You’ve seen it on posters, trailers and commercials. Voiceover artists have often said it. An actor’s name tends to come with the phrase “Academy Award Winner” or “Academy Award Nominee”.
“1923”, the latest “Yellowstone” spinoff series, stars Academy Award Winner Helen Mirren and Academy Award Nominee Harrison Ford. Frankly, Harrison Ford is such an icon that he doesn’t need “Academy Award Nominee” by his name to help sell interest in a series. But maybe his agent demanded he at least has something that comes close to matching what Mirren has. (She, of course, won her Oscar for “The Queen” nearly 16 years ago.)
It got me thinking: Harrison Ford has been an Academy Award Nominee for a LONG time. His one and only nomination was for 1985’s “Witness”. Since earning the nomination in ’86… a whopping 37 years ago… Harrison Ford has always been an Academy Award Nominee.
So how long have some of our finest actors without an Oscar win (including no Life Achievement honor) had “Academy Award Nominee” next to their names?
Bradley Cooper has been nominated nine times (four for acting), but his first nom (for “Silver Linings Playbook”) was only 10 years ago. Remarkable… and young in terms of the “Academy Award Nominee” billing.
17 years is how long six-time nominee Amy Adams has been an “Academy Award Nominee”. But that’s still young in this game. Johnny Depp has had this distinction for 19 years. Jude Law for 23 years. Woody Harrelson and Edward Norton for 26 years. Angela Bassett has had it for 29 years. (Will that change with a win in March for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”?)
We’re coming-up on 30 years since Liam Neeson’s first and only Oscar nom for “Schindler’s List”. It’ll be 31 years for Robert Downey, Jr. and 32 years for four-time career nominee Annette Bening.
Tom Cruise has been an “Academy Award Nominee” for 33 years. Michelle Pfeiffer is at 34. Willem Dafoe and Sigourney Weaver for 36. John Malkovich for 38. Alfre Woodard has been an Oscar nominee for 39 years.
Glenn Close has been on eight Oscar ballots over the past 40 years. John Lithgow has also been an “Academy Award Nominated Actor” for 40 years (though also a multiple Emmy winner for “3rd Rock from the Sun” and “The Crown”). It’s been 43 years for Bette Midler and 44 for Bruce Dern. John Travolta’s up to 45 years, Sylvester Stallone is at 46, and Lily Tomlin has been an Academy Award nominee for 47 years.
Winning an Oscar is certainly a goal for actors. But all of these actors I’ve just mentioned have had incredible, multiple decades-long careers even without receiving a gold statue. The one drawback (if they truly feel it is one): They’ve had to carry that specific “Nominee” phrase with them everywhere they’ve gone this entire time.