3-in-5'ers: The Elite Oscar Club That George Clooney Joined This Year

'The Descendants' star is just the 16th man to score at least 3 best actor Oscar noms within a 5-year span. 10 of the others won at least once during their streaks.
Fox Searchlight Pictures

In the history of the Oscars, only 16 men have been well-respected and well-liked enough by the Academy to score at least three best actor nominations within a span of five years. (Amazingly, two of them had two such streaks, bringing the total number of streaks to 18.)

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The most recent actor to join this elite list: George Clooney, whose best actor nomination this year for The Descendants follows best actor noms for Michael Clayton (2007) and Up in the Air (2009). Clooney already has a best supporting actor Oscar under his belt for Syriana (2005) but has yet to win one for best actor.

Although Clooney lost this year's best actor SAG Award to Jean Dujardin (The Artist), and though the past seven winners of that prize went on to repeat at the Oscars, he can take heart from the fact that 9 of the 17 other streaks of three (or more) best actor noms-in-five years produced at least one statuette, five for the third film in the streak (as would also be the case for Clooney).

Here's a breakdown of each streak …

Spencer Tracy
San Francisco (1936), Captains Courageous (1937) WON, Boys Town (1938) WON
The Old Man and the Sea (1958), Inherit the Wind (1960), Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

Gary Cooper
Sergeant York (1941) WON, The Pride of the Yankees (1942), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)

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Gregory Peck
The Keys of the Kingdom (1945), The Yearling (1946), Gentleman's Agreement (1947)

Marlon Brando
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Viva Zapata! (1952), Julius Caesar (1953), On the Waterfront (1954) WON

Jack Lemmon
Some Like It Hot (1959), The Apartment (1960), Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
The China Syndrome (1979), Tribute (1980), Missing (1982)

Richard Burton
Becket (1964), The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965), Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)

Peter O'Toole
The Lion in Winter (1968), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), The Ruling Class (1972)

Al Pacino
Serpico (1973), The Godfather, Part II (1974), Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

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Jack Nicholson
The Last Detail (1973), Chinatown (1974), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) WON

Robert De Niro
Taxi Driver (1976), The Deer Hunter (1978), Raging Bull (1980) WON

William Hurt
Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985) WON, Children of a Lesser God (1986), Broadcast News (1987)

Robin Williams
Good Morning, Vietnam! (1987), Dead Poets Society (1989), The Fisher King (1991)

Anthony Hopkins
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) WON, The Remains of the Day (1993), Nixon (1995)

Russell Crowe
The Insider (1999), Gladiator (2000) WON, A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Sean Penn
Sweet and Lowdown (1999), I Am Sam (2001), Mystic River (2003) WO

George Clooney
Michael Clayton (2007), Up in the Air (2009), The Descendants (2011) PENDING