Oscar Night Record Breaking Possibilities – What and Who Will Make History?

PGA-tie-618x400Many Oscar seasons come and go.  Often, we have races “locked” from September while others remain a mystery until the envelope is opened.  Seemingly, each new season brings about the desire to compare it to seasons of Oscar past (this year, for example, has drawn heavy comparison to the 2000 and 1972 Oscar seasons).  However, few Oscar seasons bring about the genuine possibility for so many record-breaking wins or loses as this year does.

Last year, we saw a historic win for Daniel Day-Lewis, who was the first male to win three Best Actor trophies.  Likewise, Argo became the first film since Driving Miss Daisy and the fourth film overall to win the top prize, without a corresponding Best Director nominations.

But this year?  Oh boy.   A ton of longstanding Oscar records could fall this year.  Where to begin?

Only 22 times in the 85 years of the Academy Awards has the Best Picture and Best Director prizes gone to separate films (side note: in the inaugural 1927 ceremony, those awards were spread over THREE films, with Wings winning the top prize, and Best Director being divided into Comedy and Drama).  For those of you interested in cold, hard numbers, that equates to roughly 25% of the time!

But that simple split isn’t the record that could be broken.  The last time we had a back-to-back Best Picture/Best Director splits was 1948 (Hamlet/The Treasure of the Sierra Madre) and 1949 (All the King’s Men/A Letter to Three Wives).  Since Argo and Ang Lee split last year, we could see the first back-to-back split in over 60 years?

Olivier mourns his Best Director loss…

Likewise, in the New Wave Expanded Best Picture Field (2009-present), there has never been a split where a film was nominated for both Best Picture and Best Director.  “Back in the day” (1932-1944) a split with the Expanded Best Picture Field was…slightly more common, happening in 1940, 1937, 1936, and 1935. (side note: a split in an Expanded Field also happened in 1932, but the Best Picture victor was Grand Hotel, which, obviously, wasn’t nominated for Best Director…or anything else, so that doesn’t fall under this).  So, should we see Gravity/McQueen or 12 Years/Cuaron Director, then this record 72 years in the making would be broken.

Not to mention, if Cuaron loses Best Director, he will be the first DGA champ to lose since Rob Marshall in 2002.  A record standing for 11 years.

But enough of splits…

Given its lack of a screenplay nomination, Cate Blanchett’s dominance, and Christopher Rouse’s ACE Eddie victory, there’s a chance Gravity could win Best Picture without also winning either a writing, acting, or film editing award.  The last film to win Best Picture without any of these awards? Sorry, Terence, but it’s 1968’s Oliver!.  A record standing for 45 years.

Want another record longstanding since the 1968 Oscar ceremony?  No woman has won back-to-back acting Oscars since Katharine Hepburn won duel Lead Oscars in 1967 and 1968 for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and The Lion in Winter.  Could Jennifer Lawrence win this year? Again, a record 45 years in the making.

It goes without saying that Lawrence would be the youngest person to win 2 acting Oscars, too.

Interesting to note, too, no performer, either male or female, has ever won consecutive acting awards in different categories at the Oscars.  All the back-to-backers (Tracy, Reiner, Hanks, Robards, Hepburn) won in the same category the second year.  This year, Lawrence could win in Supporting.  This is a record Lawrence wouldn’t break—but make.

Speaking of Lawrence, since the 2009 Oscar race, every acting Oscar champion has won at the Globes before winning the Oscar.  The Globes tapped Streep, Dujardin, and Waltz in tight races.  Again, of the “frontrunner” in acting, Lupita is the only one to have lost the Globe.  The last two Oscar-winning performances to lose at the Globes were Sean Penn and Penelope Cruz in 2008.  A mere trend/coincidence/stat running only 4 years long.

JLaw’s message to all the records she’d be breaking?

Despite the fact that the Costume Designer’s Guild has yet to announce their winners, I’ll add this interesting stat, too.  While 12 Years a Slave seems to be the/a frontrunner, it has only won 1 top guild prize: PGA.  In the age of Every Guild Existing For Every Craft, no film has won Best Picture while winning only 1 top guild prize.  Even Braveheart won the WGA and ACE Eddie; Crash nabbed SAG Ensemble, ACE, and WGA; and Gladiator won PGA and ACE.  So that being said, 12 Years would make quite the accomplishment in a world of precursors.

With Globe, WGA, BFCA, and an avalanche of critics behind him, it seems Spike Jonze could be on his way to his first Oscar.  However, the last film to win a screenplay Oscar (Original or Adapted) without either an acting or a directing nomination was 1972’s The Candidate.  Geez, have we talked about 1972 yet this year?  A record left standing for 41 years.  (I can’t claim observation of this stat on my own, @CharlesTrotter pointed it out on Twitter a few weeks ago).

