Traditionally, the motion picture academy has bestowed honorary awards on those who had lost their previous races at the Oscars. Among those feted on the acting side were all-time Oscar also-ran Peter O’Toole, who lost his eight competitive bids and Deborah Kerr, who held the record on the distaff side with six losses (she was tied with scene-stealer Thelma Ritter, who was never so honored before passing away in 1969 and Glenn Close). Occasionally, a past winner, such as Sophia Loren, would receive a bookend honorary Oscar but that was exception.
After we asked you who among past Oscar also-rans should be honored by the academy next, we wondered if this rule still held since the introduction of the non-televised Governors Awards in 2009. Of the ensuing 23 recipients of honorary Oscars (i.e., this excludes those who receive the Hersholt humanitarian and Thalberg awards), 10 had never been nominated, nine had been nominated at least once but lost and four had won.
Below, we detail the win, loss, never-nominated history of these 23 honorary Oscar recipients.
Gordon Willis was nominated twice for Best Cinematography: “Zelig” (1983); “The Godfather: Part III” (1990);
Lauren Bacall was nominated once for Best Supporting Actress: “The Mirror Has Two Faces” (Best Supporting Actress, 1996); and
Producer Roger Corman was never nominated for an Oscar.
Actor Eli Wallach, filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard and documentarian Kevin Brownlow were never nominated for Oscars.
Dick Smith won Best Makeup for “Amadeus” in 1984 and was nominated for “Dad” in 1989; and
James Earl Jones was nominated once for Best Actor: “The Great White Hope,” 1970.
D.A. Pennebaker was nominated for Best Documentary Feature in 1993: “The War Room”;
George Stevens, Jr. was nominated for Best Documentary Short in 1963: “The Five Cities of June”; and
Stuntman turned director Hal Needham was never nominated for an Oscar.
Piero Tosi was nominated five times for Best Costume Design: “The Leopard,” 1963; ‘Death in Venice,” 1972; “Ludwig,” 1973; “La Cage aux Folles,” 1979; and “La Traviata,” 1982;
Angela Lansbury was nominated three times for Best Supporting Actress: “Gaslight,” 1944; “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” 1945; and “The Manchurian Candidate,” 1963; and
Steve Martin was never nominated for an Oscar.
Jean-Claude Carrière won Best Live-Action Short in 1962 for “Happy Anniversary” and then reaped three Adapted Screenplay bids: “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie,” 1972; “That Obscure Object of Desire,” 1978; “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” 1988;
Hayao Miyazaki won Best Animated Feature for “Spirited Away” (2002) and was nominated twice more: “Howl Moving Castle,” 2005; and “The Wind Rises,” 2013; and
Maureen O’Hara, was never nominated for an Oscar.
Spike Lee was nominated for Best Original Screenplay (“Do the Right Thing,” 1989) and for Best Documentary Feature (“4 Little Girls,” 1997); and
Gena Rowlands was nominated twice for Best Actress: “A Woman Under the Influence,” 1974; and “Gloria,” 1980.
Anne V. Coates won Best Film Editing for “Lawrence of Arabia” in 1962 and was nominated four more times: “Becket” (1964), “The Elephant Man” (1980); “In the Line of Fire” (1993), “Out of Sight” (1998); and
Action star Jackie Chan, casting director Lynn Stalmaster and documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman were never nominated for an Oscar.