'Titanic' Made History at the Oscars 20 Years Ago — And Leonardo DiCaprio Wasn't Even There!

The blockbuster captivated the world after its December 1997 release and launched its young stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet into instant stardom

Few movies have resonated at the Oscars quite like Titanic.

The blockbuster captivated the world after its December 1997 release and launched its young stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet into instant stardom. A few months later, Titanic made headlines again for its record-setting 14 nominations at the 70th Annual Academy Awards in 1998.

The movie still holds the record for most nominations 20 years after taking home the big prize at the ceremony. Although 2017’s La La Land and 1951’s All About Eve also have the honor of being nominated 14 times, the two doubled up in one category (La La Land received two Best Original Song nominations, while All About Eve landed two in Best Supporting Actress). This means Titanic is the only movie with 14 “clear” nominations since it was in the running for 14 separate awards.

The 70th Annual Academy Awards - Red Carpet
Jim Smeal/WireImage

Despite all its nominations, a then-24-year-old DiCaprio was left off the Best Actor ballot to the dismay of millions of fans around the world. The actor ultimately sat out the ceremony that year, leaving Winslet, who was nominated for Best Actress, alone with director James Cameron and costar Gloria Stuart, who played the older version of Rose. Stuart still holds the record for oldest female nominee in the acting categories thanks to her Best Supporting Actress nomination at 87.

In the end, Titanic won 11 golden statuettes, making it the first film to do so since 1959’s Ben-Hur. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King would go on to achieve the same feat in 2003.

Aside from its total dominance at the winner’s podium, the movie also offered one of the most iconic moments in Oscars history — Celine Dion’s unforgettable performance of Best Original Song winner “My Heart Will Go On.”

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio
Paramount Pictures/AP

Winslet looked back on shooting the blockbuster in September 2017, telling PEOPLE that her friendship with DiCaprio was one of the best things to come out of the movie.

“I remember so much of it like it was yesterday,” Winslet said. “I think the most special thing, the best memory I have, really was the cast and the lovely crew. For me that’s one of the best things about being in this business is getting to work with incredible technicians who are always great, committed, professional, fun people to spend time with and to go to work with, and we really had that on Titanic. And, of course, I walked away with one of the greatest friendships of my life in my back pocket, which is Leo.”

She continued, “We know each other in a very unique way, I think, because of the experience we both had on that film and having to take care of one another.”

The 2018 Oscars ceremony will be held at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4 and will be televised live on ABC at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. Watch People & Entertainment Weekly Red Carpet Live this Sunday, March 4 at 5pm ET/2pm PT. Download the PeopleTV app on your favorite mobile or connected TV device, or stream the show on People.com, EW.com, Twitter, Facebook Live and YouTube Live.

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