Oscar History

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21 Days Til Oscar

For the next twenty-one days we'll be sharing little trivia items as we count down to Hollywood's High Holy Night and surveying each category though we're not ready for the latter part just yet. Sound fun?

 Guess who's the only famous director to ever win exactly 21 nominations? That's Billy Wilder, pictured above with his bounty from The Apartment (1960). He won nominations in Picture, Director, and in the Writing categories over his very long directorial career which stretched from the French language Mauvaise Grain (1934) to the Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau comedy Buddy Buddy (1981). His career total: 6 Oscars and a Thalberg!

The only director more celebrated in terms of total nominations in multiple categories is Woody Allen with 24 career nods, the huge bulk of which are for Best Original Screenplay (where he's nominated again this year for Blue Jasmine). Billy Wilder is also in second place in terms of total Best Director nominations with 8 though he shares that honor with Martin Scorsese (nominated again this year as well for The Wolf of Wall Street). First place is William Wyler (Ben Hur) with an incredible 12 Best Director nominations. Wyler is unlikely to ever be overthrown with his nearest living and working rivals so far behind him (Scorsese with 8, Steven Spielberg & Allen with 7 each and all of them senior citizens).

Some Like It Hot (1959) was nominated for 6 Oscars but not Picture or Actress, damnit

What's your favorite Billy Wilder movie?
It's an amazingly tough question since the man made Double Indemnity (1944), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Some Like It Hot (1959), and The Apartment (1960) all of which will regular pop up on "Best Movies Ever" lists. 


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Reader Comments (23)

Sunset Boulevard for me, with Double Indemnity in RU position.

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Real Robert A.

I want to stick up for Ace in the Hole. Kirk Douglas' best performance!

But, you know, Double indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Some Like it Hot, The Apartment - all masterpieces

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJulien Faddoul

1. Sunset Boulevard
2. The Apartment
3. Some Like it Hot
4. Double Indemnity
5. Ace in the Hole

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Sunset Blvd, Double Indemnity

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

I find Some Like It Hot, especially the latter half, in the hotel, a bit dated, though of course the dialogue and performances are still aces. The Apartment is without a doubt his most accomplished movie, the most difficult one to pull off in terms of tone and wry humour and also his most emotionally fulfilling. But a special shout-out must indeed go to Ace in the Hole, which is probably the most cynical movie I have ever seen (and yes, Kirk Douglas was never better). Of his latter movies I'm also really fond of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. What I'd give to watch the original three-hour cut, which unfortunately seems to be lost forever... But then again, if you arrange every Billy Wilder movie on a dartboard and blindly hit a dart at it, chances are about 90 percent you hit a gem. Was there ever a more versatile writer-director?

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDieter

I love Some Like it Hot but have a soft spot for Witness for the Prosecution.

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertom

It's not my favorite film by any means, but his adaptation of Irma la Douce is really strong. If they licensed that version for live performance, the show would be performed a whole lot more than it is. He really was great at adapting material for the screen.

My favorite is The Apartment. Runner up is Sunset Boulevard.

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

The Apartment! Definitely on my all-time Top 10. I think it might be the perfect romantic comedy. That said, it's still a tough competition. Wilder might just be my favorite director. Sunset Boulevard and Some Like It Hot are probably in a tough competition for second.

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Sunset Blvd

Double Indemnity

The Lost Weekend

Witness for the Prosecution

The Apartment

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

Volvagia's list is great, but I also love several of his screenplays--Ninotchka, Ball of Fire, and Sabrina.

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Some Like It Hot is my favourite. It's a film my whole family would watch together and howl with laughter. The scenes on the train are some of the funniest ever put on film

Sunset Boulevard is second and I think Gloria Swanson should have won the Oscar, followed by Double Indemnity as I'm a sucker for a film noir.

I also love Witness For The Prosecution as I'm a big fan of Agatha Christie.

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobMiles

PS. Don't worry about me baby, I ride side saddle.

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobMiles

Some Like it Hot is my top, but there are so many greats there. Sunset Blvd, Stalag 17 and Sabrina are also favs.

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

And I love his comments on working with Monroe. "I have discussed this with my doctor and my psychiatrist and they tell me I'm too old and too rich to go through this again." (after finishing Some Like it Hot)

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Wow that's a tough choice. I'm torn between Sunset Blvd., Witness for the Prosecution and Some Like It Hot. I'm going with Some Like It Hot for sheer enjoyment value though ask me another day and my answer could easily change.

I really relish most of his pictures but my least favorite of his films is an easy pick. That would be Kiss Me, Stupid, what a steaming pile that awful thing is.

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

I adore The Apartment. It's definitely my favorite film of Wilder's that I've seen. I'm embarrassed to say that I have yet to see Sunset Boulevard...major cinematic blind spot, I know.

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

One, Two, Three
Witness For The Prosecution

February 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterverbocityeric

Definitely Sunset Boulevard.

Also, this is nitpicky, so please forgive me, but it's spelled "till," not "til." "Till" isn't a contraction of "until"; "till" actually predates "until" by about 200 years.

February 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStrunk

Only a precious few films could be said to be better than Sunset Boulevard, so I guess that's my favourite. But then you could say the same thing about Some Like It Hot. The order changes but they're both in my all-time Top 20 in any case. On that note, I don't take seriously any Top 20 list that doesn't feature at least one of his films.

I realise Wilder is sometimes accused of misogyny (and not without cause - his last couple of decades were particularly tacky) but he came up with so many iconic roles for women that I forgive him.

February 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

My favorite director!
1. Stalag 17
2. One Two Three
3. Double Indemnity
4. Ace in the Hole
5. Love in the Afternoon
6. Sunset Blvd
7. The Apartment
8. Five Graves to Cairo
9. A Foreign Affair
10. Some Like it Hot

February 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJS

I love The Apartment, but I have to admit that Roger Sterling ruined it for me.

I wonder if Some Like it Hot were released today, who would be campaigned supporting? Lemmon, the comic relief, or Curtis, the leading man? Monroe would be supporting, for sure (and she would win).

I change my mind about Wilder's best movie all the time, but this very moment I'm gonna say it's Avanti!, only because it's his most underrated masterpiece. It IS a masterpiece, didn't you know?

February 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

No love for Sabrina? That's my favorite.

I also think Scorsese could easily surpass the record - he gets nominated for everything, and he's only 71.

February 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Suzanne -- except careers generally end around then if they haven't already and Scorsese has already stated that he doesn't think he has very more movies in him. The only director to ever be nominated multiple times *after* he hit 71 is Clint Eastwood.

February 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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