Renton: What about The Untouchables?
Sick Boy: I don't rate that at all.
Renton: Despite the Academy Award?
Sick Boy: That means fuck all! It's a sympathy vote.
- Peter O'Toole has been nominated eight times for the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, making him the most-nominated actor never to win the award. In 2003, he instead received an Academy Honorary Award for his entire body of work and his lifelong contribution to film. Well gee, thanks a lot, Academy.
- This trope's Distaff Counterpart to O'Toole is Deborah Kerr, who earned six Academy Award nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role over a twelve year period from 1950-1961, and lost all six, coming up short on her last try to Elizabeth Taylor's consolation Oscar for Butterfield 8 (see below). She also received four BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) nominations for Best Actress in her native Great Britain and lost all four of those too, making her the most-nominated performer never to win Best Actress in TWO countries. Both the British and American Academies finally and belatedly presented her with Honorary Awards for lifetime achievement in the 1990s, more than two decades after she had effectively retired from acting.
- Martin Scorsese's The Departed is not widely considered to be one of his best (even if its Rotten Tomatoes rating, IMDb rating and its high ranking in the Top 250 list suggests otherwise). So, one can't help but wonder if this trope was in effect when it won Best Picture and he won Best Director, after decades of Scorsese's work never getting the honor. Arguably, though, it might also because it was the most successful movie out of that year's Best Picture nominees.
- An important trend to remember about Scorsese was that his more critically acclaimed movies that many feel he should have previously won for note were all Vindicated by History. At the time of their releases controversy actually overshadowed the films themselves leading to their snubs year in and out.
- Cecil B. DeMille's 1952 film The Greatest Show On Earth is considered by many to be one of the worst films to ever win Best Picture. Some suspect the only reason it got the award was because DeMille's films had never won one yet, despite the man's career dating all the way back to the silent era. Ironically, they could have just waited a few years and given it to his last film and one of his best — The Ten Commandments. Instead, it lost Best Picture and DeMille wasn't even nominated as Best Director.
- And incidentally, one film that wasn't even nominated for Best Picture in 1952? Singin' in the Rain!
- John Wayne's Best Actor win in 1969 for True Grit is seen as a consolation for him not winning the award for his work in films like Red River, The Quiet Man, The Searchers, and Sands Of Iwo Jima.
- Henry Fonda finally won a Best Actor Oscar for On Golden Pond — the last movie he ever made.
- Notably, this came just a year after he won an Honorary Oscar (like Paul Newman below).
- By the time 2008 rolled around, Kate Winslet had been nominated six times and had yet to win an Oscar. What makes people believe that this occurred is that she won Best Actress for The Reader, even though she won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for the same role. (Interestingly, she also won Best Lead Actress at the Golden Globes that year, but for Revolutionary Road.)
- Al Pacino got a Best Actor Oscar in 1992 for Scent of a Woman, despite the role not being nearly as critically acclaimed as The Godfather, The Godfather Part II or Dog Day Afternoon.
- An example of the cycle continuing: In 2001, Nicole Kidman was nominated for Moulin Rouge!, but lost to Halle Berry. The next year, she won for The Hours, a film that has been all but forgotten. She beat Renee Zellweger in Chicago, who ended up winning Best Supporting Actress in 2003 for Cold Mountain. A lot of the reviews of Cold Mountain actually contained comments along the lines of "just give Renee the Oscar already" (NOTE: She had been nominated for Best Actress in 2001 as well, for Bridget Jones's Diary.
- One of the more infamous of these was Paul Newman winning for his work in a sequel to The Hustler, The Color of Money, because he'd been snubbed decades earlier for his work in the original. Moreover, he'd just received an Honorary Oscar the previous year!
- Possibly the most famous (or infamous) of these is that Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar as a director (though Rebecca won Best Picture). The Academy gave him a lifetime achievement award, which he deserved anyway, but it was mostly an apology for never giving him an award for Vertigo, Psycho, North By Northwest, The Birds, Rope, Strangers on a Train, The Man Who Knew Too Much, To Catch a Thief, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, Marnie...
- The first two installments of The Lord of the Rings trilogy received nothing but technical awards. The final installment received just about every (non-acting) Oscar. The Academy was apparently reluctant to hand out big awards to the early installments for fear of clogging up the awards for the next three years, and decided to treat the last installment as a catch-all summation of the trilogy.
