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Know Your Oscar History: Here Are The People Who've Won The Most Academy Awards

The Oscars are back, and so is the opportunity to impress your friends and S.O. with your amazing movie knowledge. Here are the people, films, and countries who’ve won the most Academy Awards in history.

It’s that time of year: the Oscars are back, and all the excitement that comes with them can hardly be contained across the nation. As millions gather to find out exactly who takes the statuette this time around, it’s only sensible to know your Academy Award history and trivia. You do want to surprise your friends with your knowledge, after all. Don’t you?

To help you do just that, here are the people and films that have won the most Academy Awards in history. Can you guess who holds the records?

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Most Oscars won by a single person

The uncontested record is pretty clear here. Walt Disney won a mind-boggling 22 Oscars: 

  • Best Short Subject (Cartoon): Flowers and Trees (1932), The Three Little Pigs (1934), The Tortoise and the Hare (1935), Three Orphan Kittens (1936), The Country Cousin (1937), The Old Mill (1938), Ferdinand the Bull (1939), The Ugly Duckling (1940), Lend a Paw (1942), Der Fuehrer's Face (1943), Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom (1954), and Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1969).
  • Best Short Subject (Two-reel): Seal Island (1949), In Beaver Valley (1951), Nature's Half Acre (1952), Water Birds (1953), Bear Country (1954)
  • Best Short Subject (Live Action): Grand Canyon (1959)
  • Best Documentary (Feature): The Living Desert (1954), and The Vanishing Prairie (1955). 
  • Best Documentary (Short Subject): The Alaskan Eskimo (1954), and Men Against the Arctic (1955). 
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    Walt Disney with Mickey Mouse. US National Archives. 

    1954 was a golden year for Disney, who established two further records: most nominations in a single year for any single individual, and most awards in a single year (having won four Oscars out of six nominations). 

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    Most awards won by a woman

    Edith Head won a total of eight Oscars, all in the Costume Design category, for: The Heiress (1950), Samson and Delilah (1951), All About Eve (1951), A Place in the Sun (1952), Roman Holiday (1954), Sabrina (1955), The Facts of Life (1961), and The Sting (1974).

    You can see how she likely inspired The Incredibles' Edna Mode, can't you?

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    Acting

    Katharine Hepburn holds the all-time record for most awards for Best Actor or Actress, with four Oscars to her name out of 12 nominations. She won the Best Actress award for: Morning Glory (1934), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1968), The Lion in Winter (1969), and On Golden Pond (1982).

    Directing

    The record-holder for most awards for Best Director is John Ford, with four won out of five nominations: The Informer (1935), The Grapes of Wrath (1940), How Green Was My Valley (1941), and The Quiet Man (1952). 

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    Cinematography

    We have a tie in cinematography. Two people have won a total of four Academy Awards in this category, the all-time high:

  • Joseph Ruttenberg, in 1938, 1942, 1956, and 1958.
  • Leon Shamroy, in 1942, 1944, 1945, and 1963.
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    Art Direction

    Cedric Gibbons, the person who designed the Oscar Statuette, also holds the record for most Academy Awards for Art Direction with 11 wins out of 39 nominations. 

    Cedric Gibbons

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    Most Oscars won by a single film

    Here we have a three-way tie. Three films have been awarded a staggering 11 Academy Awards: 

  • Ben-Hur (1959): Nominated for 12 in total. It won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Cinematography – Color, Best Costume Design – Color, Best Special Effects, Best Film Editing, Best Music – Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, and Best Sound Recording.
  • Titanic (1997): Nominated for 14. Won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score, and Best Original Song.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003): Nominated for 11, and won all of them (making it the record-holder for best sweeping win at the Oscars): Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Make-up, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Film Editing.
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    Most nominations for a single film

    Another three-way tie. The record is 14 nominations in total:

  • All About Eve (1950): Out of 16 available categories. 
  • Titanic (1997): Out of 17 categories available for nomination.
  • La La Land (2016): Out of 17 categories.
  • Most Best Foreign Language Film awards won by a single country

    And the answer here is… Italy! With 14 awards out of 32 nominations, the European country gets to hold the record for now. 

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    Most Best Foreign Language Film nominations for a single country

    But Italy is not the country with the most nominations. France holds that honor, with 40 nominations (and 12 wins).

    Most Oscars for a foreign-language film

    Yet another tie, with a total of four overall Academy Awards given to two different foreign-language films:

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  • Fanny and Alexander (1982), which won Best Foreign Language Film, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design.
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), which won Best Foreign Language Film, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Original Score.
  • Most nominations for a foreign-language film

    Here also the record goes to two different films, both of which received ten nominations:

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  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Song, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, and Best Cinematography.
  • Roma (2018), nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Cinematography.
  • The Big Five

    As for films that have received what is known as “The Big Five” (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay), we have a final three-way tie:

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  • It Happened One Night (1934)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
  • The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
  • There you have it. Now you can watch the Oscars with your friends or S.O. and amaze them with all your new-found knowledge. Enjoy! 

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