Academy Awards

Best Picture


Facts & Trivia (1)
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Best Pictures Sections
Facts & Trivia (1) | Facts & Trivia (2) | Genre Biases | Winners Chart (part 1) | Winners Chart (part 2)
20th Century Best Pictures (ranked) (part 1) | 20th Century Best Pictures (ranked) (part 2)
Best Picture Milestones (multi-sections)

Introduction to Academy Awards and Best Pictures: 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
  • 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).

See every Best Picture poster in
the Oscars History section (by year)


Sample Poster

See every Best Picture title screen in
the Best Picture Summary section
and in Best Picture Movie Title Screens



Sample Title Screen


The 'Best Picture' Academy Awards
Facts & Trivia (1)

The First Best Picture Winners:

In the first year of the awards, there were two "Outstanding Picture" winners: Wings (1927/28) for Best Production and Sunrise (1927/28) 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 Unique and Artistic Production, Best Title Writing (for silent films), and Best Comedy Direction.]

Obviously, the first and only silent film to win 'Best Picture' was Wings (1927/28). The Artist (2011) was mostly-silent, although had a soundtrack with sound effects, music, and a few characters speaking dialogue at the end.

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.

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-winning films are tied for second place with 13 nominations (see below)
  • Nine Best Picture-winning films are tied for third place with 12 nominations (see below)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Titanic (1997), and 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).
Oscars®
The Top Best Picture Winning Movie Titles
Year
Nominations
11
Titanic
1997
14
11
Ben-Hur
1959
12
11
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2003
11
10
West Side Story
1961
11
9
The English Patient
1996
12
9
Gigi
1958
9
9
The Last Emperor *
1987
9
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
8
Slumdog Millionaire
2008
10
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
The Hurt Locker
2009
9
6
An American in Paris
1951
8
6
A Man For All Seasons
1966
8
6
Crash
2004
3
5
Gladiator
2000
12
5
Oliver!
1968
11
5
Terms of Endearment
1983
11
5
The Sound of Music
1965
10
5
The Artist
2011
10
5
It Happened One Night
1934
5
4
The King's Speech
2010
12
4
No Country for Old Men
2007
8
4
Million Dollar Baby
2004
7
3
The Godfather
1972
10
3
Argo
2012
7
3
12 Years a Slave
2013
9
 
# 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)

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.

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

Best Picture-Winning Sequels:

Only two sequels have won Best Picture:

Clean Sweeps: Only five Best Picture winners have won every award for which they were nominated (Grand Hotel was a 'clean sweep' at one for one, followed by It Happened One Night (1934) at 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):

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
True Grit (2010)
10
0
Gangs of New York (2002)
10
0
American Hustle (2013)
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) was the only Best Picture winner to receive only one nomination. It was the only film to win Best Picture without receiving any other nominations.

Films That Won Best Picture Without a Single Acting 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
Gravity (2013)
7
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
Hugo (2011)
5
* not nominated for Best Picture
(The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) had the most wins of any film without a Best Picture nomination.)

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.

Animated Films Nominated for Best Picture:

There have only been three animated feature films nominated for Best Picture (number of nominations in parentheses):

  • Beauty and the Beast (1991) (6)
  • Up (2009) (5) - (winner of Best Animated Feature Film, a category first established for the 2001 film year)
  • Toy Story 3 (2010) (5) (winner of Best Animated Feature Film)

The Golden Globes vs. The Academy Awards Best Pictures:

There is a long-standing idea that the Golden Globes (set up by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association) are predictive of Best Picture Oscar wins, but that is mostly a myth.

In the decade of 2001-2010, A Beautiful Mind (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), and Slumdog Millionaire (2008) were the only three Best Picture dramas to win both major prizes.

Before then back to the 50s, just over 50% of the Golden Globes' winning Best Picture dramas were repeated on Oscars night. From 1951-2000, they had agreed on 27 out of 50 Best Pictures (32 out of 50 if you also include the Globes' Best Musical or Comedy category).


The Box-Office Boost of a Best Picture Nomination - and Win:

The Best Picture Oscar nomination (and subsequent) win for a solid blockbuster film such as Gladiator (2000) or The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) helped boost the bottom line, but not as significantly as it would have for a lesser-known film.

Here are examples in the past where a Best Picture Oscar nomination and the post-nomination period made a major difference in total box-office (domestic) revenue, measured in percentage of total revenue. Included are all Best Picture-winning films that made over 30% more revenue (percentage of total revenue) following their nominations:

Best Picture Nominated and Winning Films
Pre-Nomination Total Gross (Domestic)
Post-Nomination Total Gross (Domestic)
Percentage of Total
(in descending order)
Post-Awards Total Gross
(Domestic)
Total Gross (Domestic)
12 Years A Slave (2013)
9 nominations and 3 total wins
$39 million $11.2 million
?
$50.3+ million unknown
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
7 nominations and 4 total wins
$8.5 million $56.4 million
56.1%
$35.6 million $100.5 million
Gandhi (1982)
11 nominations and 8 total wins
$11.9 million $27 million
51.2%
$13.9 million $53 million
Platoon (1986)
8 nominations and 4 total wins
$39.3 million $64.8 million
46.7%
$34.5 million $138.5 million
The Artist (2011)
10 nominations and 5 total wins
$12.4 million $19.4 million
43.5%
$12.9 million $44.7 million
The King's Speech (2010)
12 nominations and 4 total wins
$57.9 million $56.3 million
41.6%
$21.2 million $135.4 million
Chicago (2002)
13 nominations and 6 total wins
$64.6 million $69.4 million
40.7%
$36.7 million $170.7 million
Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
9 nominations and 4 total wins
$33.6 million $41.6 million
39.0%
$31.4 million $106.6 million
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
10 nominations and 8 total wins
$44.7 million $53.6 million
38.0%
$43 million $141.3 million
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
13 nominations and 7 total wins
$36.5 million $36.6 million
36.5%
$27.1 million $100.3 million
Rain Man (1988)
8 nominations and 4 total wins
$97 million $60.8 million
35.2%
$15.1 million $172.8 million
Schindler's List (1993)
12 nominations and 7 total wins
$29.6 million $30.7 million
31.9%
$35.8 million $96 million
The Last Emperor (1987)
9 nominations and 9 total wins
$11.9 million $13.5 million
30.6%
$18.6 million $44 million


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