Academy Awards
Best Picture Milestones



1940s
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Oscars - Best Picture Milestones
Year of Awards (No.) Production Company Best Picture Winner/Year and Director
Number of Awards/Nominations and Milestones
Film Poster
1940 (13th)

Selznick, United Artists

Rebecca (1940)
d. Alfred Hitchcock
Awards: 2
Nominations: 11

A meek, high-strung second wife feels she can't live up to her predecessor in Hitchcock's psychological thriller.

  • the first - and only - thriller film to win Best Picture
  • since the introduction of awards for performers in Best Supporting Acting roles in 1936, this was the only film named Best Picture that won no other Academy Awards for acting, directing or writing
  • the first and only film that Alfred Hitchcock made to win Best Picture
1941 (14th)

Twentieth Century Fox

How Green Was My Valley (1941)
d. John Ford
Awards: 5
Nominations: 10

A poor turn-of-the-century Welsh mining family sees its own disintegration and way of life passing.

  • the first film to win 'Best Picture' when it was in a category titled Outstanding Motion Picture (from 1941-1943)
1942 (15th)

MGM

Mrs. Miniver (1942)
d. William Wyler
Awards: 6
Nominations: 12

A small-town British housewife fights the war at home with common sense and quiet determination.

  • the first Best Picture nominee (and winner) to receive nominations in all four of the acting categories
1943 (16th)

Warner Bros.

Casablanca (1942/43)
d. Michael Curtiz
Awards: 3
Nominations: 8

Love, heroism, and betrayal unfold against the backdrop of a nightclub in a Vichy-controlled Moroccan city during WWII.

  • although first released and premiering in 1942, Casablanca went into national release in 1943 and was included with that year's nominees
  • the last year in which there were 10 Best Picture nominees
  • to date, The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) was the last film to be nominated for Best Picture and no other awards
1944 (17th)

Paramount

Going My Way (1944)
d. Leo McCarey
Awards: 7
Nominations: 10

A comedy-drama in which an idealistic young priest takes over an old-fashioned parish.

  • the first (and only) year in which an actor was a nominee in two different categories for the same role
  • the first year when the Academy switched to only 5 Best Picture nominees - there would only be five nominees until 2009
  • the first film to win 'Best Picture' when it was in a category titled Best Motion Picture (from 1944-1961)
1945 (18th)

Paramount

The Lost Weekend (1945)
d. Billy Wilder
Awards: 4
Nominations: 7

In an era of funny-drunk movies, a hard-drinking writer discovers that alcoholism is no joke.

  • the first (and only) film to win both the Best Picture Academy Award and the Grand Prix, the highest award offered by the Cannes Film Festival
  • in the same year, The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) - the first year in which a sequel was nominated for Best Picture
  • the Best Picture winner in 1945 set a pattern for more adult, socially-responsible Best Picture winners in the late 1940s. Serious "social issues" films would win the Best Picture award in four of the next five years: e.g., The Lost Weekend (1945), The Best Years of Our Lives (1946), Gentleman's Agreement (1947), and All the King's Men (1949)
  • in the same year, Anchors Aweigh (1945), the first live action/traditional animation hybrid film to be nominated for Best Picture
1946 (19th)

RKO Radio

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
d. William Wyler
Awards: 7
Nominations: 8

Three servicemen try to rebuild their broken lives at home after seeing combat in WWII.

  • the Best Picture win was the first and only competitive Oscar that producer Samuel Goldwyn would ever win
1947 (20th)

20th Century Fox

Gentleman's Agreement (1947)
d. Elia Kazan
Awards: 3
Nominations: 8

A journalist poses as a Jew and discovers that anti-Semitism is alive and well in post-WWII America.

  • the third year of Best Picture winners with socially-conscious themes in the post-war period
  • two of the Best Picture nominees were Hollywood's first significant attempts to explore racial bigotry and prejudice and attack anti-Semitism following the horror of the Holocaust
1948 (21st)

Universal - International (British)
J. Arthur Rank-Two Cities Films

Hamlet (1948, UK)
d. Laurence Olivier
Awards: 4
Nominations: 7

Olivier directed himself in this adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.

  • the first British production to win the Best Picture Academy Award
  • the first foreign-made film (non-American or non-Hollywood) to win the Best Picture Academy Award
  • Britisher Laurence Olivier was the first non-American director to win Best Picture
  • until 1998, the only film in which the lead actor (Laurence Olivier) directed himself to an Oscar-winning performance
  • in the same year, I Remember Mama (1948), became the 2nd film in Academy history to receive four acting nominations without a Best Picture nomination (this also occurred in 1936, 1965, and 2008)
1949 (22nd)

Columbia

All the King's Men (1949)
d. Robert Rossen
Awards: 3
Nominations: 7

A corrupt politician parlays folksy talk and fake populism to rise through the ranks.

  • the second Best Picture-winning film that was also a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (also occurred in 1939)
  • the Best Picture nominees split the nominations and wins fairly evenly. No film had fewer than three nominations and no film had more than eight. Every one of the nominees won multiple Oscars, something that had never happened before and has never happened since.

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