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Religious Affiliation of the Winners of the
Academy Award for Best Picture

Related pages:
Religious Affiliation of Winners of the Academy Award for Best Director
Religious Affiliation of the Directors of AFI's 100 Greatest American Movies

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has awarded an Academy Award for Best Picture annually since 1928. This is the most prestigious award that a film can receive.

Originally the award was called "Best Production." Originally the award was presented to a production company (i.e., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), but since 1951 the Best Picture Academy Award has been awarded to the producer(s) of the winning film. The table below also lists the director of each winning film, although the Best Picture Academy Award is not presented to a film's director. Sometimes a director also served as one of the producer, and hence wins the award anyway. Often the director of a Best Picture Oscar winner will receive that year's Best Director Academy Award.

Film (Year) Director Religious Affiliation
of Director
Academy Award Recipents
Religious Affiliation
of Producers/
Award Winners
Million Dollar Baby (2004) Clint Eastwood raised Protestant; agnostic Clint Eastwood
Albert S. Ruddy
Tom Rosenberg
raised Protestant; agnostic
The Lord of the Rings:
  The Return of the King (2003)
Peter Jackson   Barrie M. Osborne
Peter Jackson
Fran Walsh
Chicago (2002) Rob Marshall   Martin Richards  
A Beautiful Mind (2001) Ron Howard Protestant (Methodist?) Brian Grazer
Ron Howard
Protestant (Methodist?)
Gladiator (2000) Ridley Scott   David Franzoni
Branko Lustig
Douglas Wick
American Beauty (1999) Sam Mendes   Bruce Cohen
Dan Jinks
Shakespeare in Love (1998) John Madden   David Parfitt
Donna Gigliotti
Harvey Weinstein
Edward Zwick
Marc Norman
Titanic (1997) James Cameron vaguely Protestant background James Cameron
Jon Landau
vaguely Protestant background
The English Patient (1996) Anthony Minghella   Saul Zaentz  
Braveheart (1995) Mel Gibson traditionalist Catholic Bruce Davey
Mel Gibson
Alan Ladd Jr.
traditionalist Catholic
Forrest Gump (1994) Robert Zemeckis Jewish Wendy Finerman
Steve Starkey
Steve Tisch
Schindler's List (1993) Steven Spielberg Judaism Branko Lustig
Gerald R. Molen
Steven Spielberg
Latter-day Saint
Unforgiven (1992) Clint Eastwood raised Protestant; agnostic Clint Eastwood raised Protestant; agnostic
The Silence of the Lambs (1991) Jonathan Demme   Ron Bozman
Edward Saxon
Kenneth Utt
Dances with Wolves (1990) Kevin Costner Baptist Kevin Costner
Jim Wilson
Driving Miss Daisy (1989) Bruce Beresford   Lili Fini Zanuck
Richard D. Zanuck
Rain Man (1988) Barry Levinson Jewish Mark Johnson  
The Last Emperor (1987) Bernardo Bertolucci Catholic (lapsed); Freudian Jeremy Thomas  
Platoon (1986) Oliver Stone Jewish father; Catholic mother;
raised Episcopalian;
Tibetan Buddhism (convert)
Arnold Kopelson  
Out of Africa (1985) Sydney Pollack Jewish Sydney Pollack Jewish
Amadeus (1984) Milos Forman Jewish father; Protestant mother Saul Zaentz  
Terms of Endearment (1983) James L. Brooks Jewish James L. Brooks Jewish
Gandhi (1982) Richard Attenborough   Richard Attenborough  
Chariots of Fire (1981) Hugh Hudson   David Puttnam  
Ordinary People (1980) Robert Redford   Ronald L. Schwary  
Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) Robert Benton   Stanley R. Jaffe  
The Deer Hunter (1978) Michael Cimino Catholic Michael Cimino
Michael Deeley
John Peverall
Barry Spikings
Annie Hall (1977) Woody Allen Jewish (raised Orthodox); agnostic Charles H. Joffe  
Rocky (1976) John G. Avildsen   Robert Chartoff
Irwin Winkler
One Flew Over
  The Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Milos Forman Jewish father; Protestant mother Michael Douglas
Saul Zaentz
The Godfather Part II (1974) Francis Ford Coppola Catholic (non-practicing) Francis Ford Coppola
Gray Frederickson
Fred Roos
Catholic (non-practicing)
The Sting (1973) George Roy Hill   Tony Bill
Julia Phillips