On a similar note, it’s pretty rare for a director to helm three films nominated for Best Picture and Best Director without said director winning at least something.  It happened to Scorsese with Raging BullGoodfellasGangs of New York, and The Aviator before he finally prevailed.  William Wyler (the holder of nearly every director-oriented record that it’s “most wins) managed this dubious achievement for his first quartet of Oscar nominations for Dodsworth, The Little Foxes, Wurthering Heights, and The Letter. And finally, the great George Cukor helmed BP/BD nominees Little Women, The Philadelphia Story, and Born Yesterday before finally prevailing.  Suffice it to say, more often than not, if the Academy likes you enough to nominate you this many times in those top categories, they like you enough to eventually give you a win, sooner rather than later.

 Regardless of how you feel about David O. Russell’s third Best Picture nominee in four years, American Hustle is up for a ton of Oscars.  Not counting American Hustle14 films have been nominated in all 4 acting races.  As of right now, only 1950’s Sunset Boulevard and 1936’s My Man Godfrey have gone home empty-handed in all 4 acting races.  If Hustle goes 0-4 as many expect it to, it’ll buck the trend and result in the first All Four acting shutout in 62 years.

 On a similar note, as Terence mentioned on Power Hour, no film in the 85 years of Oscar history has EVER lost Best Picture, Best Director, writing, and all 4 acting races.  Ever.  Ever.  (Sunset Blvd. won screenplay and My Man Godfrey wasn’t nominated–shockingly–for Best Picture).  That’s a record waiting not to be broken, but to be set.

“We could lose…how many Oscars?”

To continue on American Hustle, have you heard this theory that it’ll go 0-10?  And have you seen people predicting McConaughey over DiCaprio?  And people predicting Nebraska for…nothing?  Well you might notice that American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Nebraska are nominated for Best Picture and Best Director.  The last time three films nominated in both Best Picture and Best Director went home winless was 1957 when that dubious distinction was levied upon Peyton Place, 12 Angry Men, and Witness for the Prosecution.  That record has been standing for 55 years.  (side note: it’s slightly more common to have a trio of Best Director nominees to have their films gone home winless, but progressively less so recently.  The last time that happened was 1999, when The Insider, The Sixth Sense, and Being John Malkovich lost all their races).

Despite Eddie Murphy and Viola Davis likely being a few votes shy of Oscar glory, no film has ever won 2 black actors Oscars.  Both Dreamgirls and The Help were so, so, painfully close.  Perhaps Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o will make Oscar history this year?

Likewise, it seems too obvious to mention that neither a black director nor a Latino/Hispanic director has ever won Best Director before, and if either Alfonso Cuaron or Steve McQueen wins, a record will be set.  Additionally, unless I’m mistaken, I believe both would make the same accomplishment should they win for producing the Best Picture.

And, depending on if you have a very loose definition for “sci-fi,” then Gravity could become the first “sci-fi” film to win Best Picture.  Or, if you’re like me, it’ll  become the 83rd Drama genre to win Best Picture.

What else?

The last Lead performance in a Woody Allen film to win was, well, the seminal lead performance in a Woody Allen film: Diane Keaton in 1977’s Annie Hall.  A recording standing for 35 years.

Obviously, Meryl Streep could become only the second person to win a quartet of acting Oscars, tied with the aforementioned Hepburn.  But I doubt that will happen, so…

McConaughey and Leto would be the first male pair win acting honors for the same films since 2003.  Not a longstanding record, but still, 9 years strong.

Robert Lopez, left, with his many Tonys for “The Book for Mormon”

Speaking of “only 9 years,” that brings us to our next fascinating Oscar stat.  Tracy Morgan introduced most of America to the term “EGOT,” a term for someone with an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony on their fireplace mantle.  Robert Lopez, co-scribe of the frontrunner for Best Original Song, “Let It Go” from Frozen, already is in possession of 2 Daytime Emmys, 3 Tonys, and a Grammy.*  Should he beat U2, Spike Jonze, and Pharrell, Lopez will become only the 12th individual to accomplish the EGOT.  If that weren’t impressive enough, he will also be the fastest person to EGOT.  Currently, recent SAG honoree Rita Moreno has EGOT’d the quickest, taking only 16 years.  Lopez, though, won his first Tony in 2004, meaning that, should he win the Oscar, he will have EGOT’d in just under 10 years.  Quite impressive.

*Before you ask: yes, Daytime Emmys DO count.  Just ask Whoopi.

This is less of a record and more of an interesting observation, but the last Best Picture winner to win without a Best Cinematography nomination was Argo.  Before that, every Best Picture champion from 2007 until 2011 had a Cinematography nod.  Before that? Neither The Departed, Crash, Million Dollar Baby, or Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King had Cinematography nod.  What does this mean?  Probably nothing, but it’s interesting.

Any other potential longstanding Oscar records that could be broken on March 2?