Since the first edition in 1929, the Academy Awards have honored 38 movies with multiple Oscar acting awards, with only five of them being made in the 21st century (“Mystic River”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “The Fighter”, “Dallas Buyers Club”, and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”). However, there was never a movie to win all of the four acting categories, and until 1934, no film had won both Best Actor and Best Actress.
In fact, only seven movies managed to win both Best Actor and Best Actress, the first of them is “It Happened One Night” (1934), the last 1997’s “As Good As It Gets”. Also, among the 38 movies with more than one Oscar-winning performance, there were only two that won three acting awards – both present on this list.
Without bothering you anymore with our little Oscars trivia, here are ten great movies that managed to take home more than one Academy Award in acting.
10. West Side Story (1961)
Oscar-winning performances: George Chakiris – Best Supporting Actor, Rita Moreno – Best Supporting Actress
The most successful film of 1961, Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’ big-screen adaptation of the famous Broadway musical of the same name follows a Shakespearean love story born on the streets of Manhattan, where a Puerto Rican girl named Maria (Natalie Wood) falls in love with Tony (Richard Beymer), a white American, despite the rising tensions between their rival gangs.
A great success at the 35th Academy Awards, “West Side Story” was nominated for no less than 11 categories, winning 10 of them, including Best Picture. Going home with awards were also George Chakiris, who won Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Bernardo, the tough leader of the Puerto Rican gang, and Rita Moreno, who played Bernardo’s feisty girlfriend and Maria’s best friend Anita and also won a Best Supporting Actress award.
Shot in lurid Technicolor, filled with impressively choreographed dance numbers, vibrant performances, and Leonard Bernstein’s memorable songs, this Hollywood classic remains one of the best musicals ever made.
9. The Last Picture Show (1971)
Oscar-winning performances: Ben Johnson – Best Supporting Actor, Cloris Leachman – Best Supporting Actress
Peter Bogdanovich’s adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name is a timeless coming of age story set in a small 1950’s Texas city, where two high school seniors, Sonny and Duane (played by Ben Johnson and Jeff Bridges) play football, go to the movies, hang out at the pool hall, and fall in love amid an isolated and slowly dying community.
Ben Johnson has earned a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his performance as Sam The Lion, the wise owner of the local pool hall who acts as a fatherly figure to the young men in the town. Cloris Leachman, who plays the lonely and depressed wife of a closet homosexual high school coach who falls in love with the much younger Sonny, was also awarded the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Seen nowadays, “The Last Picture Show” might not be as impressive as it was back in 1971, but its influence on later American coming of age films is undeniable. Filled with round characters, funny, moving, nostalgic, and really courageous for its time (the film features a surprising amount of nudity, sex, and profanity), Bogdanovich’s remains a defining film of the 1970s.
8. On The Waterfront (1954)
Oscar-winning performances: Marlon Brando – Best Actor, Eva Marie Saint – Best Supporting Actress
“I coulda’ been a contender. I could’ve been somebody” – Marlon Brando’s delivery of this iconic line remains one of the most memorable moments in the history of cinema.
“On The Waterfront” secured Brando’s position as one of the top actors working in 1950s Hollywood, yet surprisingly he initially refused the role of Terry Malloy, and the part nearly went to Frank Sinatra, who even attended an initial costume fitting, but was ultimately replaced by director Elia Kazan.
Brando, who plays an ex-boxer turned longshoreman that ends up as a low-level henchman of a corrupt union boss, gives one of the greatest performances of his career, a “tour de force” which displays his chameleonic acting range, naturalness, subtlety, and raw emotion. After getting a nomination for his breakthrough role in “A Streetcar Named Desire”, Brando finally conquered the Academy and, with his performance as Terry Malloy, won his first of two Oscars.
Equally impressive is Eva Marie Saint’s Oscar-winning performance as Edie Doyle, the sister of one of Terry’s victims who ends up having a short-lived relationship with him. Saint, who made her film debut with this film, gives a haunting performance that impresses with its complexity and emotional depth and perfectly counterbalances Brando’s tough-guy character.
7. Kramer vs Kramer (1979)
Oscar-winning performances: Dustin Hoffman – Best Actor, Meryl Streep – Best Supporting Actress
“Kramer vs Kramer”, also known as the original “Marriage Story”, stars Dustin Hoffman as Ted Kramer, an advertising director who has put his career ahead of his family. Unfulfilled with her marriage, Ted’s wife Joanna (Meryl Streep) leaves him and lets their son Billy stay with his father. Just when Ted and Billy start to bond as father and son, Joanna decides she wants to raise the child, so a courtroom custody battle ensues.
Released at a time when Hollywood rarely focused on stories about common life struggles, “Kramer vs Kramer” surprised both critics and audiences with the outstanding way it tackles such an ordinary subject as marriage and divorce and managed to be the big winner at the 52nd Academy Awards, taking home the Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor and Actress awards for Hoffman and Streep.
In a year when movies like “Alien”, “Apocalypse Now” or “The Deer Hunter” were released, an apparently simple story about family became the top-grossing film of the year, a thing that would be impossible now, and this is because the film struck home. The reason? Robert Benton’s excellent direction and script and, even more, the realistic and engaging performances given by Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman.
6. Hannah And Her Sisters (1986)
Oscar-winning performances: Michael Caine – Best Supporting Actor, Dianne Wiest – Best Supporting Actress
Woody Allen’s much-lauded “Hannah And Her Sisters” tells a slice of life story about three sisters and their intertwining relationships.
Hannah (Mia Farrow) is married to accountant and financial planner Elliot (Michael Caine), who grows fond of one of Hannah’s sisters, Lee (Barbara Hershey). Lee is in her turn married to Frederick (Max Von Sydow), a much older man who no longer stimulates her sexually or intellectually. And there’s also Hannah’s ex-husband Mickey (Woody Allen), a hypochondriac television writer who has been involved with Hannah’s other sister, Holly (Dianne Wiest), a former cocaine addict and unsuccessful actress.
This might sound like the dull plot of a soap opera, and in the hands of another director it might have been so, yet this is Woody Allen at the top of his game surrounded by an elite cast, so the result is anything but dull. “Hannah And Her Sisters” is everything we like about Woody Allen’s movies. It is honest, witty, hilarious, and insightful, an entertaining and remarkable depiction of family and relationships, and nothing short of a masterpiece.