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Academy Award for Best Picture

The Academy Award for Best Motion Picture is one of the Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to artists working in the motion picture industry. The Best Picture category is the only category in which every member of the Academy is eligible not only to vote on the final ballot, but also to nominate. During the annual Academy Awards ceremony, Best Picture is reserved as the final award presented and is usually collected at the podium by the film's producers and director. However, only the producers are officially credited with receiving the award. The Academy Award for Best Motion Picture is considered one of, if not the most important of the Academy Awards, as it is the final result of the collaborative producing, directing, acting, and writing efforts put forth for a film. The Grand Staircase columns at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, where the Academy Awards ceremonies have been held since 2002, showcase every film that has won the Best Picture title since the award's inception 80 years ago.

History

At the 1st Academy Awards ceremony (for 1927 and 1928), there was no Best Picture award. Instead, there were two separate awards, one called Most Outstanding Production, won by the epic Wings, and one called Most Artistic Quality of Production, won by the art film Sunrise. The awards were intended to honor different and equally important aspects of superior filmmaking, and in fact the judges and the studio bosses who sought to influence their decisions paid more attention to the latter - MGM head Louis B. Mayer, who had disliked the realism of King Vidor's The Crowd, pressured the judges not to honor his own studio's film, and to select Sunrise instead. The next year, the Academy instituted a single award called Best Production, and decided retroactively that the award won by Wings had been the equivalent of that award, with the result that Wings is often erroneously listed as the winner of a sole Best Picture award for the first year. The title of the award was eventually changed to Best Picture for the 1931 awards.

Since 1944, the Academy has restricted nominations to five Best Picture nominees per year. As of the 80th Academy Awards ceremony (for 2007), there have been 463 films nominated for the Best Picture award. Throughout the past 80 years, AMPAS has presented a total of 80 Best Picture awards. Invariably, the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director have been very closely linked throughout their history. Of the 80 films that have been awarded Best Picture, 59 have also been awarded Best Director. Only three films have won Best Picture without their directors being nominated (though only one since the early 1930s): Wings (1927/28), Grand Hotel (1931/32), and Driving Miss Daisy (1989). The only two Best Director winners to win for films which did not receive a Best Picture nomination are likewise in the early years: Lewis Milestone (1927/28) and Frank Lloyd (1928/29).

One point of contention is the lack of consideration of non-English language films for categories other than Best Foreign Language Film. Very few foreign language films have been nominated for any other categories, regardless of artistic merit. To date, only eight foreign language films have been nominated for Best Picture: Grand Illusion (French, 1938); Z (French, 1969); The Emigrants (Swedish, 1972); Cries and Whispers (Swedish, 1973); Il Postino (Italian/Spanish, 1995); Life Is Beautiful (Italian, 1998); Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Mandarin Chinese, 2000); and Letters from Iwo Jima (Japanese, 2006). Another point of contention is the recent extreme bias toward 2-plus hour films: Crash (2006, 113m) is the shortest film to win Best Picture in the past 20 years. Furthermore, of animated films only Beauty and the Beast has been nominated for the award.

No Best Picture winner is lost, though a few such as All Quiet on the Western Front and Lawrence of Arabia exist only in a form altered from their original, award-winning release form, usually having been edited for reissue (and subsequently partly restored by archivists). Other winners and nominees such as Tom Jones and Star Wars are widely available only in subsequently altered versions. The 1928 film The Patriot is the only Best Picture nominee that is lost; The Racket was believed lost for many years but a print existed in producer Howard Hughes' archives and it has since been shown on Turner Classic Movies.

Winners and nominees

In the lists below, the winner of the award for each year is shown first, followed by the other nominees. Except for the early years (when the Academy used a non-calendar year), the year shown is the one in which the film first premiered in Los Angeles County, California; normally this is also the year of first release, but it may be the year after first release (as with Casablanca and, if the film-festival premiere is considered, Crash). This is the year before the ceremony at which the award is given; for example, a film exhibited theatrically during 2005 was eligible for consideration for the 2005 Best Picture Oscar, awarded in 2006. The number of the ceremony (1st, 2nd, etc.) appears in parentheses after the awards year, linked to the article (if any) on that ceremony. Each individual entry shows the title followed by the production company, and the producer. For foreign language films, the original title is also shown. Until 1950, the Best Picture award was given to the production company; from 1951 on, it has gone to the producer. The official name of the award has changed several times over the years:

  • 1927/28 → 1928/29: Outstanding Picture
  • 1929/30 → 1940: Outstanding Production
  • 1941 → 1943: Outstanding Motion Picture
  • 1944 → 1961: Best Motion Picture
  • 1962 → present: Best Picture

1920s

1930s

1940s

1950s

From 1951 on, the individual producer (rather than the production company) receives this award.

