The actors who have won the most Oscars
Which famous faces own the most Oscar gold?
It's Oscars season once again. The biggest stars in Hollywood and global cinema are competing to take home the most coveted prize in the film industry: an Academy Award.
A total of 3,140 Oscars have been awarded since the inception of the Academy Awards in 1929, and some actors and filmmakers have more than others.
Read more: How to watch the Oscar-nominated films in the UK
Let's take a look at the stars who've been lucky enough to pick up multiple Oscars over the years.
Actors with most Oscar wins
No male actor has yet won four Academy Awards but three have achieved a hat-trick, with Jack Nicholson, Daniel Day-Lewis and the little-remembered Water Brennan, all in the three Oscars club.
Jack Nicholson – 3
Winning his first Oscar in 1976 for One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Jack Nicholson thanked his agent "who about ten years ago advised me that I had no business being an actor. Thank you."
Best Actor: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Best Supporting Actor: Terms Of Endearment (1983)
Best Actor: As Good As It Gets (1997)
Daniel Day-Lewis - 3
Accepting his most recent Oscar in 2013, the since-retired actor said: “I really don’t know how any of this happened. I do know that I’ve received so much more than my fair share of good fortune in my life, and I’m so grateful to the Academy for this beautiful honour.”
Best Actor: My Left Foot (1989)
Best Actor: There Will Be Blood (2007)
Best Actor: Lincoln (2012)
Walter Brennan - 3
Walter Brennan is the only actor in Academy history to win three awards for Best Supporting Actor, and incredibly, they all happened within a space of four years.
Best Supporting Actor: Come and Get It (1936)
Best Supporting Actor: Kentucky (1938)
Best Supporting Actor: The Westerner (1940)
Actresses with most wins
Katherine Hepburn is the only actor ever to win four Academy Awards but both Meryl Streep and Frances McDormand are closing in on her.
Will either of them scoop that coveted fourth Oscar in the next few years?
Katherine Hepburn - 4
Incredibly, the actor with the most Academy Awards never attended the ceremony to collect her Oscars. "As for me, prizes are nothing,” she once said. “My prize is my work.”
Best Actress: Morning Glory (1933)
Best Actress: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967)
Best Actress: The Lion in Winter (1968)
Best Actress: On Golden Pond (1981)
Meryl Streep - 3
Collecting her third Oscar in 2012, the most nominated actor in Oscars history said: "When they called my name I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, "Oh no! Oh, c'mon why? Her? Again?" You know? But, whatever."
Best Supporting Actress: Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
Best Actress: Sophie's Choice (1982)
Best Actress: The Iron Lady (2011)
Frances McDormand - 3
Winning her third Oscar in 2021 for Nomadland during a pandemic-blighted awards season, Frances McDormand urged the audience to "take everyone you know into a theatre, shoulder to shoulder in that dark space and watch every film that's represented here tonight."
Best Actress: Fargo (1996)
Best Actress: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
Best Actress: Nomadland (2020)
Ingrid Bergman - 3
Winning her third Oscar in 1975, Swedish actor Ingrid Bergman dedicated her award to fellow nominee Valentina Cortese who felt she'd been overlooked the previous year for her role in Day For Night. "It's so ironic that this year she's nominated when the picture won last year," she said. "I don't quite understand that, but here I am and I'm her rival and I don't like it at all. Please forgive me, Valentina. I didn't mean to. Thank you."
Best Actress: Gaslight (1944)
Best Actress: Anastasia (1956)
Best Supporting Actress: Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
Actors with the most nominations
Jack Nicolson leads the pack with an impressive 12 noms, with Sir Laurence Olivier in second place with 10 (though he only won once, for 1948’s Hamlet). Spencer Tracy (two wins), Denzel Washington (two wins), Paul Newman (one win) and Al Pacino (one win) all have nine.
Jack Nicholson - 12
Laurence Olivier - 10
Spencer Tracy - 9
Denzel Washington - 9
Paul Newman - 9
Al Pacino - 9
Actresses with the most nominations
Meryl Streep boasts the most number of nominations of any actor, male or female, with an eye-popping 21. Katherine Hepburn may have more actual awards but she was only nominated 12 times. Dame Judi Dench (one win), Geraldine Page (one win) and Glenn Close (zero wins) all share eight noms.
