The 25 Most Oscar-Nominated Actors of All Time

Meryl Streep with her Oscar for The Iron Lady in 2012.
Meryl Streep with her Oscar for The Iron Lady in 2012. / Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Some actors are in a lot of movies, some actors are in great movies, and some actors are in a lot of great movies. In this last category, Meryl Streep is the reigning champ. From her first Oscar nod for 1978's The Deer Hunter to her most recent one for 2017’s The Post, Streep has amassed a total of 21 Academy Award nominations: four for best supporting actress and a staggering 17 for best actress.

The person with the best chance of breaking her record is Al Pacino, in fourth place with “only” nine nominations. The other fourth-place finishers (Paul Newman and Spencer Tracy), both third-place finishers (Bette Davis and Laurence Olivier), and one of two second-place finishers (Katharine Hepburn) have already passed away. The other runner-up, Jack Nicholson, hasn’t acted in a film in over a decade. Even if Nicholson did return to the silver screen, he’d still need 10 more nominations to best Streep—assuming she didn’t pick up any additional noms while he was playing catch-up.

Hepburn might be second to Streep when it comes to nominations, but she’s currently in first place on the list of most Oscar wins. Streep has won three, for 1979’s Kramer vs. Kramer, 1982’s Sophie’s Choice, and 2011’s The Iron Lady. Hepburn’s total is four: Morning Glory (1933), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968), and On Golden Pond (1981).

Though most frequently nominated performers managed to take home at least one Oscar statuette, there are a few with zero wins—namely, Peter O’Toole, Richard Burton, and Glenn Close. Close, with eight nominations, has an opportunity to interrupt her losing streak at this year’s awards ceremony; she’s nominated for her supporting role in Hillbilly Elegy (2020).

The list below is based on actor-specific nominations only (lead and supporting), so extra nominations that actors have picked up for directing, producing, or any other participation in a movie aren’t included. Once you’re finished perusing, gear up for the 93rd Oscars on April 25 with some fun facts about Oscars past.

1. Meryl Streep // 21 nominations (3 wins)
2. Katharine Hepburn // 12 nominations (4 wins)
2. Jack Nicholson // 12 nominations (3 wins)
3. Bette Davis // 10 nominations (2 wins)
3. Laurence Olivier // 10 nominations (1 win)
4. Al Pacino // 9 nominations (1 win)
4. Paul Newman // 9 nominations (1 win)
4. Spencer Tracy // 9 nominations (2 wins)
5. Marlon Brando // 8 nominations (2 wins)
5. Glenn Close // 8 nominations (0 wins)
5. Jack Lemmon // 8 nominations (2 wins)
5. Peter O’Toole // 8 nominations (0 wins)
5. Geraldine Page // 8 nominations (1 win)
5. Denzel Washington // 8 nominations (2 wins)
6. Ingrid Bergman // 7 nominations (3 wins)
6. Cate Blanchett // 7 nominations (2 wins)
6. Jeff Bridges // 7 nominations (1 win)
6. Richard Burton // 7 nominations (0 wins)
6. Judi Dench // 7 nominations (1 win)
6. Robert De Niro // 7 nominations (2 wins)
6. Robert Duvall // 7 nominations (1 win)
6. Jane Fonda // 7 nominations (2 wins)
6. Greer Garson // 7 nominations (1 win)
6. Dustin Hoffman // 7 nominations (2 wins)
6. Kate Winslet // 7 nominations (1 win)