Awards season is well underway, with the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, and the Critics Choice Awards having already completed their respective ceremonies. Now, all eyes have turned to the highly-esteemed Academy Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars. Dating back to May of 1929, this year marks the Academy’s 89th awards ceremony, but despite rapidly nearing its hundredth anniversary, the Oscars are as influential and revered as ever.
Over the past century, hundreds of films, actors, actresses, producers, animators, production designers, and more have been nominated for an Academy Award for their remarkable feats and achievements in the filmmaking industry. Sure, people don’t always agree with who or what has been nominated for a golden statue (the year’s biggest snubs are often the biggest talking point of all, in fact). But receiving a nomination at all is an accomplishment most people in the industry will never attain.
Every once in awhile, though, a movie comes along and wows audiences around the world. Those films tend to garner more than just one Oscar nomination; sometimes they receive more than a dozen. Have you ever wondered which ones hold the record? Yeah, we have too. So, here are the 15 Most Nominated Movies In Oscar History.
15. The Revenant – 12 nominations
Alejandro G. Iñárritu followed up his success with Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) by directing the frontier drama The Revenant. Partly based on Michael Punke’s novel of the same name, the film accounts Hugh Glass’ journey for revenge in the early 19th century. Getting the movie onto the big screen may not have been as taxing as Glass’ journey, but it was certainly an arduous one. Development began way back in 2001, with Akiva Goldsman acquiring the rights to Punke’s manuscript. Things didn’t start moving, though, until Iñárritu boarded the project ten years later.
Starring Leonardo DiCpario, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, and Will Poulter, The Revenant became one of the year’s best films. It won Best Director and Best Cinematography at the 88th Academy Awards after having received 12 nominations, including Best Picture. However, the film’s most noteworthy accolade will forever be DiCaprio taking home the gold for Best Actor. He had been chasing that award for years. Despite being nominated for the category three previous times, on top of another nod for Best Supporting Actor, it wasn’t until The Revenant that DiCaprio obtained the recognition he deserved.
14. The King’s Speech – 12 nominations
It’s no secret that period films and war dramas are always top contenders for Academy Awards nominations, especially if a flick fits both subgenres, such as Tom Hooper’s The King’s Speech. Starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and Helena Bonham Carter, the film tells the true story of Prince Albert’s (later King George VI of England) attempts to overcome his speech impediment by undergoing therapy with Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue. However, as with many true stories before it, The King’s Speech brims with historical inaccuracies, many of which revolve around the timeline of the film versus real-life.
Regardless of its errors, the film impressed the Academy enough to earn it an astounding 12 nominations at the 83rd Academy Awards. The film received nominations in all the big categories, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actors, and Best Supporting Actress. The cast and crew went home with four wins, including Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Original Screenplay. Some people, though, were outraged that The King’s Speech took home the Best Picture win instead of David Fincher’s The Social Network, and it was probably the biggest upset of that year’s ceremony.
13. Lincoln – 12 nominations
Period dramas, remember? When one of the greatest directors in Hollywood works with one of the greatest actors to bring one of the most cherished U.S. presidents to life on the big screen, a great film is bound to happen. That is what Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis pulled off with Lincoln, loosely based on Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, a biography by Doris Kearns Goodwin. An exceptional film, Lincoln received 12 nominations at the 85th Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Of the 12 it was nominated for, Lincoln won Best Actor (for Day-Lewis) and Best Production Design.
Day-Lewis is one of the most respected actors in the industry. He doesn’t take up projects often, but when he does, he usually wins an award for whatever role he plays. In fact, when he won Best Actor for Lincoln, he set an Academy record for being the only person to snag a win in the coveted category three times (he’d also won for his work in My Left Foot and There Will Be Blood). Day-Lewis is scheduled to reunite with his longtime collaborator Paul Thomas Anderson for his next film, which recently began production. His fourth Best Actor win could be right around the corner.
12. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – 13 nominations
When people think of F. Scott Fitzgerald, they think of The Great Gatsby, arguably his most recognizable work, not The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. When writers Eric Roth and Robin Swicord sought to bring Fitzgerald’s short story to life, they couldn’t have found a better director to help them do that. David Fincher was truly the man for the job.
