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Best Pictures - Facts & Trivia
(part 1)

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Best Pictures Sections
Facts & Trivia (1) | Facts & Trivia (2) | Genre Biases | Winners Chart (part 1) | Winners Chart (part 2)

The 'Best Picture' Academy Award: Facts & Trivia


See every Best Picture poster in the Oscars History section and every Best Picture title screen in the Best Picture Summary section

The Academy Awards®, affectionately known as the Oscars®, have been presented annually since 1927 (the first awards ceremony was held in May 1929) by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

The most outstanding or best picture category is one of the original categories of the awards, although this awards category has been identified with different names over the years: Outstanding Picture, Outstanding Production, Outstanding Motion Picture, Best Motion Picture, and Best Picture. For the 1927/28 through the 1950 Awards, the nomination and 'Best Picture' Oscar went to the production company or studio that produced the film. [For example, Gone With the Wind's Best Picture Oscar was officially presented to Selznick International Pictures, not to David O. Selznick.] Thereafter, the 'Best Picture' Oscar was given to the producer(s).

For a ranking of the 20th Century's Best Picture Winners By Artistic Merit, from Entertainment Weekly's Special Oscar Guide 2001, click here.


Best Pictures - Facts and Trivia

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
Titanic
1997
14
11
1959
12
11
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2003
11
10
1961
11
9
The English Patient
1996
12
9
Gigi
1958
9
9
The Last Emperor *
1987
9
8
1939
13
8
1953
13
8
1954
12
8
1964
12
8
Gandhi #
1982
11
8
Amadeus
1984
11
8
Slumdog Millionaire
2008
10
7
Shakespeare in Love
1998
13
7
Dances with Wolves
1990
12
7
1993
12
7
Out of Africa
1985
11
7
The Sting
1973
10
7
1970
10
7
Going My Way
1944
10
7
1962
10
7
1946
8
7
1957
8
6
1950
14
6
Forrest Gump
1994
13
6
Chicago
2002
13
6
Mrs. Miniver
1942
12
6
1974
11
6
1951
8
6
A Man For All Seasons
1966
8
5
Gladiator
2000
12
5
Oliver!
1968
11
5
Terms of Endearment
1983
11
5
The Sound of Music
1965
10
4
No Country for Old Men
2007
8
4
Million Dollar Baby
2004
7
3
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):

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

And Grand Hotel (1931/2) is the only Best Picture winner to receive only one nomination.

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

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
6
6
Wilson (1944)
5
5
5
Mary Poppins (1964)
5
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
5
5
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
5
The Aviator (2004)
5
* not nominated for Best Picture

Below are the films that received the most Oscar nominations - without a nomination for Best Picture:

Film (Year)
Nominations
(But Not Best Picture)
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969)
9
The Poseidon Adventure (1972)
8
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
8
Ragtime (1981)
8
Dreamgirls (2006)
8
The Dark Knight (2008)
8
Joan of Arc (1948)
7
Come to the Stable (1949)
7
Hud (1960)
7
Pepe (1960)
7
Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964)
7
Hawaii (1966)
7
Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
7
Star! (1968)
7
Victor/Victoria (1982)
7
Aliens (1986)
7
Dick Tracy (1990)
7
Bullets Over Broadway (1994)
7
Cold Mountain (2003)
7

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 in its year 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.

 


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