Five films have received three nominations in a single acting category:
- Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) – Best Actor: Clark Gable, Franchot Tone, and Charles Laughton (lost to Victor McLaglen for The Informer).
- On the Waterfront (1954) – Best Supporting Actor: Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, and Rod Steiger (lost to Edmund O’Brien for The Barefoot Contessa).
- Tom Jones (1963) – Best Supporting Actress: Diane Cilento, Edith Evans, and Joyce Redman (lost to Margaret Rutherford for The V.I.P.s).
- The Godfather (1972) – Best Supporting Actor: Al Pacino, James Caan, and Robert Duvall (lost to Joel Grey for Cabaret).
- The Godfather Part II (1974) – Best Supporting Actor: Michael V. Gazzo, Lee Strasberg, and Robert de Niro.
I don’t expect to have to update this list too often, the way films are today. Hell, we haven’t had even a double nomination for Best Actor since 1984, and not for Best Actress or Best Supporting Actor since 1991 (Best Supporting Actress is a whole other story). Certainly the advent of Supporting categories in 1936 makes Mutiny on the Bounty likely to be the only film to garner three in a lead acting category.