Johnny Depp’s career has been a long and successful one, and although he’s never actually won an Oscar for any of his famous roles, he’s been nominated several times throughout the years. Depp made his feature-length debut in Wes Craven’s where he played Glen Lantz. Despite being one of the movie’s first victims, Lanz was a hugely popular character that gave Depp’s career a huge push and opened up several more doors for him within the genre. From there, he branched out into several other projects and became a household name following his several collaborations with Tim Burton.
Following his teen idol success in the ‘80s and later in the ‘90s, Depp continued to build his fame and eventually got involved in several blockbuster projects and studio franchises that finally cemented him as one of his generation’s most recognizable faces. throughout his career, and it's these exaggerated roles that really allow him to flex his acting muscles and provide such consistently engaging performances. However, it wasn’t until almost 20 years into his professional career that Depp’s talents were recognized at the Academy Awards.
The franchise has been through several different stories of differing qualities, but the first entry remains a classic adventure movie that perfectly stands the test of time. It tells the story of Captain Jack Sparrow, an eccentric pirate on a quest to reclaim both his beloved ship and his new friend’s lover. The film is based on the Disney theme park attraction of the same name, but it quickly became one of the company’s most beloved cinematic properties thanks to its bold storytelling, fun characters, and entertaining performances from Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley.
, and it was impossible for the Academy to ignore that when deciding upon their nominees in 2004. Depp was nominated alongside veteran actors such as Bill Murray and Ben Kingsley in the Best Actor category, though he lost out to Sean Penn for his work in Although Penn’s performance was more conventionally impressive to general audiences, there’s no denying that Depp’s work as Jack Sparrow has left a much larger impression over the years. It might not have been the most subtle or powerful acting, but it was instantly iconic and deserved to be rewarded, evidenced by his SAG win.
was a completely different kind of movie for Johnny Depp, but that clearly paid off because he was back at the Oscars just one year after his first nomination. One of , tells the real-life story of author J.M. Barrie’s experiences with a group of young orphans who never want to grow up. They served as the inspiration for Barrie’s beloved , and the film does a great job of displaying how strongly the author was moved and influenced by these children. Depp captures this aspect of Barrie’s personality expertly in one of his most emotional and powerful performances.
Depp’s turn as J.M. Barrie saw him nominated once again in the Best Actor category at the Oscars, but he missed out on victory once again. The Academy Award ended up going to Jamie Foxx for which is a decision that’s hard to disagree with. , housing a performance that’s just as moving and bold as Depp’s in . There was tough competition that year — particularly with Leonardo DiCaprio and Clint Eastwood also in the lineup — but was a fitting choice that’s aged fairly well, and it wouldn’t be Depp’s last shot at the Oscar.
Just three years later, Johnny Depp was nominated again in the Best Actor category for his genre-bending performance in Tim Burton’s The iconic horror/musical tells the story of a vengeful barber who seeks justice for being framed for an act that he did not commit, yet he ends up murdering several more people and delving steadily deeper into a dark life of crime. , but Depp and Burton manage to make it work. All the songs are incredibly catchy, and the cast of hilariously violent characters ensures that the story never grows boring.
The dynamic performance saw Deep an Oscar contender for the third time, but he was still unable to turn his nomination into a victory. There was very tough competition in the Best Actor category that year, with Daniel Day-Lewis ultimately beating Depp, George Clooney, Tommy Lee Jones, and Viggo Mortensen for his timeless performance in Considering the amount of acclaim that Day-Lewis acquired for his role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie, it’s hard to argue with the Academy’s choice to reward him, even if it left .
Although earning three Oscar nominations is undeniably impressive, there’s a strong argument to be made that Johnny Depp deserves even more than that. He’s consistently provided entertaining performances throughout his career, and several of them have gone overlooked by awards voters. One such movie is which saw Depp adopt the role of a boy whose synthetic scissor-hands make him feel isolated and secluded from the rest of society. It’s a very emotional performance from early in Depp’s career, and it’s one of the reasons that he’s so widely admired today. There was plenty of room to fit him into the 1991 lineup over Richard Harris or Gerard Depardieu.
Depp could’ve also been nominated for his titular role in , a powerful family drama that explores one boy’s floundering attempts to balance a new romance with his responsibilities toward his dysfunctional family. It’s also among , and despite landing fairly early in the actor’s career, his performance was a huge reason for the film’s success. A nomination for that film, or perhaps his over-the-top performances in or , would’ve aged perfectly, marking the beginning of Johnny Depp’s critical and commercial success — and it probably would’ve happened if the competition hadn’t been so strong their years.