8½ won two Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Costume Design (black-and-white) while garnering three other nominations for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Art Direction (black-and-white). The New York Film Critics Circle also named 8½ best foreign language film. The Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists awarded the movie all seven prizes for director, producer, original story, screenplay, music, cinematography, and best supporting actress (Sandra Milo). It also garnered nominations for Best Actor, Best Costume Design, and Best Production Design.
At the Saint Vincent Film Festival, it was awarded Grand Prize over Luchino Visconti's Il gattopardo (The Leopard). The film screened in April at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival to "almost universal acclaim but no prize was awarded because it was shown outside the competition. Cannes rules demanded exclusivity in competition entries, and 8½ was already earmarked as Italy's official entry in the later Moscow festival". Presented on 18 July 1963 to an audience of 8,000 in the Kremlin's conference hall, 8½ won the prestigious Grand Prize at the 3rd Moscow International Film Festival to acclaim that, according to Fellini biographer Tullio Kezich, worried the Soviet festival authorities: the applause was "a cry for freedom". Jury members included Stanley Kramer, Jean Marais, Satyajit Ray, and screenwriter Sergio Amidei.