How many Oscars has Star Wars won?

The Empire Strikes Back. Image courtesy
The Empire Strikes Back. Image courtesy /

While Star Wars is undoubtedly one of the biggest movie franchises in history, it hasn’t always been well-received by critics. Throughout its history, a Star Wars movie has been eligible for an Academy Award at twelve different Oscar ceremonies. But how many times has a Star Wars movie actually won an Oscar?

A New Hope

While the original Star Wars was nominated for several of the “big” categories, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor for Alec Guinness, it didn’t win any of them. However, the movie cleaned up in almost every technical category that year, winning six Oscars in Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound, and Best Visual Effects.

In addition to those six, a Special Achievement Academy Award was given to Ben Burtt for the movie’s alien, creature, and robot voices. The Special Achievement Academy Award is given out for an exceptional contribution to cinema when no category is in the list to properly recognize the achievement. Throughout The Oscars’ history, a Special Achievement Academy Award has been given out less than twenty times, this being one of them, bringing the total number of Oscars for the movie to seven.

The Empire Strikes Back

Three years later, The Empire Strikes Back would once again win a Best Sound Academy Award for Star Wars. In addition to that win, The Empire Strikes Back won another of the handful of the Special Achievement Academy Awards, this time for the movie’s Special Effects. With these two Oscars, the total for the franchise was now nine.

Return of the Jedi

While Star Wars was once again nominated for four of the technical categories, including Best Art Direction, Best Original Score, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Sound, this time around, the movie failed to win any of the categories.

Instead, Return of the Jedi was the third Star Wars film in a row to win a Special Achievement Academy Award, once again for Visual Effects. For those keeping count, three of the nineteen Special Achievement Academy Awards to be given out in history have gone to Star Wars movies. With that win, Star Wars has crossed into double digits with ten Oscars.

The Prequel Trilogy

It’s no secret that the prequel films weren’t as critically well-received as the Original Trilogy. In fact, while each of the prequel movies sill managed to get at least one nomination, none ended up winning a single Oscar. Of the three movies, The Phantom Menace earned three nominations in Best Visual Effects, Best Sound, and Best Sound Effects Editing, though it had the misfortune to be released the same year as The Matrix, which ended up winning all three of those awards. Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith both only received a single nomination each, and Revenge of the Sith became the first Star Wars movie ever not to receive a nomination for its visual effects.

The Sequel Trilogy

While, for the most part, the sequel films were more critically praised than the prequels were on their initial release, in the end, they didn’t receive any more Oscars than the movies from the Prequel Trilogy. However, they did collectively receive a much higher number of nominations. The Force Awakens received five nominations, The Last Jedi received four, and The Rise of Skywalker received three nominations. If you’re curious about the spin-off films, Rogue One earned two nominations, and Solo got a single nomination. Notably, all five of these movies were nominated for Best Visual Effects, making Revenge of the Sith the only Star Wars movie to date not to get a Visual Effect nomination.

Also, John Williams was nominated for Best Original Score for each of the three movies he scored. This means that Williams was nominated for each of the movies in the Original Trilogy and each of the movies in the Sequel Trilogy but none of the films in the Prequel Trilogy. However, in a testament to just how prolific John Williams is, in each of the three years that a prequel movie failed to get a Best Original Score Nominations, John Williams was still nominated in the same category for a different film that he scored that year. Currently, John Williams has the most Academy Award nominations of any living person and has the second most nominations of all time. The only person who has more than Williams is Walt Disney.

In the end, while every Star Wars film has earned at least one nomination (if you don’t include the animated The Clone Wars movie), only the three movies from the Original Trilogy ever got the win from the Academy, meaning that in total Star Wars as a franchise currently has ten Oscars.