Fincher’s 2008 film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, is loosely based on the aforementioned short story and stars Brad Pitt as the eponymous Benjamin Button, a man who is born with the all the ailments of an elderly person. Suffering from reverse-aging, Button spends his whole life growing older, chronologically, yet becoming younger, physically. The film also stars Cate Blanchett as Daisy Fuller and Taraji P. Henson as Queenie, as well as Mahershala Ali, Jason Flemyng, and Tilda Swinton.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was praised, but many people found it difficult to imagine the film earning 13 nominations at the 81st Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor (it only won three of those awards). Although Pitt didn’t win Best Actor for this film, he did receive another nomination for the same category three years later, for Moneyball. Nearly a decade later, he’s still chasing his first Oscar win.
11. Chicago – 13 nominations
Rob Marshall spent the ’90s directing and choreographing television films, such as Annie, Victor/Victoria, and Mrs. Santa Claus. Then, in the early ’00s, he gravitated toward feature films. After acquiring a few Tony nominations, Marshall upped the ante by directing a film adaptation of the Broadway musical Chicago, which itself is based on the play of the same name by Maurine Dallas Watkins.
Starring Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly, and Christine Baranski, among others, Chicago is a musical set in the heart of the Jazz Age in 1920s Chicago, centering on two people who have been accused of murder. Marshall not only directed the film, but he also choreographed it, along with Bill Condon writing the screenplay (who also happens to be directing Disney’s upcoming Beauty and the Beast).
Chicago released to critical acclaim and garnered 13 nominations at the 75th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress. It won six of its 13 nominations, including Best Supporting Actress for Zeta-Jones. Furthermore, the film became the first musical to go home with the Best Picture win since Carol Reed’s Oliver! in 1968. The question is, will the top entry on our list become the next musical to win in the coveted category?
10. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – 13 nominations
Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, based on the J.R.R. Tolkein novels of the same name, is regarded as one of the greatest trilogies in movie history. It’s also one of the highest-grossing, having earned shy of $3 billion worldwide, unadjusted for ticket price inflation.
It’s outstanding cast, groundbreaking visual effects, and mesmerizing score led the trilogy’s first film, The Fellowship of the Ring, to receive 13 nominations at the 74th Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture nods. Unfortunately, it only won four awards: Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup, and Best Visual Effects. For a blockbuster film like Lord of the Rings to receive that many Oscar nominations, especially since it’s fantasy-based, was an accomplishment in and of itself.
Despite Fellowship receiving the most nominations in the trilogy, it was the third and final film, The Return of the King, that set the record for highest number of wins. In an Oscar sweep, the threequel won all 11 Oscars it was nominated for, including Best Picture. But since the film only received 11 nominations, it barely misses the mark for getting a spot on this list.
9. Shakespeare in Love – 13 nominations
William Shakespeare is one of the most iconic playwrights in history. People don’t even need to read Shakespeare’s plays to understand the impact he’s had on English literature. While most Shakespeare films are based on his plays, every once in a while, there comes a film that’s about the man himself — and John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love is one of them. The film depicts a fictional affair between the playwright (Joseph Fiennes) and Viola de Lesseps (Gwenyth Paltrow) as Shakespeare writes his most famous work, Romeo and Juliet.
Co-starring Judi Dench, Geoffrey Rush, Colin Firth, and Ben Affleck, Shakespeare in Love garnered 13 nominations at the 71st Academy Awards, snagging nods in all the major categories except for Best Actor. While the Academy didn’t think too highly of Fiennes’ performance, they did award Paltrow for Best Actress, along with Dench for Best Supporting Actress.
It’s no secret that the Oscars always draw ire from people who believe another film or another actor/actress should have won an award. However, whenever the subject comes up, people tend to bring up Shakespeare in Love undeservedly beating out Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan — arguably the most realistic war film ever released — for Best Picture. Whether or not the film actually deserved its Best Picture win will always be contentious, but there’s no denying that it was a major success.
