The Academy Awards are regarded as the most prestigious honor an actor can get, and many people who work in or aspire to work in the film business strive to win one. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science members, who are often people who have earned distinction in the profession, cast their votes for the Oscars.
Voting by Academy members divided into 17 branches of their specialist field determines the nominees. The nominee who receives the most votes in each category wins when it’s time to choose a winner, with the exception of Best Picture, which is decided by the members via a preferential balloting mechanism.
Yet, it should be noted that talent is not always determined by the Oscars. Despite giving well-praised performances, many incredibly gifted and well-respected performers have either never received an Oscar nomination or have waited years to do so (yes, Leonardo DiCaprio). Also, the Oscars have in the past faced criticism for their lack of diversity, which was evident in the absence of candidates of color.
In reality, it was discovered that 93% of Academy members were white, 76 percent were men, and the median age was 63 in 2015 and 2016. Since then, the Academy has committed to increasing its membership of women and people of color twofold. No matter what one’s view on the Oscars is, winning one is still considered the pinnacle of achievement for an actor. But what does it mean to win many ones? The nine actors with the most Oscar victories are listed below.
Jodie Foster — 2 Best Actress Oscars
Jodie Foster is well-known for her role as Clarice Starling in the 1991 Oscar-winning film Silence of the Lambs. In the contentious movie The Accused from a few years earlier, in 1989, she won Best Actress for playing Sarah Tobias, a waitress who is sexually raped by three men at a neighborhood pub. Even though the actress has only won two Oscars, she is the first openly LGBTQ+ performer to have done so.
Just two performers of color have ever won two Oscars for acting, and Denzel Washington was the first to do so. His 1990 Best Supporting Actor Oscar triumph came with the Civil War drama Glory. His second victory came in 2002 for Training Day’s Best Actor. He holds the record for the most Black actors to get an Oscar nomination, with a total of 10 nods, and is one of just four Black male actors to ever win the Best Actor prize. Up Mahershala Ali won two Oscars for acting in 2019, he was the first actor of color to do so.
Walter Brennan won three Oscars for best-supporting Actor
Walter Brennan, a country musician, and veteran of classic Hollywood were nominated for four Oscars in total, all for Best Supporting Actor. During the ninth Academy Awards, he received his first Oscar for his performance in the 1936 film Come and Get It. Also, he would get honors for Kentucky and The Westerner.
Daniel Day-Lewis — 3 Best Actor Oscars
Daniel Day-Lewis has had a total of six Academy Award nominations and three wins, all in the Best Actor category. He is noted for using rigorous method-acting techniques. The first came in 1990 for his function in My Left Foot, a biographical movie based on the biography of Irish writer and artist with cerebral palsy Christy Brown.
Day-Lewis insisted on acting as Brown, so the cast had to carry him about in a wheelchair and feed him in order to keep him in character. His latest Oscar triumph was for his depiction of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, in the film Lincoln. His second victory came in 2008 for the film There Will Be Blood. Again, he maintained the character and insisted on being called Mr. Lincoln while on site. Since 2017, Day-Lewis has given up acting.
Ingrid Bergman — 3 Oscars (2 Best Actress, 1 Best Supporting Actress)
Between 1948 and 1978, Ingrid Bergman, a Swedish actress, was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning three of them, including one for Best Supporting Actress. Her depiction of Anastasia Nikolaevna, the daughter of Russian monarch Nicholas II who was supposed to be the lone survivor of the murder of her whole family, in the 1944 psychological thriller Anastasia earned her the Best Actress award. For her part in the Murder on the Orient Express adaptation of Agatha Christie’s mystery book, Bergman was awarded Best Supporting Actress.
Jack Nicholson — 3 Best Actor Oscars
With his spooky performance in the Stephen King adaption of The Shinning and for playing the Joker in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie, Jack Nicholson is well-known. The actor, however, has twelve nominations and three Academy Award wins to his credit. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Terms of Endearment, and As Good as It Gets all earned him Best Actor awards.
Meryl Streep — 3 Oscars (2 Best Actress, 1 Best Supporting Actress)
From Tonys to Grammys, Meryl Streep has received more than 200 honors. She has become well-known for her enduring performances in films like Mamma Mia! and The Devil Wears Prada. With a respectable 21 nominations, she presently holds the record for the most Academy Award nominations.
She now only has three Oscars to her name: one for Best Supporting Actress in Kramer vs. Kramer and two for Best Actress in Sophie’s Choice and The Iron Lady, in which she plays Margaret Thatcher, the first woman to serve as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Frances McDormand — 4 Oscars (3 Best Actress, 1 Best Picture)
Frances McDormand is the only actor on this list who has won an Oscar outside of the acting categories, having received four of them. McDormand has won Best Actress for the films Fargo, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and Nomadland after receiving seven nominations. She received Best Picture for her work as the producer of Nomadland in addition to Best Actress.
Katharine Hepburn — 4 Best Actress Oscars
Katharine Hepburn is recognized as the best actress in classic Hollywood movies by the American Film Institute, and she has received the most Academy Awards in acting-related categories overall. During the course of her career, she has gotten 12 nominations, the first of which resulted in her winning Best Actress for the movie Morning Glory in 1934. She wouldn’t receive another victory until 1968 for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and The Lion in Winter the following year. In 1982, Hepburn received her final nomination and triumph for On Golden Pond.