Every Time Film Costars Were Both Nominated For Leading Role Oscars

List Rules
Actors who were nominated in the same Academy Award category for roles in the same movie (lead acting only).

Some movies are lucky to get an acting nomination at the Oscars, while others get nominations in multiple acting categories. But there are even fewer cases of costars nominated in the same category for the same film. While Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress are more likely than the two lead categories to have costars nominated for the same Academy Award, there are still 17 examples of leading stars achieving this.

The scarcity of this can often be attributed to how rare it is for two stars of the same gender in the same movie to have true leading roles. And even when they do, one star typically competes in the Supporting category, to maximize potential to win (a.k.a. "category fraud"). After all, costars nominated in the same category guarantees at least one loss unless there's the miniscule chance of a tie. However, the list of Oscar nominees for Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Leading Role for the same movie is made up of some of history's greatest actors and actresses, who wouldn't dare be caught dead in the measly supporting categories!

Here are 17 instances of costars who got Oscar nominations for the same movie in the same lead acting category.

Photo:

  • Clark Gable, Charles Laughton & Franchot Tone - Best Actor, Mutiny on the Bounty
    Photo: MGM

    Clark Gable, Charles Laughton and Franchot Tone were all nominated for Best Actor for playing Fletcher Christian, Captain Bligh and Byam in 1935's Mutiny on the Bounty. This is the only time three costars have been nominated in a lead category together, though it must be noted that supporting categories were not instated until the following year. Despite a 60% chance of winning, neither Gable nor Laughton nor Tone won the Oscar, losing to Victor McLaglen in The Informer.

  • Bing Crosby & Barry Fitzgerald - Best Actor, Going My Way
    Photo: Paramount Pictures

    Bing Crosby plays a young priest in 1944's Going My Way who has conflict with an elder priest played by Barry Fitzgerald. Both earned Oscar nominations for Best Actor, but Fitzgerald managed to also get nominated in Best Supporting Actor. The rules were then changed to prevent this from happening in the future. However, this allowed the Academy to reward both men, with Crosby winning Best Actor and Fitzgerald winning Best Supporting Actor.

  • Anne Baxter & Bette Davis - Best Actress, All About Eve
    Photo: 20th Century Fox

    Anne Baxter and Bette Davis were the first actresses from the same film nominated for Best Actress, for their performances as rival stars Eve Harrington and Margo Channing in 1950's All About Eve. Davis' performance in particular is widely regarded as one of the best in her career. However, neither she nor Baxter won the Oscar, losing to Judy Holliday for her performance in Born Yesterday.

  • Montgomery Clift & Burt Lancaster - Best Actor, From Here to Eternity
    Photo: Columbia Pictures

    Montgomery Clift and Burt Lancaster were nominated for Best Actor for playing Pvt. Robert E. Lee "Prew" Prewitt and 1st Sgt. Milton Warden in 1953's From Here to Eternity. While the film won eight Oscars including Best Picture, Clift and Lancaster were not among the winners. Best Actor went to William Holden for Stalag 17, who also plays a soldier.

  • James Dean & Rock Hudson - Best Actor, Giant
    Photo: Warner Bros.

    1956's Giant, a sprawling epic about the trials and tribulations of Texas rancher and his family,  earned Best Actor nominations for Rock Hudson (as the rancher, "Bick" Benedict Jr.) and James Dean (as his rival, local handyman Jett Rink). This was Dean's last film before his untimely death, and he became the first actor to earn a posthumous Oscar nomination. Neither Dean nor Hudson won, with Yul Brynner winning for The King and I.

  • Tony Curtis & Sidney Poitier - Best Actor, The Defiant Ones
    Photo: United Artists

    Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier play "Joker" Jackson and Noah Cullen, escaped prisoners who are chained together, in 1958's The Defiant Ones. Fittingly, they were nominated together as well, for Best Actor at the Oscars, but they lost to David Niven in Separate Tables. Poitier would later win for Lilies of the Field but this was Curtis' one and only nomination.