For the first time in his career, Robert Downey Jr. is an Oscar winner.

Downey won this year’s Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work as Lewis Strauss in Christopher Nolan’OppenheimerDowney’s performance was essential to the film; a large portion of it was built around Strauss’ Senate confirmation hearing for the position of Secretary of Commerce. Strauss’ testimony, and the testimony of others, sparks flashbacks to the past, revealing how Cillian Murphy’s J. Robert Oppenheimer grew to lead the Manhattan Project which developed the world’s first atomic weapon, and then how his actions and political affiliations led to the end of his career.

Thanks to outstanding reviews — and maybe thanks to the fact that Downey has never won an Oscar, despite his long and successful film career — Downey was the frontrunner in the Best Supporting Actor category all year. He beat American Fiction’s Sterling K. Brown, Killers of the Flower Moon’s Robert De Niro, Barbie’s Ryan Gosling, and his longtime Marvel co-star Mark Ruffalo from Poor Things. 

(Ruffalo is another very popular actor who’s probably due for an Oscar one of these years. Just not a year he’s competing against Robert Downey Jr.)

29th Annual Critics Choice Awards – Show
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Downey had been nominated for Oscars on two previous occasions. In 1993, he was up for Best Actor for his critically acclaimed performance in the title role of Chaplin, a biopic about the legendary silent film star. Downey lost that Oscar to Al Pacino yelling “HOO-AH!” in Scent of a Woman. 

In 2009, Downey received his first nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his incredibly committed (and also controversial) work in Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder. That time, the Oscar was given posthumously to the great Heath Ledger for his work in another Christopher Nolan film, The Dark Knight.

2024 was Downey’s year, and his Nolan film. Oppenheimer is currently available to stream on Peacock. The full list of winners at this year’s Academy Awards is available here.

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