- Denzel Washington's work in Training Day, after losing for The Hurricane and Malcolm X.
- Russell Crowe's win for Gladiator might have been a consolation award for not winning for The Insider, which was generally thought to be a stronger performance but like Denzel with The Hurricane, lost to Kevin Spacey in 'American Beauty. (then an even more lauded performance in A Beautiful Mind lost to Denzel in Training Day'')
- Elizabeth Taylor's 1960 Oscar for Butterfield 8, a film that's forgotten, and she didn't even want to do (she called it "a piece of garbage"). She was nominated in 1957 for Raintree County, in 1958 for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and in 1959 for Suddenly Last Summer, of which the latter two are considered classics. It's widely thought that she won by a vote of sympathy, because of her recent near-fatal illness - Taylor herself agreed with this in her book Elizabeth Takes Off.
- Aversion: In 1996, it was thought of as certain that legendary Golden Age of Hollywood star Lauren Bacall, who had never been nominated for an Oscar before, would win the Best Supporting Actress award for the poorly-reviewed Barbra Streisand vehicle The Mirror Has Two Faces. When she didn't win, instead losing to Juliette Binoche for The English Patient (which swept that year's awards), it was a huge shock. (Bacall would receive an honorary Oscar in 2009.)
- On the subject of Golden Age stars, while Humphrey Bogart (Bacall's husband) gave his usual quality performance in The African Queen opposite fellow screen legend Katharine Hepburn, it is universally agreed that his Oscar for that film was actually for his work in The Maltese Falcon, for which he was ignored.
- James Baskett, the lead actor of Song of the South, was given an "Honorary Oscar" at that year's Academy Award because at the time, an African American wasn't going to be nominated for a lead role.
- Although Jimmy Stewart gave a solid performance in The Philadelphia Story, it's commonly accepted that the Best Actor Oscar he won was really for his career-defining work in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington the year before.
- Within minutes of her 2012 Best Actress win, the general consensus was that Meryl Streep won for The Iron Lady as compensation for... oh, everything she's ever done since Sophie's Choice (her last Oscar win, nearly 30 years and 17 nominations ago). It's been said that Meryl is simply beyond awards, and she's usually excluded simply to give the rest of the gender a chance. Unfortunately, the fact that she won over Viola Davis (who really should have won for Doubt four years earlier) means that many people are crying racism. There were even accusations that Octavia Spencer's win for Best Supporting Actress was a deliberate step by the Academy to stave off such cries, though that may be taking the conspiracy theories a bit too far.
- A not inconsiderable number of people thought that the late Heath Ledger's Best Supporting Actor win for The Dark Knight was an attempt to make up for not giving him Best Actor for Brokeback Mountain, when he was still alive.
- Halle Berry's Best Actress win for Monster's Ball is considered by some a consolation towards black actresses - including Angela Bassett, nominated a few years prior for What's Love Got to Do with It.
- Bette Davis herself said that her Oscar for Dangerous was a consolation prize for Of Human Bondage, for which she was not nominated.
- Charlie Chaplin, the most influential actor, comedian and film maker of the first half of the 20th century has never won any Oscar for acting or directing. He did win an honorary Oscar for The Circus (1929), but this is generally considered to be one of his less iconic films. In 1972 he won an honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement and one for composing the score to Limelight (1952), a film that was already 20 years old by that time but had never be shown in the USA in the Fifties due to accusations of Chaplin being a communist. In the 1970s the film was finally shown in the USA and the jury decided it would be an opportune time to give the iconic star an honorary award for his entire career. Limelight, though a fine film, is not generally considered to be one of Chaplin's greatest comedies.
- Metallica won a Consolation Grammy after losing Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance to (shockingly) Jethro Tull the year before. The Grammys finally realized how much Metallica had contributed to heavy metal and decided to give the award for Metallica.
- Nirvana's only Grammy win could be considered this. After five unsuccessful nominations, the band finally won a Grammy award in 1996 for Best Alternative Music Performance for MTV Unplugged In New York. Seeing as how the band had already broken up by then after Kurt Cobain's suicide in 1994, this was obviously the last chance the Grammys had to award the band.
