Most successful countries in the Oscar category for best international feature film

The Best International Film category at the Oscars has had an interesting history. Called the Best Foreign Language Film category until it received its current name in 2020, early awards were more honorary, with the category not considered an official competitive category until the 29th Academy Awards, with Federico Fellini. La Strada win that year for Italy. As of August 2022, 62 different nations have received nominations in the category, 28 of which emerged victorious. It’s important to note that category winners are attributed to the country, not the director of the film in question. Today, let’s look at the countries that had the most success in the Best International Film category at the Oscars.


6 Sweden

Sweden is actually in a triple tie with the Netherlands and the Soviet Union for wins. The three nations each have three wins, but Sweden wins the tiebreaker on the number of nominations. They have 16 nominated films, compared to nine for the Soviet Union and seven for the Netherlands. The three Swedish victories are the work of a single filmmaker: the legendary Ingmar Bergman. His films have actually won back-to-back wins, with The Virgin Source and Through dark glass winner for 1960 and 1961, respectively. Sweden will have to wait until 1983 for their last victory, Fanny and Alexander. In 2022, Sweden’s most recent nomination came for 2017 The square. Although the film didn’t win the Oscar, it did win another incredibly prestigious award: the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Related: Every Best International Feature Film Oscar Winner Of The 2010s, Ranked

5 Denmark

With four victories, Denmark is doing well in the category. Their first nomination came in the first year the category was considered competitive, with the film Qivitoq receive a nomination. Like Sweden, Denmark would also win back-to-back victories, winning in 1987 and 1988 for Babette’s Feast and Shovel the Conqueror. A third win would come for the 2010s In a better worldand their fourth and most recent win would come with 2020 another round, which also earned director Thomas Vinterberg an Oscar nomination for Best Director. Denmark would receive another nomination a year later for the animated documentary, To run away. This film became the first film to be nominated for Best International Film, Best Animated Film and Best Documentary in the same year.

4 Spain

Like Denmark, Spain also have four victories in the category. They rank higher due to more applicants. Spain have 20, against 14 for Denmark. Spain’s first nomination came for 1958 The Revenge, lose to France My uncle. Their first victory dates back to the years 1982 start beguine. The director of this film, José Luis Garci, earned Spain four nominations for his films, the most of any Spanish director, and earned him a nomination ahead of legendary director, Pedro Almodovar. Only one Almodovar has won in this category: 1999 all about my mother. Almodovar would win the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for 2002 Talk to him. Almodovar also holds Spain’s most recent nomination, that of 2019 pain and glorywho lost to South Korea Parasite. Spain’s other two wins would come from 1993 Belle Epoque and 2004 The sea withinwith Javier Bardem.

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3 Japan

With five victories, three of which are considered honorary, Japan wins the bronze medal for the most successful nation in the Best International Feature Film category. They are also the most successful non-European nation in the category. Their first honorary win came for Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece, Rashomon. Kurosawa and Noboru Nakamura are the only Japanese directors to earn multiple nominations for their films, with two each. One of Kurosawa’s movies, Dersu Uzala, would win in this category for the Soviet Union instead of Japan. Like Denmark, Japan also received a nomination the first year the category was considered competitive, with the incredible Harp from Burma being their nominee. The 1950s were incredibly successful for Japan, with their three honorary victories during that decade. With 17 nominations, the fourth most of any nation, it’s downright shocking how long Japan have had to wait for their first competitive victory. This will only happen in 2008, when departures won the prize. Japan would receive their second competitive victory for 2021 drive my car.

2 France

France are the second most successful nation in this category and the gap between second and third place Japan is huge. Japan, as mentioned earlier, has five wins. France has 12, two of which are considered honorary, with a special award for the years 1947 Mr Vincent. They also have the most nominated films of any nation, with a whopping 40. France wouldn’t have to wait long for their first competition wins. They will obtain consecutive victories in 1958 and 1959 for My uncle and black orpheus. Several legendary French films received nominations, with Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Goodbye Childrenand Amelie being some of the most notable titles. Recent history, however, has not been too kind to France. Their last victory dates back to 1992 Indochina. Their most recent nomination came for 2019 Wretched. While France have no trouble being nominated (they received six nominations in the 2000s alone), it’s a bit of a surprise that they haven’t won in so long. Still, unless Japan starts winning the category every year for the next decade, France’s second place in the category seems entirely assured.

1 Italy

With 14 victories, Italy is the most successful nation in the Best International Feature category. Of these 14, two are considered honorary (1946’s Shoe polish and 1948 The bicycle thief) and one of them (1949’s The walls of Malapaga) is considered a shared victory with France. With 32 nominated films, Italy occupies the second place with the nominees, behind only France. Italy would not only win the first year the category was considered competitive, but also the second, again with a film by Federico Fellini (Cabiria Nights). In fact, Fellini has the best record among Italian submissions. Each time one of his films has been nominated, it has won, giving Italy four of its 14 wins. Vittorio De Sica is the only other Italian director whose films have won multiple times, winning in competition for Yesterday, today and tomorrow and The Garden of the Finzi-Continis. Other legendary Italian winners include the 1970s Investigation of a citizen above suspicion and 1988 Cinema Paradisowith 1966 The Battle of Algiers being a candidate. Italy’s last victory dates back to 2013, for Paolo Sorrentino The great beauty. A Sorrentino film also holds Italy’s most recent nomination, with 2021 God’s hand.

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