Only six other actors have never lost an Oscar from multiple nominations:
1. Luise Rainer: Best Actress for “The Great Ziegfeld” (1936) and “The Good Earth” (1937)
2. Vivien Leigh: Best Actress for “Gone with the Wind” (1939) and “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951)
3. Helen Hayes: Best Actress for “The Sin of Madelon Claudet” (1932) and Best Supporting Actress for “Airport” (1970)
4. Kevin Spacey: Best Supporting Actor for “The Usual Suspects” (1995) and Best Actor for “American Beauty” (1999)
5. Hilary Swank: Best Actress for “Boys Don’t Cry” (1999) and “Million Dollar Baby” (2004)
6. Christoph Waltz: Best Supporting Actor for “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) and “Django Unchained” (2012)
Since he won his first Best Supporting Actor Oscar two years ago for “Moonlight,” Ali has the second shortest gap between wins of this group, behind Rainer, who went back to back.
This club used to have two other members. Jason Robards won two consecutive Best Supporting Actor Oscars for “All the President’s Men” (1976) and “Julia” (1977), but the third time was not the charm, as he lost in the category for “Melvin and Howard” (1980). Two-time Best Actress winner Sally Field (1979’s “Norma Rae,” 1984’s “Places in the Heart”) also lost her third nomination and first in the supporting category for “Lincoln” (2012) — the very same night Waltz became a 2-for-2 winner.
Only one performer has ever had a 3-for-3 record: Walter Brennan converted his first three bids — all two years apart — into victories for “Come and Get It” (1936), “Kentucky” (1938) and “The Westerner” (1940). But he lost on his fourth nomination for “Sergeant York” (1941).
Ali defeated another person who was also going for a 2-for-2 record, Sam Rockwell (“Vice”), who won Best Supporting Actor last year for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”). Rachel Weisz (“The Favourite”) was also attempting to do the same in Best Supporting Actress, but lost to Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”).
The victory also makes Ali the seventh man to have two Best Supporting Actor Oscars, joining Waltz, Anthony Quinn, Peter Ustinov, Jason Robards, Melvyn Douglas and Michael Caine. He’s also now the second black actor after Denzel Washington to have won multiple Oscars; Washington has one win in each category, Best Actor for “Training Day” (2001) and Best Supporting Actor for “Glory” (1989).
Ali, who had a leading 31/10 odds, was even more dominant in his run-up this year than he was two years ago. He was the only acting contender to claim every major precursor — the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA Awards — unlike when he lost the Golden Globe and BAFTA for “Moonlight.”