John Williams Has Been Nominated for 50 Academy Awards: How He Stacks up Against Other Composers
Williams still lags behind one other iconic Hollywood composer in terms of lifetime awards
John Williams is nominated for his 50th Academy Award as a composer this year. He’s won five so far, and rightly so: Williams’ contributions to film contain some of 20th century’s most recognizable themes. You’d be hard-pressed to find an individual who couldn’t warble at least one of his scores, and it’s fitting that he’s been nominated for his continued work on Star Wars, a franchise that owes at least part of its popularity to Williams’s immortal theme.
With 50 nominations and five wins, you’d think Williams would be in the running for some Oscar records, wouldn’t you? Well, no, actually.
Walt Disney still holds the records for most Oscars and nominations, with 26 awards (competitive and non-competitive) and 59 total nominations.
In the composer league, Williams has a ways to go to catch up to Alfred Newman, who boasts nine wins for his 43 nominations. (Interestingly, Williams is up for an Oscar this year against Newman’s youngest son, Thomas, who has himself been nominated 13 times, with zero wins.)
And Williams is actually tied with composer John Barry, who’s probably best known for the creation of the James Bond theme: Barry picked up two Oscars for Born Free in 1966, and statues for The Lion in Winter, Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves in 1968, 1985 and 1990, respectively.
There’s another name in the five-time-Academy-Award-winning-composer category you may not recognize right off the bat: Johnny Green, whose work on various musicals through the 1950s and ’60s (on Oliver! and West Side Story, among others) earned him four wins for Best Music and one for Best Short Subject as a producer. (So if you’re counting total Oscars, he’s tied with Williams; if you’re talking just music, he’s notched one behind.)
One person totally left out of this conversation? Ennio Morricone, who, as we’ve mentioned, has scored 527 works and been nominated for six Oscars with just a lifetime achievement award and no actual wins to his name. Morricone is also nominated Sunday night, for The Hateful Eight, and took home the Golden Globe last month, making the Oscars anyone’s game.