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11 days til Oscar - Is Bette Davis a 10 or an 11?

The closeup changes everything. In 1934, Bette Davis became a STAR.

A very random question for you Oscar fanatics out there. Do you count Bette Davis as having 10 or 11 nominations? In other words, do you count her write-in nomination for Of Human Bondage (1934), her breakout star-making role which obviously led to her first win for the lesser performance in Dangerous (1935) the very next year, as one of her nods or do you go by the Academy's 'Of Human Bondage is not an official nomination' stance even though it's such an intrinsic part of Oscar lore of the 1930s?

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Reader Comments (49)

Ive never seen any Bette Davis movies (dont shank me). I dunnnnooooo man Ive seen so many “old classics” that I thought were just tosh (Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon were trash IM SORRY) that I’ve a bad taste in my mouth. But if anyone wants to recommend sumfin?

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterkris01


February 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

Hi Nathaniel, This is an easy one for me. I don't count it. Because neither does the Academy. She's a 10! The write-in thing is an historical curio - not an Oscar nomination.

That said, I do count Hal Mohr's write-in victory as a real win - because the Academy does.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.


February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

It;s 10. The whole point was that she WASN'T nominated for Of Human Bondage.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTom G.

It was allowed until the rules were changed so it's 11.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I'm really torn. As an Oscar purist, I can't count it. But as a Bette fanatic, I like the idea of 11. She should have 12 actual nominations, because she was snubbed for both Bondage and A Stolen Life. She is so great as Mildred--she lobbied hard to get this role. Jack Warner told her to go hang herself. He was wrong again.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Oh, please. Ten.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFeline Justice

Preach, markgordon!

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I absolutely count it! It caused such controversy that the Academy had to allow write-in votes. Colbert herself believed she was going to lose to Davis and didn’t attend.

Sure, it’s a nomination with an asterisk, but she received more votes than one of the original nominees! It’s recorded in history. It’s on the Academy website.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

^ And as markgordonuk mentioned, those were the rules that year and the following year. If we’re not counting Bette Davis’s nomination that year, then the Academy didn’t award Best Cinematography the next year.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

thanks, Roger, for that info. I didn't know that. Very cool.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

WHAT? I had absolutely no idea about this and now I'm tripping.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

11. No matter that the rule changed later when it occurred it was permissible so it goes into the tally.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6


February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterHarmodio

Normally I don’t count it as an Oscar nom, even if absolutely deserved to be officially nominated. Along with All about Eve, Baby Jane and Little Foxes, the best Davis

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

Correction: Colbert did end up showing up, but only after being summoned from a train station to collect her prize.

Here’s Bette Davis listed as a nominee. Also photographed is Colbert arriving, fur coat in hand, collecting her Oscar from Shirley Temple:

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

11 because Bette always deserves more.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

Normally I would agree with Ludwig Wittgenstein and say that words are nothing more than the way we use them, so there's no "correct" answer as language just serves to mark the preconceptions of the speaker, but since it's Bette Davis I'm going to go with 11.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

Why does the official Oscar website list her as a nominee for 1935 if it's not an official nomination?

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commentershawshank

Roger: Thanks for the link. That causes me to pause for thought. But in AMPAS's awards databases, they say "NOTE: THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL NOMINATION. [Their caps.] Write-in candidate."

So, the Academy themselves can't decide! Given what else has been going on with the Oscars this year, that doesn't surprise me...

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.


February 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

It's 11 it's written at length in a lot of books on the AA is it was different 80 plus yrs ago,she was nominated but only after a write in then the rules changed after that.

She should have had a 12th for The Whales of August too.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

11. Funny you mention her, as I just watched Now, Voyager again the other night (they smoked SO MANY cigarettes in that movie.) Need a Davis marathon now, STAT! Will definitely rewatch All About Eve before seeing the National Theatre Live version in April. It's my fav Bette Davis film, and it hurts that she lost to Judy Holliday for BA that year, even though Holliday was FANTASTIC too..

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPam

massachusetts 10, california 6

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterpar

I wld absolutely count Of Human Bondage as a nom, as fr the ranking The Academy releases then, Bette came in 3rd, after Colbert n Shearer.

