Oscar Trivia: Take Our ‘Best Picture’ Quiz

Before we find out which of the 10 movies nominated for Best Picture will win the Oscar, test your knowledge about past Best Picture nominees and winners with this 10-question quiz — and get some great movie trivia for your Oscar party, too.

Answers and explanations are at the end.

1. Pretty Good Year

The year 1939 was a good one for movies. Which of these Best Picture nominees, all classics of the Silver Screen, actually won the Oscar?

  1. Gone with the Wind
  2. Goodbye, Mr. Chips
  3. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
  4. The Wizard of Oz


2. It’s Hard for the Bard

There have been countless film renditions of Shakespeare’s plays, but only one has received the Best Picture Oscar. Which is it?

  1. Hamlet (1948) with Laurence Olivier and Jean Simmons
  2. Romeo + Juliet (1996) with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes
  3. The Taming of the Shrew (1967) with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton
  4. Titus [Andronicus] (1999) with Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange


3. It’s a Zoo Out There!

Which of these animal-titled movies did NOT win the Oscar for Best Picture?

  1. Dances With Wolves (1990)
  2. The Deer Hunter (1978)
  3. The Lion in Winter (1968)
  4. Silence of the Lambs (1991)


4. All Dressed Up but No Oscar

Four costume flicks were nominated for Best Picture of 1956. Who won?

  1. The King and I
  2. Friendly Persuasion
  3. The Ten Commandments
  4. Around the World in 80 Days


5. The Rainbow Connection

What was the first full-color movie to win the Best Picture Oscar?

  1. Ben-Hur
  2. Bridge on the River Kwai
  3. Gone With the Wind
  4. Lawrence of Arabia


6. What’s in a Name?

Most Best Picture winners become classics with instant name recognition; others, not so much. Three of these four movies won for Best Picture — which one didn’t?

  1. The Apartment (1960)
  2. The Conversation (1974)
  3. The Lost Weekend (1945)
  4. Ordinary People (1980)


7. Naughty Nominees

Only two X- or NC17-rated movies have ever been nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, and one of them won. Which was it?

  1. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
  2. The Damned (1969)
  3. Midnight Cowboy (1969)
  4. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

8. One Oscar to Rule Them All

All three Lord of the Rings movies were nominated for Best Picture, but only one won. Which was it?

  1. The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
  2. The Two Towers (2002)
  3. The Return of the King (2003)


9. But Who’s Counting?

Which of these actors has appeared in the most Best Picture-nominated films?

  1. Robert De Niro
  2. Jack Nicholson
  3. Spencer Tracy
  4. Gary Cooper


10. Underachiever

Three of these Best Pictures each brought in 11 Oscars total. Which one is the underachiever?

  1. All About Eve (1950)
  2. Ben-Hur (1959)
  3. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
  4. Titanic (1997)



1. a) Gone with the Wind

Also at the 12th Academy Awards, Gone with the Wind’s Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Oscar, for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy.

2. a) Hamlet (1948)

Though Olivier’s Hamlet is the only Best Picture winner to stick with the Bard’s original words, it isn’t Shakespeare’s only appearance in the list of Best Picture winners: West Side Story, which won Best Picture in 1961, is a modern musical retelling of Romeo and Juliet; and 1998’s Shakespeare in Love took home seven Oscars, including Best Picture.

3. c) The Lion in Winter

The Lion in Winter was nominated for Best Picture of 1968 but was beaten by the musical Oliver!

4. d) Around the World in 80 Days

The King and I was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won Best Actor, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Music, and Best Sound Recording. Friendly Persuasion was nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Adaptation, and Best Sound, but won none. The Ten Commandments had seven nominations — Best Picture, Costume Design, Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Production Design, and Visual Effects — but won only in the last category.

5. c) Gone with the Wind

After 1939’s full-color Gone with the Wind took home the statue, 11 years passed before another full-color movie won the Best Picture Oscar — 1950’s An American in Paris, starring Gene Kelly.

6. b) The Conversation

Written, produced, and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, The Conversation stars Gene Hackman as privacy-obsessed surveillance expert Harry Caul. It was nominated for Best Picture of 1974 but lost to The Godfather Part II.

7. c) Midnight Cowboy

A Clockwork Orange was nominated for Best Picture in spite of the fact that the MPAA had given it an X rating, but it lost to The French Connection. The X-rated Italian-German drama The Damned was nominated for Best Screenplay, not Best Picture, but lost to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Though Requiem for a Dream, which the MPAA rated NC17, was not nominated for Best Picture, Ellen Burstyn was nominated for Best Actress for her role. To date, Midnight Cowboy, featuring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, is the only X-rated movie to win the Best Picture Oscar; after it won, the MPAA downgraded its rating to R.

8. c) The Return of the King

The Fellowship of the Ring lost to A Beautiful Mind, and The Two Towers lost to Chicago. The three Lord of the Rings movies combined garnered 30 Oscar nominations and 17 wins.

9. b) Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson has appeared in 10 Best Picture-nominated films: Five Easy Pieces (1970), Chinatown (1974), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (winner, 1975), Reds (1981), Terms of Endearment (winner, 1983), Prizzi’s Honor (1985), Broadcast News (1987), A Few Good Men (1992), As Good As It Gets (1997), and The Departed (winner, 2006). De Niro, Tracy, and Cooper each appeared in nine Best Picture-nominated films.

The record, though, goes to Bess Flowers, known as “The Queen of Hollywood Extras,” who appeared (uncredited) in 23 Best Picture nominees between 1938 and 1961.

10. a) All About Eve

All About Eve was nominated for Oscars in 14 categories (the same as Titanic, and more than the other two) and won 6: Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Screen Adaptation, Sound Recording, and Costume Design. Of the 33 Oscars awarded to Ben-Hur, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Titanic, only two were for acting — and both went to Ben-Hur.