For centuries of moviegoers seeking an escape from their daily problems, comedy has been a popular genre. Despite the fact that these films frequently do well at the box office, the Academy is not always ready to recognize them.
However, during the past nine decades, there have been a few competitive acting wins, and we’ve ranked the 30 funniest of all time.
There are five Best Actor nominees, including Jack Nicholson, who retains the record for male acting nominations, and ten Best Actress nominations, including Barbra Streisand’s triumph for her film debut in “Funny Girl,” which resulted in a rare tie.
Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert are honored for their achievements in “It Happened One Night,” which is also the first of only three films to receive the “Big Five” awards (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Screenplay).
Kevin Kline, Jack Palance, and Cuba Gooding, Jr. are among the nine men nominated for Best Supporting Actor, with the latter two remembered as much for their acceptance speeches as for their performances.
Neil Simon and Herbert Ross, who collaborated on “California Suite,” “The Goodbye Girl,” and “The Sunshine Boys,” all of which produced an acting winner, are also well-represented on this list.
Tatum O’Neal is the youngest ever competitive winner, whereas George Burns and Jessica Tandy were the oldest acting winners at the time of their awards. Tandy still holds the record for the oldest Best Actress award recipient.
10. Diane Keaton, “Annie Hall” (1978)
Keaton’s goofy, neurotic performance as “Annie Hall” was written for her by Woody Allen, and it’s no surprise that her quirky, neurotic performance was career-defining.
Not only did Keaton win Best Actress for her complex portrayal of a ditzy, uncomfortable, yet clever lady, but her vintage masculine attire, which included neckties, vests, and loose trousers, established her as an unlikely fashion trailblazer.
9. Walter Matthau, “The Fortune Cookie” (1967)
Matthau’s early film performances were mostly tragic, despite his brilliant stage career in comedies (which included a Tony Award).
Matthau’s signature caustic wit and gravelly voice, on the other hand, were a natural fit for his portrayal as a slick lawyer attempting to defraud an insurance company in this Billy Wilder comedy.
Not only did the film win him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, but it also inaugurated a renowned collaboration with fellow actor Jack Lemmon, with whom he made twelve films.
8. Claudette Colbert, “It Happened One Night” (1935)
Despite the fact that “It Happened One Night” was the first of three films to win the Academy Awards’ “Big Five,” Colbert believed it was the worst film she had ever made and that she had no chance of winning.
In reality, she was at the railway station when the accolade was bestowed upon her, and she had to be rushed to the ceremony to accept it.
She was overjoyed to receive her statue, and generations of moviegoers have enjoyed watching her establish “once and for all that the limb is mightier than the thumb.”
7. Whoopi Goldberg, “Ghost” (1991)
When she received accolades and a Best Actress nomination for her work in “The Color Purple” in 1986, Goldberg was a Grammy-winning comedienne.
She won for her iconic appearance as psychic Oda Mae Brown, the unusual conduit between Patrick Swayze’s ghost and Demi Moore’s grieving lover, five years later in the supporting category.
Goldberg went on to win a Tony and two Daytime Emmys, making her one of only 16 persons in history to achieve EGOT status.
6. Judy Holliday, “Born Yesterday” (1951)
Holliday won Best Actress in a Leading Part for the Broadway role she created, knocking out Bette Davis for “All About Eve” and Gloria Swanson for “Sunset Boulevard.”
Holliday established the ditzy-blonde-with-a-heart-of-gold reputation as the not-as-dumb-as-she-appears girlfriend of an abusive businessman.
Sadly, this gifted comedienne’s career was cut far too soon, since she died of cancer at the age of 43, having only done a few films.
5. Lee Marvin, “Cat Ballou” (1966)
Lee Marvin began his career as a rough character in supporting roles, with his gravelly voice and white hair. In this comic western, he received his only Oscar nomination for his dual act as a scary hired murderer and his stupid drunken brother.
Marvin proved himself a star at the age of 42, winning the Best Actor award and embarking on a successful decades-long career.
4. Dianne Wiest, “Bullets Over Broadway” (1995)
Wiest is one of only two actresses to win Best Supporting Actress twice in her career, with both awards coming for Woody Allen films (the other being “Hannah and Her Sisters” in 1987).
Wiest is an elderly alcoholic actress cast in a new Broadway musical linked to gangster activity, which leads to many killings in this dark comedy.
3. Jack Lemmon, “Mister Roberts” (1956)
In a cast that included Henry Fonda, James Cagney, and William Powell, Lemmon received the only acting nomination out of this impressive group.
Lemmon plays Ensign Pulver, a witty sidekick who likes to talk big but never follows through. He won Best Supporting Actor on his first nomination and went on to collect seven Best Actor nods over the next 25 years, winning for “Save the Tiger” in 1974.
2. Marisa Tomei, “My Cousin Vinny” (1993)
With her appearance as the fast-talking Mona Lisa Vito, Tomei’s career took off after numerous tiny roles on television and in cinema.
Her banter with Joe Pesci, which was accentuated by her character’s considerable knowledge of autos, and her heated courtroom testimony, which was accentuated by her character’s excellent knowledge of automobiles, are still among the funniest on film almost 30 years later.
Her Best Supporting Actress win came as a surprise, but it shouldn’t have been given how beautifully she depicted a character who could have easily come across as brash.
1. Kevin Kline, “A Fish Called Wanda” (1989)
Kline plays Otto West, an inept and obnoxious American con artist who becomes embroiled in a jewel robbery in London.
The caper dissolves into several double crosses and a weird love triangle, with a sexy Jamie Lee Curtis as his unfaithful companion and a dapper John Cleese as his opponent.
Kline, who had already won a Tony Award for his stage work, added a Best Supporting Actor statue to his collection, and the picture is still considered one of the funniest of all time.