Anything could happen at this weekend’s Academy Awards ceremony, but one safe bet is on Glenn Close, who looks likely to win best actress for her performance in “The Wife.” The film earned ecstatic reviews, thanks largely to Close, who plays a writer with unrecognized talent. “The Wife” has already earned Close a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award, making the 71-year-old actress the odds-on favorite for an Oscar.
And believe it or not, it would be her first.
That’s right — Glenn Close has never won an Oscar. Because she has such a long track record of critical acclaim and commercial success, you can be forgiven for assuming she picked up the statue at some point. She has been nominated six previous times, in “The World According to Garp,” “The Big Chill,” “The Natural,” “Fatal Attraction,” “Dangerous Liaisons” and “Albert Nobbs.” Each time, however, Close struck out. Call it the Phantom Oscar: You just think she has one.
Close isn’t the only Hollywood star whose lack of Academy gold might surprise you. Here are 11 more examples:
Amy Adams. After playing charmers and naifs in such movies as “Catch Me If You Can” and “Enchanted,” Adams worked to establish herself as a serious actress. She has starred opposite Christian Bale in three films — “The Fighter,” “American Hustle” and last year’s “Vice” — each time earning a nomination. Will this year be the charm?
Annette Bening. Looking back on Bening’s 30-year film career, you’ll find probably a dozen Oscar-worthy performances. Four have earned nominations: A con artist in “The Grifters,” a neurotic wife in “American Beauty,” a London stage actress in “Being Julia” and a lesbian matriarch in “The Kids Are All Right.”
Johnny Depp. He is a worldwide megastar, but despite fine work in “Ed Wood,” “Donnie Brasco” and “Finding Neverland,” Depp still has no Oscar. A recent spate of negative publicity and overly cartoonish roles (“The Lone Ranger,” “Alice in Wonderland”) are probably not helping.
Robert Downey Jr. The actor currently known as Iron Man started out as a 1980s pretty boy (“Less Than Zero”), then earned an Oscar nod for his starring role in the biopic “Chaplin.” He earned another nomination — one the Academy might prefer to forget — for playing Kirk Lazarus, a blackface performer, in the comedy “Tropic Thunder.”
Harrison Ford. Come on, didn’t he win for “Witness?” Nope — he lost to William Hurt in “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” Other films that didn’t even earn Ford a nod: “The Mosquito Coast,” “Regarding Henry” and “The Fugitive.”
Errol Flynn. He was the Tom Cruise of the 1930s, a global superstar whose natural charisma and box-office power put him at the tippy-top of Hollywood — and he never won an Oscar. Unlike Cruise, Flynn was never even nominated, not for “Captain Blood,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade” or 1938’s still-dazzling “The Adventures of Robin Hood.”
Liam Neeson. No, he did not win the Academy Award for “Schindler’s List.” Neeson’s performance as a real-life German who helped save Jews during the Holocaust has become so synonymous with emotional depth that “Seinfeld” spent an entire episode poking fun at it, but he lost the Oscar to Tom Hanks, who won for “Philadelphia.”
Edward Norton. Long considered one of the best actors alive, Norton has been nominated three times, for his astounding debut in “Primal Fear,” his terrifying performance as a neo-Nazi in “American History X” and his bittersweet portrayal of a Broadway actor in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).”
Joaquin Phoenix. He is a bit of an anti-celebrity, averse to publicity (check out his rare and strange 2014 interview with NPR’s Terry Gross) and no fan of the Academy Awards. It probably doesn’t bother him much, then, that his Oscar nominations — for “Gladiator,” “Walk the Line” and “The Master” — did not become wins.
Lana Turner. One of the great screen sirens of the 1940s, Turner steamed up the box office in “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” “The Bad and the Beautiful” and many others. She earned critical acclaim, too, and a great deal of money thanks to her 50 percent stake in 1959’s smash hit “Imitation of Life.” The Oscar, however, never came her way.
Sigourney Weaver. Any list of great contemporary actresses would surely put Weaver close to the top, but she has missed the Oscar three times, earning nods for the sci-fi film “Aliens,” the Dian Fossey biopic “Gorillas in the Mist” and the rom-com “Working Girl.” Too bad there isn’t an Oscar for Best Popular Performance — she’d probably have one for playing the demonic Dana Barrett in “Ghostbusters.”