Oscar History

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14 Days Til Oscar: "All About Titanic"

[Our countdown to Hollywood's High Holy Night continues. Here's abstew with a fun "battle"]

We've only 14 days to go. It seemed like the perfect time to take a look at the two films that jointly hold the record for most nominations (in case you hadn't guessed, that would be 14). One is a fabulous Actressexual's dream about back-stabbing in the theatre world and the other a small indie about a boy and girl in love. Oh, yeah and something about a ship. 

Technically, Titanic holds a higher place in Oscar history, having won 11 of its 14 nominations while All About Eve went home with only six statues (though 12 was the most it could have won with double-nods in Lead and Supporting Actress). But haven't you always wondered what film would come out victorious if they had gone head-to-head?  No? Well, let's find out anyway

But they weren't even in the same categories: 
(All categories with * are ones that the film won)

All About Eve: Best Screenplay*, Best Supporting Actor - George Sanders*
Titanic: Best Makeup, Best Effects: Visual Effects*, Best Effects: Sound Effects Editing*, Best Song "My Heart Will Go On"*

Obviously what Eve got that Titanic didn't (and vice versa) perfectly illustrates the sort of film each is. Eve is an intelligently written, actor's showcase and Titanic is a spectacular epic. Titanic's script was hardly its selling point and Billy Zane was certainly not going to win any acting awards. If only Leo had been nominated, Titanic could take its place as the sole winner in the battle of Most Nominations. If only Eve had crazy special effects, it could take its place as the sole winner in the battle of Most Nominations. Alas, there's none to speak of in the film. Unless you count Bette Davis' expertly delivered zingers.

So for our statue showdown let's give each film what they earned as the Oscars right there: Eve 2 / Titanic 3

Best Costume Design
The battle of the dress sleeves vs. the giant purple hat. Edith Head and Charles Le Maire for Eve and Deborah Lynn Scott for Titanic both won this category, but I'll have to give the points to Titanic's gorgeous period clothes over Bette's 1950's cocktail attire. (Rumor has it Bette's dress didn't fit properly and she decided to turn the dress into an off the shoulder number instead.) Eve 2 / Titanic 4

Best Art Direction
Titanic was victorious Oscar night and it's also the victor here. Eve's theatrical settings and living rooms can't quite match the attention to detail in re-creating the actual Titanic's upper and lower cabins. Eve 2 / Titanic 5

Best Cinematography
Although Titanic won and Eve didn't, those wide shots of the ship with CGI people walking around have not aged well. In a surprise, I'm gonna have to give this showdown to Eve's timeless black and white. Eve 3 / Titanic 5

Best Sound 
Oscar usually goes for action-y type movies in this category and I'll side with them. Icebergs breaking, ships cracking in half, the almost musical sounds of china breaking–sorry, Eve, you may have won this Oscar, but you never stood a chance here. Eve 3 / Titanic 6

Best Score
No offense to Alfred Newman's All About Eve score, but that woman's haunting voice in the Titanic score (no, not Celine Dion -- Nathaniel tells me its his favorite Norwegian chanteuse Sissel Kyrkjebø) turns me into a blubbering mess every time I hear it. Titanic! And now I have to clean the snot off my keyboard. Eve 3 / Titanic 7

Best Editing
Titanic certainly had more to edit, but those verbal fight scenes and flash-backs wouldn't haven't worked so well in Eve if it hadn't been edited as precisely as it was. Eve 4 / Titanic 7

Holm vs. Ritter vs. Stuart

Best Supporting Actress
Celeste Holm All About Eve, Thelma Ritter All About Eve, Gloria Stuart Titanic 

None of these actresses took home gold on Oscar night, but the clear winner here is Thelma Ritter as "Birdie", Margo Channing's maid and voice of reason. A sassy turn that could easily have been a nothing role, was, as usual, elevated by the actress' work. Ritter (in a tie with Deborah Kerr and Glenn Close) has the distinction of receiving the most female acting nominations without a win. This would have been a welcome win for what is arguably her most well-known performance. Eve 5 / Titanic 7

