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:
The first Academy Awards were held in 1929, but they honored films from 1927 and 1928.
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.
David Lean’s almost four-hour epic, Lawrence of Arabia starring Peter O’Toole, won Best Picture in 1963.
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.
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.
The Oscars are currently held at the Dolby Theater (once known as the Kodak Theatre) on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
There are four Academy Award winners in the Coppola family. Drumroll… In order of generation:
(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.)
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.
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.
Three animated films have been nominated for Best Picture: Beauty and the Beast (1991), Up (2009), and Toy Story 3 (2010).
The “Animated Feature Film” category was created in 2002. That year, Shrek (2001) was the first winner in that category.
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.
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.
Yes. If two nominees are tied, then both are given awards.
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
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.
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.
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 Connection. The Godfather: Part II was R-rated when it won in 1975.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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 397. Three 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.
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?