Oscar Trivia, by Samantha Klein

Oscar statuettes
This Sunday, February 22, is Oscar Night! Every year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences holds an awards extravaganza in which they celebrate the “most acclaimed” movies from the previous year. You know the drill: celebrities in beautiful gowns. Winners. Losers. It’s a spectacle that most people either love or hate. These days, the Oscars are the culmination of a few months’ worth of various award shows and ceremonies in which, often, the same people can be seen trotting out on stage to give the same thanks over and over again.

There’s a lot that could be said about how the Academy Awards work (or don’t), their importance (or lack thereof) and, more recently, about the politics of movies, and whether or not they truly exemplify our culture. For the library’s purposes, however, I’ve decided just to highlight some Oscar trivia and offer readers some suggestions of movies to watch that have received the coveted distinction of “Oscar winner/nominee.” Most of all, movies (and award shows) are all about entertainment, so let’s get to it! Click on the movie titles to find them at a library near you.

Big Winners
Only three films have ever won the “Big Five” Academy Awards. That means they won all of the following: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay (either Original or Adapted). Can you name all three? (I’m going to tell you, anyway.)


  • Christopher Plummer is the oldest Oscar winner. He was 82 years old when he won Best Supporting Actor for his role in Beginners (2010).
  • Tatum O’Neil won Best Supporting Actress for her role in Paper Moon (1973) when she was only 10, making her Oscar’s youngest winner.

Minnesota Nominees

The following Oscar nominees in acting categories hail from the Land of 10,000 Lakes: Jessica Lange (she’s won twice), Judy Garland, Winona Ryder, John Hawkes, Lew Ayres, Gig Young, Richard Widmark, William Demarest, and Gale Sondergaard.

Additionally, Ethan and Joel Coen share Oscar wins for No Country for Old Men (2007) (Best Picture and Best Director) and Fargo (1996) (Best Screenplay). Terry Gilliam was nominated for a screenwriter Oscar, and director George Roy Hill was nominated for Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (1969).

And finally, producers Michael Todd* and Bill Pohlad have Best Picture winners Around the World in Eighty Days (1956) and 12 Years a Slave (2013) to their credit.

*Fun fact about Michael Todd: He was Elizabeth Taylor’s third husband!

Most Wins/Nominations

Katharine Hepburn holds the records for most Oscar wins for an actress. She won 4 times, for Morning Glory (1934), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1968), The Lion in Winter (1969), and On Golden Pond (1981).

Daniel Day-Lewis has won Best Actor three times: My Left Foot (1990), There Will Be Blood (2008), and Lincoln (2013).

Meryl Streep holds the dubious distinction of having the most Oscar nominations: she’s been recognized 18 times. Jack Nicholson is not far behind with 12 nominations. Before you feel sorry for either of them, though, they’ve each won a couple of times as well.

Two films have received a record 14 nominations: All About Eve (1950) and Titanic (1997).

Three films have won 11 Academy Awards: Ben-Hur (1959), Titanic (1997), and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). LOTR is the only film to have won all categories in which it was nominated.

That’s just a sampling of Oscar trivia; you can check out this Wikipedia page for a more comprehensive list of fun facts. I hope you’ve learned something new or maybe found something to add to your “Must Watch” list!

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