A Look Back on Steven Spielberg's Many Oscar Nominations and Wins

The celebrated director has been nominated 22 times and has won three Academy Awards, plus the coveted Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for his achievements in film. Take a deep dive into West Side Story director Spielberg's Oscar history — his wins, losses and fellow nominees 

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1978: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis/Getty

First-time Oscar nominee Steven Spielberg was up against a stacked Best Director category at the 50th Academy Awards. He ultimately lost out to Woody Allen for Annie Hall. Other nominees in the category included Fred Zinnemann for Julia, George Lucas for Star Wars and Herbert Ross for The Turning Point.

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1982: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis/Getty

Although Best Director nominee Spielberg lost out to Warren Beatty for Reds at the 54th Academy Awards, the first installment of the Indiana Jones franchise still went home with five Oscars that night. It won Best Art Direction, Sound, Film Editing, Visual Effects and Ben Burtt and Richard L. Anderson received a Special Achievement Award for sound effect editing.

The other directors that also lost out to Beatty in the Best Director category were Louis Malle for Atlantic City, Hugh Hudson for Chariots of Fire and Mark Rydell for On Golden Pond.

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1983: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Henry Thomas
Henry Thomas in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial . Bruce Mc Broom/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock

The following year at the 55th Academy Awards, Spielberg nabbed two nominations, this time for Best Picture, shared with Kathleen Kennedy, and Best Director. Although the film was a huge success in theaters and became a cultural phenomenon, Spielberg lost in both categories to Richard Attenborough for Gandhi.

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1986: The Color Purple

Whoopi Goldberg Iconic Roles
Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock

Spielberg's next masterpiece became the film adaption of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker. The film, which starred Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover and Oprah Winfrey, was nominated for Best Picture, but lost out to Sydney Pollack's Out of Africa. Spielberg, if he won, would've shared the honor with Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Quincy Jones.

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1987: Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award

Steven Spielberg is congratulated by Richard Dreyfus

At the 59th Academy Awards, Spielberg was given a special honor by the Academy's Board of Governors. The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award is given to "creative producers whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production," which fit Spielberg to a T. At this time, the notable director had already come out with Jaws (1975), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T. (1982), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), The Color Purple (1985) and Empire of the Sun (1987). Richard Dreyfuss introduced the honoree and handed off the statuette to Spielberg, who accepted the award at the 1987 ceremony.

06 of 15

1994: Schindler's List

Schindler's List

The 66th Academy Awards marked the first time Spielberg would win not one, but two Oscars, for Schindler's List, which starred Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley. The director of the historical drama won both Best Picture, shared with Gerald R. Molen and Branko Lustig, and Best Director.

The film beat out The Fugitive, In the Name of the Father, The Piano and The Remains of the Day, and Spielberg won the Best Director honor over Jim Sheridan, Jane Campion, James Ivory and Robert Altman.

07 of 15

1999: Saving Private Ryan

DreamWorks/ Everett Collection

Spielberg won Best Director again at the 71st ceremony for Saving Private Ryan, which starred Tom Hanks and Matt Damon. The war film was also nominated for Best Picture — alongside Elizabeth, Life Is Beautiful and The Thin Red Line — but lost out to Shakespeare in Love.

If Spielberg would've won in the Best Picture category, he would've shared the honor with Ian Bryce, Mark Gordon and Gary Levinsohn.

08 of 15

2006: Munich


During the 78th Awards, Spielberg was recognized with his 10th and 11th Oscar nominations: one for Best Picture, shared with Kathleen Kennedy and Barry Mendel, and Best Director.

That year, Ang Lee won the director category with Brokeback Moutain (the first Asian American to do so) and Paul Haggis and Cathy Schulman shared their win for Best Picture for their film Crash.

09 of 15

2007: Letters from Iwo Jima

Letters from Iwo Jima
Merie W. Wallace/Warner Bros.

The following year, Spielberg, Clint Eastwood and Robert Lorenz were nominated for Best Picture, but lost to Graham King's The Departed. Other nominated films included Alejandro González Iñárritu's Babel, David T. Friendly, Peter Saraf and Marc Turtletaub's Little Miss Sunshine and Andy Harries, Christine Langan and Tracey Seaward's The Queen.

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2012: War Horse

Andrew Cooper/Disney

The 84th Academy Awards' Best Picture category was home to nine films that year, Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy's War Horse being one of them. The other eight included The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life and the film that won the category, The Artist.

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2013: Lincoln

Twentieth Century Fox

The following year, Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy's Lincoln was in the running for Best Picture with eight other contenders: Argo, Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty.

Argo won and producers Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney took home the prestegious statuettes.

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2016: Bridge of Spies

Jaap Buitendijk/Disney

Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger's historical thriller was nominated for Best Picture, along with Spotlight, The Big Short, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant and Room, but in the end, Spotlight won and Producers Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin and Blye Pagon Faust took home their statuettes.

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2018: The Post

Niko Tavernise.

Spielberg, Amy Pascal and Kristie Macosko Krieger lost Best Picture to Guillermo del Toro and J. Miles Dale's The Shape of Water at the 90th Academy Awards. Other pictures in the prized category included Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

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2022: West Side Story

20th Century Studios

At last year's ceremony, Spielberg was recognized in the Best Director and Best Picture categories for his remake of the 1961 original film. He was up against fellow directors Kenneth Branagh, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Paul Thomas Anderson and Jane Campion, who won for The Power of the Dog.

West Side Story battled Belfast, CODA, Don't Look Up, Drive My Car, Dune, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley and The Power of the Dog for Best Picture. If he won, Spielberg would have shared the Picture prize will co-producer Kristie Macosko Krieger.

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2023: The Fabelmans

Gabriel LaBelle as Sammy Fabelman in The Fabelmans, co-written, produced and directed by Steven Spielberg.
Merie Weismiller Wallace/Universal

The director's latest work is a semi-autobiographical drama about a boy who uses movie-making to gain a better understanding of his world, and it's been earning Oscar buzz for months. After winning big at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival, Spielberg called it "the most personal film I've ever made."

The movie is up for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay at the 2023 awards, in addition to Spielberg's Best Director nod, earning the 76-year-old three total nominations.

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