Which Actors And Films Have Won The Most Academy Awards?

By on February 17, 2015 in ArticlesEntertainment

On Sunday, the 87th Academy Awards will take place and we will finally know who will be crowned the best of the best in Hollywood for the year. During the previous 86 Academy Awards ceremonies scores of films, directors, writers, producers, actors, actresses, and other film industry personnel have been celebrated.  It is an honor to win an Oscar, but it is a whole different thing to win three, four, or more.  Let's take a look at some Oscar records and other fun facts.

The Most Oscar Gold

Walt Disney didn't just bring us Mickey Mouse and the Magic Kingdom, he is also the undisputed Oscar leader with the most Oscar wins of all time. Disney was awarded 10 awards during the period of 1931 to 1939. Eight were for Short Subject (Cartoon) and two were Special Awards. One recognized the innovation behind "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," and one was for the creation of Mickey Mouse.

But this doesn't even come close to telling the whole story of Walt Disney–the man, not the studio–and the Oscar. Walt won or received a total of 26 Academy Awards making him the man with the most Oscars in history. He had 59 nominations and 22 competitive wins.

Uncle Walt also holds the record for the most nominations and most wins in a single year. In 1954, Mr. Disney won four out of the six awards for which he was nominated, capturing both records.

The woman with the most Academy Awards decorating her mantel is costume designer Edith Head, who won eight Best Costumes Oscars.

Walt Disney

Walt Disney / R. Mitchell/Express/Getty Images

The Movie(s) that Won the Most

When it comes to movies with the most wins look no further than three films: "Ben Hur" (1959), "Titanic" (1997), and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003). Each has received eleven awards.

At the 1960 Oscars, "Ben-Hur" won 11 of the 12 categories for which it was nominated. The film won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Color Cinematography, Best Color Art Direction/Set Direction, Best Sound, Best Score, Best Film Editing, Best Color Costume Design, and Best Special Effects. It was also nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, but lost out to "Room At the Top" by Neil Patterson.

At the 1998 Academy Awards "Titanic" sailed away with 11 of the 14 categories for which it was nominated. "Titanic" won for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction/Set Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Effect/Sound Effects Editing, Best Effects/Visual Effects, Best Music/Original Song, and Best Music/Original Score. It did not win the catagories of Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Makeup.

At the 2004 Oscars, the final film in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy swept every category for which is was nominated.  "The Return of the King" won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing/Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction/Set Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup, Best Music/Original Score, Best Music/Original Song, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects.

The Big Five

A film is considered a Big Five winner when it wins the top five categories in the same year. Those categories are Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted). This has only happened three times in 86 years, and these films earned that distinction:

  • "It Happened One Night" (1934)
  • "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975)
  • "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991)

Acting Wins

Meryl Streep holds the record for the most nominations with 19. A win this year for her performance in "Into the Woods" could put her in an elite club: actors who've won four Oscars. So far the only member of that club is Katharine Hepburn who won four Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

  • "Morning Glory" (1932/33)
  • "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" (1967)
  • "The Lion in Winter" (1968)
  • "On Golden Pond" (1981)

A number of actors and actress have three awards each. Of course Meryl Streep falls into this category, as do Walter Brennan, Daniel Day Lewis, Jack Nicholson, and Ingrid Bergman.

Meryl-Streep-1tumblr_l3qcdyfg6R1qahhgm-1

Debut Performances

It's not always the experienced performers who take the prize. A number of actors and actresses have won Academy Awards for their first films.

In the Best Actress category, Shirley Booth (Come Back, Little Sheba 1952), Julie Andrews, (Mary Poppins 1964), Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl 1968), and Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God 1986) all won for their debut performances.

In the Best Supporting Actor category three actors won in their debut performances: Harold Russell (The Best Years of Our Lives 1946), Timothy Hutton (Ordinary People 1980), and Haing S. Ngor (The Killing Fields 1984)

In the Best Supporting Actress Category nine actresses have taken home the Oscar for their debut performances:

Gale Sondergaard for Anthony Adverse (1936)

Katina Paxinou for For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)

Mercedes McCambridge for All the King's Men (1949)

Eva Marie Saint for On the Waterfront (1954)

Jo Van Fleet for East of Eden (1955)

Tatum O'Neal for Paper Moon (1973)

Anna Paquin for The Piano (1993)

Jennifer Hudson (2006)

Lupita Nyong'o for 12 Years a Slave (2013)

Debut Directing

Five directors have won the ultimate prize on their first time out of the gate. They are:

Delbert Man for Marty (1955)

Jerome Robbins for West Side Story (1961)

Robert Redford for Ordinary People (1980)

James L. Brooks for Terms of Endearment (1983)

Kevin Costner for Dances With Wolves (1990)

Sam Mendes for American Beauty (1999)

Age is Just a Number

The youngest person to win an acting award is Tatum O'Neal. She was 10 when she won Best Supporting Actress for Paper Moon in 1973.

The youngest winner of a lead acting award is Marlee Matlin.  She was 21 when she won Best Actress for Children of a Lesser God in 1986.

The overall youngest winner of an Oscar was six-year old Shirley Temple. She won the since discontinued inaugural Academy Juvenile Award in 1934.

The oldest winner of an acting award is Christopher Plummer. He was 82-years-old when he won the 2011 Best Supporting Actor award for Beginners.

The oldest woman to win the Best Actress award is Jessica Tandy. She was 80 when she won for Driving Miss Daisy in 1989.

The oldest man to win the Best Actor Award is Henry Fonda. He was 76 when he won for On Golden Pond in 1981.

The oldest winner of the Best Director Award is Clint Eastwood. He was 74 when he won for Million Dollar Baby in 2004.

Clint Eastwood Net Worth

Most Nominations Without a Win

They say the honor is just to be nominated. But you might want to ask the people involved in 1977's The Turning Point and 1985's The Color Purple how they feel about that sentiment. Both films have the dubious distinction of having the most nominations without ANY wins–each having received 11 Oscar nominations.

Most Nominations

All About Eve (1950) and Titanic (1997) are tied for the most nominations for a single film with 14.

87th Academy Awards

The 87th Academy Awards will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on February 22, 2015.

Two films are tied for the most nominations, with nine apiece. They are Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Closely behind is The Imitation Game with eight nominations, and American Sniper and Boyhood with six each.

Who are your Oscar favorites this year? Will Richard Linklater's 12-year labor of love "Boyhood" take home Best Picture? Will Reese Witherspoon win for "Wild" or will Julianne Moore win for her haunting performance in "Still Alice?" Will Meryl become only the second actor to take home her fourth Oscar?

Tune in Sunday to find out!

Articles Written by Amy Lamare
Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer covering business, technology, entertainment, philanthropy, and pop culture. She spent 8 1/2 years covering the entertainment industry for www.hsx.com. She attended the University of Southern California where she majored in Creative Writing. An avid long distance runner, weekends she can be found running the streets of Los Angeles training for 1/2 and full marathons. Follow her on Facebook.
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