This Century’s Biggest Oscars Heavyweights

We’re about to enter Oscars season at the movies, with most of the expected contenders still scheduled for release in the coming months. Films like Manchester By The Sea, The Birth Of A Nation, Loving, and Moonlight are just a few of the ones that have been pointed to as potential Best Picture nominees, and there are surely more that aren’t even on our radar just yet. But as we head toward the final quarter of the year, when award season-geared movies tend to come out, it feels like a fun time to take a look back at some of the biggest Oscars heavyweights of the past 16 years.

The following films weren’t all Best Picture winners (in fact surprisingly few of them were), but each of them secured more than 10 nominations. And for that reason, these are some of the films we remember as having dominated awards shows in the past 16 years.

Chicago – 13 Nominations, 6 Wins

This 2002 comedy based on the iconic Broadway musical was the talk of the season when it secured 13 nominations, putting it in elite company. It’s a little bit hard to believe, but only two films—All About Eve and Titanic—ever secured more nominations (with 14 each).

The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring – 13 Nominations, 4 Wins

The Fellowship Of the Ring broke the mold in a way when it secured 13 nominations in 2001. You’ll see on this list that two other films this century have already matched that total, and nine in total (counting this one) have reached the threshold. But this is the only one that was a fantasy adventure film—the type of project that doesn’t typically merit awards season recognition. It’s a testament to how spectacularly Peter Jackson adapted J.R.R. Tolkien’s work.

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button – 13 Nominations, 3 Wins

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button may ultimately have been one of the more forgettable Oscars heavyweights on this list because it wound up winning just three awards in fairly minor categories (not that any Oscar is “minor”). Additionally, when its 13 nominations were first announced, the big story was the looming shadow of Batman, as Christopher Nolan’s brilliant sequel The Dark Knight failed to get a Best Picture nod. Still, this ambitious film left an impression on pretty much everyone who saw it, and still stands as some of Brad Pitt’s finest work.

Gladiator – 12 Nominations, 5 Wins

Gladiator helped to kick off the 21st century in style. While American Beauty won Best Picture in 2000, it was made in 1999. Gladiator was technically the first 21st century film to win Best Picture, even if it did so in 2001. It’s still about as memorable a film as we’ve seen in the past 16 years, and Russell Crowe’s Best Actor-winning performance is a popular favorite among film lovers.

The King’s Speech – 12 Nominations, 4 Wins

A period piece with subtle direction, powerhouse performances from top-quality actors, and just enough humor to remain lively, The King’s Speech still feels like this century’s prototypical Oscars film.

Lincoln – 12 Nominations, 2 Wins

Lincoln was the talk of the 2013 awards, and as some put it before the Oscars occurred, seemed tailor-made for Best Picture. In that regard it shockingly disappointed, as Argo earned a surprise victory. But Lincoln still felt like the film of the year.

The Revenant – 12 Nominations, 3 Wins

It ultimately lost out to Spotlight for 2016’s Best Picture, but The Revenant was arguably last year’s most unique film—and it will always have a special place in Oscars lore as the movie that finally landed Leonardo DiCaprio his Best Actor award.

The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King – 11 Nominations, 11 Wins

Three films in history have won 11 Oscars: this one, Ben-Hur, and Titanic. But when The Return Of The King won all 11 Oscars for which it was nominated, it arguably became the most successful film, from an awards perspective, ever. Sure, a handful of movies have been nominated for more Academy hardware, but a perfect 11-for-11—for the third film in a fantasy series, no less—is pretty hard to top.