8. Forrest Gump – 13 nominations
Great films release ever year, but not all of them will leave an impact on the industry going forward, and surely not all of the award-winning flicks. Forrest Gump is unique in that regard. It has left a lasting impression in Hollywood, and it continues to remain relevant over two decades later.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, and Gary Sinise, Forrest Gump tells the story of a disabled child who grows to become one of the most influential people of the 20th century, involving himself in virtually every major event that occurred in his lifetime. Forrest Gump inspired the world in the movie and outside of it, namely the Academy, which is why it received 13 nominations at the 67th Academy Awards. Of those 13, it won six, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor. But its accolades don’t stop there; the U.S. Library of Congress recently selected the film for preservation due to it being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
Other than solidifying Hanks career in Hollywood, Forrest Gump has provided pop culture enthusiasts with a myriad of quotes that can be applied to peoples’ day-to-day lives. How many people have, at least once in their lives, yelled, “Run, Forrest, run!“? Plus, the film even inspired the creation of the real-life restaurant chain, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. This one’s a winner across the board.
7. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – 13 nominations
It’s rare for a director to receive an Oscar nomination for his directorial debut, and it’s even rarer for someone to win. Mike Nichols was one of the lucky few to have been nominated for Best Director for his first major film, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, starring legendary actors Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Seagal, and Sandy Dennis. The film is based on the 1962 play of the same name, in which the title itself is a pun on the Disney song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” from the animated film Three Little Pigs. In the play’s case, however, the Big Bad Wolf is substituted with the name of English novelist Virginia Woolf.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? merited 13 nominations at the 39th Academy Awards. While the film shares its high number of nominations with several other flicks, it is only one of two movies in history (the other being Cimarron) to be nominated in every eligible category at the Oscars, which included nominations for all four of the main actors/actresses. Of all its nominations, the film walked away with only five wins: Best Actress for Taylor and Best Supporting Actress for Dennis, as well as Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Costume Design.
6. Mary Poppins – 13 nominations
There is no denying Walt Disney’s impact on not only the filmmaking and theme park industries, but on the world in general. He’s a legendary figure that virtually everyone has heard of — and that is due to all the remarkable cartoons and animated films he produced, including the likes of Mickey Mouse and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
Of all the films he produced, Mary Poppins is considered by many to be his crowning achievement. Loosely based on the novel of the same name by P.L. Travers, the film was directed by Robert Stevenson and starred Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke, David Tomlinson, and Glynis Johns. It was a long, arduous adventure getting Mary Poppins on the big screen, which was dramatized in John Lee Hancock’s 2013 film, Saving Mr. Banks, starring Tom Hanks as Disney and Emma Thompson as Travers. In addition to receiving universal acclaim, the film earned 13 nominations at the 37th Academy Awards, of which it won five.
Walt Disney currently holds two Academy Award records: 59 total nominations and 22 total wins. Almost all of them, though, came from either the Best Short Subject or Best Documentary categories. Mary Poppins remains the only film Walt Disney ever produced to be nominated for Best Picture.
5. From Here to Eternity – 13 nominations
Ten years after the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor, James Jones’ novel, From Here to Eternity, hit the shelves, telling the story of the lives of three soldiers leading up to the fateful day in 1941. Fred Zinnemann brought the novel to life on the big screen just a few years after the book’s release, starring Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, and Frank Sinatra as the three military men. Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, and George Reeves co-starred.
Despite earning rave reviews from critics, the film was subject to harsh criticism for omitting several plot points from the novel at the behest of the U.S. Army and the Motion Picture Production Code (the precursor to the MPAA). The changes didn’t stop the film’s winning streak at the 26th Academy Awards, though. From Here to Eternity won eight of its 13 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Sinatra and Reed also went home with Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.
4. Gone with the Wind – 13 nominations
Even if you haven’t ever sat down to watch Gone with the Wind, chances are that you’ve at least heard of it. It’s not only one of the most iconic films in cinematic history, but also one of the greatest. Directed by Victor Fleming and famously starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh, Gone with the Wind received 13 nominations at the 12th Academy Awards, the highest of any film at the time. The cast and crew went home with eight wins, including Best Picture and Best Director. But the highlight of the night was Hattie McDaniel becoming the first African-American Oscar winner, of course.
Furthermore, the film received two honorary awards: Special Award, for “outstanding achievement in the use of color,” and Technical Achievement Award, for “pioneering in the use of coordinated equipment.” Don’t forget, Gone with the Wind released in a time when most films were still in black-and-white.