Michael Phillips
The Godfather (1972) Francis Ford Coppola Catholic (non-practicing) Albert S. Ruddy  
The French Connection (1971) William Friedkin Jewish Philip D'Antoni  
Patton (1970) Franklin J. Schaffner   Frank McCarthy  
Midnight Cowboy (1969) John Schlesinger Jewish Jerome Hellman  
Oliver! (1968) Carol Reed   John Woolf  
In the Heat of the Night (1967) Norman Jewison   Walter Mirisch  
A Man for All Seasons (1966) Fred Zinnemann Jewish Fred Zinnemann Jewish
The Sound of Music (1965) Robert Wise   Robert Wise  
My Fair Lady (1964) George Cukor Jewish Jack L. Warner Jewish
Tom Jones (1963) Tony Richardson   Tony Richardson  
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) David Lean Quaker Sam Spiegel  
West Side Story (1961) Robert Wise
Jerome Robbins
Robert Wise  
The Apartment (1960) Billy Wilder Jewish Billy Wilder Jewish  
Ben-Hur (1959) William Wyler Jewish Sam Zimbalist  
Gigi (1958) Vincente Minnelli Catholic Arthur Freed  
The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957) David Lean Quaker Sam Spiegel  
Around the World in 80 Days (1956) Michael Anderson   Mike Todd Judaism
Marty (1955) Delbert Mann   Harold Hecht  
On The Waterfront (1954) Elia Kazan Greek Orthodox (lapsed);
Sam Spiegel  
From Here to Eternity (1953) Fred Zinnemann Jewish Buddy Adler  
The Greatest Show on Earth (1952) Cecil B. DeMille Episcopalian Cecil B. DeMille Episcopalian
An American In Paris (1951) Vincente Minnelli Catholic Arthur Freed  
NOTE: Prior to 1951, the Best Picture Award was awarded to the production company, not the producer.
We have noted the names of producers here (in parentheses) to provide information.
All About Eve (1950) Joseph L. Mankiewicz Jewish parents; atheist father (Darryl F. Zanuck)
20th Century-Fox
All the King's Men (1949) Robert Rossen Jewish Robert Rossen Jewish
Hamlet (1948) Laurence Olivier Anglican J. Arthur Rank
Two Cities Films
Gentleman's Agreement (1947) Elia Kazan Greek Orthodox (lapsed);
(Darryl F. Zanuck)
20th Century-Fox
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) William Wyler Jewish Samuel Goldwyn Jewish
The Lost Weekend (1945) Billy Wilder Jewish (Charles Brackett)
Going My Way (1944) Leo McCarey Catholic (Leo McCarey)
Casablanca (1943) Michael Curtiz Jewish Warner Bros.  
Mrs. Miniver (1942) William Wyler Jewish (Sidney Franklin)
(William Wyler)
How Green Was My Valley (1941) John Ford Catholic (Darryl F. Zanuck)
20th Century-Fox
Rebecca (1940) Alfred Hitchcock Catholic (David O. Selznick)
Selznick International Pictures
Gone With The Wind (1939) Victor Fleming Christianity (David O. Selznick)
Selznick International Pictures
You Can't Take It With You (1938) Frank Capra Catholic; Christian Science (Frank Capra)
Catholic; Christian Science
The Life of Emile Zola (1937) William Dieterle   (Henry Blanke)
Warner Bros.
The Great Ziegfeld (1936) Robert Z. Leonard Jewish (Hunt Stromberg)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) Frank Lloyd   (Albert Lewin)
(Irving Thalberg)
It Happened One Night (1934) Frank Capra Catholic; Christian Science (Frank Capra)
(Harry Cohn)
Catholic; Christian Science
Cavalcade (1932-33) Frank Lloyd   (Frank Lloyd)
(Winfield R. Sheehan)
Grand Hotel (1931-32) Edmund Goulding   (Paul Bern)
(Irving Thalberg)
Cimarron (1930-31) Wesley Ruggles   (William LeBaron)
(Wesley Ruggles)
RKO Radio
All Quiet on the Western Front (1929-30) Lewis Milestone Jewish (Carl Laemmle Jr.)
The Broadway Melody (1928-29) Harry Beaumont   (Irving Thalberg)
(Lawrence Weingarten)
Wings (1927-28) William A. Wellman   (Lucien Hubbard)
Paramount Famous Lasky
Sunrise (1927-28)* F.W. Murnau   (William Fox)

* In the very first year of the Academy Awards, there were two awards giving for outstanding productions. An award for "Best Production" went to "Wings." Additionally, "Sunrise" won for the award for "Best Picture, Unique and Artistic Production." The "Unique and Artistic Production" award was dropped the next year.


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Webpage created 6 July 2005. Last modified 14 May 2007.