Oscar: Best Actor, 1929 to the Present–Facts, Trends, Records

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Research in Progress: August 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winners of the Best Actor Oscar category, from the first year, 1929 to the present.

In Oscar’s 93 year history, 82 individuals have won the Best Actor Oscar, some more than once.

Youngest and Oldest Winners

I have analyzed the age distribution of the Best Actor winners.  They run in age from the youngest recipients, Adrien Brody, 29, for The Pianist in 2002, to the oldest one, Henry Fonda, who was 76, when he won his first and only Oscar, for On Golden Pond in 1981.

Nine of the 79 men have won multiple Oscars, most of them within the same category (Best Actor), others in both the lead and supporting leagues.

Best Actor: Record Holder, Daniel Day-Lewis  

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Daniel Day-Lewis, the acclaimed and brilliant British thespian, is the only actor to have won three Best Actor Oscars, in 1989 for My Left Foot; in 2007 for There Will Be Blood; and in 2012 for Lincoln.

In 2017, Day-Lewis made his final film, Phantom Thread, for which he received yet another Best Actor nomination.

Winner of 3 Oscars: Jack Nicholson

The estimable Jack Nicholson has also won three Oscars, two of which are Best Actors: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in 1975 and As Good As It Gets in 1997.   His third win is as Best Supporting Actor, Terms of Endearment in 1983.

Three-Time Winners: 1 Actor

Daniel Day-Lewis

Two-Time Winners: 8 Actors

 

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Men have won two competitive Oscars in the same category, Best Actor:

Fredric March, 1932; 1946

Spencer Tracy, 1937; 1938

Gary Cooper, 1941; 1952

Marlon Brando, 1954; 1972

Dustin Hoffman, 1979; 1988

Tom Hanks, 1993; 1994

Sean Penn, 2003; 2008

 

Foreign Actors in Silent Films

Emil Jannings (German), the first Best Actor, 1927-28

Jean Dujardin (French), The Artist, 2010

 

One Nomination–One Win

Twenty-seven of the Best Actors (one third) have been nominated only once

Emil Jannings (for two performances in the same year)

Warner Baxter, In Old Arizona, 1928-29

George Arliss (for two performances in the same year)

Lionel Barrymore, A Free Soul, 1930-31

Victor McLaglen, The Informer, 1935

Paul Lukas, Watch on the Rhine, 1943

Ray Milland, The Lost Weekend, 1945

Broderick Crawford, All the King’s Men, 1949

Ernest Borgnine, Marty, 1955

Yul Brynner, The King and I, 1956

David Niven, Separate Tables, 1958

Charlton Heston, Ben-Hur, 1959

Lee Marvin, Cat Ballou, 1965

Cliff Robertson, Charly, 1968

Art Carney, Harry and Tonto, 1974

F. Murray Abraham, Amadeus, 1984

Michael Douglas, Wall Street, 1987

Jeremy Irons, Reversal of Fortune, 1990

Roberto Benigni, Life Is Beautiful, 1998

Adrien Brody, The Pianist, 2002

Jamie Foxx, Ray, 2004 (in the same year also nominated for Supporting Actor)

Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote, 2005

Forest Whitaker, Last King of Scotland, 2006

Jean DuJardin, The Artist, 2010

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club, 2013

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything, 2015

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea, 2017 (Affleck was previously nominated for Supporting Actor)

Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody, 2018

Joaquin Phoenix, Joker, 2019 (Phoenix had been nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 2000 for Gladiator).