Best Picture Winning Movie Titles (AMPAS)


ARTS and SCIENCES: Best Picture

The First Best Picture Winners:

In the first year of the awards, there were two “Outstanding Picture” winners: Wings for Best Production and Sunrise (1927) for Unique and Artistic Picture (a category that was immediately dropped).

[Three awards were given during the Academy’s first year that were never given again: Best Artistic Quality of Production, Best Title Writing (for silent films), and Best Comedy Direction.] Obviously, the only silent film to win ‘Best Picture’ was Wings (1927/28).

The Top Best Picture Award Winners and Nominated Films:

Two Best Picture winning films, Titanic (1997) and All About Eve (1950) both hold the record for the most nominations (14) earned by a single film. Five Best Picture films are tied for second place with 13 nominations (see below), and eight Best Picture films are tied for third place with 12 nominations (see below).

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Titanic (1997), Ben-Hur (1959) are the three Best Picture winning films with the most Oscars wins (11). (The closest Best Picture winning runner-up for most Oscar wins was West Side Story (1961) with 10 Oscars (out of 11 nominations).)

Titanic’s awards included two sound awards and no acting prizes, and its screenplay wasn’t even nominated. On the other hand, All About Eve (1950), also with 14 nominations, had one acting Oscar (Best Supporting Actor for George Sanders). And Ben-Hur (1959), with 11 Oscars from 12 nominations, lost only its screenplay nomination, plus it racked up two acting awards (Charlton Heston for Best Actor and Hugh Griffith for Best Supporting Actor) – and there was only one sound category in 1959. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) won Best Adapted Screenplay, but had no acting nominations in its clean-sweep win.

Oscars® Best Picture Winning Movie Titles Year Nominations
11 Ben-Hur 1959 12
11 Titanic 1997 14
11 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 2003 11
10 West Side Story 1961 11
9 Gigi 1958 9
9 The Last Emperor * 1987 9
9 The English Patient 1996 12
8 Gone With The Wind 1939 13
8 From Here to Eternity 1953 13
8 On The Waterfront 1954 12
8 My Fair Lady 1964 12
8 Gandhi # 1982 11
8 Amadeus 1984 11
7 Shakespeare in Love 1998 13
7 Dances with Wolves 1990 12
7 Schindler’s List 1993 12
7 Out of Africa 1985 11
7 The Sting 1973 10
7 Patton 1970 10
7 Going My Way 1944 10
7 Lawrence of Arabia 1962 10
7 The Best Years of Our Lives 1946 8
7 The Bridge on the River Kwai 1957 8
6 All About Eve 1950 14
6 Forrest Gump 1994 13
6 Chicago 2002 13
6 Mrs. Miniver 1942 12
6 The Godfather, Part II 1974 11
6 An American in Paris 1951 8
6 A Man For All Seasons 1966 8
5 Gladiator 2000 12
5 Oliver! 1968 11
5 Terms of Endearment 1983 11
4 Million Dollar Baby 2004 7
4 No Country for Old Men 2007 8
3 The Godfather 1972 10

# the most successful British film to date
* the only Best Picture winner to have been produced outside of the US or UK, and the first MPAA-rated PG-13 film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture (not counting subsequent films that have since been re-rated)

The Big Five: Only three films have won the top five awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay):

It Happened One Night (1934)
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Clean Sweeps: Only four Best Picture winners have won every award for which they were nominated (the first was five for five, the next two were nine for nine, and LOTR was 11 for 11; except for the 1934 film, none of the films were nominated for acting awards):

5 for 5: It Happened One Night (1934)
9 for 9: Gigi (1958)
9 for 9: The Last Emperor (1987)
11 for 11: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
The Matrix (1999), not a Best Picture nominee, also won 4 for 4.
Shut Outs: Two films hold the dubious distinction of being nominated eleven times without a single Oscar win. Other films with 8 or more competitive nominations are also included:

Film (Year) Nominations Wins
The Turning Point (1977) 11 0
The Color Purple (1985) 11 0
Gangs of New York (2002) 10 0
The Little Foxes (1941) 9 0
Peyton Place (1957) 9 0
Quo Vadis? (1951) 8 0
The Nun’s Story (1959) 8 0
The Sand Pebbles (1966) 8 0
The Elephant Man (1980) 8 0
Ragtime (1981) 8 0
The Remains of the Day (1993) 8 0

Best Pictures that Failed to Win Any Other Awards: All MGM productions

Broadway Melody (1928/29)
Grand Hotel (1931/32)
Mutiny On the Bounty (1935)
And Grand Hotel (1931/2) is the only Best Picture winner to receive only one nomination.

