Grading 15 Oscar Winners Who Went To Space on Screen

Thanks to Christopher Nolan’s new film, Interstellar, two Oscar winners are making the leap into space. Both Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway are following their golden roles by tackling sci-fi. And they’re not the first A-List actors to dip their toes into the genre.

Many performers have taken the sci-fi jump, to varying degrees of success. For some, it’s a flat performance that gets lost in the stars, and for others, it’s brought on even more accolades. Because the world of sci-fi is so deep and so vast, we’re focusing on roles that involve some sort of space travel — whether it be to the Moon or through a wormhole. Find out how Ben Affleck, Jodie Foster, and other Oscar winners did at traveling through space.

Alec Guinness

Oscar-winning Role: The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Space Age Role: Star Wars (1977)

As Obi-Wan Kenobi, Guinness became a worldwide star and even earned Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for the his part in the first film. It’s a heartfelt, grounded performance in George Lucas’ fantasy, space opera.

Grade: A+

Anne Hathaway

Oscar-winning Role: Les Miserables (2012)
Space Age Role: Interstellar (2014)

The role of Amelia Brand should have been a showy one considering the actress’ talents, and having previously shined in another Nolan-directed film. However, her role was largely one-dimensional.

Grade: D

Ben Affleck

Oscar-winning Role: Good Will Hunting (1997)
Space Age Role: Armageddon (1998)

There’s been a large debate about whether or not Affleck is a good actor. Yes, there were a few misses (see: Gigli), but he’s really stepped up his game of late (see Gone Girl). In Armageddon, he’s the dashing, hot young actor sharing a screen with an asteroid. He does what he’s supposed to do in this summer blockbuster.

Grade: B+

Charlize Theron

Oscar-winning Role: Monster (2003)
Space Age Role: Prometheus (2012)

There’s no pretending that Prometheus is a perfect film. But Theron owns the screen as the bitchy, cold Meredith Vickers. If only she rolled to the side in the end!

Grade: B+

Clint Eastwood

Oscar-winning Role: Unforgiven (1993)
Space Age Role: Space Cowboys (2000)

Every few years, studios gather together a bunch of notable, aging actors and have them check things off their bucket list, go to Vegas, or in this case, head to space. Here, Eastwood and his co-stars have a terrific time on screen as a bunch of pilots who get a second chance at being heroes.

Grade: B-

George Clooney

Oscar-winning Role: Syriana (2005)
Space Age Role: Gravity (2013)

While Clooney dabbled in sci-fi with the 2003 remake of Solaris, Gravity was his first space film since winning an Oscar. While Gravity is a fantastic, jaw-dropping spectacle, Clooney doesn’t do much more than play the charming guy fans are familiar with.

Grade: C

 

Halle Berry

Oscar-winning Role: Monster’s Ball (2001)
Space Age Role: Extant (2014)

While the show failed to be a TV ratings blockbuster, Berry did her part as Molly Woods, an astronaut who returns to Earth following 13-month solo mission in space, to keep the show from drifting. It was hardly a showy role, but Berry was committed.

Grade: C+

 

Jodie Foster

Oscar-winning Role: The Accused (1989)
Space Age Role: Contact (1997)

There’s very little that Foster does poorly. In this blockbuster adaptation of Carl Sagan’s novel, Foster plays a scientist who is determined to make contact with extraterrestrial life. Her trip through space may have lasted only seconds but it was a thrilling ride.

Grade: A

 

Kevin Spacey

Oscar-winning Role: The Usual Suspects (1995)
Space Age Role: Moon (2009)

While Spacey never actually appears on screen, he does provide the voice of GERTY, the Moon station’s artificial intelligence system. It’s hardly a performance on the same level as any actor on this list, but Spacey does have a perfectly, creepy voice.

Grade: A-

 

Matthew McConaughey

Oscar-winning Role: Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
Space Age Role: Interstellar (2014)

While in space, McConaughey largely feels lost in Nolan’s epic sci-fi journey. He shines when he’s on the ground trying to keep his farm and family together.

Grade: C+

Richard Dreyfuss

Oscar-winning Role: The Goodbye Girl (1977)
Space Age Role: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Dreyfuss technically doesn’t leave Earth until the end of the film, he makes the most of his role as Roy Neary, especially considering that Steven Spielberg originally wanted Steve McQueen. But the iconic film mostly belongs to Spielberg.

Grade: A-

 

Russell Crowe

Oscar-winning Role: Gladiator (2000)
Space Age Role: Man of Steel (2013)

As Superman’s biological father, Crowe spends most of his time on his home planet Krypton in Zack Snyder’s bloated reboot. It’s a non-consequential part. He’s just there.

Grade: D+

 

Sandra Bullock

Oscar-winning Role: The Blind Side (2009)
Space Age Role: Gravity (2013)

There’s no doubt that Bullock made the most of her starring role in Alfonso Cuaron’s gripping journey back to Earth. She met the challenge of being the only person on screen for most of this 91-minute movie. The actress proves that her 2009 Oscar wasn’t a fluke.

Grade: A

 

Tom Hanks

Oscar-winning Role: Philadelphia (1993)
Space Age Role: Apollo 13 (1995)

Just two years after winning the Oscar, Hanks proved that he was Hollywood’s go-to leading everyman. He embodied the nature of mission leader Jim Lovell in this spellbinding true story.

Grade: A+

 

Tommy Lee Jones

Oscar-winning Role: The Fugitive (1993)
Space Age Role: Space Cowboys (2000)

Jones was one of Eastwood’s co-stars in this humorous adventure film. He also enjoyed his time kicking it will pals on screen. And it’s rare to see Jones as anything but grumpy.

Grade: B

[Photos: CBS, Columbia, George Lucas Films, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Touchstone, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal, Warner Bros]