10 Films That Dominated The Academy Awards

To those who say winning is everything, these 10 films must be the proverbial cat’s meow! Over Oscar’s long and winding history, countless films have received nominations, but only these 10 flicks chronicled below can claim an elusive title as the most awarded movies in history.

Sure, even the most passive of Academy Awards fans know that Mr. “I’m the King of the World,” aka James Cameron and his Titanic, is certainly on this list with its 11 wins. But did you know that this list of many-victoried movies contains only three that went undefeated? 

Even the great Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet starring romance didn’t go 11 for 11. 

So, if the iconic weeper didn’t bat perfectly, who did and who else resides in the rarest of rarified Academy Awards’ air? After chronicling those films that scored a slew of nominations but no victories, now it’s time to focus our We Live Awards lens on those that won the most! 

  1. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

Nominations: 11
Wins: 11

The 2004 Oscar tsunami that washed over the third Lord of the Rings film was as epic as the series itself. Many saw what happened at the Oscars that year as a way for the Academy to award an entire series through its final chapter, The Return of the King. Oscar history is littered with “it’s just their year” awards. But this was something different. Peter Jackson’s final film in the JRR Tolkien series won every single category that it was nominated, including Best Picture through Best Makeup. Everything. 

Wins: 

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director (Peter Jackson),
  • Best Adapted Screenplay (Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson)
  • Best Art Direction-Set Decoration
  • Best Costume Design
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Makeup
  • Best Score
  • Best Song (“Into the West”)
  • Best Sound Mixing
  • Best Visual Effects

  1. Titanic (1997)

Nominations: 14
Wins: 11

There were about three people who saw Cameron accept his Best Director and Best Picture honor and utter the words, “I’m the king of the world” and thought he was being pompous. In fact, two things—he should have felt like that after winning 11 Oscars for his passion project that almost sunk on more than one occasion and two, he was quoting DiCaprio in the movie, people! Titanic achieved a feat that night in earning the most Academy Award victories (tied with several others), it also blew up Oscars 1998 by scoring a mind-numbing 14 nominations. No matter how you look at it, the story of Rose and Jack and the fateful sinking ocean liner had one hell of an awards season. 

Wins: 

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director (James Cameron)
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Art Direction-Set Decoration
  • Best Costume Design
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Score
  • Best Song (“My Heart Will Go On”)
  • Best Sound
  • Best Sound Effects Editing
  • Best Visual Effects

Losses: 

  • Best Actress (Kate Winslet)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Gloria Stuart)
  • Best Makeup

  1. Ben Hur (1959) 

Nominations: 12
Wins: 11

Ben Hur was almost perfect. The 1960 Academy Awards gave the sword and sandals epic starring Charlton Heston 11 Oscar wins out of 12 nominations. Besides giving Jews a reason to cheer for eternity, Ben Hur set the standard for sweeping Oscars with its vast win total and sweeping dominance of those dawn of the 60s Oscars. 

Wins: 

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director (William Wyler)
  • Best Actor (Charlton Heston)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Griffith)
  • Best Cinematography, Color
  • Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color
  • Best Costume Design, Color
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Score
  • Best Sound
  • Best Special Effects

Losses: 

Best Adapted Screenplay (Karl Tunberg)

  1. West Side Story (1961)

Nominations: 11
Wins: 10 

I want to live in America, indeed—where Oscar loves you! The Leonard Bernstein musically conceived-Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise directed story of the Jets and the Sharks dominated the 1962 Oscars with 10 victories and only one loss. It also achieved history with Best Supporting Actress winner Rita Moreno serving as the first Latina woman to win an Oscar. Makes you wonder about Steven Spielberg’s West Wide Story, which recently announced a move to 2021 so it can play in theaters and was considered an Oscar favorite itself, long before anyone had seen a single scene. 

Wins: 

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins)
  • Best Supporting Actor (George Chakiris)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Rita Moreno)
  • Best Cinematography, Color
  • Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color
  • Best Costume Design, Color
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Score
  • Best Sound

Losses:

Best Adapted Screenplay (Ernest Lehman)

  1. The English Patient (1996)

Nominations: 12
Wins: 9

It’s no Sack Lunch. I mean, give me something I can use! Seinfeld reference aside, what director Anthony Minghella achieved with his beautiful Oscar winning juggernaut was impressive. He won for Best Director, the film won for Best Picture and in what was perceived to be a shocker, Juliette Binoche won for Best Supporting Actress—when everyone and their grandmother thought the award was finally going to go to Lauren Bacall. For this writer, this is not a film that has aged well. In fact, that Seinfeld episode that lampooned it spoke to me. That being said, it’s hard to argue that it didn’t deserve its beauty saluted with Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction-Set Direction and Best Costume Design. 

