5 Oscar-Winning Movies That Were Actually Directed by Actors

5 Oscar-Winning Movies That Were Actually Directed by Actors
Image credit: Summit Entertainment/Warner Bros.

These people have proven to be phenomenal both in front of and behind the camera.

Actors often command the big screen spotlight, but some have successfully transitioned into the director's chair, creating memorable films with their unique perspectives and storytelling. Here are 5 great films that were not only directed by actors but ended up winning them Oscars.

1. Hacksaw Ridge (2016) — Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson's film tells the true story of Andrew Garfield's Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who served as a combat medic during WWII and became a hero for saving numerous lives during the Battle of Okinawa without firing a shot.

The film and its cast received multiple nominations and awards, winning two Academy Awards for Best Film Editing and Best Sound Mixing.

2. Jojo Rabbit (2019) — Taika Waititi

Directed by and starring Taika Waititi, this quirky drama about a German boy who dreams of becoming a Nazi and relies on his imaginary friend Adolf Hitler for advice blends deadpan drama, satire, and heartfelt moments to illuminate the horrors of the Nazi Party.

Jojo Rabbit earned Waititi his first Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay and was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

3. A Star Is Born (2018) — Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper stars both in front of and behind the camera in the fourth American adaptation of the story of country rock singer Jackson Maine and singer-songwriter Ally Maine.

Cooper directed and co-wrote the film, which was critically acclaimed and nominated for eight Academy Awards. In the end, the film won Best Original Song for Shallow, performed by Lady Gaga, and established Cooper's prowess as both a director and an actor.

4. Life is Beautiful (1997) — Roberto Benigni

Directed by and starring Roberto Benigni, the film follows the story of Guido Orefice, a Jewish Italian bookstore owner who uses humor to lift the spirits of his son in Nazi Germany. Inspired by a book and by the experiences of Benigni's father in a concentration camp, the film focuses on hope and humor in the midst of tragedy.

Benigni's performance earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor and Foreign Language Film, and the movie has drawn comparisons to Chaplin's The Great Dictator for its physical comedy and historical context.

5. Mystic River (2003) — Clint Eastwood

In a neo-noir crime drama starring Sean Penn, Eastwood skillfully combines themes of childhood trauma and investigative thriller to explore the loss of a father and critique apathetic masculinity.

The film's success led to Sean Penn and Tim Robbins winning the Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, making it the first film to do so since Ben Hur.