Most Oscar-Nominated Actors The Legend

Most Oscar-Nominated Actors The Legend Katharine Hepburn
Katharine Hepburn

At the most prestigious of Hollywood awards ceremonies — the Academy Awards — the most highly anticipated and hotly debated categories are the acting awards. In the lead-up to the Oscars each year, the top movies are reviewed and discussed with a major focus on each film’s most effective performances. And with such fierce competition each year, it’s a huge accomplishment just to be nominated for one Oscar in an acting category. It’s even more impressive to receive more than one nomination in a career.

The following esteemed actors have spent their careers racking up Oscar nominations for acting — though not all of them have actually won. Meanwhile, others on this list have received additional Oscar nods for non-acting categories, though this list tallies up just the nominations they earned for acting.

If it’s an honor just to be nominated, take a scroll through the most-honored actors in Oscars history also The Most Oscar-Nominated Actors Of All Time.

25. Daniel Day-Lewis (6 Nominations, 3 Wins)

Daniel Day-Lewis isn’t the only actor with six Oscar nominations — he’s in excellent company with the likes of Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Ellen Burstyn, Glenn Close and several others. He is, however, the only one of these actors to have six nominations and three wins, having taken home the gold for “My Left Foot,” “There Will Be Blood” and “Lincoln.”

Famously choosy with his roles, Day-Lewis tended to select only the meatiest acting jobs. Although he places “last” on this particular list, he is actually one of the most accomplished and well-regarded cinematic performers of all time, as the only male actor to have won three awards in the lead actor category, and one of just three male actors to win three Oscars, period.

Sadly, Day-Lewis announced his retirement from acting in 2017 after completing his work on the film “Phantom Thread,” for which he was nominated for the sixth time.

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24. Richard Burton (7 Nominations)

Richard Burton was nominated for seven Academy Awards — including a best actor nod for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” — but he never took home the gold. Still, the deep-voiced Welsh actor won numerous other awards, including BAFTAs and Golden Globes, and he was revered as first a Shakespearean thespian and, later, a box-office draw, becoming one of the highest-paid Hollywood actors in the 1960s.

His popularity at that time was likely fueled in part by his high-octane relationship with Elizabeth Taylor, which dominated headlines for years.

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23. Jeff Bridges (7 Nominations, 1 Win)

Perhaps best known for his comedic turn in the Coen Bros. film “The Big Lebowski,” Jeff Bridges has actually been working in TV and film since he was a child, and he’s racked up seven Oscar nominations over the years for roles far more serious than The Dude.

At the age of 22 in 1972, Bridges became one of the youngest actors to be nominated for an Academy Award for his supporting role in “The Last Picture Show.” Then, at the age of 60, he was one of the oldest actors to win the Oscar for his performance in 2009’s “Crazy Heart.”

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22. Judi Dench (7 Nominations, 1 Win)

It’s hard to believe Dame Judi Dench has been acting since the 1950s but didn’t get her first Oscar nomination until 1997. Dench’s seven Oscar nominations (and one win) since then are only a tiny percentage of her many honors to date. Between her expansive film career and tremendous list of onstage accomplishments, Dench has an Oscar, a Tony, two Golden Globes, two SAG Awards, four BAFTA Awards for television and six BAFTAs for film, among dozens of other awards and honors.

Her one Oscar win came for her supporting role as Queen Elizabeth I in 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love” — a performance that the New York Times deemed at the time “shrewd, daunting” and “one of the film’s utmost treats.”

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21. Robert Duvall (7 Nominations, 1 Win)

Robert Duvall began his acting career onstage as a young man in the early 1950s, and he made his big screen debut in 1962 in an iconic role, playing Boo Radley in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” He has continued working in film and television over six decades and right up to the present day, appearing most recently in the 2018 thriller “Widows.”

Duvall’s first Oscar nomination came in 1972 for his supporting role as Tom Hagen in “The Godfather,” and his seventh nomination was for 2014’s “The Judge.” He has taken home one best actor Oscar so far, for the 1983 country music drama “Tender Mercies.”

