Which country has won the most foreign language film Oscars?

This year four European movies and an Argentinian one is in the foreign language film competition
This year four European movies and an Argentinian one is in the foreign language film competition Copyright Canva/AP Photo
Copyright Canva/AP Photo
By Rita Palfi
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From the most well known European cinema superpowers to small countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina or Hungary, cinema from the old continent has always figured highly among the favorites in the foreign language film category at the Oscars.


This year four European movies (Belgian, German, Irish and Polish) and an Argentinian entry have been nominated for the best foreign language film Oscar at the American Academy Awards. Let's go back in Oscars' history to see which countries have been the most successful.

Italy has collected the most foreign film honours at the Oscars. Even though only one Italian film has won the Oscar this century (The Great Beauty 2014) during the Cinema Italiano's golden era they were always the big favorites and in total the southern-European country picked up 14 awards from 32 nominations in total.

'Roberto' - Sophia Loren's joyful winner announcement and Benigni's walk on chairs

French exception

France are second on Italy's heels with more nominations (41) but only victorious 12 times. There hasn't been a night of glory for the French cinema industry for three decades as the last film to be recognised was Indochine in 1993.

Japan is some way behind in third place with five awards, the two most recent awarded in 2009 and 2022. The first three were awarded in the early years of Oscar history.

And the Oscar goes to...

The Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, as it is now, has been awarded since 1956, but originally in 1947 it was an honorary award. 

It was chosen by the Board of Governors of the Academy without other nominated films in competition. During its run the board gave four awards to Italy, France and Japan both won three each, with a Franco-Italian co production awarded in 1950.

There are two European countries up next, both celebrating their film being awarded four times: Spain and Denmark. In total, 20 Spanish films have been nominated compared to 14 Danish.

Another round from Denmark won Europe's latest award in 2021

Sweden is special as the same director, Ingmar Bergman won the award three times. To put that in some perspective; he's had 10 in competition while the whole nation's film industry has received 16 Oscar nominations in this category.

Russian films have gathered four Oscars for Best Foreign Film, three are from Soviet times

Non-English language film winners in Best Picture category

Only two non-English language foreign films have triumphed in the Best Picture category.  'The Artist' in 2012, a French mainly silent film, which means that the South Korean movie 'Parasite' made history when it won the award in 2020, as the first non-English language winner. 

This year the German anti-war film 'All quiet on the Western front' can make history and not only from a  language point of view. In 1930 the first movie based on Erich Maria Remarque novel with the same title was awarded the Oscar for Best Picture.

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