As of this year, 21 actresses have received more than one Academy Award for acting. Katherine Hepburn currently holds the record with 4 Oscars, while Frances McDormand and Meryl Streep each have 3 wins. Other actresses with more than one win include Cate Blanchett, Jodie Foster, and Renée Zellweger. However, there are a number of Oscar-winning actresses who have delivered more award-worthy performances for years and have yet to collect that elusive second statue. These women have proven themselves to be more than worthy of another Oscar.
10 Natalie Portman
For her performance as a ballerina on the verge of a nervous breakdown in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, Natalie Portman won her first Academy Award. Portman had previously been nominated for the Mike Nichols-directed adaptation of Patrick Marber’s play Closer. Prior to her win, she was most well known for her appearances in the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
Since Black Swan, Portman has struck an impressive balance between critically acclaimed independent films and big budget commercially successful projects. She was nominated for a third Academy Award for her portrayal of Jacqueline Kennedy in Pablo Larrain’s Jackie and starred in Alex Garland’s thought-provoking science fiction film Annihilation. She is also part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, playing Jane Foster in the Thor films (including the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder).
9 Penélope Cruz
Penélope Cruz won Best Supporting Actress for her comedic turn in Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona. By 2008, Cruz had already become a frequent collaborator of Pedro Almodovar, who directed her in her first Oscar-nominated performance in Volver.
Cruz was nominated again the year after her win; this time, it was for her singing role in the movie musical adaptation of Nine. Since then, she has worked consistently in both English and Spanish language films. She also earned praise for her portrayal of Donatella Versace in Ryan Murphy’s television limited series The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. Most recently, Cruz received her fourth Best Actress nomination and her closest shot at a second win for Parallel Mothers, her seventh film with Almodóvar.
8 Charlize Theron
Theron disappeared into the role of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in her Oscar-winning performance in Patty Jenkins’s Monster. Her physical and emotional transformation shocked critics and audiences, and she became the first South African actress to receive the award.
Theron has become a bonafide action star, with appearances in the Fast and Furious franchise, Atomic Blonde, and her unforgettable performance as Furiosa in George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. She has also delivered powerful performances in independent films like North Country and Young Adult, along with another notable physical transformation as Megyn Kelly in Bombshell. Theron is one of those few movie stars who can move from smaller to bigger films with ease.
7 Julianne Moore
Widely considered one of the finest actresses of her generation, Julianne Moore has received Oscar nominations for performances in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights as well as Todd Haynes’s Far From Heaven and Stephen Daldry’s The Hours (both in the same year!). She finally won her long overdue statue for her crushing performance as a woman with Alzheimer’s disease in Still Alice.
Moore has delivered many iconic performances that went unrecognized by the Academy (Magnolia, The Big Lebowski, The Kids Are All Right), and they are just as impressive as the work that did receive recognition. She also won acclaim for her uncanny portrayal of Sarah Palin in the HBO film Game Change. Her latest film is Jesse Eisenberg’s directorial debut, When You Finish Saving the World, which premiered at Sundance this past January. Perhaps this will be Julianne Moore’s next shot at a second win.
6 Emma Stone
Since her breakout role in Easy A, Emma Stone made an impressive transition to dramatic films such as The Help and Birdman. However, it was Damien Chazelle’s original movie musical La La Land that sealed the deal with the Academy. For her performance as an out-of-work actress, Stone won a slew of other awards including the prestigious Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival.
Emma Stone’s varied filmography demonstrates an impressive ability to surprise audiences with her choices, which range from comedies like Zombieland, mainstream Disney films like Cruella, and critically acclaimed awards movies like Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite. Her next collaboration with Lanthimos will be a film adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s novel Poor Things, which is expected to be a serious awards contender next season.
5 Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg may have EGOT’d, but despite a film career that has spanned more than four decades, it may surprise some to learn that her only Academy Award win was for the 1990 romance Ghost. She was expected to become the first Black woman to win Best Actress in 1985 for Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple, but that film famously lost all 11 of its nominations.
Goldberg has appeared in timeless comedies like Sister Act and has won acclaim for her solo performances on stage. She has become an American icon, having hosted the Academy Awards four times and leading the long-running daytime talk show The View. Goldberg paved the way for many women and women of color in Hollywood as well as for comedians who long to be taken seriously as dramatic performers as well.
4 Judi Dench
Of her 8 nominations, the performance that actually won Judi Dench her Oscar was her role as Queen Elizabeth in John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love. Despite how memorable her scenes in the Elizabethan romance are, Dench’s performance has only 8 minutes of screen time.
Dench’s other nominations include Best Actress for her portrayal of Queen Victoria in Mrs. Brown and for Philomena. This past year, Dench received a surprising Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role as Kenneth Branagh’s grandmother in his semi-autobiographical film, Belfast. Dench’s illustrious career also includes years of excellent performances on stage (she originated the role of Sally Bowles in the West End premiere of Cabaret) and her beloved role as M in the James Bond films.
3 Viola Davis
Viola Davis has worked in film, television, and theatre for decades and has achieved the Triple Crown of Acting, winning an Emmy, an Oscar, and two Tony Awards. Her Academy Award win was for her performance as Rose Maxon in Denzel Washington’s film adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, Fences.
Davis is an unstoppable force and has become one of the most acclaimed actresses working today, but she has not yet won a leading actress Oscar despite her nominated performances in The Help and, most recently, in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. As of 2022, Halle Berry is still the only Black woman to have won the Best Actress Oscar. Perhaps Viola Davis will become the second when her newest film, The Woman King, is released later this year.
2 Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet became famous for having never won an Academy Award. In 2009, she finally won the Best Actress prize for her performance as an SS guard in Stephen Daldry’s The Reader. By then, Winslet already garnered five nominations (and losses) for memorable roles like Rose in Titanic, and Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Winslet has had a string of great roles within the last decade, starting with her supporting turn as Joanna Hoffman in Steve Jobs, which resulted in a seventh Oscar nomination. She would go on to appear on television in the widely popular HBO limited series Mare of Easttown, for which she won her second Emmy award. Perhaps that elusive second Oscar will come later this year, as she reunites with James Cameron in the highly anticipated Avatar: The Way of Water.
1 Nicole Kidman
Australian actress Nicole Kidman has become known for her diversity of film roles and for working with some of the greatest filmmakers of all time, from Stanley Kubrick to Jane Campion. Kidman won her Academy Award for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf in The Hours, having previously been nominated for the musical Moulin Rouge!
Since her first win, Kidman has made a series of bold and unexpected choices, from independent films like Dogville and Birth to the popular HBO series Big Little Lies, a project she co-produced that launched a massive career renaissance. Her most recent turn as Lucille Ball in Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos surprised critics and audiences who may have been initially skeptical about her casting. But this is what Kidman does best: subverting the audience’s expectations with deeply felt and emotionally rich performances while maintaining an aura of Hollywood glamour. Her instantly iconic AMC ad alone is a rousing, committed performance that feels worthy of an award.
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