Which films have won the most Oscars? Who was the first woman Best Director - and other Academy Award records

Major Oscars records and historic firsts from 95 years of the Academy Awards

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The 95th Academy Awards will be held in March this year, and two dozen more of the golden statuettes will be given away to excellent performers across the field of filmmaking. More than 3,000 Oscars have been awarded to date, but most stars would be lucky to win just one.

These are the films, cast, and crew that have set Oscars records, been a part of milestone moments in the almost 100 years of the Academy’s history:

Films with the most Oscar wins

Three films are tied for the most Oscar wins, with 11 each - Ben-Hur (1959), Titanic (1997), and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). Since 2003, Slumdog Millionaire (2008) came closest to matching the record, bagging eight awards from 10 nominations.

Films with the most Oscar nominations

Three films are also tied for the most Oscar nominations, though only one of them comes from the list of biggest winners. All About Eve (1950), Titanic, and La La Land (2016) each received 14 nominations.

All About Eve won six awards, including Best Picture - whilst La La Land also won six, though it at first looked like the film would take a seventh award as it was  incorrectly announced as the Best Picture winner, only for Moonlight to be revealed as the correct winner during the cast’s acceptance speech.

Ben-Hur (1959) was the first film to win 11 OscarsBen-Hur (1959) was the first film to win 11 Oscars
Ben-Hur (1959) was the first film to win 11 Oscars

Films with the most Oscar nominations but no wins

Drama film The Turning Point (1977), and The Colour Purple (USA 1986) were both nominated for 11 awards, including Best Picture, but didn’t win a single Oscar.

First Black Oscar winners

The first Black Oscar nominee was also the first Black winner - Hattie McDaniel was nominated for and won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her part as Mammy in the 1939 classic Gone with the Wind. She was unable to attend the premiere of her film because it was at a whites only cinema in Atlanta - additionally, at the ceremony where she won the award, she had to sit at a segregated table.

Sidney Poitier was the first Black man to win an Oscar for acting - he took the award for his leading role in Lilies of the Field (1963). Louis Gossett Jr. won for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 1982 - and Halle Berry won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Monster’s Ball (2001). To date she is the only Black actress to have won the award.

The first Black director to be nominated for Best Director was John Singleton for Boyz n the Hood (1991). He was followed by Lee Daniels, Steve McQueen, Barry Jenkins, Jordan Peele, and Spike Lee. So far, no Black director has won the award.

Jane Campion won the Best Director Oscar for The Power of the Dog in 2022Jane Campion won the Best Director Oscar for The Power of the Dog in 2022
Jane Campion won the Best Director Oscar for The Power of the Dog in 2022

First Woman Best Director

The first woman to be nominated for Best Director was Lina Wertmüller, Seven Beauties in 1977, but it took 82 years for a woman to win the award - Kathryn Bigelow did so in 2009 for war film The Hurt Locker.

Two more women have since won the award - Chloé Zhao in 2021 for Nomadland and Jane Campion the following year for The Power of the Dog.

Women with the most Oscars

Katharine Hepburn won four Oscar wins (and 12 nominations) over her career, all for Best Actress - these were for Morning Glory (1934), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1968), The Lion in Winter (1969), and On Golden Pond (1982).

Meryl Streep has more nominations than Hepburn with 21, more than anyone else, but she has so far converted just three into Academy wins. Ingrid Bergman and Frances McDormand also have three Oscars.

Men with the most Oscars

Daniel Day-Lewis has three Best Actor Oscars, whilst Jack Nicholson has two for Best Actor and one for Best Supporting Actor, and Walter Brennan has three Oscars for Best Supporting Actor.

John Ford has won the most Oscars out of all the men, though his were all for Best Director - he won for The Informer (1935), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941), and The Quiet Man (1952).

Lowest budget Best Picture winner

Moonlight is the lowest-budget film to win Best Picture, when adjusted for inflation - the movie was made on a budget of just $1.5 million, less than the budget of the first-ever Best Picture winner, Wings, which was made in 1927 on a budget of $2 million.

The most expensive films of the same year as Moonlight, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Captain America: Civil War, both cost an estimated $250 million. Moonlight went on to make $63 million at the box office, a return of more than 4,000 per cent. Not adjusted for inflation, 1955 romantic drama Marty is the film with the actual lowest ever budget to win Best Picture - it was made for just $350,000.

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