Academy Awards

Best Picture


Facts & Trivia (2)
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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)

The 'Best Picture' Academy Awards
Facts & Trivia (2)

Non-Hollywood Best Pictures:

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

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:

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:

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:

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:

Box Office: Lowest Grossing Best Picture

In recent times since the advent of modern box-office tabulations, Best Director-winning Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker (2009) was the lowest-grossing Best Picture winner of all time. Its domestic gross earnings were $12.6 million at the time of its nomination, and only $14.7 at the time of its award.

Color and Black and White Best Pictures:

Gone With the Wind (1939) was the first all-color film that won the Best Picture Oscar. [Note: Broadway Melody (1928/29) contained only a few sequences shot in two-color (red/green) Technicolor.]

The next four Best Picture color films were:

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). The Artist (2011) was the last entirely B/W film to win Best Picture.

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 Film 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 non-English (foreign language) film to be nominated for Best Picture was Grand Illusion (1938). To date, none of the nominated foreign-language films won the Best Picture Oscar. 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)
  • Amour (2012, Austria entry) # *

    # Nominee for both Best Foreign Language Film and Best Picture
    * Winner of Best Foreign Language Film

Five films have the double honor of both Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film nominations: Z (1969), The Emigrants (1972), Life is Beautiful (1998), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), and Amour (2012). The Emigrants (1972) was the only one of the five to receive the nominations in different years, and was the only one of the five to not receive the award for Best Foreign-Language Film.

Bertolucci's Chinese/Italian-produced Best Picture winner The Last Emperor (1987) was not a Foreign-Language Film nominee.

So far, three partly 'foreign-language' films have won Best Picture:

The Best Foreign Language Film Category:

In 1956, the regular competitive Oscar category of Best Foreign Language Film was introduced (the first award was actually presented at the 29th Academy Awards ceremony held in the spring of 1957).

Currently, Italy has the most Best Foreign Language Film Oscars - a total of 11 Oscars and 3 Honorary or Special Awards. [Second place is France with 9 Oscars, and Spain with 4 Oscars.] Italy broke its own record for number of Best Foreign Language Film nominations with its 28th for The Great Beauty (2013), the year's winner.

The first winner in the new category of Best Foreign Language Film was Federico Fellini's La Strada (1956). Italian director Fellini holds the honor of most Oscar wins (4) for Best Foreign Language Film as a director, for:

  • La Strada (1956)
  • Nights of Cabiria (1957)
  • 8 1/2 (1963)
  • Amarcord (1974)

If Special Oscars were also considered (awarded before the Best Foreign Language Film category was created), Fellini shares his record of 4 wins with Italian director Vittorio De Sica, who won Special Honorary awards for Shoeshine (1946) (win in 1947) and The Bicycle Thief (1948) (win in 1949), and Oscars for Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (1963) (win in 1964), and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970) (win in 1971).

Besides Fellini's four Oscar wins and De Sica's two Oscar wins, the other five Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winners for Italy include:

  • Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (1970)
  • Cinema Paradiso (1989)
  • Mediterraneo (1991)
  • Life is Beautiful (1998)
  • The Great Beauty (2013)

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:

  • 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
  • Pan's Labyrinth (2006) - 6 nominations, 3 wins
  • Das Boot (1982) - 6 nominations, 0 wins
  • Amour (2012) - 5 nominations, 1 win

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 (or Retellings), Sequel 'Best Pictures' and Trilogies:

  • MGM's Best Picture winner Mutiny On the Bounty (1935) was influenced by the semi-documentary In the Wake of the Bounty (1933, Australia) which starred Errol Flynn in his movie debut as Fletcher Christian; both films were based upon the 1932 novel Mutiny on the Bounty by Nordoff and Hall; the same story was remade as Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) with Marlon Brando (it lost its Best Picture nomination)
  • Best Picture winner Ben-Hur (1959) was a retelling/remake of the silent era's Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925) - both were based upon Lew Wallace's 1880 novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
  • Martin Scorsese's Best Picture crime thriller The Departed (2006), a remake of Infernal Affairs (2002, HK), was the sole Best Picture winner to have been based on another film
  • Best Picture nominee Pygmalion (1938) was remade as the Best Picture-winning My Fair Lady (1964)
  • other examples of Best Picture nominees (that lost) that had the same film titles: Ernst Lubitsch's Heaven Can Wait (1943) could be paired with Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) because the latter was remade as Heaven Can Wait (1978); Moulin Rouge (1952) (a biopic of the painter Toulouse-Lautrec starring José Ferrer) had the same title as Moulin Rouge (2001) (a musical); and Best Picture nominee The Maltese Falcon (1941) was a remake of the 1931 version of the same name
  • Cleopatra (1934) was remade with the same title: Cleopatra (1963) - both were nominated for Best Picture
  • 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)
  • 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); it was the only threequel to have its third installment win the top prize

Longest and Shortest:

  • It remains a very close call, a tie virtually, between the top two 'longest' Best Pictures: the total film time (without music) of Gone With The Wind (1939) is almost 221 minutes (3 hours, 41 minutes), and with the Overture, Intermission, Entr'acte, and Walkout Music, it reaches 234 minutes (3 hours, 54 minutes). The total film time (without music) of the "original" Lawrence of Arabia (1962) is just over 222 minutes (3 hours, 42 minutes), slightly longer, while its additional elements extended the film to about 232 minutes (3 hours, 52 minutes). If just counting the film itself, Lawrence of Arabia is the longest of the two contenders.
  • [Other longest Best Picture winners in order: Ben-Hur (1959) at 212 minutes, and The Godfather Part II (1974) at 200 minutes.]
  • The longest-running Best Picture nominee was Cleopatra (1963) at just over 4 hours. The longest movie to ever win an Academy Award was Russia's War and Peace (1968) at 414 minutes, winner of Best Foreign Language Film.
  • Marty (1955) was 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 was Mae West's She Done Him Wrong (1933) at 66 minutes.
  • Both Argo (2012) and Gigi (1958) are tied at having the shortest Best Picture-winning title of 4 letters. The longest title nominated for Best Picture belongs to Stanley Kubrick's last black and white film, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) (with 13 words)

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:

Best Picture Winners Without a Nomination for Best Director:

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.

Most Best Picture Nominations and Wins - By Studio
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 individual producer(s) credited on the film. The producer(s) credited on the film who have received the most Best Picture nominations (and wins) for Best Picture from 1951 to the present include:

Two Best Picture nominees in 2010, The Social Network (2010) and True Grit (2010), were produced by Scott Rudin, marking only the second time since 1951 that an individual producer received two Best Picture nominations in the same year. (Note: It also occurred in 1974 with Francis Ford Coppola (and Fred Roos) who were honored by receiving two Best Picture nominations in the same year, for Coppola's The Conversation (1974) and for their shared winner: The Godfather (1972).)

Diversity in Producers of Best Picture Nominees:

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!

Precious (2009) was the first-ever Best Picture nominee to be directed by an African-American filmmaker, Lee Daniels.

Quincy Jones was the first African-American to be nominated as producer for a Best Picture nominee, The Color Purple (1985). The second instance was for Best Picture nominee Precious (2009) -- producers for the film included Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey. Also, African-American Broderick Johnson was co-producer for Best Pic-nominee The Blind Side (2009).


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