1960s

1970s

1980s

1990s

2000s

Milestones

Annual
Year
Film
Awards
Nom's
milestone
1st 1927 / 1928 Wings 2 2 First (and only) silent film to win Best Picture
1st 1927 / 1928 Wings 2 2 First war film to win Best Picture
1st 1927 / 1928 Wings 2 2 First film to win Best Picture and every other nomination it received
1st 1927 / 1928 Wings 2 2 First film to win Best Picture without being nominated for Best Director
1st 1927 / 1928 Wings 2 2 First film to win Best Picture without receiving any acting nominations
2nd 1928 / 1929 The Broadway Melody 1 3 First sound film to win Best Picture
2nd 1928 / 1929 The Broadway Melody 1 3 First musical to win Best Picture
2nd 1928 / 1929 The Broadway Melody 1 3 First film to win Best Picture without winning any other Academy Awards
4th 1930 / 1931 Cimarron 3 7 First film to be nominated for every major Academy Award, including Best Picture
4th 1930 / 1931 Cimarron 3 7 First Western to win Best Picture
5th 1931 / 1932 Grand Hotel 1 1 First (and only) film to win Best Picture without receiving any other nominations
6th 1932 / 1933 She Done Him Wrong 0 1 Shortest film to be nominated for Best Picture (1 hour 6 minutes)
6th 1932 / 1933 The Private Life of Henry VIII 1 2 First foreign film to be nominated for Best Picture and to win any Academy Award (British)
7th 1934 It Happened One Night 5 5 First of only three films to win every major Academy Award, including Best Picture
7th 1934 It Happened One Night 5 5 First Best Picture nominee to win both Best Actor and Best Actress
7th 1934 It Happened One Night 5 5 First Best Picture winner to win both Best Actor and Best Actress
7th 1934 It Happened One Night 5 5 First comedy to win Best Picture
8th 1935 Mutiny on the Bounty 1 8 First remake to win Best Picture
8th 1935 Mutiny on the Bounty 1 8 Last film to date to win Best Picture without winning any other Academy Awards
10th 1937 The Life of Emile Zola 3 10 First biographical picture (biopic) to win Best Picture
11th 1938 Grand Illusion 0 1 First foreign language film to be nominated for Best Picture (French)
12th 1939 The Wizard of Oz 2 6 First children's film to be nominated for Best Picture
12th 1939 Gone with the Wind 8 13 Longest film to win Best Picture (3 hours 54 minutes)
12th 1939 Gone with the Wind 8 13 First all-color film to win Best Picture
13th 1940 Rebecca 2 11 First thriller to win Best Picture
15th 1942 Mrs. Miniver 6 12 First Best Picture nominee to receive nominations in all of the four acting categories
15th 1942 Mrs. Miniver 6 12 First Best Picture winner to receive nominations in all of the four acting categories
18th 1945 The Bells of St. Mary's 1 8 First sequel to be nominated for Best Picture
18th 1945 The Lost Weekend 4 7 First of only two films to win both Best Picture and the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or
21st 1948 Hamlet 4 7 First foreign film to win Best Picture (British)
23rd 1950 All About Eve 6 14 First of only two films to receive 14 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture
26th 1953 From Here to Eternity 8 13 Last Best Picture winner to date to receive nominations in all of the four acting categories
28th 1955 Marty 4 8 Second of only two films to win both Best Picture and the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or
28th 1955 Marty 4 8 Shortest film to win Best Picture (1 hour 31 minutes)
28th 1955 Marty 4 8 First (and only) film based on a television movie or mini-series to win Best Picture
29th 1956 Around the World in Eighty Days 5 8 First film to win Best Picture in a year when all nominees were filmed in color
32nd 1959 Ben-Hur 11 12 First of only three films to win 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture
33rd 1960 The Apartment 5 10 Last black-and-white film before 1993 to win Best Picture
39th 1966 Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 5 13 First (and only) Best Picture nominee to be nominated for every award category in which it was eligible
40th 1967 In the Heat of the Night 5 7 First (and only) mystery to win Best Picture
41st 1968 Oliver! 6 12 First (and only) G-rated film to win Best Picture
42nd 1969 Midnight Cowboy 3 7 First (and only) X-rated film to win Best Picture
42nd 1969 They Shoot Horses, Don't They? 1 9 Film that received the most nominations (9) without being nominated for Best Picture
43rd 1970 Patton 7 10 First PG-rated film to win Best Picture
44th 1971 A Clockwork Orange 0 4 Last X-rated film to be nominated for Best Picture
44th 1971 The French Connection 5 8 First R-rated film to win Best Picture
45th 1972 Cabaret 8 10 Best Picture nominee to win the most Academy Awards (8) without winning Best Picture
46th 1973 The Exorcist 2 10 First horror film to be nominated for Best Picture
