The 6 Times Oscars Ended in a Tie (Yes, It's Actually Possible)

The 6 Times Oscars Ended in a Tie (Yes, It's Actually Possible)
Image credit: Legion-Media, globallookpress

What happens when one award is presented to two parties at the Oscars, and who has it happened to before?


  • Only six times in the history of the Oscars has there been a tie.
  • The most famous was between Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand for Best Actress in 1969.
  • So far in this century, there has only been one tie, for the films Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall in 2013.

There have been a whopping 96 Academy Awards since the ceremony's inception in 1929, with categories for best picture, best actor, best director, best score, best costume, and so on and so forth. It is therefore almost impossible to believe that of all the categories across the many Oscar ceremonies, there have only ever been six ties for the winners. Here are all the instances that have occurred so far.

Wallace Beery and Fredric March for Best Actor (1932)

The very first Oscar tie was due to a controversial rule at the time, which was probably changed later because of such embarrassing events. At the 5th Academy Awards, the top votes for Best Actor went to Wallace Beery for The Champ and Fredric March for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. March had one more vote than Beery, but the rules stated that you had to win by 3 or more votes, so the award went to both.

March embarrassingly finished the entire acceptance speech as if he was the sole winner, only to have someone come on stage and admit that Berry was his co-winner. Definitely a cringe-worthy moment.

'A Chance to Live' and 'So Much for So Little' for Best Documentary Short Subject (1950)

Another tie didn't occur until the 22nd Academy Awards, and the two contenders couldn't have been further apart. One was part of a documentary series called The March of Time. The series, about the construction of a Catholic boys' home in Italy, was produced by Time Inc. and originally intended to promote the magazine, but had become its own form of serious journalism.

Its competitor instead was an animated cartoon produced by Warner Bros. to advocate and educate about health and the environment. It was commissioned by the Public Health Service and was later even included on home video releases alongside other Warner Bros. cartoons such as Looney Tunes.

Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand for Best Actress (1969)

Perhaps the most famous Oscar tie was between two great acting legends, Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand, during the 41st Academy Awards in 1969. Although there was nothing controversial about the joint win, it was a standout moment for two such high-profile women to win the award at the same time, especially considering the industry was so dominated by leading men at the time.

Best Actress went to Hepburn for her role in The Lion in Winter and Streisand for her iconic role as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. Hepburn was not present that night to accept her award in person. However, when Streisand was presented with the Oscar, she comically replied, “Hello gorgeous”.

'Artie Shaw: Time is All You've Got' and 'Down and Out in America' for Best Documentary Feature (1987)

Two documentary feature films simultaneously won at the 1987 Oscars. Artie Shaw: Time is All You've Got is a Canadian documentary about the life and career of American clarinetist Artie Shaw. Down and Out in America, which also won, is a documentary focused on the working class of the United States suffering under the economic policies of the Reagan administration. Both films were produced and directed individually by women, Brigitte Berman and Lee Grant.

'Franz Kafka's It's a Wonderful Life' and 'Trevor' for Best Short Film Live Action (1995)

The 1995 Oscar tie was between two live-action shorts. One was a surreal and delightfully peculiar short film created by Peter Capaldi, the renowned Scottish actor and director best known for his portrayal of the Twelfth Doctor in Doctor Who. The cinematic piece portrays writer Franz Kafka as he embarks on the creation of one of his most renowned works, The Metamorphosis. However, he comically finds that his inspiration is lacking as he suffers constant interruptions.

This year's Oscar for Best Live Action Short was also won by Trevor, an American production directed by Peggy Rajski. The narrative of the short film revolves around a young boy named Trevor (played by Brett Barksy) and illustrates the challenges of discrimination and bullying he faces due to his interests and his budding affection for another boy at school.

'Skyfall' and 'Zero Dark Thirty' for Best Sound Editing (2013)

The very last Oscars tie (so far) came as recently as 2013, during the 85th Academy Awards, and the only one of the 21st century. The tie occurred for the award for Best Sound Editing, and was shared between the 23rd Bond film Skyfall and the American historical drama thriller Zero Dark Thirty.

Zero Dark Thirty is a dramatic retelling of the events surrounding the international manhunt for terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Skyfall, meanwhile, was the third in Daniel Craig 's portrayal of the iconic fictional British spy James Bond. Both action-packed films were box office successes and received critical acclaim for their acting, directing, screenwriting and, of course, sound design.