Meryl Streep’s losing record at the Oscars

While Meryl Streep holds the record for most Oscar nominations with 16 bids (13 lead, 3 supporting), just two wins — “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979) and “Sophie’s Choice” (1982) — means she also holds the record for most losses among performers. With 14 defeats, she is far ahead of Katharine Hepburn (4 wins; 8 losses) and Jack Nicholson (3 wins; 9 losses).

Streep earned a record 13th Best Actress nomination last year for portraying celebrated chef Julia Child in “Julie & Julia” only to lose to Sandra Bullock (“The Blind Side”). Four of Streep’s previous best actress bids were also for playing real women: whistle blower Karen Silkwood in “Silkwood” (1983); authoress Karen Blixen in “Out of Africa” (1985); suspected killer Lindy Chamberlain in A Cry in the Dark” (1988), and noted teacher Roberta Guaspari in “Music From the Heart” (1999). And one of her three supporting actress nominations was also for a real-life role: writer Susan Orlean in “Adaptation” (2002).

Streep was 30 when she won her first Oscar — a supporting award for “Kramer vs. Kramer” — in 1979. She lost her first Best Supporting Actress race for “The Deer Hunter” (1978) to Maggie Smith (“California Suite”) and her most recent supporting bid, for “Adaptation” (2002), to Catherine Zeta-Jones (“Chicago”).

She contended for Best Actress for the first time in 1981 for “The French Lieutenant’s Woman,” losing to Hepburn, who won her fourth Oscar for “On Golden Pond.” Streep took home the lead Academy Award the following year for “Sophie’s Choice.”


Her next two lead bids were for those real-life roles in “Silkwood” (1983) — Shirley MacLaine prevailed for “Terms of Endearment” — and “Out of Africa” (1985) — she was edged out by Geraldine Page (“The Trip to Bountiful”). Then came “Ironweed” (1987) and a loss to Cher (“Moonstruck”), followed by the biographical “A Cry in the Dark” (1988), when she was bested by Jodie Foster (“The Accused”). For “Postcards From the Edge” (1990), she was beaten by Kathy Bates (“Misery”).

With “The Bridges of Madison County” (1995), it was Susan Sarandon (“Dead Man Walking”) who won, and for “One True Thing” (1998), it was Gwyneth Paltrow (“Shakespeare in Love”) who was victorious. Streep’s work in the bipoic “Music of the Heart” (1999) lost to the work of Hilary Swank, who portrayed a real-life murder victim in “Boys Don’t Cry,” and her comic turn in “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006) was overruled by Helen Mirren (“The Queen”). Her dramatic demeanor in “Doubt” (2008) was defeated by Kate Winslet (“The Reader”).

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