Be sure to check out IGN’s full breakdown of the 2021 Oscar winners.
Every MCU Actor Who’s Won an Academy Award
Won: Best Actor for Crazy Heart (2010)
Jeff Bridges had been nominated several times for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor prior to signing on for 2008’s Iron Man. However, he didn’t actually take home the award until his starring performance in 2010’s Crazy Heart. At least Obadiah Stane can rest easy that he has one honor Tony Stark (or rather, Robert Downey Jr.) doesn’t.
Won: Best Actress for Room (2015)
Brie Larson was already an Oscar winner by the time she made her MCU debut in 2019’s Captain Marvel. Larson’s career really took off with her emotionally devastating portrayal of a captive mother in 2015’s Room.
Won: Best Actress for Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Shakespeare in Love was the big winner during the 1999 Academy Awards, bringing home no fewer than seven Oscars. Paltrow was among those honored for their work in the film, making her a certified Oscar winner a full decade before appearing in 2008’s Iron Man.
Won: Best Actor for Gandhi (1982)
Ben Kingsley became an Oscar winner before a number of MCU stars were even born. Kingsley took home the Best Actor award for his titular role in 1982’s Gandhi, a performance that made him a household name. Kingsley has been nominated for several more Academy Awards since, though that didn’t do much to win over MCU fans miffed by his off-kilter version of the Mandarin in 2013’s Iron Man 3.
Tommy Lee Jones
Won: Best Supporting Actor for The Fugitive (1993)
Tommy Lee Jones enjoyed a successful, decorated acting career long before playing Col. Chester Phillips in 2010’s Captain America: The First Avenger. It’s almost surprising to remember Jones has only taken home one Oscar (so far), which he earned for his supporting role in 1993’s The Fugitive.
Won: Best Director for Ordinary People (1980), Honorary Academy Award in 2002
Robert Redford is an unusual case among MCU actors, as he’s the only one to win an Oscar for directing rather than acting. Redford claimed his first Oscar with 1980’s Ordinary People, and later received an honorary award at the 2002 Academy Awards.
Won: Best Supporting Actress for Michael Clayton (2007)
Michael Clayton was nominated for several categories at the 2008 Academy Awards, but Tilda Swinton was the only person to actually take home an award for their involvement in this legal thriller. That honor was surely a selling point when Swinton signed on to play the Ancient One in 2016’s Doctor Strange.
Won: Best Actor for Silence of the Lambs (1991) and The Father (2020)
Anthony Hopkins took home an Oscar for arguably his most iconic role, as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Having now played Odin in all three Thor movies, Hopkins took home his second Best Actor trophy for The Father, beating out the late Chadwick Boseman in a battle of MCU stars.
Won: Best Actor for Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)
William Hurt’s General Thunderbolt Ross has been an antagonist in two MCU movies so far (plus he showed up in Endgame), and we doubt we’ve seen the last of his character. We certainly hope not, as Hurt is another star who brings some Oscar-winning class to the MCU. Funnily enough, Hurt won for his performance in 1985’s Kiss of the Spider Woman, although that movie has nothing to do with the Marvel heroine of the same name. The actor also received an Oscar nom for his supporting role in 2005’s A History of Violence, a rare comic book adaptation to strike a chord with the Academy.
Won: Best Picture for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1976) and Best Actor for Wall Street (1988)
Michael Douglas was a multiple Oscar winner long before signing on to play Dr. Henry Pym in the Ant-Man movies. Douglas was a producer on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which won Best Picture, and he later took home the Best Actor award for his iconic, infinitely quotable role in 1988’s Wall Street.
Benicio del Toro
Won: Best Supporting Actor for Traffic (2000)
Benicio del Toro struck a chord with U.S. audiences thanks to his star-making turn in 2000’s Traffic, which wound up earning him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. But that was just a gateway to del Toro hamming it up as The Collector in movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Infinity War!
Won: Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years a Slave (2013)
Lupita Nyong’o became a Hollywood superstar virtually overnight thanks to her haunting performance in 2013’s 12 Years a Slave. Nyong’o won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for that role, a feat which certainly didn’t hurt her chances of joining the MCU.
