A rare trait shared by Michael Caine and Jack Nicholson was that they had been nominated at least once a decade for five consecutive decades from the 1960s until the 2000s. However, the streak came to an end in the last ten years, as they weren’t nominated for any of their performance in the 2010s. It’s worth considering who would be in a position to repeat their feat in the coming ten years, and the one who may surpass them.
There are a few male actors who have nominated for their work for three decades in a row (as a pedantic point, I’m counting a nomination in 2000 as coming from the ‘90s as it for the work in 1999.) The list is Geoffery Rush, Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Leonardo Dicaprio, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon. Anthony Hopkins feels like he’s been nominated in multiple decades, but prior to the Two Popes, his last nomination had been for Amistad was in the late 90s. But the rest are getting close.
There are a handful of actors who have a four decade streak going, nominated for their work in the 1980s as well. Tom Hanks makes the cut just barely, with nineteen years between nominations for Castaway in 2000, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood in 2019. He joins Denzel Washington and Daniel Day Lewis, both of whom received their first nominations in the late 1980s.
There are some actors nominated across multiple decades, but not consecutively. Jeff Bridges was not nominated in the 90s, although he was in the 70s, 80s, 2000s and three times in the last decade. Pacino and De Niro were nominated in the 70s, 80s and 90s, as well as the new decade, but were dry in the 2000s.
Among actresses, the women with three decade streaks include Annette Benning, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Julianne Moore and Judi Dench. There are two women with four decade streaks: Frances McDormand and Julia Roberts. Neither has been nominated that often; the nominations are just spaced in a way that fits this particular requirement. Glenn Close seems like she should have some kind of unusual record here, but she actually hasn’t been nominated in the 90s or the 2000s.
Of course, there is one Godzilla in this category, surpassing all other actors. Meryl Streep is the only performer to have been nominated since every decade in the 70s. What makes it even more impressive is she was nominated at least twice in each decade, starting with two supporting actress nominations in Deer Hunter and Kramer VS Kramer. Even Nicholson couldn’t match that. She’s probably the heavy favorite to be the first actor or actress to be nominated in six consecutive decades.
There aren’t that many directors with three decade streaks that could be turned into four decade streaks with one more film. The list includes the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino. You would think Martin Scorsese would have a nomination in the 1970s, but he got robbed for Taxi Driver, so he has only gotten at least one nomination every decade since the 1980s. Steven Spielberg has the longest streak going with at least one nomination a decade, since Close Encounters of the Third Kind in the 1970s.
Woody Allen did have a screenplay nomination in the 2000s for Match Point, but he wasn’t nominated for directing in the 2000s. He does have the distinction of being nominated for screenwriting every decade since the 1970s.
It isn’t a coincidence that the people able to be nominated at least once a decade tend to have towering reputations. Obviously, it is a little arbitrary. If Amistad had come out a few years later, Hopkins would have likely still had the role and a nomination, so he’d make the cut. If Castaway came out one year earlier or A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood one year later, Hanks falls off the list. But it’s a rare club, and a measure of sustained success.