Monday, February 18, 2008

Trivial Pursuits: Oscars 2007

Oscar trivia is a favorite pastime of most movie addicts; in a way, the minutiae of "who won what", "who was the first" and all those "film facts and figures" satisfies the same thirst for knowledge as athletic stats do to sports nuts. Only ours is far more interesting and, you know, artistic.

Naturally, every year brings about new possibilities for "firsts this" and "record thats", and this year's batch of 2007 Academy Award hopefuls is no different:
  • Cate Blanchett, nominated this year for Best Actress as Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth: The Golden Age and Best Supporting Actress as Bob Dylan in I'm Not There, is the first same year double nominee to be honored for playing two real people. She is also the first actress to be nominated for playing the same role in two different movies (the first time being for Elizabeth in 1998). In addition, she is only the third person in history to be nominated for playing a character of the opposite sex (the first was Linda Hunt, who won Best Supporting Actress for playing a male photographer in The Year of Living Dangerously; the second was Felicity Huffman, who was biologically a man for most of Transamerica). And ... if she wins for I'm Not There, she will have won twice for playing a real Oscar winner (Dylan won Best Original Song for Wonder Boys; she previously won for playing Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator).

  • Speaking of the Best Actress category: if Julie Christie wins this year for Away from Her, it will mark the longest time between acting wins for anyone; she previously won in 1965 for Darling, which would make it 42 years. The previous record holder was Helen Hayes, with 39 years between her first (The Sin of Madelon Claudet, 1931) and second (Airport, 1970) wins. If Marion Cotillard wins for La Vie en Rose, she would only be the second Best Actress winner for a foreign language performance (the first was Sophia Loren in Two Women). On the other hand, if Juno's Ellen Page wins, she would be the new youngest Best Actress ever, beating current record holder Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God) by a few months.

  • Speaking of Ellen Page: if she wins, she will be the third X-Men actress (she played Kitty Pryde in The Last Stand) to have an Oscar, after Anna "Rogue" Paquin (The Piano) and Halle "Storm" Berry (Monster's Ball).

  • If the 83-year-old Ruby Dee wins Best Supporting Actress for American Gangster, she will become the oldest overall acting winner, replacing reigning champ 80-year-old Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy).

  • If Hal Holbrook wins Best Supporting Actor for Into the Wild, he will become the oldest male acting winner, besting George Burns (The Sunshine Boys), who was 80 when he won.

  • Of the 19 nominated actors, only nine are American and ten have been nominated previously.

  • If Joel and Ethan Coen win Best Director for No Country for Old Men, they would be only the second twosome to do so. Something tells me though that they get along a lot better then the other duo to win: Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for West Side Story.

  • Speaking of the Coens, they have tied Warren Beatty's previous record of being nominated in four different categories in the same year. Beatty has actually achieved that twice, for Heaven Can Wait and again for Reds. The Coen brothers are both nominated jointly for producing, directing, writing and editing No Country, the latter prize under their editor pseudonym "Roderick Jaynes". If they win in all four categories, they would be the only people to win four awards for the same film (Walt Disney took home four Oscars in 1953, but for different movies). However, there's a catch ...

  • Four of the ten screenplay nominees are women: Tamara Jenkins (The Savages), Sarah Polley (Away from Her), Nancy Oliver (Lars and the Real Girl) and Diablo Cody (Juno).

  • With their three nominated Enchanted songs, Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz are only the third songwriter duo to achieve triple nods for the same film. The two previous times were also Disney films: The Lion King's Elton John and Tim Rice and Beauty and the Beast's Howard Ashman and ... Menken.

  • Speaking of Disney, Ratatouille ties Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin as the most nominated animated films ever, with five each. It is also the fifth straight Pixar film to be nominated for Best Animated Feature since the award was created.

  • Oscar's so-called "biggest loser", sound mixer Kevin O'Connell, may finally win (after 19 losses) for his work on the blockbuster Transformers.

  • And last (and least): Norbit is the only Oscar nominee (for Best Makeup) to also be nominated for a Razzie Award this year.
Feel free to add to the list in the comments section below.

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