Every Sequel Ever Nominated For Best Picture (& Which Won)
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Every Sequel Ever Nominated For Best Picture (& Which Won)


  • Oscars have ignored franchise films, but a few sequels like The Godfather Part II and The Return of the King earned Best Picture nods.
  • Despite Hollywood’s increase in sequels, many franchise films like Mad Max: Fury Road and Black Panther have been snubbed by the Oscars.
  • The lack of recognition for sequels like The Dark Knight led to the Academy changing its Best Picture nomination system.



The Oscars have a history of ignoring franchise films, but a few sequels earned Best Picture nominations. Sequels have always been a big part of the movie industry, as the first was made in 1916, but the Academy Awards do not typically reward them in the most significant category. This includes notable Oscar snubs for some of the best sequels of all time, such as The Empire Strikes Back, Terminator 2, and The Dark Knight. The omission of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movie resulted in the Academy changing its Best Picture nomination system.

Even as Hollywood has continued to increase its output of sequels over the last several years, plenty of movie sequels have failed to earn Best Picture nominations at the Oscars. Recent snubs like Logan, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, or Black Panther: Wakanda Forever have mostly reinforced the idea that franchise films will not be recognized. In fact, through 95 years worth of Oscar nominations, fewer than a dozen sequels became Best Picture nominees – and only two have ever won.


Oscars 2023 Nominations: Biggest Snubs & Surprises

The nominations for the 2023 Oscars have been announced, and alongside the predictable entries comes a host of snubs, surprises and shocks.

1 The Bells Of St. Mary’s (1945)

Lost To The Lost Weekend

Father O'Malley in front of a Christmas Tree in The Bells of St Marys

The first sequel nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars was The Bells of St. Mary’s. The 1945 movie saw Bing Cosby return as Father O’Malley one year after starring in Going My Way, and this time he co-starred with Ingrid Bergman as Sister Mary Benedict. The Bells of St. Mary’s was poised to be an Oscar contender after Going My Way won Best Picture the year before. Director Leo McCary’s follow-up received eight nominations overall. Still, The Bells of St. Mary’s failed to repeat as the Best Picture Oscar winner, losing to Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend.

Where to Watch The Bells of St. Mary’s

2 The Godfather: Part II (1974)


It took nearly 30 years for the Oscars to nominate another sequel for Best Picture, and they held out for greatness with The Godfather Part II. Considered by many to be the greatest movie ever made, Francis Ford Coppola’s crime drama became a huge hit at the 1975 Oscars. The Godfather: Part II became the first sequel ever to win Best Picture, repeating The Godfather‘s success in the category. Overall, the sequel was a bigger Oscar winner as it won six categories compared to the original’s three. Both received 11 Oscar nominations.

Where to Watch The Godfather Part II


Every Godfather Movie Ranked From Worst To Best

The Godfather Saga has evolved into a cultural & artistic milestone over time. Here’s every film (& remake) in the trilogy ranked from worst to best.

3 The Godfather: Part III (1990)

Lost To Dances With Wolves

The Godfather: Part III became the third Best Picture sequel nominee at the 1991 Oscars. Audiences waited 16 years to see Francis Ford Coppola’s sequel to The Godfather: Part II, but The Godfather 3 did not live up to expectations. The threequel did receive seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, but it was the first film in the franchise not to win a single Oscar. The movie not winning Best Picture is far from an Oscars mistake, as it was not even the best mob movie nominated that year, thanks to GoodFellas. However, Dances With Wolves won Best Picture.

Where to Watch The Godfather Part III

4 The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

Lost To Chicago

Viggo Mortensen as Aragon in Two Towers Helms Deep

The Oscars began making Best Picture sequel nominations more common in the early 2000s thanks to Peter Jackson. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers joined the list of sequels nominated for Best Picture after its 2002 release. The movie is a sequel to Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which kicked off the franchise with a Best Picture nomination. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers earned six Oscar nominations one year later. It also failed to win the Best Picture award, losing to the musical adaptation of Chicago.

Where to Watch The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

5 The Lord Of The Rings: The Return of the King (2003)


The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Release Date
December 3, 2003

Elijah Wood , Ian McKellen , Liv Tyler , Viggo Mortensen , Sean Astin , Cate Blanchett , John Rhys-Davies , Bernard Hill , Billy Boyd , Dominic Monaghan , Orlando Bloom , Hugo Weaving , Miranda Otto , David Wenham , Karl Urban , John Noble , Andy Serkis , Ian Holm , Sean Bean

210 Minutes

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King became the second sequel Best Picture Oscar winner at the 2004 Academy Awards. Continuing the success of Peter Jackson’s movie adaptations of J. R. R. Tolkien’s novels, the story’s culmination saw voters reward the entire cast and crew for delivering one of the best movie trilogies. Success did not stop with The Return of the King becoming the second Best Picture sequel winner, as the film tied an Oscars record for most wins with 11, doing so in a sweep.

