent. Cage changed his name early in his career to make his own reputation...
“ Adaptation (2003)
Charlie Kaufman; Donald Kaufman  ” - cjlynch007
 
34.
Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson, an American actor, producer, screen-writer and director, is a three-time Academy Award winner and twelve-time nominee. Nicholson is also notable for being one of two actors - the other being Michael Caine - who have received Oscar nods in every decade from sixties through the naughts...
“ Last Detail, The (1974)
"Bad-Ass" Buddusky  ” - cjlynch007
 
35.
Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Lee Hoffman was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lillian (Gold) and Harry Hoffman, who was a furniture salesman and prop supervisor for Columbia Pictures. He was raised in a Jewish family (from Ukraine, Russia-Poland, and Romania). Hoffman graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1955, and went to Santa Monica City College...
“ Graduate, The (1968)
Benjamin Braddock  ” - cjlynch007
 
36.
Billy Bob Thornton
Actor, Armageddon
Billy Bob Thornton was born on August 4, 1955 in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to Virginia Roberta (Faulkner), a psychic, and William Raymond (Billy Ray) Thornton, an educator, high school history teacher, and basketball coach (now deceased). He is the older brother of James Donald (Jimmy Don) (born in 1958 and now deceased) and John David (born in 1969)...
“ Sling Blade (1997)
Karl Childers  ” - cjlynch007
 
37.
Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Lee Hoffman was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lillian (Gold) and Harry Hoffman, who was a furniture salesman and prop supervisor for Columbia Pictures. He was raised in a Jewish family (from Ukraine, Russia-Poland, and Romania). Hoffman graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1955, and went to Santa Monica City College...
“ Midnight Cowboy (1970)
Ratso Rizzo  ” - cjlynch007
 
38.
Tom Hanks
Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was born in Concord, California, to Janet Marylyn (Frager), a hospital worker, and Amos Mefford Hanks, an itinerant cook. His father had English, and some German, ancestry, while his mother's family, originally surnamed "Fraga", was entirely Portuguese. Tom grew up in what he has called a "fractured" family...
“ Big (1989)
Josh Baskin  ” - cjlynch007
 
39.
Colin Firth
Colin Andrew Firth was born into an academic family in Grayshott, Hampshire, England. His mother, Shirley Jean (Rolles), was a comparative religion lecturer at the Open University, and his father, David Norman Lewis Firth, lectured on history at Winchester University College (formerly King Alfred's College) in Winchester...
“ Single Man, A (2010)
George Falconer  ” - cjlynch007
 
40.
Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Lee Hoffman was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lillian (Gold) and Harry Hoffman, who was a furniture salesman and prop supervisor for Columbia Pictures. He was raised in a Jewish family (from Ukraine, Russia-Poland, and Romania). Hoffman graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1955, and went to Santa Monica City College...
“ Tootsie (1983)
Michael Dorsey; Dorothy Michaels  ” - cjlynch007
 
41.
Paul Newman
Paul Newman won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for his performance in the 1986 film The Color of Money, a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, an Emmy Award, and many honorary awards. Despite being colorblind, he won several national championships as a driver in Sports Car Club of America road racing...
“ Cool Hand Luke (1968)
Luke Jackson  ” - cjlynch007
 
42.
Al Pacino
Al Pacino received his first Best Actor Oscar nomination for Serpico (1973); he was also nominated for The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and ...And Justice for All (1979) and won the award in 1993 for his performance as a blind Lieutenant Colonel in Scent of a Woman (1992). For his performances in The Godfather...
“ Serpico (1974)
Frank Serpico  ” - cjlynch007
 
43.
Paul Newman
Paul Newman won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for his performance in the 1986 film The Color of Money, a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, an Emmy Award, and many honorary awards. Despite being colorblind, he won several national championships as a driver in Sports Car Club of America road racing...
“ Hustler, The (1962)
Eddie Felson  ” - cjlynch007
 
44.
Warren Beatty
One of the most fascinating characters in Hollywood history, Warren Beatty was born Henry Warren Beaty in Richmond, Virginia on March 30, 1937. His mother, Kathlyn Corinne (MacLean), was a drama teacher from Nova Scotia, Canada, and his father, Ira Owens Beaty, a PhD. of educational psychology, public school administrator...
“ Bugsy (1992)
Bejamin "Bugsy" Siegel  ” - cjlynch007
 
45.
Paul Newman
Paul Newman won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for his performance in the 1986 film The Color of Money, a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, an Emmy Award, and many honorary awards. Despite being colorblind, he won several national championships as a driver in Sports Car Club of America road racing...
“ Verdict, The (1983)
Frank Galvin  ” - cjlynch007
 
46.
Javier Bardem
Javier Bardem is the youngest member of a family of actors that has been making films since the early days of Spanish cinema. He was born in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, to actress Pilar Bardem (María del Pilar Bardem Muñoz) and businessman José Carlos Encinas Doussinague. His maternal grandparents were actors Rafael Bardem and Matilde Muñoz Sampedro...
“ Before Night Falls (2001)
Reinaldo Arenas  ” - cjlynch007
 
47.
Paul Newman
Paul Newman won numerous awards, including an Academy Award for his performance in the 1986 film The Color of Money, a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, an Emmy Award, and many honorary awards. Despite being colorblind, he won several national championships as a driver in Sports Car Club of America road racing...
“ Nobody's Fool (1995)
[i] Donald "Sully" Sullivan ” - cjlynch007
 
48.
Ian McKellen
Ian Murray McKellen was born on May 25, 1939 in Burnley, Lancashire, England, to Margery Lois (Sutcliffe) and Denis Murray McKellen, a civil engineer. He is of Scottish, Northern Irish, and English descent. During his early childhood, his parents moved with Ian and his sister Jean to the mill town of Wigan...
“ Gods & Monsters (1999)
James Whale  ” - cjlynch007
 
49.
Tom Wilkinson
Popular British character actor Tom Wilkinson was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, and comes from a long line of urban farmers. He is the son of Marjorie (Percival) and Thomas Wilkinson. Economic hardships forced his family to move to Canada for a few years when Wilkinson was a child; after he had returned to England...
“ In The Bedroom (2002)
Matt Fowler  ” - cjlynch007
 
50.
John Hurt
This transatlantic talent was born John Vincent Hurt on January 22, 1940 in Shirebrook, a coal mining village near the busy market town of Chesterfield, in Derbyshire, England. He is the son of Phyllis (Massey), an engineer and one-time actress, and Arnould Herbert Hurt, an Anglican clergyman and mathematician...
“ Elephant Man, The (1981)
John Merrick  ” - cjlynch007