The ORWAV writers are, naturally, great fans of movies – but there are two things this weekend that just can’t be ignored, that arguably take precedence over everything else: the 86th Academy Awards ceremony; and the ridiculous, over-specific trivia that goes along with it. So here it is: 25 nuggets of useless knowledge, to impress your friends and attract a mate.
We’ll start simple…
1. People who’ve broken their own records this year: young & spunky newcomers Meryl Streep, Woody Allen and John Williams. Meryl’s 18th Acting nomination – for August: Osage County – has destroyed the mere 17 nods of Streep 2012, while Woody has found himself on his 16th Original Screenplay nod, for Blue Jasmine (he first broke the record with his fifth nomination in 1986). Both have won three times. Williams is on his 49th Scoring nomination for The Book Thief.
2. Composer Thomas Newman has never won an Oscar (his American Beauty score was a near miss, surely?), but picking up his twelfth nomination this year – for Saving Mr. Banks – puts his family on a record 88 nods. Thomas’ father Alfred had over 40 of those, while brother David and uncles Emil and Lionel have scored their fair share of recognition. Oh, and his cousin Randy is kind of a big deal…
3. While we’re here, Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth films have picked up their 34th, 35th and 36th nominations this year, as Desolation of Smaug prepares to do battle in Visual Effects, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. The franchise is only twelve years and five films long, but it’s the most-nominated in the history of the Oscars.
4. Meanwhile, Megan Ellison becomes the third producer to compete against herself, for producing both American Hustle and Her. She joins a club that includes Scott Rudin (Moneyball vs. Extremely Loud… ), Scott Rudin again (No Country vs. There Will Be Blood), and Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather Part II vs. The Conversation).
5. Oh, and Sound Mixing this year sees two people competing against themselves, for different films. Chris Munro, for Captain Phillips, hopes to triumph over that hack Chris Munro for Gravity, while Inside Llewyn Davis’s Skip Lievsay hopes to defeat Gravity’s Skip Lievsay. Why are the Sound categories always strangely exciting? Anyone remember last year?
6. If it helps your predictions any, it’s been announced that exactly 50 statuettes have been produced this year (up from 44 last year). So you might be able to work out Producing, VFX and Short teams on sheer numbers. Will Huntings of the world unite!
7. Potential EGOT Alert. The historic quadruple win of a competitive Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony has been awarded to only 11 polymaths: five performers, 3 composers, a writer, a director, and super-producer Scott Rudin (again). Well, the very musical Mr. Robert Lopez – owner of 3 Tonys, 2 Emmys and a Grammy – could complete his lineup Sunday night with a win for his song ‘Let it Go’. You may have heard of it.
8. Speaking of polymaths: Alfonso Cuarón has joined the front ranks of People Nominated in the Most Different Categories. For Gravity, Cuarón can add Producer (ie. ‘Best Picture’) and Director nods to his existing Adapted Screenplay, Original Screenplay and Editing ones. Only one man currently has nominations (and two wins) in a whopping six categories, however: that’s right, it’s Nespresso Renaissance Man Mr. George Clooney. Take a bow George.
9. World cinema fans rejoice – Thomas Vinterberg’s Best Foreign Language nomination for The Hunt marks the third nod for a director from the Dogme 95 movement. Fellow Dane Susanne Bier holds the previous two: a nomination for 2006’s At the Wedding and a win for 2010’s In a Better World.
10. The Hunt’s competitor Omar, meanwhile, is the second-ever nomination for Palestine (the first was 2005’s brilliant Paradise Now, also directed by one-man industry Hany Abu-Assad) – alongside Cambodia’s first, for The Missing Picture. And in case you’re wondering, this year’s favourite The Great Beauty could mark Italy’s 14th win (again, breaking its own category record).
11. And while we’re on the subject, the dark horse of this year’s Documentary Feature race is The Square, about the recent/ongoing Egyptian revolution (it’s on Netflix, as it happens). If it wins, it’d be the first in any category for an Egyptian-born director; the country is one of Oscar’s biggest Foreign-Language losers, having submitted 29 films over the years without making a single nominations shortlist (Portugal have had 30… ). Sometimes, good trivia comes at the sad expense of entire national film industries.
12. Right, back onto the bigger categories: if Steve McQueen wins Best Director this year, he’ll be the first person of colour to do so (after Lee Daniels and John Singleton’s admirable attempts); if Alfonso Cuarón wins, he’ll be the first Mexican. If Alexander Payne wins he’ll be the first from Omaha, Nebraska to do so (I’m not making this up).
13. You guys realise Brad Pitt is a Producer on 12 Years a Slave, right? Like, Brad Pitt could seriously win an Oscar in the next 24 hours.