Where to Watch The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

6 Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)

Lost To The Departed

Ken Watanabe as General Tadamichi Kuribayashi holding binoculars in a trench in Letters From Iwo Jima.

Letters from Iwo Jima

Clint Eastwood

Release Date
December 19, 2006

Tsuyoshi Ihara, Kazunari Ninomiya, Shido Nakamura, Ken Watanabe, Ryo Kase, Hiroshi Watanabe


141 minutes

Drama, Action, Documentary, History, Adventure, War

Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima is a 2006 war movie and the second part of his exploration of the battle of Iwo Jima between the United States and Japan. Eastwood told the story from the United States’ perspective in Flags of Our Fathers, which was released in theaters in October 2006. Letters from Iwo Jima then told the battle from Japan’s perspective upon its wide release in February 2007. Still, Letters from Iwo Jima was the more successful film, earning a Best Picture nomination and Eastwood a Best Director nomination. It lost to Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.

Letters from Iwo Jima is available to rent on AppleTV, Amazon, Google Play, and YouTube.

7 Toy Story 3 (2010)

Lost To The King’s Speech

All the toys in Toy Story 3 spilling out of a box in Toy Story 3.

Toy Story 3

Lee Unkrich

Release Date
June 18, 2010

Jodi Benson , Ned Beatty , Tim Allen , Tom Hanks , Joan Cusack

103 minutes

Toy Story 3 is a rare addition to the Oscars Best Picture sequel nominations list, as it is the only animated sequel ever to receive the honor. The long-awaited sequel to Toy Story 2 delivered an emotional finale (at the time) for Woody, Buzz, and the rest of Andy’s toys. Toy Story 3‘s Best Picture nomination allowed it to accomplish something that no other entry in the franchise had done before or has done since. It is only the third animated movie ever to be nominated for Best Picture, but Pixar’s film lost the coveted award to The King’s Speech.

Every Animated Movie Nominated For Best Picture


Beauty and the Beast




Toy Story 3


Where to Watch Toy Story 3

8 Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Lost To Spotlight

Mad Max: Fury Road also counts as a movie sequel to earn a Best Picture Oscars nomination. George Miller’s fourth Mad Max movie is partially a reboot thanks to its new cast headlined by Tom Hardy and a sequel to the original films starring Mel Gibson. Mad Max: Fury Road was a huge Oscars contender during the 2016 ceremony, receiving 10 nominations overall. The George Miller movie won six Oscars for various production elements, but it lost out on some of the more prominent awards, including Best Picture. Spotlight won the prize that year instead.


What If Mad Max: Fury Road Was Made In 2003 (And Why It’s Good It Wasn’t)

If the plan to make Mad Max: Fury Road in 2003 had happened, it would have been a very different film with a radically different cultural impact.

Where to Watch Mad Max: Fury Road

9 Black Panther (2018)

Lost To Green Book

T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) smiling in Black Panther

Black Panther

Ryan Coogler

Release Date
February 16, 2018

134 Minutes

Though the film was a new franchise starter for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Black Panther acts as a sequel within the universe since Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa debuted in Captain America: Civil War two years earlier. Ryan Coogler’s revolutionary MCU movie broke all types of records for Marvel with the Oscars. Black Panther became the first MCU movie nominated for Best Picture and brought Marvel Studios its first three Oscars wins in other categories. Instead of Black Panther winning Best Picture, Green Book won the award.

Where to Watch Black Panther

10 Avatar: The Way Of Water (2023)

Lost To Everything Everywhere All At Once

Avatar: The Way of Water became the latest sequel nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in 2023. James Cameron’s sci-fi blockbuster came out 13 years after the original Avatar, which also received a Best Picture nomination. Despite doubts that Avatar: The Way of Water would not resonate as strongly with audiences, the film’s critical and financial performance proved that was not the case. The sequel’s Best Picture nomination is one of four Oscars it received nominations for. Avatar: The Way of Water ultimately lost out to Avatar: The Way of Water.

Where to Watch Avatar: The Way of Water

11 Top Gun: Maverick (2023)

Lost To Everything Everywhere All At Once

Tom Cruise As Pete Mitchell in a jet in Top Gun Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick

Joseph Kosinski

Release Date
May 27, 2022

Tom Cruise , Miles Teller , Jennifer Connelly , Val Kilmer , Jay Ellis , Jon Hamm , Bashir Salahuddin , Charles Parnell , Lewis Pullman , Glen Powell , Monica Barbaro , Ed Harris

130 Minutes

2023 set an Oscars sequel record by also nominating Top Gun: Maverick to become the first year with multiple sequels nominated for Best Picture. Tom Cruise’s movie also holds the record among Best Picture sequel nominees for the longest gap between the original film and the sequel. Top Gun: Maverick was released 36 years after Top Gun, which received four Oscar nominations and won Best Original Song. The Top Gun sequel performed even better, earning six nominations overall. However, just like Avatar: The Way of Water, the sequel lost to Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Where to Watch Top Gun: Maverick

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