Oscar: Best Actress–Genre of Winning (Biopicture, Comedy, Musical and, of course, Melodrama)

Research in Progress (April 22, 2021)

In 93 years of Oscar, there have been 94 winning performances.

In 1967, there was a tie–the only one in this category–between Katharine Hepburn (“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?”) and Barbra Streisand (“Funny Girl”).

The unit of analysis is the Oscar-winning role, the performance, not the actress.  Thus, Katharine Hepburn had won four Best Actress Oscars, so we include all four of her winning roles. Frances McDormand’s three Best Actress Oscars count as three performances.

Ditto for actresses who have won two Best Actress Oscars; we count their multiple roles.

Janet Gaynor won the first Best Actress Oscar for three different roles, so we count all of them.

Genre: Summary

Biopic: 9 (about 10 percent)

Comedy: 9 (about 10 percent)

Drama: 57

Musical: 3

Thriller/Horror: 6

Total: 95 performances

Genres (from A to Z)

Biopic (19)

Occupation: six of the 19 have been singers/showbusiness; 3 royalty; 2 criminals; 2 social activists; one nun; one saint

Luise Rainer, The Great Ziegfeld (singer)

Jennifer Jones, The Song of Bernadette (saint)

Susan Hayward, I Want to Live! (criminal)

Anne Bancroft, The Miracle Worker (social worker)

Barbra Streisand, Funny Girl (singer)

Katharine Hepburn, The Lion in Winter (Queen)

Sally Field, Norma Rae (factory worker, social activist)

Sissy Spacek, Coal Miner’s Daughter (singer)

Susan Sarandon, Dead Man Walking (nun)

Julia Roberts, Erin Brockovich (social activist)

Nicole Kidman, The Hours (writer)

Charlize Theron, Monster (criminal)

Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line (singer)

Helen Mirren, The Queen (Queen)

Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose (French singer)

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side (rich entrepreneur)

Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady (prime minister)

Olivia Colman, The Favourite (Queen)

Renee Zellweger, Judy (singer)


Comedy (9)

Claudette Colbert, It Happened One Night

Loretta Young, The Farmer’s Daughter

Judy Holliday, Born Yesterday

Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday

Glenda Jackson, A Touch of Class

Cher, Moonstruck

Helen Hunt, As Good As It Gets

Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakespeare in Love


Drama/Melodrama (57)

Janet Gaynor, 7th Heaven

Janet Gaynor, Sunrise

Mary Pickford, Coquette

Norma Shearer, The Divorcee

Marie Dressler, Min and Bill

Helen Hayes, The Sin of Madelon Claudet

Katharine Hepburn, Morning Glory

Bette Davis, Dangerous

Luise Rainer, The Good Earth

Bette Davis, Jezebel

Vivien Leigh, GWTW

Ginger Roger, Kitty Foyle

Greer Garson, Mrs. Miniver

Joan Crawford, Mildred Pierce

Olivia de Havilland, To Each His Own

Jane Wyman, Johnnie Belinda

Olivia de Havilland, The Heiress

Vivien Leigh, A Streetcar Named Desire

Shirley Booth, Come Back, Little Sheba

Grace Kelly, Country Girl

Anna Magnani, The Rose Tattoo

Ingrid Bergman, Anastasia

Joanne Woodward, Three Faces of Eve

Simone Signoret, Room at the Top

Elizabeth Taylor, BUtterfield 8

Sophia Loren, Two Women

Patricia Neal, Hud

Julie Christie, Darling

Elizabeth Taylor, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Katharine Hepburn, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

Maggie Smith, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Glenda Jackson, Women in Love

Jane Fonda, Klute

Ellen Burstyn, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Louise Fletcher, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Faye Dunaway, Network

Jane Fonda, Coming Home

Meryl Streep, Sophie’s Choice

Shirley MacLaine, Terms of Endearment

Sally Field, Places in the Heart

Geraldine Page, The Trip to Bountiful

Marlee Matlin, Children of a Lesser God

Jessica Tandy, Miss Daisy

Emma Thompson, Howards End

Helen Hunter, The Piano

Jessica Lange, Blue Sky

Frances McDormand, Fargo

Hillary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry

Hallie Berry. Monster’s Ball

Hillary Swank, Million Dollar Baby

Kate Winslet, The Reader

Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Cate Blanchette, Blue Jasmine

Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Frances McDorman, Three Billboards

Frances McDorman, Nomadland


Musical (3)

Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins

Liza Minnelli, Cabaret

Emma Stone, La La Land


Thriller/Horror (6)

Joan Fontaine, Suspicion

Ingrid Bergman, Gaslight

Jodie Foster, The Accused

Kathy Bates, Misery

Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs

Brie Larson, Room