(*homocinematically inclined)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Trivial Pursuits: Oscars 2008

With each year's Academy Awards comes a new batch of Oscar trivia, and 2008 is no different:

- The titles of all five Best Picture nominees — The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Frost/Nixon — refer to a main character in the film.

- With his Best Director nomination for The Reader, Stephen Daldry has become the first director ever to receive nods for his first three films (his earlier nominations were for Billy Elliot and The Hours).

- Kate Winslet is currently tied with Deborah Kerr and Thelma Ritter as the most nominated actress (six each) not to have won; she is also the youngest actor to have received that many career nominations.

- Robert Downey Jr.'s nomination for Tropic Thunder is not the first time an actor has been nominated for donning "blackface". Mickey Rooney, who performed an elaborate minstrel show production number in Babes in Arms, was nominated for Best Actor, as was Laurence Olivier for the title role in Othello.

- With Frank Langella's nod for Frost/Nixon, Richard Nixon is the first United States President that more than one actor has been Oscar-nominated for playing (Anthony Hopkins previously scored a nod for Nixon). Also, if Langella wins, he will be only the ninth person to win an Oscar and a Tony Award for the same role.

- Doubt's quartet of acting nominations for its entire principal cast is not unprecedented. The four actors of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the two leads of Sleuth and James Whitmore in the one-man movie Give 'Em Hell, Harry! were all nominated. Note that they were all based on plays.

- Speaking of Doubt, Meryl Streep is now the reigning acting nomination champ, with 15 total. 12 of those noms are for Best Actress, tying her with Katharine Hepburn in that category. Ironically, she is also one of the biggest Oscar "losers".

- This year marks only the fifth time in Academy history that the Best Picture and Best Director races exactly matched; it last happened in 2005.

- Speaking of 2005, current Best Supporting Actor nominees Philip Seymour Hoffman (Doubt) and Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) were both nominated that year for Best Actor, with Hoffman taking home the gold for Capote.

- Speaking of Ledger, if he wins the Oscar on Sunday night, he'll be only the second posthumous acting winner ever, following Network's Peter Finch. Note that they are also both Australian, and they also received their only previous nomination for playing gay characters (Brokeback Mountain and Sunday Bloody Sunday, respectively).

- Ledger is not the only actor to be nominated for playing a comic book character. Previous nominees include Al Pacino (Dick Tracy), Paul Newman (Road to Perdition) and William Hurt (A History of Violence); note that they all also played villains.

- And speaking of Hoffman, he is the only repeat acting nominee from last year (for Charlie Wilson's War, also in the Supporting Actor category).

- Waltz With Bashir is the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.

- Speaking of animation, WALL-E is tied with Beauty and the Beast for the most nominated animated feature, with six nods each. And if WALL-E wins more than two Oscars (which is a strong possibility), it will be the most honored animated film in Academy history.

Did I miss any thing? If so, add to list in the comments section below.

1 comment:

  1. This list is tremendous! It was so much fun to read, and I'm very impressed with the agility here at relating the facts. I didn't realize Wall•E might become the most honored animated film in Academy history. (It deserves it, that's all I'll say.)

    Great work, per usual.


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