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Most Oscar-nominated movies of all time

  • Most Oscar-nominated movies of all time

    Since the first Academy Award ceremony in 1929, only 29 films have received 12 nominations or more—it’s not an easy feat. An additional 23 films have received 11 nominations. Stacker looked at the Oscars awards database to compile this list of films with 11 nominations or more—the latest nominations were announced on Jan. 13, 2020. The number of categories a motion picture is eligible to be nominated for has changed throughout the years, with the current number set at 17 possible categories. The films in a three-way tie with the highest number of nominations, 14, are “All About Eve” (16 possible categories), “Titanic,” and “La La Land” (each with 17 possible). “Titanic” also holds a three-way tie for most Oscar wins, 11, shared with “Ben-Hur” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

    Throughout the years, the coveted Best Picture award has had a number of different titles. The award was called Outstanding Picture, Outstanding Production, and then Outstanding Motion Picture through the 16th Academy Awards in 1944. The title switched to Best Motion Picture in 1962; since then, the top honor has been known as Best Picture.

    While all of the top nominated films have secured nods in the most elite category, Best Picture, more than a third don’t win that prize even with 12 nominations or more, and with 11 nominations, around half lose out. Nominations don’t guarantee wins. Two films with 12 nominations garnered only one Oscar, and two films with 11 nominations went home empty-handed, completely shut out.

    The number of different categories and types of awards across the over 90 years of ceremonies reflect the technical and cultural changes in the film industry. Awards for achievements in sound changed in scope and number as the film industry shifted from the silent era to talkies with consistent technological advancements along the way. The Academy also divided awards in categories like Cinematography, Art Direction, and Costume Design into two segments, Color and Black-and-White, as the industry transferred dominance from one medium to the next between the late 1930s and late 1960s. “The Apartment,” in 1961, was the last black-and-white film to win Best Picture, until “Schindler’s List” (with partial colorization) in 1994, and subsequently, “The Artist” in 2012.

    Read on to discover the most Oscar-nominated movies of all time.

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  • #51. Joker (2019)

    - Nominations: 11
    - Wins: currently nominated 
    - Best picture: currently nominated 
    - Oscars Ceremony: 96th

    Writer-director Todd Phillips (of “Old School” and “The Hangover” series fame) and Joaquin Phoenix sent the nation into a frenzy of controversy this Fall when “Joker” hit theaters. Its dark and vile R-rated tone marked a major turn in comic book movie culture. Unlike previous iterations of Gotham’s infamous Joker, this one has a devastating origin story as well as a name: Arthur Fleck (Phoenix). The film has been widely accused of casting a sympathetic lens on a violent, self-pitying man, but not as much as it’s been accused of copying early Scorsese-De Niro films, most prominently “Taxi Driver” and “The King of Comedy.” Neither claim has curbed the movie's success; if anything, the perceived scandals seem to have boosted it. “Joker” shocked audiences and critics alike when it took home the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival, became the highest-grossing October release of all-time, and collected more Oscar nominations than any other film in 2019.

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  • #50. The Turning Point (1977) (tie)

    - Nominations: 11
    - Wins: 0
    - Best picture: nominated
    - Oscars Ceremony: 50th

    “The Turning Point” tied with “Julia” with 11 nominations but didn’t win any. Notably, “Star Wars” scored 10 nominations, and won six the same year. The romantic comedy “Annie Hall” was the surprise Best Picture Winner. “The Turning Point,” a drama set in the world of ballet, was nominated twice in the Best Actress category (Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine). Leslie Browne was nominated for Supporting Actress, and professional dancer star Mikhail Baryshnikov for Supporting Actor. The film also had nominations for Best Picture, Director, Art Direction, Cinematography, Sound, Editing, and Writing (Original Screenplay).

  • #50. The Color Purple (1985) (tie)

    - Nominations: 11
    - Wins: 0
    - Best picture: nominated
    - Oscars Ceremony: 58th

    “The Color Purple” is one of two films with a record 11 nominations (including Best Picture) that received zero Oscars at the Academy Awards. The film tied with “Out of Africa” in number of nominations, but that film won seven Oscars—the most that night, including Best Picture and Director wins. Notably, director Steven Spielberg was not nominated for directing “The Color Purple.” Akira Kurosawa for “Ran” took his slot, one that usually goes to the director of Best Picture nominees. Whoopi Goldberg was nominated for Best Actress and Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Avery for Supporting Actress. The film also received nominations for Art Direction, Cinematography, Costume Design, Makeup, Original Song, Musical Score, and Writing (Adapted Screenplay)—it was based on Alice Walker’s best-selling novel which has subsequently also been adapted into a hit Broadway musical.

