They always say it’s an honor just to be nominated. And to be fair, that’s true — it’s not every day that an actor is honored by the Academy, unless their name happens to be Meryl Streep. But there’s something incredibly special about a film with such a deep bench of acting performances that it is nominated for all four acting categories. After all, it’s only happened fifteen times in the history of the Academy Awards, and no film has actually managed the extraordinary feat of taking home all four awards, winning Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.
For the record, the films that came closest were “A Streetcar Named Desire” in 1951 and “Network” in 1976, with both films winning three out of four acting nominations. Kim Hunter, Karl Malden, and Vivien Leigh each won for their performances in the screen adaptation of Tennessee William’s play — shockingly, Marlon Brando’s now iconic turn as Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire” was the only one to go unrewarded. As for “Network”, Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, and Beatrice Straight all took home statuette, albeit posthumously in the case of Finch, who died three months after the film was released.
The accomplishment of winning all four acting awards is a massive feat for any film, no matter how good. There just aren’t that many movies out there where you can legitimately say that there are extraordinary performances that fit each of these categories, and fewer still where the stars align and they earn recognition from the Academy.
But there have to be at least a few films where there are four standout acting performances that deserved to rack up the wins. Maybe these are movies that were nominated for all four but lost out on some, like “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, “Bonnie and Clyde”, or “Silver Linings Playbook”? Or a film that was completely ignored by Academy voters but is incredibly deserving of a little acknowledgment? They may not have won then, but we can still celebrate them now.