Won: Best Actor for The Last King of Scotland (2006)
Black Panther is packed full of award-winning actors, including Forest Whitaker as Zuri. Whitaker previously took home the Best Actor Oscar playing Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.
Won: Best Actress for Black Swan (2011)
Natalie Portman won the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance in 2011’s Black Swan, the same year she also made her MCU debut as Jane Foster in Thor. Looking ahead, we’re expecting a similarly physically intense performance as Portman’s Jane takes up Thor’s hammer in Thor: Love and Thunder.
Won: Best Supporting Actress for My Cousin Vinny (1992)
All three cinematic incarnations of Aunt May are Oscar-nominated actresses. Marisa Tomei took home the award for her supporting role in My Cousin Vinny, nearly 25 years before making her MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War.
Won: Best Supporting Actress for The Aviator (2005) and Best Actress for Blue Jasmine (2014)
Cate Blanchett is among the most heavily Oscar-nominated actors to appear in the MCU, and to date she’s taken home two awards. Let’s just hope we haven’t actually seen the last of Blanchett’s Hela.
Won: Best Supporting Actor for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2018)
After playing the villainous Justin Hammer in 2010’s Iron Man 2, Sam Rockwell went on to take home the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance in 2018’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Clearly, he knows how to play a good bad guy — and a good bad guy who’s maybe not so bad.
Won: Best Adapted Screenplay for Jojo Rabbit (2019)
Taika Waititi is known for his eclectic work both in front of and behind the camera. That goes for the MCU, as well, with Waititi directing Thor: Ragnarok and the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder and also voicing Thor’s rocky pal Korg. Fittingly, Waititi’s first Oscar win came neither for acting nor directing, but rather for Best Adapted Screenplay with 2019’s Jojo Rabbit.
Won: Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting (1997)
Matt Damon made his MCU debut in the last place we would have expected, as an actor portraying Loki in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok. Not the most glamorous of superhero roles, but that cameo nonetheless brought another Oscar winner into the Marvel fold. Damon won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Good Will Hunting (alongside co-writer Ben Affleck), and the film also earned him a nomination for Best Actor.
Won: Best Actor for Gladiator (2000)
Given that he won an Oscar for playing the superhero-like Maximus Decimus Meridius in 2000’s Gladiator, it’s a little surprising Russell has yet to appear in an MCU movie. That’s finally set to change with 2022’s Thor: Love and Thunder. After plenty of rumors and leaked set photos, we now know Crowe is playing the Greek god Zeus. The question is how long the Lord of Olympus can survive the wrath of Gorr the God Butcher.
Won: Best Supporting Actor for The Fighter (2010)
Speaking of Gorr the God Butcher, that’s the role that will induct Christian Bale into the MCU, after his star-making run as Batman. Bale is well-known for his intense physical transformations for his roles, a fact that helped nab him the Best Supporting Actor award for 2010’s The Fighter.
Won: Best Supporting Actress for A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Jennifer Connelly’s Marvel resume predates the MCU, as she played Betty Ross in 2003’s Hulk before going on to voice Spider-Man’s helpful A.I. partner Karen in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. Prior to either role, Connelly nabbed herself an Oscar for her role in 2001’s A Beautiful Mind (which starred fellow MCU actor Russell Crowe).
Won: Best Supporting Actress for Girl, Interrupted (1999) and 2014 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
Angelina Jolie may have earned herself an Oscar for starring in the psychological drama Girl, Interrupted, but she’s never been shy about appearing in more genre-focused fare. Jolie will finally be making her MCU debut in 2021’s Eternals, playing the heroic immortal Thena.
Won: Best Supporting Actress for The Constant Gardener (2005)
Rachel Weisz plays Melina Vostokoff in Black Widow, but before that she earned a Best Supporting Actress ward for her work in 2005’s The Constant Gardener.
Won: Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight (2016) and Green Book (2018)
Mahershala Ali brought plenty of Oscar-winning class to Netflix’s Luke Cage series, playing Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes. Marvel fans can argue over whether that series qualifies Ali for this list, given the increasingly dubious link between the MCU movies and Netflix’s Marvel shows. But the question is moot, as Ali is also set to star in Marvel Studios’ upcoming Blade movie.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.