Other than its exceptional accolades, Gone with the Wind was a monstrous box-office success. Sure, recent films like Avatar and Star Wars: The Force Awakens top the list of highest-grossing films of all-time. But, when we adjust the numbers for ticket-price inflation, Gone with the Wind retains the top spot for highest-grossing film domestically, with $1.747 billion. It’s astounding, especially considering that it’s rare for a blockbuster movie to break $500 million domestically nowadays.
3. All About Eve – 14 nominations
People may recognize films like Casablanca and Gone with the Wind more than they would All About Eve, but it would be foolish to disregard the feats achieved by this 1950 Joseph L. Mankiewicz film. Starring Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders, and Celeste Holm, All About Eve follows an earnest fan as she attempts to steal the thunder of the actress she admires.
The film was an astounding success when it released, becoming the first movie ever to receive 14 Oscar nominations. Earning that many nominations is one thing, but becoming the only film in history to have four female acting nominations is something else entirely. Davis and Baxter were both nominated for Best Actress, while Holm and Thelma Ritter were nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Unfortunately, none of them actually brought home the gold, though Sanders did snag a Best Supporting Actor win.
For almost a half a century, All About Eve held the record for the most Academy Award nominations, that is until James Cameron came along with a little disaster film called Titanic. Still, despite being almost 70 years old, All About Eve manages to hold on to its impressive Academy Award records.
2. Titanic – 14 nominations
For someone who has been a prominent filmmaker since the early ’80s, James Cameron surely hasn’t directed that many films. Thus far, he’s made just eight movies in a span of 28 years, but almost all of them have left an impact on the industry. Two of his films sit atop the list of highest-grossing movies of all-time, unadjusted for inflation: Titanic and Avatar, which both happen to be the last two movies he directed. Avatar made strides in technologically advancing the filmmaking industry, especially in terms of 3D technology, but it’s Titanic that has left an imprint on Hollywood forever.
Famously starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jack Dawson and Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater, Cameron’s Titanic released in 1997 to overwhelming critical acclaim. Though the film follows the real-life sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, the story itself is fictional, with many characters having been created specifically for it. Stunned by the movie, the Academy nominated Titanic a whopping 14 times. It was the first time in 47 years that a film received that many nominations. It won an amazing 11 of its 14 nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director.
1. La La Land – 14 nominations
Damien Chazelle only has two major directing credits to his name, but if he continues at this rate, he just might become one of the industry’s greatest directors (if he isn’t already). His first major motion picture, Whiplash, was based on his short film of the same name and ended up receiving five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. Now, two years later, Chazelle returns to the Oscars with La La Land, which has earned an astounding 14 nominations, tying the record set by Titanic and All About Eve.
La La Land, starring Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, and John Legend, is a musical set in present-day Los Angeles, following an aspiring actress and jazz musician as they strive to achieve success in their respective professions as well as maintain their relationship with each other.
Nominated for every major category, including Best Picture and Best Director, La La Land stands to set another record for most wins. What’s interesting is that, in the film, Legend’s character asks Gosling’s character, “How are you gonna be a revolutionary if you’re such a traditionalist? You hold onto the past, but jazz is about the future.” It’s a fascinating question, especially since it accurately describes Chazelle’s endeavor in making something new and revolutionary while also maintaining some semblance of traditionalism. We can’t wait to see how this one does on Oscar night.
While we’ve written out full blurbs for Lincoln, The Revenant, and The King’s Speech, there are actually 13 more films that have received 12 Academy Award nominations. But, for the purposes of keeping the list relevant to readers, we’ve condensed those remaining films into this section. Do note, however, that the following movies are no less deserving of their award nominations (or their spot on this list) than the ones that have already been mentioned. So, without further ado, the remaining films are: Mrs. Miniver, The Song of Bernadette, Johnny Belinda, A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, Ben-Hur, Becket, My Fair Lady, Reds, Dances With Wolves, Schindler’s List, The English Patient, and Gladiator.
Which of these films on our list surprised you the most? How many Oscars do you think La La Land will rack up when all is said and done? Let us know in the comments.
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