The Ultimate OSCARS Quiz: How Well Do You Know the Academy Awards?

Think you have what it takes to win the Academy Award for Holder of Most Trivial Facts? Test your knowledge of Hollywood's biggest night.

by | February 20, 2019 | Comments

Photos courtesy of Everett Collection
(Photo by Photos courtesy of Everett Collection)

Oscars Trivia Part II: The Answers

So you’ve taken our quiz and learned just how much you know about the Oscars. Want to learn more about nominees and winners from the past, and find out why they’re called “the Oscars”? Check out our Academy Awards history lesson below:

1. What year were the first Academy Awards hosted?

The first Academy Awards were held in 1929, but they honored films from 1927 and 1928.

2. What was the original title of the “Best Picture” category?

Technically, in 1929, there were two categories for the Academy’s favorite movies of the year: “Outstanding Picture” and “Best Unique and Artistic Picture.” But the Academy dropped “Best Unique and Artistic Picture” in 1930 and continued using “Outstanding Picture” — hence why the latter is considered the first name for the “Best Picture” category.

The category’s name has changed multiple times since then, including to “Outstanding Production” in 1931, “Outstanding Motion Picture” in 1942, “Best Motion Picture” in 1945, and finally “Best Picture” in 1963.

Universal International Pictures, Columbia Pictures, MGM Home Entertainment, MGM
(Photo by Universal International Pictures, Columbia Pictures, MGM Home Entertainment, MGM)

3. Which movie was the Best Picture winner in 1963?

David Lean’s almost four-hour epic, Lawrence of Arabia starring Peter O’Toole, won Best Picture in 1963.

4. How are the Oscars tabulated?

The Academy uses a preferential voting system for both nominations and final tabulations. This means that each voter ranks their first, second, third, fourth, and fifth choices for the category.

5. Can every Academy member vote for every category?

For the most part, Academy members only nominate within the category they work in (directors vote for directors, actors vote for actors, and so on), but anyone can nominate for Best Picture.

6. Where are the Academy Awards held?

The Oscars are currently held at the Dolby Theater (once known as the Kodak Theatre) on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.

7. According to legend, why are the Academy Awards also called “the Oscars”?

Legend has it that the Academy Award statuette was nicknamed “Oscar” after Margaret Herrick (then-librarian and later Executive Director of the AMPAS) “remarked that it resembled her Uncle Oscar.”

United Artists, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, A24
(Photo by United Artists, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, A24)

8. Which Best Picture winner is Certified Fresh at 100% on the Tomatometer?

Of these four Best Picture winners pictured in the question — all of which are Certified Fresh, by the way — only 1950’s All About Eve starring Bette Davis sits at 100% on the Tomatometer, with 66 reviews.

Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight (2016) is a close second at 98% with a whopping 349 reviews. Behind that is the classic Casablanca (starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in 1942) at 97% with 77 reviews, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (starring Jack Nicholson in 1975) at 94% with 69 reviews.

9. Which Best Picture winner is ranked lowest on the Tomatometer?

The Broadway Melody (1929) was only the second film to win Best Picture, so we can’t necessarily blame it for its measly 35% on the Tomatometer. Sydney Pollack’s Out of Africa (1985), starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, is barely Fresh at 60%. Forrest Gump is still running Fresh at 72% and 1968’s Oliver! staying strong at 81%.

These and other Best Picture winners prove a movie doesn’t have to win over critics in order to be celebrated by the Academy.

10. Who was the first person to host the Oscars?

Douglas Fairbanks hosted the first Academy Awards in 1929. At the time, Fairbanks was also the Academy’s president and was a co-founder of United Artists (alongside actress Mary Pickford, director D.W. Griffith, and comedian Charlie Chaplin). His son, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., would also become an actor.

11. How many Coppolas have won Academy Awards?

There are four Academy Award winners in the Coppola family. Drumroll… In order of generation:

1) Composer Carmine Coppola won Best Original Score in 1975 for The Godfather: Part II.

2) Writer-director-producer Francis Ford Coppola won five Oscars total for Patton (1970), The Godfather (1972), and The Godfather: Part II (1974).

3) Writer-director Sofia Coppola won Best Original Screenplay for Lost in Translation (2003).

4) Nicolas Cage (August Coppola’s son) won Best Actor in 1996 for Leaving Las Vegas.

(That’s not including spouses, of course. Spike Jonze, Sophia Coppola’s ex-husband, won Best Original Screenplay for Her in 2014; Patricia Arquette, Cage’s ex-wife, won Best Supporting Actress in 2015 for role in Boyhood; and David Shire, Talia Shire‘s ex-husband, won in 1980 for his original song “It Goes Like it Goes” in Norma Rae.)

