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Billy Wilder and the Oscars

Billy Wilder directed several great films, including Double Indemnity (1944), The Lost Weekend (1945), Sunset Boulevard (1950), and Some Like It Hot (1959), but none of these won him three Oscars in a single evening: That distinction goes to The Apartment (1960). At the 1961 Academy Awards ceremony, Wilder first picked up an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay (cowritten with I.A.L. Diamond), then received another for Best Director, and finally collected his third statuette of the evening when The Apartment won Best Picture since he had produced it.

Wilder was no stranger to the Academy Awards, having been nominated in the Best Director category a remarkable eight times. However, he won Best Director only twice: first for The Lost Weekend and then later for The Apartment as mentioned earlier. His other six Best Director Oscar nominations were for Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17 (1953), Sabrina (1954), Witness for the Prosecution (1957), and Some Like It Hot.

Wilder started his Hollywood career as a screenwriter, and he always wrote scripts with one or more cowriters. When he later became a director, Wilder coscripted every film he directed. Over the years Wilder was nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing twelve times in the Best Screenplay category and won three times: The Lost Weekend, Sunset Boulevard, and The Apartment as mentioned earlier. The other nine Best Screenplay nominations were for Ninotchka (1939), Hold Back the Dawn (1941), Ball of Fire (1941), Double Indemnity, A Foreign Affair (1948), The Big Carnival (1951), Sabrina, Some Like It Hot, and The Fortune Cookie (1967).

A glance at the above titles makes it clear that Billy Wilder's place in the pantheon of great directors and great screenwriters is a secure one. And the fact that it's still possible today to walk into suburban chain video stores and rent nearly all of the above titles is testament to the continuing popularity of Wilder's films with movie lovers.

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