14. This is the second year in a row that Scarlett Johansson has sung on an Oscar-nominated Original Song. Last year it was lead vocals on J. Ralph’s lovely track ‘Before My Time’, for documentary Chasing Ice; this year, of course, her disembodied character Samantha softly accompanies Theodore Twombly’s ukulele strums in Her, on Karen O and Spike Jonze’s ‘The Moon Song’. Ms. Johansson still has yet to gain her own nomination though, sadly.
15. We’re pretty certain – this has been fact-checked like you wouldn’t believe – that ‘The Moon Song’ is the first ever piece nominated for an Academy Award that was written for the ukulele.
16. For more low-key brilliance, look no further than Best Picture nominee Dallas Buyers Club. Roundly considered favourites to win, Makeup Artist Robin Mathews and Hair Stylist Adruitha Lee were somewhat notoriously given a budget of $250. This is 0.00005% of the film’s total $5m budget, and 0.00025% of the highest make-up budget of all time: $1m for the Oscar-winning Planet of the Apes.
17. The ever-humble Jonah Hill set the bar for “rags-to-riches” stories a few weeks back when he revealed that he’d accepted SAG’s minimum salary of $60,000 for The Wolf of Wall Street. Despite being, er, out-of-pocket, he could still have funded Dallas Buyers Club’s make-up department 240 times.
18. Best Makeup and Hairstyling has something of a reputation for giving films such as Norbit and The Wolfman nominations and wins. This year’s no different, as right there with Dallas are Bad Grandpa and The Lone Ranger. So here, for the first time, is the mean Rotten Tomatoes score for all the Make-Up nominees ever: 69%. … Actually, that’s not so bad.
19. The past decade has seen a wealth of nominations for biopics and performances based on real people. This year may break the record though; eight of the twenty nominated performances are based irrefutably on real life (same as 2004 and 2010), but add in the cast of American Hustle (because are they real, or aren’t they… ) and baby, you got a biographical stew goin’.
20. Disney are primed for their first win in Best Animated Feature since the category was created 12 years ago. They’ve previously lost out seven times (same as Pixar have won it, in fact), but Frozen looks to be a safe bet. But you want trivia? Despite Pixar’s garlands, the studio with greatest success in this category, with 100% wins, is… wait for it… Sony. With one win from one nomination – Happy Feet – it’s Sony.
21. Disney meanwhile have their record 49th nomination in Animated Short, with the brilliant Get a Horse!. If that weren’t trivia enough, the second most-nominated organization in this category, with 36 nods over the years, is the National Film Board of Canada. So they’re good at maple syrup, Mounties and now short cartoons, apparently.
22. This is Matthew McConaughey’s first year acting in a film nominated for Best Picture… and he’s done it twice with Dallas and The Wolf of Wall Street! This ain’t Leto’s first rodeo, though… he was in Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line, nominated in 1998. Another first-timer is Steve Coogan (Philomena) who also pops up in Despicable Me 2.
23. Jennifer Lawrence is an old hand though. Having starred in Best Picture nominees Winter’s Bone, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, and being nominated for all of those, at 23 she’s the youngest person ever to have been nominated for 3 Oscars. I’m 23 and don’t even own a watch.
24. The greatest underhand tactic in the history of the Academy Awards has been played. Harvey Weinstein, stand up and take a bow. The Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom producer is capitalizing on that film’s sole nomination – for U2’s song ‘Ordinary Love’ – by inviting several Mandelas to the ceremony. It could well upset Frozen – after all, if the white guilt doesn’t hook awkward voters, the fear of upsetting a group of pensioners will.
25. For those of you who keep track of this sort of thing, this year’s Academy Awards are the least gender-diverse in quite some time. Despite making up, as ever, roughly 50% of the population, women constitute 21.2% of all nominations this year – a drop of 0.1% on last year. The most representative spread of recent years was 2007’s 33.3%; strange for the year of Old Men perhaps. The last ten years are footnoted below- never say we don’t give you talking points.
- Other people with nods in 5 different categories:
Warren Beatty, Kenneth Branagh, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Walt Disney, John Huston, Billy Wilder.
- Incidentally Spike Jonze this year makes the short list of people recognised in 4 different areas, alongside Ingmar Bergman, James L. Brooks, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Jackson, Stanley Kubrick, Joseph Mankiewicz, Laurence Olivier and Oliver Stone.
- Academy Awards Gender Divides:
86th (2013) – 44/208 – 21.2%
85th (2012) – 44/207 – 21.3%
84th (2011) – 47/203 – 23.2%
83rd (2010) – 44/204 – 22.0%
82nd (2009) – 42/193 – 22.0%
81st (2008) – 31/168 – 19.0%
80th (2007) – 44/132 – 33.3%
79th (2006) – 43/171 – 25.2%
78th (2005) – 39/165 – 24.0%
77th (2004) – 36/180 – 20.0%