Columbia TriStar, The Weinstein Company, Warner Home Video, Miramax
(Photo by Columbia TriStar, The Weinstein Company, Warner Home Video, Miramax)

12. Has anyone ever won an Oscar for portraying an Oscar-winner?

Yes: Cate Blanchett won Best Supporting Actress in 2005 for her performance as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator.

Other actors who’ve played Oscar-winners include: Robert Downey Jr. (Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin), Michelle Williams (Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn), and James Franco (James Dean in James Dean). Only Downey Jr. and Williams were nominated for their performances, and neither won.

13. What was the first color film to win Best Picture?

1939’s Gone with the Wind was the first full-color film to win Best Picture. It starred Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh, and is the film for which Hattie McDaniel won Supporting Actress — plus, it’s Certified Fresh at 92% on the Tomatometer.

14. How many animated films have been nominated for Best Picture?

Three animated films have been nominated for Best PictureBeauty and the Beast (1991), Up (2009), and Toy Story 3 (2010).

15. When was the Animated Feature category created?

The “Animated Feature Film” category was created in 2002. That year, Shrek (2001) was the first winner in that category.

Onion Pictures Corporation, Miramax Films, MGM, MGM/United Artists
(Photo by Onion Pictures Corporation, Miramax Films, MGM, MGM/United Artists)

16. Which Best Actor/Actress winner had the least amount of screen time?

Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor in 1992 for his role as the sadistic serial killer Hannibal Lector in The Silence of the Lambs after appearing on screen for just 15 minutes of the film’s nearly two-hour runtime. The Silence of the Lambs won five Oscars that year, including Best Picture, Best Director (Jonathan Demme), Best Writing, and Jodie Foster’s Best Actress win.

A close second to Hopkins’ 15 minutes is David Nevin‘s 16 minute appearance in 1958’s Separate Tables.

Nicole Kidman won Best Actress in 2003 after appearing for under 30 minutes as author Virginia Woolf in The Hours. Meanwhile, Beatrice Straight appeared in Network (1976) for only 5 minutes — but her nomination was for Supporting Actress, so she’s out of the question.

17. Does the Academy allow ties?

Yes. If two nominees are tied, then both are given awards.

18. How many ties have there been, across all categories?

There have been six recorded ties for Academy Awards:

1) Best Actor in 1933: Wallace Beery for The Champ and Fredric March for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

2) Documentary Short Subject in 1950: A Chance to Live and So Much for So Little

3) Best Actress in 1969: Katharine Hepburn for The Lion in Winter and Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl

4) Best Documentary Feature in 1987: Artie Shaw: Time is All You’ve Got and Down and Out in America

5) Short Film (Live Action) in 1995: Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life and Trevor

6) Best Sound Editing in 2013: Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty

Paramount Pictures, MGM, Fox Searchlight, Palm Pictures
(Photo by Paramount Pictures, MGM, Fox Searchlight, Palm Pictures)

19. Who is the youngest Best Actor/Actress nominee?

Jackie Cooper is the youngest nominee — he was 9 when he played Skippy Skinner in 1931’s Skippy. A close and more recent runner up is Quvenzhané Wallis, who was also 9 when she was nominated for her role as Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild in 2012. But Cooper was 9 years and 20 days for Skippy, and Wallis was 9 years 135 days old for Beasts, so Cooper wins out.

Other young nominees include Mickey Rooney (19 years old for Babes in Arms in 1939) and Keisha Castle-Hughes (13 years old for Whale Rider in 2003).

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Classics
(Photo by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures Classics)

20. What about the oldest Best Actor/Actress nominee?

The oldest nominee is Emmanuelle Riva, who was 85 years old for Amour in 2012.

By contrast, Henry Fonda was 76 for On Golden Pond (1981), Clint Eastwood was 74 for Million Dollar Baby (2004), and Jessica Tandy was 80 for Driving Miss Daisy (1989).

21. Which of these series/franchises has won multiple Best Picture Oscars?

Only The Godfather series has won more than once for Best Picture. The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II won in 1973 and 1975, respectively.

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope is the only Best Picture-nominated movie in the Star Wars Saga, though others have earned nominations and wins in other categories.

The Lord of the Rings franchise is one of the most Oscar-decorated franchises ever. The Return of the King won Best Picture in 2004, and holds as many total wins as Titanic and Ben-Hur (all three are tied at 11 for most Oscar wins). Still, it’s the only LoTR film to have won Best Picture.

The original Rocky won Best Picture in 1977 (when it also won Best Director and Best Film Editing, and was celebrated with numerous additional nominations), but no other film in its franchise was Oscar-nominated until Creed, when Sylvester Stallone was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

22. What was the first R-rated movie to win Best Picture?

This one’s tricky. Technically, The French Connection (1971) was the first R-Rated film to win Best Picture — because, even though Midnight Cowboy (1969) won Best Picture two years earlier, it was “X-rated” at the time and wasn’t given an R-rating until 1971.

