America’s Best Actresses and Their Losing Records

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How often top actresses like Katharine Hepburn and Merril Streep have been nominated and lost the Oscar for Best Actress.

Every generation has its own top stars. Back in the silent film era it was Greta Garbo. Then came Ingrid Bergman in the 40’s and Elizabeth Taylor in the 50’s. Katherine Hepburn first made a splash on the big screen in the 1930’s, making waves to be felt for decades. The torch was passed to Meryl Streep in 1982 when she won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in “Sophie’s Choice”.

What these icons have in common may surprise you. They have all been in highly-acclaimed films, most have won Academy awards, but they’ve all also been nominated and lost quite a few times. Heck, Greta Garbo was nominated four times for this award but never won.

While Katharine Hepburn holds the honor of having won the most Best Actress awards, she’s lost twice as many times. Over 12 nominations, Hepburn won the award 4 times. Her first win came in 1932, but then had to wait an amazing 35 years before winning her second trophy. Her last time winning the Best Actress award was in 1981 for her performance in “On Golden Pond”. That’s nearly 50 years after she won her first one!

Meryl Streep has received more Oscar nominations than any other actor. She’s been nominated 15 times, 12 of those for the Best Actress award. Surprisingly, Streep has only won twice. Most recently she was nominated for her role in “Doubt”, but lost to Kate Winslet for her role in “The Reader”.

This 2008 Best Actress award was Winslet’s first time winning, but her fourth nomination in the category. Her first Best Actress nomination came in 1997 for arguably her most famous role in “Titanic”. But her first Academy nomination ever was for Best Supporting Actress in “Sense and Sensibility” back in 1995. She lost to Mira Sorvino.

What we’re seeing are talented women getting recognition for their achievement, but not always getting the top award. Despite coming up short for the Best Actress trophy, Meryl Streep will always be remembered for her work, just like Kate Winslet will forever be remembered floating in freezing water with Leo DiCaprio in “Titanic”.

For the 2009 awards which will air in 2010, Meryl Streep is once again a hot contender for the Best Actress award. But whether or not she wins will make little impact. She’s already getting high accolades for her performance in “Julie and Julia” so winning the Academy Award would just be icing on the cake.

Yes, it’s wonderful to win the Oscar for Best Actress. But as history shows us, it’s not a make-or-break award. Just getting nominated is enough to help lift an actress into the realm of the best in the country. So as the 2009 Academy Award approaches, it’s good to think that it doesn’t matter who actually wins… although, I’ll still be crossing my fingers for Meryl Streep.


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