With the smashing box office success of Spider-Man: No Way Home, the internet was set on fire with its annual argument: Why can’t superheroes win Oscars? Marvel and Sony only added fuel to the flames with their strong FYC push for the film. However, Peter Parker is not the only hero aiming for gold this year. Some other MCU favorites compete among various alter egos.
Part of what makes the Marvel Cinematic Universe work is the abundance of outstanding talent that the franchise is able to recruit on screen. Acclaimed indie actors dress up and become the biggest names in the world. With such a cache, these actors finally get their shot at the Academy Awards.
Oscar Isaac hangs up his Poe Dameron scarf and trades it for a ticket to the MCU. With the recent trailer drop, Marvel fans are hyped for Isaac’s debut as the titular Moon Knight in the upcoming Disney+ series. The series will premiere on March 30, 2022.
Isaac is in the midst of an impressive series of projects. Between Dune, Scenes of a Marriage, Moon Knight and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Part One), Isaac received rave reviews for his menacing role as William Tell in Paul Schader’s The Card Counter. He previously received a nomination for the Gotham Award for Outstanding Lead Actor. If he gets a nomination, it would be Isaac’s first Oscar nomination.
Everyone loves Mahershala Ali. Everyone loves Blade. Consequently, everyone loves the idea of Mahershala Ali as Blade. Although he has yet to appear on-screen, Ali’s Blade was recently introduced to the MCU through a brief voice-over cameo in one of Eternals’ post-credits scenes. And before Blade, Ali Cottonmouth was in Netflix’s Luke Cage.
Ali is an Academy favorite, his two wins for Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight and Green Book giving him a 100% win rate. Ali has garnered some of the best reviews of his career for appearing on Apple TV+’s Swan Song. The film is his first in a leading role and was nominated for Golden Globe and BAFTA. An Oscar nomination for Best Actor could easily follow.
One of the MCU’s biggest post-credits surprises came in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Marvel fandom was thrown into an uproar when JK Simmons showed up, reprising his role as J. Jonah Jameson from the Sam Raimi trilogy. This cameo was a preview of upcoming crossovers, including Simmons’ return in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Oscar winner for his villainous role in Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, Simmons returns to the Oscar race with his portrayal of William Frawley in Being the Ricardos. Aaron Sorkin’s dramatization of Lucille Ball peaks at the right time with nominations from Producers Guild, Screen Actors Guild, Writers Guild, Critics Choice and Golden Globes. Simmons himself received Best Supporting Actor awards from both the Satellite Awards and the Critics Choice Awards.
Ever since Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie stumbled onto screen drunk in Thor: Ragnarok, she’s provided chaotic energy for the MCU. She was later seen in the pivotal battle of Avengers: Endgame, floating across the battlefield and taking Peter Parker with her on her Pegasus. At the end of the film, Thor crowns her as the new leader of New Asgard. Valkyrie will return to the big screen later this year in Thor: Love and Thunder.
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Thompson is in the running for an Oscar for starring in Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut, Passing. Acclaimed for her fascinating work as Irene Redfield, she received a Gotham Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress and a BAFTA nomination for Best Actress. If her name comes up on the morning of the nominations, it would be Thompson’s first Oscar nomination.
As the goddess of death and Thor’s older sister, Cate Blanchett stole the show as Hela in Thor: Ragnarok. She made quite an entrance by shattering Mjolnir, and went on to become one of Phase Three’s most popular antagonists.
Blanchett is one of our most renowned actors working today. She’s been nominated for seven Oscars, with two wins for The Aviator and Blue Jasmine, and just this year she has two potential nominations for Best Supporting Actress. Her performance as Brie Evantee in Adam McKay’s controversial satire Don’t Look Up drew little attention. But it’s her SAG-nominated work as Lilith Ritter, the femme fatale in Guillermo del Toro’s remake of Nightmare Alley, that will likely add to her list of nominations.