- There's a possible analogue in Professional Wrestling - some performers can work for years, often in a jobber role, but just by ill fortune, injuries or other reasons can go largely unrecognised in terms of championships, so they get a token reign later on. Examples:
- Hugh Morrus in WCW stands out as one - he was a classic "jobber" for years, making other people look good on the way up, and eventually got a "feel good" US title reign in 2000.
- Mick Foley stated in his second book that he felt that his title reign in 1999 were granted more as a lifetime achievement award rather than being the "top guy" although some of the fans might have disagreed since he was the top active face at the time (Stone Cold was briefly on the shelf).
- Another notable example of a "Thank You" rein is when long time Jobber, The Brooklyn Brawler beat (by way of a fluke) WWE golden boy Triple H in a handicap elimination match where he teamed with Kaientai via Chris Jericho's interference. The Brawler is one of those guys that makes anyone look great.
- Steven Richards and Funaki were jobbers for years before they both got their own consolation gimmicks related to the shows they were on, Stevie Night Heat and Smackdown's Number 1 Ring Announcer. They were kept with the company for many years longer than most other jobbers as they were well liked and loyal to the company, but none of the writing team knew what to do with them.
- Also, older veterans who were still active like Chris Benoit, Kane, Mark Henry, were given title reigns in their late careers for paying their dues.
- Albert Einstein never won any awards for Relativity theory. His Nobel Prize was for the photoelectric effect instead (though his explanation was one of the key points leading to the development of quantum mechanics).
- It is quite common for the Gold Logie (an Australian television award) to be awarded to someone who is retiring. A good example is John Wood, who was nominated every year from 1997 until he finally won in 2006 (the year Blue Heelers was cancelled). Similarly, Kate Ritchie won the award shortly after leaving Home and Away. Subverted the following year when Ian Smith, who had just left Neighbours after more than 20 years, was beaten by Rebecca Gibney for her role in Packed to the Rafters.
- Kate Bell was nominated for Best New Female Talent in 2010 for a guest role in Home and Away, because both TV Week and its readers (as she had to be shortlisted before she was nominated by them) apparently forgot about her regular role in Blue Water High in 2005 and 2008. Considering the name of the award, this may overlap with Award Category Fraud.
- Despite being one of the most beloved cartoon characters ever, no Bugs Bunny cartoon ever won the Oscar until 1958's Knighty Knight Bugs. A fine cartoon, but hardly Bugs' finest moment, especially compared to the previous year's Whats Opera Doc, which wasn't even submitted for nomination. (In fact, Bugs wasn't even a nominee for the previous sixteen years.). On the same token none of Chuck Jones' most famous classic and influential cartoons have ever won an Oscar. In 1996 he was given an honorary award to make up for all those years.
- Legendary voice actress June Foray just won her first Emmy award for voice acting in 2012. It was for a guest spot on The Garfield Show. According to June herself, and a few other people involved with the Emmy awards, part of the reason why she had gone unrecognized is because she's so legendary that many insiders assumed she had already won several times. There was a lot of shock when it was realized she had never even been nominated prior to her win!note Many are looking at her current Emmy win as a "career award".
- A common criticism of the Best Animated Feature category in the Oscars is that it was made as a consolation prize for animated films (or, alternately, that it was created after Beauty and the Beast nearly won Best Picture and the Academy wanted to prevent an animated film from winning that award). This came to a head in 2008 when WALL•E won the Best Animated Feature award but wasn't nominated for Best Picture, despite being one of the best-reviewed films of the year. Despite this, the Academy said that an animated film can be nominated in both categories. In the years ahead, the amount of films eligible for nomination for Best Picture doubled and Up and Toy Story 3 got nominated consecutively.
- Also, the award used to be voted upon by Academy members each year. It wasn't until the 2012 ceremony that it became a permanent category.
- At the 2013 ceremony of both the Academy Awards and Golden Globes, Brave was the winner despite getting weaker critical responses than all of its competitors. There was big controversy surrounding Brave and the fact that their first female director, Brenda Chapman, got fired from the project. The fact that she went on stage to accept the award with the crew made it too coincidental. Others saw the victory as the Academy was kissing Pixar's asses. The next year, Frozen came out and won both the Globe and the Oscar which some consider a consolation award for Wreck It Ralph.