There are ten films that have won Best Picture without receiving a single acting nomination:

Wings (1927/8)
All Quiet on the Western Front (1929/30)
Grand Hotel (1931/2)
An American in Paris (1951)
The Greatest Show on Earth (1952)
Around the World in Eighty Days (1956)
Gigi (1958)
The Last Emperor (1987)
Braveheart (1995)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
Conversely, Best Picture-nominated films that have won the most Oscar awards without winning Best Picture include the following films:

Film (Year) Wins
(But Not Best Picture)
Cabaret (1972) 8
A Place in the Sun (1951) 6
Star Wars (1977) 6
Wilson (1944) 5
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) * 5
The King and I (1956) 5
Mary Poppins (1964) 5
Doctor Zhivago (1965) 5
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) 5
Saving Private Ryan (1998) 5
The Aviator (2004) 5
* not nominated for Best Picture

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969) holds the record for receiving the most nominations (9) without being nominated for Best Picture. Its sole Oscar win was Best Supporting Actor, for Gig Young. But They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969) didn’t have the most Oscar nominations in its year of competition. In the same year, Anne of a Thousand Days (1969) had more nominations (10), but it was nominated for Best Picture. Therefore, Dreamgirls (2006) with 8 nominations was the first-time ever in Academy history that the film with the most nominations failed to earn a Best Picture slot.

Crash (2005) marked the first time a film-festival acquisition (after its premiere at the 2004 Toronto Film Festival) won Best Picture

Best Picture Trivia:

Non-Hollywood Best Pictures:

The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) was the first non-US made film to both earn a Best Picture nomination, and win an Oscar of any sort (Best Actor for Charles Laughton, in this case). The first non-Hollywood (foreign-made) film to win Best Picture was Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet (1948).

At the 1928/29 Academy Awards (held in 1930), no film won more than one statuette (there were seven films honored in seven categories) – something that hasn’t been duplicated since.

Pulitzer-Prize and Best Picture Winners:

Only two novels that were made into films have won both the Best Picture Oscar and the Pulitzer Prize:

Gone With The Wind (1939)
All the King’s Men (1949)
Back-to-Back Appearances in Best Pictures:

Only a few actors have starred in the Oscar-winning Best Picture for two years in a row:

Clark Gable in It Happened One Night (1934) and Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) (Gable also starred in a third Best Picture a few years later, Gone With The Wind (1939))
Walter Pidgeon in How Green Was My Valley (1941) and Mrs. Miniver (1942)
Christopher Walken in Annie Hall (1977) and The Deer Hunter (1978)
Meryl Streep in The Deer Hunter (1978) and Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
John Gielgud in Chariots of Fire (1981) and Gandhi (1982)
Russell Crowe in Gladiator (2000) and A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Note that Talia Shire is the only actor to have starred in three consecutive even-year Best Picture winners: The Godfather (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974), and Rocky (1976)
Appearances in Three Best Picture-Nominated Films in the Same Year:

Only four performers have starred in three Best Picture-nominated films in the same year:

1934: Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night (1934), Cleopatra (1934), and Imitation of Life (1934)
1935: Charles Laughton in Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Les Miserables (1935), and Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)
1939: Thomas Mitchell in Gone With The Wind (1939), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), and Stagecoach (1939)
2002: John C. Reilly in Chicago (2002), The Hours (2002), and Gangs of New York (2002)
Note: Colbert’s, Laughton’s and Mitchell’s performances came at a time when there were 10 Best Picture nominees, while Reilly’s was when there were only 5.

Best Picture Oscar Anomaly:

John Cazale appeared in only five films in his entire career – all of which were nominated for or won Best Picture:

Fredo Corleone in The Godfather (1972)
Stan in The Conversation (1974)
Fredo Corleone in The Godfather, Part 2 (1974)
Salvator “Sal” in Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Stanley ‘Stosh’ in The Deer Hunter (1978)
Color and Black and White Best Pictures:

Gone With the Wind (1939) was the first all-color film that won the Best Picture Oscar. [Broadway Melody (1928/29) contained a few sequences shot in two-color (red/green) Technicolor.] The next four Best Picture color films were: An American in Paris (1951), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), Around the World in 80 Days (1956), and The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). Schindler’s List (1993) was the first black-and-white film (although it had a few short segments in color) to win the top award since the all B&W The Apartment (1960). Only one Best Picture-winning film was originally a TV comedy drama: the black and white Marty (1955). [It was also the second Best Picture Oscar winner to also win the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or – the first to win the top prize was The Lost Weekend (1945).]