Only the most die-hard Marvel fans will recognize Ruth Negga for her work in the MCU. Long before the days of Disney+ and Marvel on Netflix, Negga had a recurring role on ABC’s Agents of SHIELD. In 17 episodes over five seasons, Negga played the ruffled Inhuman Raina.
Negga is no stranger to the academy. She first burst onto her radar in 2016 with a Best Actress nomination for her work in Jeff Nichols’ Loving. This year, Negga has firmly established herself as one of the main contenders for the award with her haunting twist in Rebecca Hall’s Passing. She has received offers for Best Supporting Actress at the Indie Spirit Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTA and SAG Awards.
Peter Dinklage made his debut as Eitri in the MCU with Avengers: Infinity War. After being forced by Thanos to create the Infinity Gauntlet, Eitri is tasked with forging a Mjølnir replacement. By crafting Stormbreaker, Eitri gave Thor the tools necessary to join the fight in Wakanda. After Eitri’s exit from Avengers: Endgame, he’s reportedly set to return in Thor: Love and Thunder.
In Joe Wright’s Cyrano, Dinklage returns to the title role of Cyrano de Bergerac, having portrayed the same character in the musical stage adaptation that inspired the film. A total departure from the land of Westeros, Dinklage sings his way into the hearts of audiences. A career-first Oscar nomination is highly plausible, having received nominations for Best Actor from Critics Choice and the Golden Globes.
Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Racoon has been a fan favorite since its debut in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The foul-mouthed mammal fires bullets and one-liners in every appearance from Guardians to Endgame. Rocket will return in this year’s The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2023. 3.
With eight career nominations for Best Picture, Lead Actor, Supporting Actor and Adapted Screenplay, Cooper is deep in the hunt for his first Oscar win. This year, Cooper has two major competitors. As Stan Carlisle in Nightmare Alley, Cooper’s chilling work could garner a Best Actor nomination. More likely would be a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his maniacal performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, based on the real Jon Peters. After his SAG nomination for Anderson’s film, an Oscar nomination is within Cooper’s reach.
Marvel fans may not recognize Olivia Colman, but they soon will. Filming has begun for the upcoming Disney+ series Secret Invasion, starring Colman in an undisclosed role. Details are still under wraps. The miniseries is slated for release in late 2022, with Colman joining MCU veterans Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn and Cobie Smulders.
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Whether it’s her Emmy win for The Crown or her Oscar win for The Favourite, the industry takes every opportunity to give Colman an award. This year she’s in deep talks for Best Actress for her devastating role in Maggie Gyllenhal’s The Lost Daughter. Colman already has nominations from Critics Choice, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and a win at the Gotham Independent Film Awards.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s Dr. Stephen Strange has starred in recent Marvel movies. Following his original film in 2016, Strange has made impressive appearances in Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: No Way Home. He will be in Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness return to the spotlight.
Cumberbatch is no stranger to the Oscar hype, having been nominated for The Imitation Game in 2014. This year he can be seen in the best picture favorite, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog. Throughout the awards season, Cumberbatch has garnered 19 wins and 21 additional nominations — more than any other best actor contender. His fiendish work as Phil Burbank has been recognized by the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Critics Choice and BAFTA.
After a year of speculation, MCU fans around the world were thrilled to discover that Andrew Garfield is reprising his role as Peter Parker in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Nicknamed “Peter #3,” the titular Amazing Spider-Man made dreams come true by rescuing MJ and declaring his love to Peter’s #1 and #2.
Garfield was previously seen on Oscar ballots with a nomination for his work in Hacksaw Ridge in 2016. This year, Garfield has been in everything from No Way Home to The Eyes of Tammy Faye. But it’s his electrifying performance as Jonathan Larson in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tick, Tick… Boom! that earns him awards. In addition to his Critics Choice and SAG nominations, Garfield received a win at the Golden Globes for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.
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About the author
(2 published articles)
Christian Masinsin (he/she) is an NYC-based actor, author, comedian and hyphen fan who recently graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He’s always happy to talk about TV sitcoms, movies, the Oscar and Emmy races, and anything Nintendo-related. Christian is happy that you are reading this, it warms his heart.
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