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20. Greer Garson (7 Nominations, 1 Win)

Her name may be less recognizable to modern audiences than others on this list, but Greer Garson was a powerful box-office draw in the 1940s. Garson earned a total of seven nominations for her performances of noteworthy characters, from Elizabeth Bennett in 1940’s “Pride and Prejudice” to her final Oscar-nominated role as Eleanor Roosevelt in the 1960 film “Sunrise at Campobello.” Five of her seven nominations came over five consecutive years, tying her with Bette Davis for the most acting nominations received in a row — a record that remains unbroken.

Garson would win her Oscar for her role in the 1942 best picture-winning war drama “Mrs. Miniver,” and she apparently delivered the longest acceptance speech in Oscars history at over five minutes. This may have even been the original reason for restricting the time allowed for Oscar speeches.

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19. Kate Winslet (7 Nominations, 1 Win)

Like many actors on this list, it feels like Kate Winslet’s Oscar win was a long time coming. Nominated for six Academy Awards before she won for 2008’s “The Reader,” Winslet is known for her grounded, thoughtful performances in sweeping epics like “Titanic” and tender dramas such as “Iris.” In fact, Winslet’s filmography is so rich with juicy roles, some argue that she should have won Oscars for any of them besides “The Reader.”

Since her win at the 2009 Oscars, she has since tacked on one more nomination for her role in the biopic “Steve Jobs.”

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18. Cate Blanchett (7 Nominations, 2 Wins)

Cate Blanchett, a serious actor known for disappearing entirely into the characters she plays, has seven Oscar nominations and two wins, one for “The Aviator” (in which she portrayed another performer on this list, Katharine Hepburn) and one for “Blue Jasmine.”

At the 80th Academy Awards in 2008, Blanchett was nominated for two Oscars: best actress for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” and best-supporting actress for “I’m Not There” in which she played the legendary Bob Dylan. In admiration of Blanchett’s work that year, movie critic Robert Ebert wrote in his review of the “Elizabeth” sequel, “That Blanchett could appear in the same Toronto International Film Festival playing Elizabeth and Bob Dylan, both splendidly, is a wonder of acting.”

Cate Blanchett Jasmine photoGetty Images | Jason Merritt/TERM

17. Robert De Niro (7 Nominations, 2 Wins)

Though he made his film debut in the early 1960s, it wasn’t until the 1973 drama “Bang the Drum Slowly” that audiences took notice of Robert De Niro. What followed were career-making turns as a multitude of iconic mobsters, violent sociopaths and obsessed fans, and over time, De Niro amassed seven Oscar nominations for his acting work.

He would win two Academy Awards, first for his portrayal of a young Vito Corleone in “The Godfather Part II” and then for the role of boxer Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull.” Much of his success has come via a long collaboration with director Martin Scorsese. The two have collaborated on nine films, including the upcoming “The Irishman,” co-starring Al Pacino.

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16. Jane Fonda (7 Nominations, 2 Wins)

Jane Fonda has been many things over the years, including a fitness video instructor, political activist, writer and more — but she was first and foremost a performer, born to acting icon Henry Fonda in 1937. Between 1970 and 1987, Fonda was nominated for seven Academy Awards for her acting work, and she won the Oscar twice: first for 1971’s thriller “Klute” and then for the 1978 drama “Coming Home.”

When she won for “Coming Home,” Fonda simultaneously spoke and signed the first few lines of her acceptance speech, in recognition of the hearing impaired, explaining that working on the film made her aware of the challenges faced by those with disabilities.

“Over 14 million people are deaf,” she said and signed. “They are the invisible handicapped and can’t share this evening, so this is my way of acknowledging them.”

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15. Dustin Hoffman (7 Nominations, 2 Wins)

Dustin Hoffman has built a long and varied career in film, delivering poignant, moving performances in movies such as “The Graduate” and “Midnight Cowboy,” but his original intention was to be a serious theater actor. In fact, he turned down every film role he was sent after “The Graduate,” with the aim of returning to the theater for good.

“I was a theater person,” he told Vanity Fair. “I wasn’t going to be a movie star. I wasn’t going to sell out. We wanted to be really good actors. … There was a dignity to being against success.”

Out of his seven nominations he’s earned, Hoffman won for “Kramer vs. Kramer” and “Rain Man.”

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