Meryl Streep - 21
Katherine Hepburn - 12
Bette Davis - 10
Judi Dench - 8
Geraldine Page - 8
Glenn Close - 8
Directors with the most wins
With this category, we’re only listing the directors that won the actual Best Director gong. For instance, Ang Lee, who has won two Academy Awards for directing, also took away the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, while Frank Capra (three directorial wins) picked up a Best Documentary award for 1942’s Prelude to War.
John Ford - 4
Talking about the Oscars, legendary film director John Ford once said: "I didn't show up at the ceremony to collect any of my first three Oscars. Once I went fishing, another time there was a war on, and on another occasion, I remember, I was suddenly taken drunk."
The Informer (1935)
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
How Green Was My Valley (1941)
The Quiet Man (1952)
William Wyler - 3
Talking about working on his Oscar-winning biblical epic Ben-Hur, William Wyler said: "I thought that this picture would make lots of money and, you know, maybe I'll get some of it. Which I did!"
Mrs Miniver (1942)
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Frank Capra - 3
Talking about the importance of winning an Oscar, legendary director Frank Capra said: “The Oscar is the most valuable, but least expensive, item of world-wide public relations ever invented by any industry.”
It Happened One Night (1934)
Mr Deeds Goes To Town (1936)
You Can’t Take It With You (1938)
Steven Spielberg - 2
The celebrated director has been thanked in more Oscar-winning speeches than God (42 times) but finally won one for himself for his holocaust drama Schindler's List.
Schindler's List (1993)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Ang Lee - 2
Winning his second Oscar for Life of Pi, Taiwanese director Ang Lee said: "Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you, movie god. I really need to share this with all 3,000. Everybody who worked with me on Life of Pi. I want to thank you for… I really want to thank you for believing in this story and share this incredible journey with me."
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Life Of Pi (2012)
Screenwriters with the most Oscars
It seems crazy that Quentin Tarantino still only has two Best Screenplay Oscars and no Best Director gong. Woody Allen, meanwhile, has three Best Original Screenplay statues but only one for directing (for Annie Hall). Also in the three Screenplay Oscars club are Paddy Chayefsky and collaborators Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder.
Woody Allen - 3
Annie Hall (1977), Hannah and her Sisters (1986), Midnight in Paris (2011)
Paddy Chayefsky - 3
Marty (1955), The Hospital (1971), Network (1976)
Charles Brackett - 3
The Lost Weekend (1945) (shared with Billy Wilder), Titanic (1953), Sunset Boulevard (1955) (shared with Billy Wilder and D.M. Marshman Jr)
Billy Wilder - 3
The Lost Weekend (1945) (shared with Charles Brackett), Sunset Boulevard (1955) (shared with Charles Brackett and DM Marshman Jr), The Apartment (1960) (shared with IAL Diamond)
Quentin Tarantino - 2
Pulp Fiction (1994), Django Unchained (2012)
Cinematographers with the most Oscars
Leon Shamroy may tie with Joseph Ruttenberg for being the cinematographer with the most Academy Awards but he ties with Charles Lang for the sheer amount of Oscar nominations. Sadly for Lang, out of his 18 noms, he would win only once, for 1932's A Farewell to Arms.
Leon Shamroy - 4
The Black Swan (1942), Wilson (1944), Leave Her For Heaven (1945), Cleopatra (1963)
Joseph Ruttenberg - 4
The Great Waltz (1938), Mrs. Miniver (1942), Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Gigi (1958)
Robert Richardson - 3
JFK (1991), The Aviator (2004), Hugo (2011)
Robert Surtees - 3
King Solomon's Mines (1950), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), Ben-Hur (1959)
Roger Deakins - 2
Blade Runner 2049 (2017), 1917 (2019)
People with posthumous Oscars
It’s happened many times in Oscar history that, by the time it’s come to the big event, a nominee has passed on, with the Academy having given out 16 posthumous Oscars over the course of their 95-year history.
Best Short Film (Animated): Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968)
Best Actor: Network (1976)
Best Music: Original Song, Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Best Cinematography: Road to Perdition (2002)
Best Supporting Actor: The Dark Knight (2008)
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