Best Director
James Cameron certainly had a lot to deal with in directing the film–production delays, budget problems, water, a LOT of water, Billy Zane's eyeliner, Billy Zane's wig. It's amazing the finished product is as impressive as it is. But, I have to hand this imaginary statue to Eve's writer/director, Joseph L. Mankiewicz. It's just effortless filmmaking and he would never refer to himself as "The King of the World" in an acceptance speech. Eve 6 / Titanic 7

Anne Baxter vs. Bette Davis vs. Kate Winslet

Best Actress
Bette Davis All About Eve, Anne Baxter All About Eve, Kate Winslet Titanic

1950 features one of the all-time great Best Actress line-ups (the other nominees were Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, Eleanor Parker Caged, and the winner, Judy Holliday Born Yesterday). The fact that Bette Davis wasn't even able to win with her greatest role just shows how stiff the competition was. She even reached number 2 on our poll of greatest losing Actresses. But she is definitely NOT losing this showdown. Bette Davis as the infinitely quotable Margo Channing is perfection. Not even my love of Kate Winslet could overshadow that. Eve 7 / Titanic 7

Best Picture
So far it's a tie! Now it's time for you to decide, which film wins? 

  • All About Eve
  • Titanic



Fasten your seat belts and tell us which film makes your heart go on! Do you think any film will ever beat their nomination tally? It is possible to receive more than 14 (Technically 17 is the highest number of categories an English language live action picture could qualify for... but the nomination count could be higher if you had two Original Song nominees and you doubled up in Supporting). 

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Reader Comments (19)

All About Eve in a walk. Titanic is an entertaining spectacle but that stinky script!!

Much as I love Thelma Ritter in the film my vote would be for Celeste Holm's Karen to have picked up the award that year. Thelma should have won her Oscar for The Mating Season the year following Eve. Not to say that Gloria Stuart's performance was wanting. She was the best thing in the film although all the actresses, Gloria, Kate, Frances Fisher and Kathy Bates propped the weak script up with their excellent work. The men much less so.

Again love both Anne Baxter and Kate Winslet but in a three way race in those roles Bette can't be beat.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

joel6 -- agreed and agreed actually though the supporting role of choice is really George Sanders.

February 16, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Lupita lost the BAFTA to Lawrence.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Titanic's script was fine. It wasn't exemplary, but as an old-fashioned melodrama it more than did the job.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSean C.

Nathaniel, absolutely! I can't even imagine anyone besting George Sanders' work as Addison DeWitt, thank God the original choice Jose Ferrer wasn't available. His showy theatricality would have buried the part in smarm.

I didn't mention George though because none of the Titanic men had a role that was even a shadow of that part to work with.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

As impressive as the distinction is for both films, I think Eve's accomplishment is even more impressive given that most of those nominations came in major categories. As much O Russell threatens, I don't think we're likely to see another film get 5 acting nods again.

I also think the nomination record is safe as well. The film that I think could have gotten the closest to breaking it was Moulin Rouge! and it only got 8. Chicago could've tied, but Harvey got too greedy when he pushed Gere to lead.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVal

All About Eve. I'd have to give Best Score to Eve as well if I'm remembering it correctly. And I actually preferred Celeste Holm over Thelma Ritter for Supporting Actress but it's almost as tough as Bette Davis vs. Anne Baxter. They're all so good! All About Eve is a flawless movie and Titanic is so very flawed. There's no question which film is better. It's the one without a male lead.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSean Troutman

I agree with joel6. Holm is the better choice for me. However, If Frances Fisher had been nominated, I might vote for her. She is so underrated as an actress and she gave a great performance in Titanic.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom

Glad to see others appreciated Frances Fisher's work. She kills the "and you find that sort of rootless existence appealing, do you?" line.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Not sure I can go along with giving editing and director to All About Eve, but holy cow are those apples and oranges in both cases.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSmith

Much excitement! The ceremony begins with costume design, which is a tie! Oscar watchers at the edge of their seat. Supporting Actor and Actress follow, split for Sanders and Stuart. As foreseen by most pundits, Titanic takes an early lead, sweeping most tech awards! The Academy balances it out by awarding Eve best script, but Titanic wasn't nominated for screenplay so all eyes are at the coveted best editing Oscar! Eve surprisingly takes it! It's starting to feel like The Artist versus Hugo, folks! Best Actress is announced! DAVIS WINS!! She takes the stage and tells everybody to fasten their seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night! Gays are flying everywhere!! All About Eve takes director and Jim Cameron is having none of it, storming the stage a la Kanye West. We have a manly brawl over the statuette! Bumpy night indeed! Best Actor is next! Leo protests that he should win Best Actor in this showdown because he's basically unopposed as Eve is all about the ladies. The Academy laughs and laughs and laughs, and proclaims he shall remain oscarless even in imaginary scenarios. Leo cries. The best actor award goes to Jonah Hill playing Leonardo DiCaprio in a movie called #poorleo. He's Oscar clip is basically him sobbing uncontrollably after losing the Best Actor Oscar for the Aviator. Leo's face in the nominee's box is priceless. Finally the big award of the night! Jack Nicholson presents! The opens the envelope and announces, looking mystified: the winner is... CRASH!! Everybody is stunned! Then does a fake-out and laughs it off! Just kidding, y'all!! Oh, Jack! You, silly you! The winner is All About Eve!!! Weee!

So yeah, that was fun! Too bad it only happened inside my head!

February 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

Love the topic, and I say both films would do what they do best: Bette Davis would take down the plucky, overly-ambitious newcomer and the Titanic would sink like a stone.

February 17, 2014 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

ALL ABOUT EVE would win hands down for me. Although TITANIC is a bonafide epic, EVE is just a flat out classic masterpiece. Pitted against each other in those categories, I'd give award them like so:

Costume Design - EVE (back when contemporary can be justly rewarded)
Art Direction - TITANIC
Cinematography - TITANIC (not sure I'd give it to either one)
Film Editing - EVE (same reason as cinematography)
Supporting Actress - Celeste Holm -EVE (for such a fully realized character)
Actress - Bette Davis -EVE (arguably her greatest performance)
Director - Joseph L Mankiewicz -EVE
Picture - EVE (without a doubt in my top ten of all time)

I think it would take a massive epic film with ace actors across the board to reach EVE/TITANIC nomination heights. And I think it is very possible.

February 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKent

Titanic definitely.

Don't agree about Cinematography and directing. Shots to such a massive ship, its deck, underwater, placement of camera - everything was brilliant. Eve was ok in this regard, but not outstanding.

As for directing, James deserves kudos for recreating the TITANIC and bringing mesmerizing experience.

February 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNika

I'm with Ritter winning Supporting Actress, with Hope Emerson a distant second. Holm does nothing groundbreaking here. Her narration is the weakest element of the film, and Ritter and Saunders are the chorus of caustic wit. Just wish Ritter didn't disappear before the 3rd act. Personally, I think both "Titanic" acting nominations were undeserved. I think it was Peter Travers who summed it up best: Titanic is both the Best film of 1997 and the Worst film of 1997. And now in 2014, the "best" aspects of it seem dated, and the worst elements (the script and the hammy acting across the board), are cause for unintentional hilarity.

"I'd rather be his whore than your wife (spits)..." And what was Cameron's point with all the spitting?

February 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

Can you imagine what would have happened if Titanic had a decent script and if Di Caprio wasn't snubbed? It would have received SIXTEEN NOMINATIONS!!!

But lets be fair. All About Eve was up against the equally brilliant Sunset Boulevard and the delightful Born Yesterday. Even if Judy Holliday wasn't in the running - Bette had stiff compeition from Anne Baxter AND Gloria Swanson.

What competition did Titanic have? As good as it gets and Good will hunting? Pfft.

February 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

All About Eve, now and forever.

Nat, when you finish your Bette series, you should pit her ten Oscar nominations against each other in three smackdowns: 1) 1935-1941, 2) 1942-1962 and 3) the winners of each era.

I'm not sure that Margo would emerge the victor...

February 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I think a better parallel would be between all about eve and American Beauty. Poor Leonardo, starting in such an awful movie. Titanic represents everything I hate about Hollywood. All about Eve is a great movie with a lot to say, even now. So in my opinion Eve would win almost in all categories.

February 18, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJB

I wonder what would happen if you added La La Land to the conversation.

January 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterConMan

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