47th 1974 The Godfather Part II 6 11 First sequel to win Best Picture
47th 1974 The Godfather Part II 6 11 First (and only) film in which an actor (Robert De Niro) won an Academy Award by playing the same character (Vito Corleone) as another actor (Marlon Brando) who previously won an Academy Award portraying the same person.
48th 1975 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 5 9 Second of only three films to win every major Academy Award, including Best Picture
49th 1976 Rocky 3 10 First sports film to win Best Picture
50th 1977 The Turning Point 0 11 First of only two Best Picture nominees to receive the most nominations (11) without winning any Academy Awards
54th 1981 Reds 3 12 Last Best Picture nominee to date to receive nominations in all of the four acting categories
58th 1985 The Color Purple 0 11 Second of only two Best Picture nominees to receive the most nominations (11) without winning any Academy Awards
60th 1987 The Last Emperor 9 9 First PG-13-rated film to win Best Picture
62nd 1989 Driving Miss Daisy 4 9 Last film to date to win Best Picture without being nominated for Best Director
62nd 1989 Driving Miss Daisy 4 9 Last film to date to win Best Picture with a PG-rating or lower
63rd 1990 The Godfather Part III 0 7 First of only two trilogies to have all three films nominated for Best Picture
64th 1991 Beauty and the Beast 2 6 First (and only) animated film to be nominated for Best Picture
64th 1991 The Silence of the Lambs 5 7 Third of only three films to win every major Academy Award, including Best Picture
64th 1991 The Silence of the Lambs 5 7 Last Best Picture winner to date to win both Best Actor and Best Actress
64th 1991 The Silence of the Lambs 5 7 First (and only) horror film to win Best Picture
66th 1993 Schindler's List 7 12 First black-and-white film after 1960 to win Best Picture
66th 1993 The Fugitive 1 7 First (and only) film based on a television series to be nominated for Best Picture
70th 1997 As Good As It Gets 2 7 Last Best Picture nominee to date to win both Best Actor and Best Actress
70th 1997 Titanic 11 14 Second of only two films to receive 14 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture
70th 1997 Titanic 11 14 Second of only three films to win 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture
70th 1997 Titanic 11 14 First Best Picture winner to be produced, directed, written, and edited by the same person (James Cameron)
73rd 2000 Traffic 4 5 Last film to date to have a television movie or mini-series based on it to be nominated for Best Picture
75th 2002 Chicago 6 13 Last musical to date to win Best Picture
76th 2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 11 11 Second of only two trilogies to have all three films nominated for Best Picture
76th 2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 11 11 Third of only three films to win 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture
76th 2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 11 11 Last film to date to win Best Picture and every other nomination it received
76th 2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 11 11 Last film to date to win Best Picture without receiving any acting nominations
76th 2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 11 11 First (and only) fantasy film to win Best Picture
76th 2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 11 11 First (and only) threequel to win Best Picture
77th 2004 Million Dollar Baby 4 7 Last film to date to be nominated for every major Academy Award, including Best Picture
78th 2005 Crash 3 6 First (and only) film festival acquisition to win Best Picture
78th 2005 Good Night, and Good Luck. 0 6 Last black-and-white film to date to be nominated for Best Picture
79th 2006 Letters from Iwo Jima 1 4 Last foreign language film to date to be nominated for Best Picture (Japanese)
79th 2006 Dreamgirls 2 8 Only film to receive 8 nominations without being nominated for Best Picture
79th 2006 The Departed 4 5 First (and only) remake of a foreign film to win Best Picture
80th 2007 No Country for Old Men 4 8 First (and only) film of the 2000 decade to gross under $2 million in its opening weekend to win Best Picture

Superlatives

Category Film Superlative
Most Awards Ben-Hur, Titanic, and
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
11 awards
Most Nominations All About Eve and Titanic 14 nominations
Longest Winner Gone with the Wind 3 hours 54 minutes
Longest Nominee Cleopatra 4 hours 2 minutes
Shortest Winner Marty 1 hour 31 minutes
Shortest Nominee She Done Him Wrong 1 hour 6 minutes

See also

References

External links

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