Cinema is no stranger to comedy. We’re sure we don’t have to tell you twice. Here is a list of comedic performances that went on to get nominated or win an Academy Award for acting.
Considering Stanley Kubrick’s classic is ranked No. 3 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Funniest American Movies of All Time, it’s no surprise that Dr. Strangelove would be on this list. For his lead role, Peter Sellers was nominated for Best Actor.
Madeline Kahn was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in Mel Brooks’ acclaimed comedy, Blazing Saddles, a satirical take on Westerns.
Goldie Hawn received a nomination for Best Actress in 1980 for her role as Judy Benjamin, a woman in her late 20s who joins the U.S. Army after her husband dies during sex on their wedding night. You know, that familiar tale.
Perhaps more eccentric than outright comedic, Kevin Kline’s performance in A Fish Called Wanda earned him the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1988. The film, written by John Cleese and starring Jamie Lee Curtis, follows a pack of diamond thieves who continue to cross one another in order to find stolen diamonds hidden by the gang leader.
Jack Palance won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1991 for his role as Curly in this comedic gem about a group of friends who visit a dude ranch. Nearly as memorable as Palance’s performance? His impromptu one-armed push-up on the Academy stage when he won his Oscar.
My Cousin Vinny gives us Joe Pesci at his finest, which made it even more impressive when Marisa Tomei stole the show. Tomei plays Pesci’s sharp, savvy girlfriend whose automotive expertise helps him win his first big court case as a lawyer and stop his younger cousin from being falsely accused of murder. She won Best Supporting Actress in 1993 for her unforgettable performance.
Little Miss Sunshine is a character-driven story that makes us laugh and cry—possibly both at the same time. The star-studded cast (Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear and Steve Carell) has perfect chemistry as the Hoover family, thanks in large part to the two actors that played the family’s youngest and oldest characters. Abigail Breslin (Signs) was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her adorable take on Olive, and Alan Arkin won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his legendary role as the insatiable grandfather.
If you were to ask somebody which movies Robert Downey Jr. has been nominated for an Oscar for, his controversial Tropic Thunder performance might not come to mind. But perhaps that’s because they did not recognize Downey as Kirk Lazarus—an Australian method actor attempting to play a Black American soldier in (what was supposed to be) Hollywood’s next battlefield blockbuster. Downey was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his performance.
Melissa McCarthy repaved the way for award-worthy comedy performances in Bridesmaids. McCarthy was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Megan, and the comedy’s writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo were nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
Alexander Payne (Sideways) directed and Bob Nelson wrote this heartwarming tale about an old man named Woody Grant who claims he’s won $1 million. Bruce Dern was nominated for Best Actor for his role as Woody, and June Squibb received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for playing his sassy, hilarious wife.
Diablo Cody won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the real-world brilliance told in Juno. But did you know the alternative dramedy was nominated in three other major categories, including Best Director (Jason Reitman), Best Picture and Best Actress (Elliot Page)? Well, now you do.