1. 1941, How Green Was My Valley
We say: No
Donald Crisp won best supporting actor for his role as the father in John Ford’s How Green was My Valley, set in the South Wales coalfields. It also won Best Picture and Best Director for Ford.
Donald Crisp was believed to be one of the most successful Scots in Hollywood – due to his soft brogue, his claims he had been born in Aberfeldy and also as the star of sentimental films including Greyfriar’s Bobby. He was even honoured with a plaque in Aberfeldy by the Scottish Film Council. But true to Hollywood it was revealed, by a curious local librarian, to all be make believe. He was in fact an East Londoner, born in Bow.
2. 1953, From Here to Eternity
Yes - but only sort of
From Here to Eternity picked up the Best Picture Oscar in 1953, and Helensburgh-born Deborah Kerr was nominated but didn't win for Best Supporting Actress for her role as adulteress Karen, famed for her tussle on the beach with Burt Lancaster. In total Kerr was nominated for an Oscar six times , but never won. She was finally given her chance on the podium when she was presented with the Academy Honorary Award in 1994.
Her nominations were for Edward, My Son in 1949, From Here to Eternity in 1953, The King and I in 1956, Heaven Knows, Mr Allison in 1957, Separate Tables in 1958, and Sundowners in 1960.
3. 1958, Separate Tables
David Niven won the award for Best Actor for Separate Tables, a drama also starring Deborah Kerr, Rita Hayworth and Burt Lancaster.
It’s often believed that David Niven was born in Kirrimuir, birthplace of JM Barrie, but it was a myth created by the actor himself, as he thought it sounded more romantic. He was the model of a suave, charming Englishman and was born in London, trained at Sandhurst and was a lieutenant in the Highland Light infantry. His autobiography The Moon is a Balloon, is considered one of the best tales from Hollywood.
4. 1969, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Maggie Smith won the Best Actress award for playing idealistic teacher Jean Brodie in the adaptation of Edinburgh writer Muriel Spark’s novel. Jean Brodie was one of the great Scottish characters and her school was supposedly based on James Gillespie’s. The screen adaptation was filmed on location around Edinburgh. Dame Maggie Smith, whose mother was from Glasgow, perfected her Morningside burr for the role.
5. 1981, Chariots of Fire
Yes - kind of
Chariots of Fire was the big hit at the 1981 Oscars, winning four awards including for Best Picture. Writer Colin Welland famously announced from the podium ‘The British are coming!’ Known for its much imitated slow-motion run along the beach at St Andrews, it tells the true story of Scottish runner Eric Liddell in training for the 1924 Olympics.
The late Edinburgh-born actor Ian Charleston played Eric Liddell, but it was Ian Holm who was nominated for Best Supporting Actor - he was born in London to Scottish parents. While its producers and director were not Scottish, its theme, setting and star allow it to be considered as both a Scottish and a British win.
6. 1987, The Untouchables
Sean Connery won Best Supporting Actor for Brian De Palma’s crime drama based on the life of Al Capone and Eliot Ness. Edinburgh born Connery played Irish-American police officer Jim Malone, complete with his customary Scottish accent.
In 2003 Sir Sean was further awarded for this role, when Empire Magazine readers voted it the worst movie accent of all time. Although maybe he should be respected for the fact that no matter if he is playing a Russian submarine captain, an English king or an Irish-American cop, he stays true to his local accent.
7. 1995, Braveheart
For a quintessentially Scottish film, Braveheart is not very Scottish at all. It was directed by and starred an Australian, was produced in America and was filmed in Ireland. Mel Gibson even succeeded in rivalling Dick van Dyke for worst depiction of a regional accent.
Nevertheless its romantic depiction of a Scottish folk hero, complete with kilts and misty glens, and the theme of fighting oppression, struck a chord worldwide, and it picked up five Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography. There’s also no denying the effect it had on Scottish history. (See the statue of Mel Gibson at the Wallace Monument).
8. 1995, Frank Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life
The surreal Frank Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, which won Best Live Action Short film in 1995, was written and directed by Peter Capaldi, and starred Richard E Grant.
Glasgow born Peter Capaldi has since won acclaim for playing spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in The thick of It and it’s Academy Award nominated film version, In the Loop.
9. 1995, Sense and Sensibility
Emma Thompson won her second Oscar in 1995 for Best Adapted Screenplay for Sense and Sensibility. Her first was the Best Actress award for Howard’s End in 1992.
Despite being born and living most of her life in London, the thespian actress once told the Herald “I feel profoundly Scottish. ” She’s the daughter of Scottish actress Phyllidda Law, and with relations still in Scotland, she would spend childhood holidays in Dunoon. The actress voiced Queen Elinor in Brave, and she found fame in 80s TV series Tutti Frutti, with Robbie Coltrane.
10. 2003, Return of the King
As the final in the epic Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the 2003 Academy awards was Peter Jackson’s last chance, and so it duly swept the board in all 11 categories it was nominated for.
Annie Lennox’s Into the West was an Elvish lament played over the end credits, and written by Aberdeen-born Lennox, Howard Shore and Fran Walsh, Peter Jackson’s partner. Lennox performed the song live at the Academy awards and it also won a Grammy for best Song written for Visual Media.
11. 2007, Michael Clayton
Tilda Swinton won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Michael Clayton, also starring George Clooney.
Swinton was born in London but her father, Major-General Sir John Swinton is Scottish, and her family's Scottish links go back to the Middle Ages. She briefly went to Fettes College in Edinburgh and lived in Edinburgh, working with the Traverse Theatre in the 1980s. She was married to Scottish playwright John Byrne and still lives in Nairn, with her new partner. So I think we can claim her as a Scot.
12. 2011, The Lost Thing
Winner of Best Animated Short Film, The Lost Thing was an Australian production, directed by Shaun Tan, based on his book about a dystopian future. It took ten years to put together and while it was created in Melbourne, Scottish digital artist Tom Bryant was the lead digital artist and CG supervisor.