There's a v insightful video on her win for Dangerous under "Be Kind Rewind" on youtube.

However, imo both Of Human Bondage n Dangerous shld b viewed as one entity as these two films r intrinsically interlinked w one another.

Had Bette recv the Oscar for the former, she wld nev had been nom n won for the latter. Dangerous was Jack Warner's way of making up to his biggest star, after he pressurized the voters NOT to vote for her to win in 1934.

Thus, its a 10 for me! 😁

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

I believe Davis actually placed third in the voting based on write-in votes alone, putting her ahead of official nominee Grace Moore. I think that's considerable enough to believe that she sits at 11.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAllen

Having seen 2656 of the 4872 films that have been nominated for an Academy Award I am counting it so yes 11 it is :)

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

The plot thickens: All of the Best Actress nominees that year declined their invitations to the ceremony because they all thought Bette was going to win!

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

Unfortunately, technically she wasn’t nominated, so it’s a 10.
Davis herself said the win for Dangerous was a consolation prize for not having been nominated/winning for Of Human Bondage, and that Katharine Hepburn should have won BA that year (1935) for Alice Adams.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

11, because of the justifications already provided. I believe Paul Muni was a write-in candidate the following year for Black Fury and he's listed as a nominee at the link provided as well.

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew

10 in my book!

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTravis

Love that you asked this question. :)

February 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTravis


February 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

As someone else mentioned, Davis came in ahead of an actual nominee after the votes were counted, and ended up third for the year. If the fourth-place person (Grace Moore) was a nominee, then Bette should rate as well among the nominees, because the Academy placed her ahead of a nominee after all was said and done, in an attempt to clearly rectify a bad situation due to her initial omission.

Concerning the following year, I personally think, based solely on her on performance and not other factors such as the overall quality of the movie or role, Davis is terrific in "Dangerous," and it's unfair to think of it as merely a compensation Oscar (even if Davis herself viewed it that way); if you're judging her work in the film, she is completely committed to the role and is riveting- not too many could match Davis when she was giving it everything she had onscreen. I'd probably go with one of the few who could, Katharine Hepburn in "Alice Adams," that year, but Davis definitely proved her Mildred was no fluke via her "Dangerous" performance (she also excelled that year with some showy-yet-emotionally true histrionics in "Bordertown"), and she was on her way to a great career (after having to fight with Warners, of course).

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

Would Davis even have been nominated for Dangerous if she had been nominated (and won) for Of Human Bondage the year before? I’d say an actual nomination for Of Human Bondage means no nomination for Dangerous so 10 it is.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMareko


February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSanty C.

Shawn, for literally speaking only truth, Condragulations, you are the winner of this week's challenge.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKirk

Shawn -- thanks for this. We'll have to disagree on Dangerous (I think it's much weaker than many of her other nominations though she is, yes, committed to it)

Mareko -- ooh, interesting sideways point.

Everyone -- i had no idea this would spark so many varied opinions so I'm glad i asked!

February 14, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

This is a 10. Allowing write-ins on the final ballot does not constitute an official nomination.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBGk

Was her nomination announced at the ceremony? If so, then it should count.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

11. The Academy website says so.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterIan

kris01 please watch "All About Eve" it's THE best B.D. movie. It's based on a play, it's all about the writing.


February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMMinDC

What would the electoral college say

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob

"Ive seen so many “old classics” that I thought were just tosh (Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon were trash IM SORRY) that I’ve a bad taste in my mouth. But if anyone wants to recommend sumfin?"

You don't deserve any recommendations with that attitude. "Tosh" indeed.

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRob


All About Eve is about the theater, but it's not based on a play, it's based on a short story "The Wisdom of Eve" (uncredited in the film)

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

I love Davis, but a write-in nomination doesn't count.
Davis has 10 nominations!

February 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFabio Dantas Flappers


February 15, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMatt L.

Was Davis the only person not announced as a nominee to begin with to get write-in votes? We don't know. As long as we don't have all the information about write-in votes, there's no point in this discussion - why should Davis be added and not others? And even if we had all this information, I'd still say 10.

February 16, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterUA

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