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Robin Williams | Awardscore

Last month, to evaluate Philip Seymour Hoffman’s acting career, we created a framework called the Awardscore [1]. Here’s a look at where Robin Williams ranks.

Actor Age Noms Wins Oscar Noms Oscar Wins Awardscore
Jack Nicholson 77 71 95 12 3 351
Daniel Day-Lewis 57 35 127 5 3 344
Tom Hanks 58 86 71 5 2 288
Denzel Washington 59 85 73 6 2 281
Philip Seymour Hoffman 46 64 88 4 1 270
Javier Bardem 45 53 91 3 1 260
Sean Penn 54 63 76 5 2 260
George Clooney 53 92 60 4 1 242
Leonardo DiCaprio 39 122 50 4 0 242
Robin Williams 63 60 70 4 1 220

Among the peer set of Best Actor nominees for the past 30 years, Williams ranks 10th. He is also arguably the greatest star to cross over from comedy to drama. While one could make the case that Tom Hanks similarly moved from sitcom acting to a serious big screen drama career, none of the actors on this list were standup comedians of note besides Williams.

Which brings us to another unique point. Grammy awards are not included in our acting analysis. (Nor, some have noted, are Tony awards. Or women.) But if the Grammy award is included, and it is rated like an Oscar, Williams moves into elite territory.

Williams was nominated for seven Grammy awards and won five overall, four for best Comedy Album. (His fifth was for best spoken word album, in a collaboration with Ry Cooder.) Applying a similar Awardscore formula to Grammy awards, Williams would rank fifth behind Bill Cosby (7W, 12N), George Carlin (5W, 16N), Richard Pryor (5W, 10N) and Steve Martin (4W, 9N) among comedians.

An impressive career, however you look at it.

It’s worth noting that there are some flaws or distortions in this exercise. As film festivals and awards have proliferated in recent years, the rankings of older actors such as DeNiro, Newman, Pacino and Albert Finney, fall further behind the younger generation. Which, it’s worth noting, makes Jack Nicholson’s status as top dog among the past 30 years of Best Actor nominees all the more impressive.

[1] NOTE: As a reminder, the Awardscore gives actors 10 points for an Oscar win, five points for an Oscar nomination and two and one points, respectively, for overall acting awards and nominations listed in the IMDB.com database. For this ranking, we expanded our set of actors in the analysis to include all nominees for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role dating back to 1984. For the Hoffman piece, we were looking for objective data about the claim that he was “The Greatest Actor of His Generation,” which only took us back to 1997.

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