Ten Oscar Nominations That Made History

Ten Oscar Nominations That Made History

February 20, 2019

By Amy Skorheim

Black Panther marks the first time a superhero film was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award — so we thought we’d look back at some other historic Oscar nominations.

Here's our list of firsts, mosts, and other landmark recognitions of serious talent. While not every nominee took home a statuette, each one paved the way and left their mark.   

First Horror Film Nominated for Best Picture


The Exorcist
Image: © Warner Bros.

The Exorcist

Here’s the first time a horror film was nominated for Best Picture. It happened in 1974 and since then a few other horror films have gotten the top nod, including Jaws and 2017’s Get Out, but none have pulled in a win. Unless you count The Silence of the Lambs, which, while certainly scary (and very excellent), many feel it belongs in the crime thriller genre.
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First Science Fiction Film Nominated for Best Picture 


A Clockwork Orange
Image: © Warner Bros.

A Clockwork Orange

In 1972, a Kubrick classic set in a dystopian near-future English city got a Best Picture nomination and was the first sci-fi movie to do so. Since then, other movies in the genre have followed suit — ET, Star Wars: A New Hope, Avatar, and The Martian to name a few — but it wasn’t until 2017’s The Shape of Water that a sci-fi film grabbed the win.
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First X-Rated Film Nominated for Best Picture


Midnight Cowboy
Image: © Jerome Hellman Productions, Florin Productions

Midnight Cowboy

This Dustin Hoffman/Jon Voight drama about the friendship between two NYC street hustlers came out in 1969. An X-rating didn’t mean then what it does today. In fact, after the rating was co-opted by the adult film industry, the MPAA stopped using it, trading X for a rating that doesn’t immediatly mean box office death, NC17.  
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First Best Picture Nomination Directed by a Woman  


Children of a Lesser God
Image: © Paramount Pictures

Children of a Lesser God  

Randa Haines directed a movie about a romance between two people working at a school for the deaf. When it was nominated for Best Picture, it was the first time a movie directed by a woman got the top nomination (it lost out to Oliver Stone’s Platoon). Haines didn’t get a Best Director nod, that happened in 1977 when Lina Wertmüller was the first female nominated for directing, with the Italian film Seven Beauties.
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First Person Born in the 21st Century to be Nominated


Beasts of the Southern Wild
Image: © Cinereach

Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild 

At this point, 19 year-olds were born in the 21st century. But for the 2012 awards, Wallis (born in 2003) was just 9 years old, making her the youngest nominee for an actress in a leading role — then and now. Fun fact: she lost to Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook, who was the second youngest nominee (at the time) when she got the nod in 2011 for Winter’s Bone.
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Most Nominations for Costume Design


Edith Head - Sabrina
Image: © Paramount Pictures

Edith Head

Among the seven Academy Award nominations for Black Panther is Ruth E. Carter’s nomination for costume design. This is her third such nomination and puts her in the company of Edith Head, the costume designer with the most nominations for the award. Head is also happens to be the woman with the most nominations in any category with 35 — and the woman with the most Oscar wins ever with 8.  
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First Black Filmmaker Nominated for Best Director


Boyz N The Hood
Image: © Columbia Pictures Corporation

John Singleton for Boyz in the Hood  

Singleton was just 24 years old in 1991, making him not only the first black filmmaker to get a directing nomination, but also the youngest Best Director nominee. And while Ryan Coogler didn’t get a Best Director nod, with Black Panther’s nomination for Best Picture, it becomes the sixth film directed by a black filmmaker to get the highest nomination (along with Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman).  
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Most Nominations for a Single Film


Titanic
Image: © Twentieth Century Fox

Titanic  

With 14 nominations, Titanic shares the record with two other films, All About Eve from 1950 and LaLa Land from 2016. While those films took home 6 awards each, the giant sinking ship epic netted 11 wins — at the time, only the second film to win so many.
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First Posthumous Nomination for a Male Actor


James Dean
Image: © James Dean Inc.

James Dean  

While the first posthumous acting nomination went to Jeanne Eagels in 1929, James Dean was nominated in 1956 for his work in East of Eden, then again the next year for his role in Giant. That makes him the only actor with two posthumous nominations. The iconic actor’s untimely death at the age of 24 meant that East of Eden was the only film James Dean saw in its entirety, since it was the only of his films released in his lifetime.  

View our collection of 13 rare James Dean photographs.
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Person with the Most Nominations


Walt Disney
Image: © Disney

Walt Disney  

The individual with the most nominations is Walt Disney with 59. He also happens to be the person with the most wins with 26 statuettes. Black Panther, of course, is a Marvel Studios production, which is a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, which Walt Disney himself founded, so... pretty good run.  
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About Classic Stills:

Classic Stills is the first company to sell official fine art prints from film and television. Each limited-edition print is fully-licensed, hand-framed, and individually numbered. Current collections include Black Panther, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Big Lebowski and Game of Thrones.

You can browse all of our official collections, fully licensed by the studios, here.



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