Entertainment, Film

A Brief History of Brits at the Oscars

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By Ben Thompson


On February 24th, the 91st Academy Awards ceremony will air across the globe. This ceremony will acknowledge the work of the film industry in 2018, with particular attention being paid to the Best Picture category.

Although the Academy Awards – and the film industry as a whole – are centred around American efforts, there is a long history of notable Oscar winners who hail from Great Britain.

The first Brit to win an Academy Award for Best Actor was George Arliss, for his portrayal of British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in the 1929 film Disraeli. Evidently, British Prime Ministers are Oscar gold, as Gary Oldman would go on to win the same award for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour (2017).

Other British actors have made frequent appearances on the nomination list for Best Actor, including Peter O’ Toole, Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins, Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne. Interestingly, British actors seem most likely to land these nominations if they play a historical figure – Cumberbatch was nominated for portraying Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, while Redmayne won for his role as Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything.

The list of British Best Actress winners also includes many notable names – many of which people often forget are British – such as Elizabeth Taylor, Vivien Leigh and Audrey Hepburn, actresses who are seen as icons of the “Golden Age of Hollywood”. In more recent years, British actresses such as Kate Winslet, Judi Dench and Helen Mirren have made frequent appearances on the list of nominees.

In this year’s Oscars, Olivia Colman is up for Best Actress for her role in The Favourite – a film that has picked up 10 nominations. Fellow Brits that are also up for nomination include Rachel Weisz (Best Supporting Actress in The Favourite) and Christian Bale (Best Actor in Vice).

Come February 24th, we’ll know whether or not they’ve succeeded.

About the author / 

Ben Thompson

Modern History student. Mostly writes about politics and social issues.

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