Midnight Cowboy is still the only X-rated movie to win Best Picture, but The French Connection was by definition the first R-rated winner. A Clockwork Orange (which is also R-rated) was nominated alongside, and lost to, The French ConnectionThe Godfather: Part II was R-rated when it won in 1975.

23. Which of this year’s directing nominees (if any) has won Best Director before?

Only Alfonso Cuarón has won Best Director before, for Gravity in 2014. He is nominated this year for Roma.

Everett Collection
(Photo by Photos courtesy Everett Collection)

24. Who was the first African-American to win an Academy Award?

Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American person to win an Oscar. She won Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance in Gone with the Wind in 1940.

Sidney Poitier was the first African-American man to be nominated for Best Actor in 1958 for The Defiant Ones; he later won for his role as Homer in Lilies of the Field (1963), and was the first African-American man to do so.

Halle Berry is the first and only African-American woman to win an Academy Award for Best Actress. She won for her role as Leticia in 2001’s Monster’s Ball.

Denzel Washington has been nominated six times for Best Actor — first in 1992 for Malcolm X and most recently for Roman J. Israel, Esq. in 2017. His first win was in 2002 for Training Day, in which he played Alonzo Harris.

25. Who is the youngest person to win an Oscar for directing?

Damien Chazelle is the youngest Best Director winner — he was 32 years old when he won for La La Land in 2017. John Singleton still holds the record for the youngest directing nominee (he was 24 when nominated for Boys n the Hood in 1992), followed by Orson Welles (nominated in 1942 for Citizen Kane at age 26). M. Night Shyamalan was 29 years old when he was nominated for The Sixth Sense in 2000.

26. How many women have been nominated for Best Director?

Five women have been nominated for Best Director. The first was Lina Wertmüller for Seven Beauties in 1977, followed by Jane Campion for The Piano in 1994, Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation in 2004, Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2010, and Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird in 2018.

Photos Courtesy of Everett Collection
(Photo by Photos Courtesy of Everett Collection)

27. Which of these individuals is the most decorated Oscar winner?

Walt Disney earned 22 Oscars total — his last, Best Short Subject for Cartoons in 1969, was awarded posthumously for Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day. His accolades include Best Picture for Mary Poppins in 1965, and several wins for shorts. Costume designer Edith Head follows Disney with 12 total wins several more nominations.

Meryl Streep has earned acting nominations almost every year since 1979. From The Deer Hunter (1978) to The Devil Wears Prada (2007), she’s known for delivering Oscar-worthy performances. She has won three Academy Awards: Best Actress for Sophie’s Choice (1982) and The Iron Lady (2011), and Actress in a Supporting Role for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979). Leonardo DiCaprio won his first Oscar for The Revenant in 2016, after receiving four prior acting nominations.

28. Which of this year’s Best Picture nominees ranks highest on the Tomatometer?

Black Panther ranks highest on the Tomatometer at 97% with an impressive 445 reviews — super Certified Fresh. The rest of this year’s Certified Fresh nominees are as follows: Roma at 96%, BlacKkKlansman at 95%, The Favourite at 93%, A Star is Born at 90%, and Green Book at 80%.

The remaining two are both Fresh: Vice at 66% and Bohemian Rhapsody at 61%.

29. Which of last year’s Best Picture nominees is ranked highest on the Tomatometer?

Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird ranks highest on the Tomatometer — it’s Certified Fresh at 99% with 352 reviews. Get Out cuts a close second at 98% with 341 reviews, followed by Call Me By Your Name at 95%.

Dunkirk and The Shape of Water (last year’s eventual Best Picture winner) are both at 92%, but Dunkirk pulls ahead with 420 reviews, compared to Water‘s 397Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Phantom Thread rank sixth and seventh at 91% (with Billboards pulling ahead with more reviews), while The Post and Darkest Hour trail behind at 88% and 84%, respectively. All nine of last year’s nominees are Certified Fresh.

20th Century Fox, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate Films
(Photo by 20th Century Fox, MGM, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate Films)

30. Which of these is the most Oscar-decorated movie of all time (across all categories, counting both nominations and wins)?

Alright, so we’ve already established that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was tied for most Oscar wins with Titanic and Ben-Hur. So which of these movies has earned the most wins and nominations? 1997’s Titanic

Titanic, starring the iconic duo Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, won 11 Oscars and earned an additional 3 nominations. In 1960, Ben-Hur won 11 and was nominated for one more, while Return won all 11 it was nominated for in 2004. All three took home Best Picture win at their respective awards ceremonies.

La La Land was nominated for 14 Oscars and took home six, including Best Director and Best Actress… and almost Best Picture. All About Eve also won 6 of the 14 awards it was nominated for; plus, it’s the highest-ranking Best Picture winner on our Tomatometer. Is there any greater honor?

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