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For Your Consideration: A History of Presidential Movies at the Oscars

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire November 14, 2012 at 11:30AM

Over the years, films about real-life American presidents from Andrew Jackson to Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton (whether fictionalized or not) have garnered a total of 36 Oscar nominations and seven wins. That count is essentially certain to grow come early 2013, when Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" is all but assured to get a bunch of noms (while another presidential pic, Roger Michell's FDR-centered "Hyde Park on Hudson," has an outside shot at a couple nods as well). READ MORE: 2013 Oscar Predictions
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Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln"
Daniel Day-Lewis in "Lincoln"

Over the years, films about real-life American presidents from Andrew Jackson to Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton (whether fictionalized or not) have garnered a total of 36 Oscar nominations and seven wins. That count is essentially certain to grow come early 2013, when Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" is all but assured to get a bunch of noms (while another presidential pic, Roger Michell's FDR-centered "Hyde Park on Hudson," has an outside shot at a couple nods as well).

READ MORE: 2013 Oscar Predictions

In honor of the former's wide release this weekend (after a massive limited debut last weekend), Indiewire is running down a basic history of presdential movies at the Oscars. Though a couple of the films indeed fictionalize real-life presidents, only films depicting actual historical figures are included (sorry "Dave" and "The American President"). There are also no TV projects here, despite plenty of quality options ("John Adams," "Game Change") -- simply because, well, they aren't eligible for Oscars, so it sort of defeats the purpose.

The Gorgeous Hussy
President: Andrew Jackson
Release: 1936
The Gist:  Directed by Clarence Brown, "Hussy" is a fictionalized account of the friendship between Jackson (Lionel Barrymore) and an innkeeper's daughter (Joan Crawford).  It was based on the novel by Samuel Hopkins Adams.
Oscar Count: Two nominations for best supporting actress (Beulah Bondi, as Jackson's wife Rachel) and best cinematography.

"Wilson"
"Wilson"
Wilson
President: Woodrow Wilson
Release: 1944
The Gist: Alexander Knox played Woodrow Wilson in this pet project of Darryl F. Zanuck that was directed by Harry (and co-starred Vincent Price as William Gibbs McAdoo!). Though it got good reviews, it was a box office bomb. Its failure actually upset Zanuck to the point where he forbade any of his employees from ever mentioning the film in his presence again.
Oscar Count: A whopping 10 nominations, including best picture, despite its financial failure. Of them, it won 5 (Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Color; Best Cinematography, Color; Best Film Editing; Best Sound, Recording; Best Original Screenplay).

Sunrise at Campobello
President: Franklin Roosevelt
Release: 1960
The Gist: Based on the long-running Broadway play with the same name, the film depicts the initial struggle by future President FDR (Ralph Bellamy) and his family when he was stricken with paralysis at the age of 39. It takes place at the Roosevelt family's vacation home in New Brunswick, Canada. Consider it an unofficial prequel to December's "Hyde Park on Hudson."
Oscar Count: No wins, but four noms: Best Actress (Greer Garson, as Eleanor Roosevelt), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color, Best Costume Design, Color and Best Sound.

This article is related to: Academy Awards, Lincoln, Hyde Park on Hudson






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