  • #47. The Pride of the Yankees (1942) (tie)

    - Nominations: 11
    - Wins: 1
    - Best picture: nominated
    - Oscars Ceremony: 15th

    This popular sports biopic of Lou Gehrig was no match for the similarly sentimental “Mrs. Miniver” which scored 12 nominations and six wins. “The Pride of the Yankees” won just a single award for Editing. It was also nominated for Best Picture (then called Outstanding Motion Picture, Cinematography Black-and-White), Art Direction (Black-and-White), Musical Score, Sound, Special Effects, and Writing for both Screenplay and Story. Gary Cooper and Teresa Wright were also nominated in the lead acting categories.

  • #47. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) (tie)

    - Nominations: 11
    - Wins: 1
    - Best picture: nominated
    - Oscars Ceremony: 12th

    1939 was a banner year for American cinema. “Gone With the Wind” had a whopping 13 nominations, with classics “Stagecoach” and “The Wizard of Oz” also nominated this year. “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” perhaps because it depicted government corruption and was released during the outbreak of World War II, only received one award, despite its box office popularity. It received a Writing Oscar for the story category. It was also nominated for Writing in the screenplay category (these awards were separated at the time) as well as, Sound, Musical Score, Editing, and Art Production. It received nominations for Best Picture (Outstanding Production, at the time), Directing (Frank Capra), Actor (James Stewart), and Supporting Actor (Harry Carey).

  • #47. Chinatown (1974) (tie)

    - Nominations: 11
    - Wins: 1
    - Best picture: nominated
    - Oscars Ceremony: 47th

    “Chinatown” tied with “The Godfather Part II” with 11 nominations each. Roman Polanski’s neo-noir crime story featured a disturbing finale which may account for its single Oscar win—for Writing (Original Screenplay). It was also nominated for Best Picture, Director, Editing, Sound, Art Direction, Costume Design, Musical Score, and Cinematography. Both Faye Dunaway and Jack Nicholson were nominated in the lead acting category

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  • #44. Sergeant York (1941) (tie)

    - Nominations: 11
    - Wins: 2
    - Best picture: nominated
    - Oscars Ceremony: 14th

    “Sergeant York” was up against “Citizen Kane” (widely regarded as the Best Film of all time), but the Best Picture (at the time Outstanding Motion Picture) went to the family drama “How Green Was My Valley.” “Citizen Kane” won a single award for Writing (Original Screenplay) while “Sergeant York” just two for Best Actor (Gary Cooper) and Editing. It was also nominated for Best Picture, Directing, Cinematography (Black-and-White), Art Direction (Black-and-White), Musical Score, Sound, Writing (Original Screenplay), and twice in Supporting acting categories.

  • #44. Rebecca (1940) (tie)

    - Nominations: 11
    - Wins: 2
    - Best picture: nominated
    - Oscars Ceremony: 13th

    “Rebecca” is rare in that it won Best Picture (then Outstanding Production) along with only one other award in Cinematography (Black-and-White). Alfred Hitchcock received the first of five nominations for Best Director; though he’d never secure a win. “Rebecca” also had three acting nominations for Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier in the Leads, and Judith Anderson as Supporting Actress. It was also nominated for Musical Score, Editing, Art Direction (Black-and-White), Special Effects, and Writing.

  • #44. A Passage to India (1984) (tie)

    - Nominations: 11
    - Wins: 2
    - Best picture: nominated
    - Oscars Ceremony: 57th

    Both “A Passage to India” and “Amadeus” received 11 nominations, this year with “Amadeus” winning a total of eight including Best Picture. An adaptation of an E.M. Forster novel set during the 1920s, the film only won two awards: Musical Score and Supporting Actress for Peggy Ashcroft. Judy Davis was nominated for Best Actress but didn’t win. The film was also nominated for Best Picture, Director, Art Direction, Editing, Cinematography, Sound, Costume Design, and Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

  • #42. Sunset Boulevard (1950) (tie)

    - Nominations: 11
    - Wins: 3
    - Best picture: nominated
    - Oscars Ceremony: 23rd

    Billy Wilder’s quintessential classic of the film noir style and era was up against “All About Eve,” the most nominated film at that time in history. “Sunset Boulevard” won three Oscars, for Art Direction (Black-and-White), Musical Score, and Writing. It was nominated for Best Picture, Director, Editing, and Cinematography (Black-and-White). It also received four acting nominations—Best Actress for star Gloria Swanson, and in the supporting categories Nancy Olson, William Holden, and Erich von Stroheim.

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