Wins: 

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director (Anthony Minghella)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Juliette Binoche)
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Art Direction-Set Decoration
  • Best Costume Design
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Score
  • Best Sound

Losses: 3

  • Best Actor (Ralph Fiennes)
  • Best Actress (Kristin Scott Thomas)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay (Anthony Minghella)

  1. The Last Emperor (1987)

Nominations: 9
Wins: 9

The 1988 Oscars featured a perfect 9-for-9 turnout for The Last Emperor. Screen legend Bernardo Bertolucci won twice that night, for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The epic film deserved every single one of those awards, but it does make one wonder. Like Return of the King earlier, was this a coronation or a true celebration? 

Wins: 

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director (Bernardo Bertolucci)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay (Bernardo Bertolucci and Mark Peploe)
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Art Direction-Set Decoration
  • Best Costume Design
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Score
  • Best Sound

  1. Gigi (1958)

Nominations: 9
Wins: 9

Gigi is no Gigli, and that is a good thing, right? Well of course it is as the 1959 Oscars were utterly smitten with Gigi and honored it with nine statues from nine nods. It was the elusive perfect night for the musical-romance that starred Leslie Caron and Maurice Chevalier. Fitting that it won the musical categories too! 

Wins:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director (Vincente Minnelli)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay (Alan Jay Lerner)
  • Best Cinematography, Color
  • Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black and White or Color
  • Best Costume Design, Black and White or Color
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Score
  • Best Original Song (Gigi)

  1. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Nominations: 10
Wins: 8

Slumdog Millionaire had a legendary night on the Oscar stage and rode a wave of momentum at just the right time. It was an interesting awards season that year and this was a case of the late bloomer arriving at just the right time, charming the right amount of people and sweeping its way to a victory on Oscar night. Not simply a win, but a dominating 8 wins, including Best Picture and Best Director for Danny Boyle. It had not one, but two songs nominated for Best Song (Jai Ho won)—and it became a hit single with a Pussycat Dolls remix of all things! Almost everything came up Slumdog that night. 

Wins: 

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director (Danny Boyle)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay (Simon Beaufoy)
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Score
  • Best Song (Jai Ho)
  • Best Sound Mixing

Losses: 2

  • Best Song (O…Saya)
  • Best Sound Editing

  1. Amadeus (1984)

Nominations: 11
Wins: 8

There was no Requiem for Amadeus on Oscar night 1985. In fact, it didn’t sweep, but it won a landslide of those gold bald dudes. The Milos Forman film (one of this writer’s favorite of all-time) won Best Picture and Best Director for visionary Milos Forman and Best Actor for F. Murray Abraham for his stirring portrayal of Mozart’s foil, Antonio Salieri. One of the film’s losses was unavoidable because it landed in a category that the film already won in and that was Tom Hulce’s Best Actor nominated performance as the title character. 

Wins: 

      • Best Picture
      • Best Director (Milos Forman)
      • Best Actor (F. Murray Abraham)
      • Best Adapted Screenplay (Peter Shaffer)
      • Best Art Direction-Set Decoration
      • Best Costume Design
      • Best Sound
      • Best Makeup
    • Losses: 3
      • Best Actor (Tom Hulce)
      • Best Cinematography
      • Best Film Editing

       

      1. Gandhi (1982)

      Nominations: 11
      Wins: 8

      I remember seeing Gandhi in the theaters and even at a young age, I knew the biopic of the legendary peaceful non-violent leader was going to win Best Picture. Had no idea that it would end that Oscar evening in 1983 with 8 wins, including the biggest award of the night (as I had predicted—look at that, a young Oscar prognosticator was born!), as well as Richard Attenborough for Best Director and Ben Kingsley winning Best Actor for his transcendent portrayal of the human rights icon. 

      Wins: 

      • Best Picture
      • Best Director (Richard Attenborough)
      • Best Actor (Ben Kingsley)
      • Best Original Screenplay (John Briley)
      • Best Cinematography
      • Best Art Direction-Set Decoration
      • Best Costume Design
      • Best Film Editing

       

    • Losses: 3
      • Best Score
      • Best Sound
      • Best Makeup
Written by
Joel D. Amos has been writing about film for over two decades. He is known as The Movie Mensch and his interviews, reviews, and features have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and online publications that have reached millions. His passion for Goodfellas as his favorite movie is well-known, as is his belief that the sanctity of the cinematic arts has the supreme power to unite us like nothing else.

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