The first time all five Best Picture nominees were shot in color was 1956.

The first film to be released on home video before winning Best Picture was The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

Foreign-Language Best Pictures Nominees:

It should be noted that 1956 was the first year that the regular competitive category of Best Foreign Language film was introduced. Foreign-language films would no longer be recognized with only a special achievement Honorary Award or with a Best Picture nomination (as in 1938) – see below. The first winner in this new category was Federico Fellini’s La Strada (1956). Italy has the most Best Foreign Language Film Oscars – a total of 12 (as of 2003).

The first non-English film to be nominated for Best Picture was Grand Illusion (1938). The only foreign-language films nominated for Best Picture include:

Grand Illusion (1938, France)
Z (1969, Algeria) *
The Emigrants (1972, Sweden)
Cries and Whispers (1973, Sweden)
The Postman (Il Postino) (1995, Italy)
Life is Beautiful (1998, Italy) *
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000, Taiwan) *
Letters from Iwo Jima (2006, Japanese)

* Winner of Best Foreign Language Film
Z (1969), Life is Beautiful (1998) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) have been nominated for the simultaneous, double honors of Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film in the same year, all winning the latter. While The Emigrants (1972) had received a Best Foreign Language Film nomination the previous year – without winning. Bertolucci’s Chinese/Italian-produced Best Picture winner The Last Emperor (1987) was not a Foreign-Language film nominee.

The Italian film The Battle of Algiers (1966) was the only film that earned nominations in two non-consecutive years:

Best Foreign Language Film nominee in 1966
Best Adapted Screenplay nominee in 1968
Foreign-language films with the most Oscar nominations include:

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) – 6 nominations, 3 wins
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) – 10 nominations, 4 wins
Life is Beautiful (1998) – 7 nominations, 3 wins
Fanny and Alexander (1983) – 6 nominations, 4 wins
Das Boot (1982) – 6 nominations, 0 wins
Best Picture Genre Biases:

There are obvious biases in the selection of Best Picture winners by the Academy. Serious dramas or social-problem films with weighty themes, bio-pictures (inspired by real-life individuals or events), or films with literary pretensions are much more likely to be nominated than “popcorn” movies. Action-adventures, suspense-thrillers, Westerns, and comedies are mostly overlooked (although there are exceptions), as are independent productions.

See Analysis of Best Picture Genre Biases here.

Remakes, Sequel ‘Best Pictures’ and Trilogies:

the first sequel to be nominated for Best Picture was The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945), the sequel to the previous year’s Going My Way (1944); other sequels (or second and third installments) that were nominated for Best Picture include The Godfather, Part II (1974) – a winner and the first sequel to win Best Picture, and The Godfather, Part III (1990) – a loser; also The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) – a loser, but its ‘sequel’ The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) was a Best Picture winner; although The Silence of the Lambs (1991) was a ‘sequel’ of sorts, it was made under a different studio, production company, director, and set of actors
the first film trilogy in Oscar history to have all three of its movies nominated for Best Picture was Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather pictures
the second film trilogy to have all three of its parts nominated for Best Picture was Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy:The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) (both lost), and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) (which won Best Picture)
the first remake to win Best Picture was Mutiny On the Bounty (1935) (it was a remake of In the Wake of the Bounty (1933) starring Errol Flynn as Fletcher Christian); it was remade as Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) with Marlon Brando, and lost its Best Picture nomination
Best Picture winner Ben-Hur (1959) was a remake of the silent era’s Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925); Best Picture nominee The Maltese Falcon (1941) was a remake of the 1931 version
Best Picture nominee Pygmalion (1938) was remade as the Best Picture-winning My Fair Lady
two more examples of Best Picture nominees (that lost) that were remakes of each other: Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) and Heaven Can Wait (1943) / Heaven Can Wait (1978), and Moulin Rouge (1952) and Moulin Rouge (2001)
three versions of Shakespeare’s tragic romantic tale were nominated for Best Picture: Romeo and Juliet (1936), the derivative West Side Story (1961) (a win), and Romeo and Juliet (1968)
Longest and Shortest:

Gone With The Wind (1939) has long been acclaimed as the longest Best Picture winner at almost 221 minutes (3 hours, 42 minutes) – with the Overture, Intermission, Entr’acte, and Walkout Music, it reaches 234 minutes. Other sources have noted that the original version of Lawrence of Arabia (1962) was approximately 222 minutes, slightly longer, but with additional elements extended only to approximately 232 minutes. [Other longest Best Picture winners are, in order, Ben-Hur (1959), and The Godfather Part II (1974), all over three and a half hours long).]
Marty (1955) is the shortest Best Picture winner at 91 minutes (1 hour, 31 minutes), followed by Annie Hall (1977) at 93 minutes. The shortest Best Picture nominee is Mae West’s She Done Him Wrong (1933) at 66 minutes.
Best Picture Winning-est Director:

William Wyler holds the record for directing more Best Picture nominees (13) and more Best Picture winners (3) than anyone else. The nominated and winning (marked with *) films were:

Dodsworth (1936)
Dead End (1937)
Jezebel (1938)
Wuthering Heights (1939)
The Letter (1940)
The Little Foxes (1941)
Mrs. Miniver (1942)*
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)*
The Heiress (1949)
Roman Holiday (1953)
Friendly Persuasion (1956)
Ben-Hur (1959)*
Funny Girl (1968)
Best Picture Winners Without a Nomination for Best Director:

Wings (1927/8)
Grand Hotel (1931/2)
Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
The Winning-est and Most-Nominated Best Picture Studios: 1927/28 to 1950

From 1927/28 through the 1950 Academy Awards, the Best Picture nomination went to the production company or studio that produced the film.
Studio Best Picture
Wins Best Picture Nominations
MGM 5 38
20th Century Fox 3 16
Columbia 2 12
Paramount 2 13
Selznick Int’l Pictures 2 5
Warner Bros 2 21
Disney* 0 ?
*The only major Hollywood studio never to win a Best Picture Oscar.

The Winning-est and Most-Nominated Best Picture Producers: 1951-present

From the 1951 Academy Awards through to the present, the Best Picture nomination went to the producer(s) credited on the film. The producers whose films have won the most Best Picture Oscars from 1951 to the present include:

Sam Spiegel (4 nominations with 3 wins): On The Waterfront (1954), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) (3 awards within 8 years!)
Saul Zaentz (3 nominations with 3 wins): One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) (co-produced), Amadeus (1984), The English Patient (1996)
Clint Eastwood (4 nominations with 2 wins): Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Arthur Freed (2 nominations with 2 wins): An American in Paris (1951) and Gigi (1958)
Branko Lustig (2 nominations with 2 wins): Schindler’s List (1993) and Gladiator (2000)
Albert S. Ruddy (2 nominations with 2 wins): The Godfather (1972) and Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Robert Wise (3 nominations with 2 wins): West Side Story (1961) and The Sound of Music (1965)

The producer(s) credited on the film who have received the most nominations for Best Picture from 1951 to the present include:

Stanley Kramer (6 nominations with 0 wins):
Steven Spielberg (6 nominations with 1 win): Schindler’s List (1993)
Francis Ford Coppola (5 nominations with 1 win): The Godfather, Part II (1974)
Kathleen Kennedy (5 nominations with 0 wins):
Sam Spiegel (4 nominations with 3 wins): On The Waterfront (1954), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Clint Eastwood (4 nominations with 2 wins): Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004)
James L. Brooks (4 nominations with 1 win): Terms of Endearment (1983)
David Puttnam (4 nominations with 1 win): Chariots of Fire (1981)
Irwin Winkler (4 nominations with 1 win): Rocky (1976)
Warren Beatty (4 nominations with 0 wins):
David Brown (4 nominations with 0 wins):
Norman Jewison (4 nominations with 0 wins):
Frank Marshall (4 nominations with 0 wins):
George Stevens (4 nominations with 0 wins):
The first female Best Picture nominee and winner of a Best Picture Oscar was producer Julia Phillips for The Sting (1973). Curiously, in the decade of the 1950s, none of the Best Actress Oscar winners appeared in a Best Picture winning film!

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1 comentario

  1. Awesome post.

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