Oscar Trivia: Three Nominated Actresses

This article originally appeared on The Film Experience

I’m sure you’ve already read Nathaniel’s awesome breakdown of the films with double-acting nominations.  I love that specific type of Oscar trivia.  Along those same lines, what if all three West Side Story’s actresses all end up nominated?  How many times has a film nominated three actresses from the same film?  Not very often.  But that wasn’t always the case.

The Supporting categories were added in 1936 and it only took three years for the first three-actress set of nominees.  Both Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel won Oscars, while Olivia de Havilland earned a nomination for Gone with the Wind. That 1939 triple set off a trend…

From 1939 to 1950, it happened 10 times!  It all culminated with four female nominees from All About Eve in 1950 – the only time four actresses have been nominated from the same film.

But the trend ended there with only ten additional films ever again achieving the three actresses nominated mark.  The two longest stretches without three female nominees were 14 years: between 1963’s Tom Jones and 1977’s The Turning Point and between 1988’s Working Girl and 2002’s Chicago.

1949 was the real anomaly, with both Pinky and Come to the Stable landing a pair of Supporting nominees and a Best Actress nomination.  Despite taking up 80% of the Supporting Actress category, Mercedes McCambridge won the Oscar for All the King’s Men.

Here’s the list with some commentary and stats afterward…


The Favourite (2018) – Actress: Olivia Colman (WIN), Supporting Actress: Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz

The Help (2011) – Actress: Viola Davis, Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer (WIN), Jessica Chastain

Doubt (2008) – Actress: Meryl Streep, Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, Viola Davis

Chicago (2002) – Actress: Renee Zellweger, Supporting Actress: Catherine Zeta-Jones (WIN), Queen Latifah

Working Girl (1988) – Actress: Melanie Griffith, Supporting Actress: Sigourney Weaver, Joan Cusack

The Color Purple (1985) – Actress: Whoopi Goldberg, Supporting Actress: Oprah Winfrey, Margaret Aery

The Turning Point (1977) – Actress: Shirley MacLaine, Anne Bancroft, Supporting Actress: Leslie Browne

Tom Jones (1963) – Supporting Actress: Diane Cilento, Edith Evans, Joyce Redman

Peyton Place (1957) – Actress: Lana Turner, Supporting Actress: Hope Lange, Diane Varsi

The Bad Seed (1956) – Actress: Nancy Kelly, Supporting Actress: Eileen Heckart, Patty McCormack

All About Eve (1950) – Actress: Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, Supporting Actress: Celeste Holm, Thelma Ritter

Pinky (1949) – Actress: Jeanne Crain, Supporting Actress: Ethel Barrymore, Ethel Waters

Come to the Stable (1949) – Actress: Loretta Young, Supporting Actress: Celeste Holm, Elsa Lanchester

I Remember Mama (1948) – Actress: Irene Dunne, Supporting Actress: Barbara Bel Geddes, Ellen Corby

Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) – Actress: Dorothy McGuire, Supporting Actress: Celeste Holm (WIN), Anne Revere

Mildred Pierce (1945) – Actress: Joan Crawford (WIN), Supporting Actress: Eva Arden, Ann Blyth

The Song of Bernadette (1943) – Actress: Jennifer Jones (WIN), Supporting Actress: Gladys Cooper, Anne Revere

Mrs. Miniver (1942) – Actress: Greer Garson (WIN), Supporting Actress: Teresa Wright (WIN), May Whitty

The Little Foxes (1941) – Actress: Bette Davis, Supporting Actress: Patricia Collinge, Teresa Wright

Gone with the Wind (1939) – Actress: Vivien Leigh (WIN), Supporting Actress: Hattie McDaniel (WIN), Olivia de Havilland

How often did triple nominations translate to Oscar wins?  Almost half the time – 8/20 to be exact.  Mrs. Miniver and Gone with the Wind both ended up with both Actress and Supporting Actress trophies while six other films in that list won one statue.

This stat also is a good indicator of Best Picture success.  Of the 20 films listed above, 15 were Best Picture nominated, with six winning.  The only films to miss out on Best Picture were I Remember MamaPinkyCome to the StableThe Bad Seed, and Doubt.

As far as the actresses themselves, Celeste Holm is the champion of this list, being a part of it three separate Oscar-nominated threesomes.  Bette Davis, Viola Davis, Anne Revere, and Teresa Wright each did it twice.

Do you think West Side Story has a shot? 

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