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 Pictures (through 2022) Ranked | 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 five performers have starred in three Best Picture-nominated films in the same year:

Note: Colbert's, Laughton's, Menjou'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 million at the time of its award. Since then, CODA (2021), with a budget of $10 million, and total gross box-office (worldwide) revenue of only $1.9 million, has performed even worse. It was the first movie produced by a streaming service to win Best Picture.

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. Note: For 2019 films and after, the title was changed to Best International Feature Film.

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

The only foreign-language (non-English language) films nominated for Best Picture include:

  • Grand Illusion (1938, France)
  • Z (1969, Algeria) # *
  • The Emigrants (1971/72, Sweden) [Note: This was the only one to receive the nominations in different years (Best Foreign Language Film in 1971, and Best Picture in 1972). It did not win the award for Best Foreign-Language Film.]
  • Cries and Whispers (1972, Sweden)
  • The Postman (Il Postino) (1995, Italy)
  • Life is Beautiful (1998, Italy) # *
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000, Taiwan) # *
  • Amour (2012, Austria) # *
  • Roma (2018, Mexico) # *
  • Parasite (2019, S. Korea) # *
  • Drive My Car (Jp.) (aka Doraibu mai kâ) (2021, Japan) # *
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (2022, Germ.) # *
  • The Zone of Interest (2023, UK) # *

    # Nominee for both Best Foreign Language Film (or Best International Feature Film) and Best Picture in the same year
    * Winner of Best Foreign Language (or Best International Feature) Film

To date, the first and only nominated foreign-language film to have won the Best Picture Oscar was Parasite (2019).

Nine films have the double honor of both Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film nominations in the same year: Z (1969), Life is Beautiful (1998), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Amour (2012), Roma (2018), Parasite (2019), Drive My Car (2021), All Quiet on the Western Front (2022), and The Zone of Interest (2023).

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

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

The Best Foreign Language Film (Best International 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). Beginning with 2019 films, the title was changed to Best International Feature Film.

Foreign-language films with the most Oscar nominations include:

  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) - 10 nominations, 4 wins
  • Roma (2018) - 10 nominations, 3 wins (it was the first Mexican film to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (2022) - 9 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
  • Parasite (2019) - 6 nominations, 4 wins
  • The Zone of Interest (2023) - 5 nominations, 2 wins
  • Amour (2012) - 5 nominations, 1 win
  • Drive My Car (aka Doraibu mai kâ) (2021) - 4 nominations, 1 win

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, It.), the year's winner. Mexico won its first Foreign Language Film Oscar on its 9th nomination, for Roma (2018, Mex.). Denmark won for the International Feature Film Oscar for Another Round (2020, Den.). Parasite (2019) marked the first nomination (and win) for South Korea.

Only three East Asian nations have ever won this Oscar:

  • Japan (5 wins) - (Special Honorary Awards from 1947-1955)
    • Rashomon (1950)
    • Gate of Hell (1954)
    • Samurai, The Legend of Musashi (1955)
    • Departures (Okuribito) (2008)
    • Drive My Car (Jp.) (aka Doraibu mai kâ) (2021)
  • Taiwan (1 win)
    • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
  • South Korea (1 win)
    • Parasite (2019)

The first winner in the category of Best Foreign Language Film in the mid-1950s 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

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 complete 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)
  • 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)
  • 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
  • Best Picture nominee Pygmalion (1938, UK) 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 film trilogy in Oscar history to have all three of its movies nominated for Best Picture was Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather pictures; the sequel The Godfather, Part II (1974) was also a Best Picture winner and the first true sequel to win Best Picture, but The Godfather, Part III (1990) lost the Best Picture race to Dances with Wolves (1990)
  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991) was a 'sequel' of sorts, but it was made under a different studio, production company, director, and set of actors
  • 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
  • Martin Scorsese's Best Picture crime thriller The Departed (2006) was a quasi-remake (or sequel) inspired by Infernal Affairs (2002, HK)
  • Toy Story 3 (2010), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Top Gun: Maverick (2022), and Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) were all sequels nominated for Best Picture
  • Best Picture-nominee A Star is Born (2018) was the fourth version of the same general story, previously made as William Wellman's non-musical A Star is Born (1937), George Cukor's A Star is Born (1954) starring Judy Garland, and the Barbra Streisand musical romance A Star is Born (1976) (the only version without a Best Picture nomination)
  • Another Best Picture-nominee All Quiet on the Western Front (2022, Germ.) from German director Edward Berger was Netflix's remake of the 92 year-old Oscar-winning war film from director Lewis Milestone titled All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) - both were based upon Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 classic World War I novel

Longest and Shortest:

  • Essentially, there was a tie between the top two 'longest' Best Pictures: the total film time (without music) of Gone With The Wind (1939) at almost 221 minutes (3 hours, 41 minutes), and with the Overture, Intermission, Entr'acte, and Walkout Music, it reached 234 minutes (3 hours, 54 minutes). The total film time (without music) of the "original" Lawrence of Arabia (1962) was 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 was the longest of the two contenders.
  • [Other longest Best Picture winners in order: Ben-Hur (1959) at 212 minutes, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003) at 201 minutes, and The Godfather Part II (1974) at 200 minutes.]
  • Lengthy Best Picture nominees include: The Irishman (2019) at 209 minutes and Drive My Car (2021, Jp.) at 179 minutes.
  • 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:

  • Wings (1927/8)
  • Grand Hotel (1931/2)
  • Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
  • Argo (2012)
  • Green Book (2018)
  • CODA (2021)

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
Best Picture
Best Picture Nominations
20th Century Fox
Selznick Int'l Pictures
Warner Bros
*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). Minari (2020) was notable for producer Christina Oh becoming the first Asian-American woman to receive a Best Picture nomination.

There are only three films in Oscar history solely written, directed and produced by women that received a Best Picture nomination:

  • The Piano (1993, NZ), d. Jane Campion
  • Winter's Bone (2010), d. Debra Granik
  • Little Women (2019), d. Greta Gerwig

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