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Comedies that have Won Best Picture at the Oscars

Updated on May 9, 2020

A Great Trivia Tidbit for this movie is: In the scene where Clark Gable undresses he was having trouble undressing and keeping the flow going with his dialogue also the scene was taking too long , so they decided not to have Clark wear an undershirt. After the movie came it became cool not to wear an undershirt.

It Happened One Night this movie was made in 1934 and starred Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. Claudette Colbert is a spoiled heiress looking to escape from her family and she gets help from Gable who is really a reporter.

This movie won:

Best Picture: It Happened One Night

Best Actor- Clark Gable the only Oscar he ever won

Best Actress- Claudette Colbert

Best Director- Frank Capra

Best Writing- Robert Riskin

This was the first movie to be considered a screwball comedy. It was made during the Great Depression when America needed to laugh and Hollywood answered the call magnificently with this movie.

It is a rare thing to win not only Best Picture, but all the major awards. The feat wasn’t duplicated till 1975 with One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Claudette Colbert didn’t think much of the movie and told a friend “I’ve just finished the worst picture in the world.”

It Happened One Night was selected for preservation in 1993 because it was, according to The National Film Registry "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

James Stewart
James Stewart

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A Great Trivia Tidbit for this movie is: Ann Miller was only 15 when she made this movie and they had her character perform ballet moves that could be quite painful. She would cry out of sight off stage. Jimmy Stewart didn’t know why she was crying, but he would have boxes of candy for her.

You Can’t Take it with You is the next movie to win an Oscar for Best Picture and it happened in 1938 four years after It Happened One Night won.

The director once again was Frank Capra and it starred Jean Arthur, Lionel Barrymore and James Stewart. The film won for Best Director and that had Frank winning three times in five years. First it was for It Happened One Night, then Mr. Deeds, and last, but not least, You Can’t Take it With You.

The plot is about a man from a rich family who gets involved with a girl whose family is good natured and eccentric. It seems like the girl’s family are the crazy ones, but once Jimmy’s Stewart’s character gets to know them the more he realizes that it is his own family that may be crazy.

Jack Lemmon
Jack Lemmon

A Great Trivia Tidbit for this movie is: According to Shirley MacLaine much of the movie was written as the film progressed. The gin rummy scene was added because at that time she was learning to play from the Rat Pack. One day at lunch she started talking about love and that ended up being in the script.

Oscar would wait over twenty five years before bestowing an Oscar comedy Best Picture again. The year was 1960 and the movie was The Apartment. This movie starred Jack Lemmon , Shirley MacLaine, Fred McMurray, and Edie Adams. It not only won for best picture it won for:

Best Director: Billy Wilder

Best Writing Story and Screenplay/Written Directly for the Screen: Billy Wilder and I.A. L. Diamond

Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black and White- Alexandre Trauner

Best Film Editing-Daniel Mandell

Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine were also nominated for Leading actor and actress in a role, but they didn’t win.

This movie is about a guy (Jack Lemmon) who works in an insurance company and somehow gets taken advantage of by his coworkers who want to bring their extra marital flings into his apartment. He meets an elevator operator, Shirley MacLaine, and is instantly in love. She likes him, but is having an affair with Fred MacMurray’s character who is a personnel director. In the end she realizes she is love with Jack Lemmon’s character and we are left to wonder what their future holds. It is a great movie that deserved all the awards it won.

Poster for Tom Jones
Poster for Tom Jones

A Great Trivia Tidbit for this movie is: Welsh singer Tom Jones (Thomas John Woodward) choose his professional stage name from this film and its main character.

Three years later Oscar awards Best Picture to the film Tom Jones a British comedy starring Albert Finney and Susannah York. This movie won:

Best Picture: Tom Jones

Best Director: Tony Richardson

Best Writing Screenplay Based on another Medium: John Osborne

Best Music Score: John Addison

This movie takes place in 18th Century England and is about two cousins that grew up together with money in the country side. They are total opposites. Tom is lively, fun and popular with the opposite sex. His cousin, on the other hand, is a bit cranky. Tom is legitimate, so the lady he loves will not approve of him going after their daughter. They do like his cousin as a prospect. There is a great twist in the story line and it ends with a surprise that makes everyone happy in the end.

The Sting
The Sting

A Great Trivia Tidbit for this movie is: During the filming Robert Redford was recovering from a broken right thumb from a skiing accident. He was supposed to be wearing a cast. In a few of the scenes he hold his hand In a strange way like holding fork with his four fingers instead of using his thumb.

Ten years would have to pass by before the Oscar awarded a comedy again. When they did it was in 1973 and the movie was The Sting. The movie starred Robert Redford and Paul Newman as con men in 1930’s Chicago who team up to con a criminal banker. It is a movie that won seven Oscars and there is a reason this is entertainment at its very best.

Best Picture: The Sting

Best Director: George Roy Hill

Best Writing Story and Screenplay: David S. Ward

Best Art Direction Set Direction: Henry Bumstead and James W. Payne

Best Costume Design: Edith Head

Best Film Editing: William Reynolds

Best Music, Scoring Original Song Score: Marvin Hamlisch

Annie Hall
Annie Hall

The year is 1977 and the win as Oscar’s Best Picture turned out to be the comedy Annie Hall. This movie by Woody Allen starred him and Diane Keaton. He plays a neurotic comedian that falls for a zany Diane Keaton. This movie won four Oscars. It is ranked number 4 on The American Film Institute’s top comedy films.

Best Picture: Annie Hall

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Diane Keaton

Best Director: Woody Allen

Best Writing, Screenplay written directly for the screen: Woody Allen

Shakespeare in Love
Shakespeare in Love

A Great Trivia Tidbit for this movie is: Judi Dench said in an interview that she had to wear such high heels in the movie the director nicknamed her Tudor Spice. He got the nickname thinking of the band The Spice Girls and all the strange nicknames they had.

Oscar would wait a long twenty seven years before honoring a comedy movie again. The year is 1998 and the movie is Shakespeare in Love. This movie has comedy, romance, and drama. It is about young Shakespeare who is broke, but has found love and is inspired to write one of his most well-known plays. The stars in this movie are Gwyneth Paldrow, Joseph Fiennes and Geoffrey Rush. This movie won seven Oscars.

Best Picture: Shakespeare in Love

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Gwyneth Paldrow

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Judi Dench

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen: Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard

Best Art Direction-Set Decoration: Martin Childs and Jill Quertier

Best Costume Design: Sandy Powell

Best Music-Original Music or Comedy Score: Stephen Warbeck

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Geoffrey Rush

Best Director: John Madden

Best Cinematography: Richard Greatrex

There you have it the list of great comedies who received that special nod from Oscar. It has been awhile since a comedy has won Best Picture, and the time is overdue for another great picture that will come along and capture the hearts of Hollywood and the movie goer as well.


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