Amy Adams's breakthrough came in 2005, when she earned an Oscar nomination for the acclaimed indie drama "Junebug," and since then she has reaped two more bids: for "Doubt" (2008) and "The Fighter" (2010).
If our current odds hold true, she'll earn a fourth nomination for her role in Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," but she may go home empty-handed yet again. With odds of 4 to 1, she trails current frontrunner Anne Hathaway, who gets 9 to 5 odds of winning for "Les Miserables."
Playing the cold, fanatical wife of cult-leader Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Adams doesn't have the kind of sympathetic, emotionally expressive role that often wins Oscars, though voters may be impressed by her range: she's previously been nominated as a naïve Southern belle, a mild-mannered Bronx nun, and a tough working-class Bostonian, and "The Master" is yet another departure for her.
If Adams's Oscar hopes are put on hold yet again, it wouldn't be the first time an actor has racked up a quick succession of nominations without winning. Glenn Close was nominated five times in six years during the 1980s, but never won; she received a sixth nomination last year for "Albert Nobbs" and ended up tying the record as the most nominated actress without a win. She shares that distinction with Thelma Ritter, who received the first four of her six losing bids consecutively, from 1950 to 1953.
Julianne Moore also has yet to win. She earned her four nominations in five years, between 1997 and 2002; like Adams, one of those was for a Paul Thomas Anderson film: "Boogie Nights."
But there's hope yet for Adams.
Kate Winslet, for instance, didn't win an Oscar until her sixth nomination (Best Actress for "The Reader" in 2008). The fifth time was the charm for Jack Nicholson, who won his first award in 1975 for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and went on to win twice more. Seven was the lucky number for Al Pacino, who finally won his Oscar in 1992 for "Scent of a Woman" -- eight if you count his unsuccessful Supporting Actor bid the same year for "Glengarry Glen Ross."
What may be more surprising about Adams's track record is that all of her nominations have come in the supporting category. That in itself isn't uncommon – Maureen Stepleton, Lee Grant, Agnes Moorehead, and others have earned that many supporting nods without any for lead performances – but Adams is not what one would consider a character actress. She's a glamorous star who has appeared in a number of high-profile leading roles, including "Julie & Julia," for which her co-star Meryl Streep earned a Best Actress bid.
Adams probably came closest to a lead nomination for "Enchanted," Disney's 2007 comedy about an animated princess transported to real-world New York City. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Comedy/Musical Actress but didn't make Oscar's final five.
However, even if Adams doesn't win this year for "The Master," she could prove victorious – for a lead role no less – as early as 2013. She is attached to play tragic rock singer Janis Joplin in the biopic "Get It While You Can," with Lee Daniels ("Precious," "The Paperboy") recently in talks to direct.
Actors have often won Oscars for playing troubled musicians, including Jeff Bridges ("Crazy Heart"), Jamie Foxx ("Ray"), and Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose") in recent years. Cotillard and Foxx won despite lip-syncing, so Adams, an accomplished vocalist who performed songs in "Enchanted" and "The Muppets," could be at an even greater advantage if she does her own singing for the film. That factor undoubtedly helped Reese Witherspoon, who lent her vocals to her role as June Carter in "Walk the Line" and won Best Actress.
Will Amy Adams win an Oscar this year or next? Will she have to wait longer than that? Or, perhaps, is she destined to join perennial Oscar bridesmaids Close and Ritter?