The 9 Most Surprising Oscars Winners Ever

Among the unexpected Academy Award winners are pop divas, Time Lords, soap stars and claymation cheese-lovers.
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Everyone knows that an Academy Award is pretty much the goal for anyone who works in the film industry, and it’s no surprise an Oscar has been bestowed on esteemed actors like Marlon Brando, Meryl Streep, Viola Davis and Denzel Washington over the years.

But if you look through the list of former Oscar winners from the last 90 years, you might be surprised to see one or two of the past recipients.

Here are nine of the most unexpected winners from years gone by...

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What's particularly impressive about Cher's win is that – unlike fellow music icons like Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Lady Gaga – her Oscar isn’t even for her contribution to a film soundtrack.

Yes, she actually won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1988, for her leading role in Moonstruck, beating stiff competition from the likes of Glenn Close and Meryl Streep.

This marked Cher’s second Oscar nomination in an acting category, having previously been recognised for her supporting role in Silkwood, though she ultimately lost out to Linda Hunt for The Year Of Living Dangerously.
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“Oscar winner” might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of when you look at Eminem, but he is one all the same.

He won the Best Original Song Oscar in 2003 for his track Lose Yourself, marking the first time a hip-hop song had received the honour. Since then, fellow rappers Juicy J and Common have also received Oscars.

Eminem didn't actually attend the Oscars the year he won, instead choosing to stay at home with his daughter, so here's a photo of him at the MTV Awards that same year instead.
Rachel Shenton
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Before 2018, we best knew Rachel Shenton for her three-year stint in Hollyoaks, in which she starred as Mitzeee Minniver.

After stepping down from the soap, Rachel made a move across the pond, culminating in her writing and starring in the short film The Silent Child, based on her own experiences of having a parent lose their sense of hearing.

The Silent Child was lauded by critics, and ended up bagging the Live Action Short Film prize at the Oscars, with Rachel delivering her acceptance speech both out loud and using British sign language.
Peter Capaldi
Years before taking charge of the Tardis, Peter Capaldi was awarded the Oscar for a short film he wrote and directed, which starred future Academy Award nominee Richard E Grant in the lead role.

The future Time Lord's win was one of those rare Oscars ties, sharing his victory with Peggy Rajski’s Trevor.
Jordan Peele
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Jordan Peele’s Oscars win for Best Screenwriter wasn't necessarily a surprising one – it was for Get Out, after all, which was critically lauded and even nominated for Best Picture that same year.

All the same, thinking back to the early days of his career, which largely centred around sketch comedy, it wasn’t exactly a given that one day Jordan would be picking up an Academy Award for Best Screenwriter.

His was a historic win, making him the first African American winner in his category.
Anna Paquin
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X-Men and True Blood star Anna Paquin was just 11 years old when she attended the Oscars in 1994, picking up the award for Best Supporting Actress following her impressive performance in The Piano.

Anna had some stiff competition that year too, beating Emma Thompson, Winona Ryder and Holly Hunter. It wasn't all bad news for Holly Hunter, though. That same year, she was also nominated for Best Actress, which she did win.
Wallace And Gromit
Yes, the Wensleydale-munching inventor and his surly canine sidekick can call themselves Oscar winners. Or rather, their creators, Nick Park and Steve Box can.

In 2006, Wallace And Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit was named Best Animated Feature Film, in a year where only three other films were nominated, including Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and the Japanese fantasy offering Howl’s Moving Castle.

The claymation duo were also recognised by the Baftas, winning Best British Film that same year.
Lionel Richie
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Lionel has actually been nominated for an Oscar on three separate occasions, each time in the Best Original Song category.

He won on his second attempt in 1986, for Say You, Say Me, taken from the soundtrack to the drama White Nights.

That year’s awards season was a big one for Lionel, also picking up a Golden Globe for the same track, as well as a Song Of The Year Grammy for his contribution to the charity single We Are The World.
The Muppets
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A full 32 years after The Rainbow Connection missed out on the Oscar for Best Original Song (a crime against music if ever there was one), The Muppets finally landed their first Oscar.

The song Man Or Muppet, taken from the fuzzy company’s big screen comeback The Muppets, won Best Original Song in 2012, and what’s more, the award actually went to its writer, Bret McKenzie of Flight Of The Conchords, making it a double unlikely win.

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