Oscar Circuit: Bradley Cooper Poised to Break the Walt Disney Oscar Record?


Toronto is fully underway, showcasing some of the biggest names and getting some of the most significant reactions of the year thus far, thrusting many into the heart of awards season.  On the top of the list, “A Star is Born” from first time director Bradley Cooper has generated the most buzz, putting its stake in the race and becoming the “frontrunner” this far out.  Cooper, who also co-writes, produces, stars, and co-writes several original songs, could be on his way to tying a record currently held by Walt Disney.

In 1953, Walt Disney, the American entrepreneur, producer, animator, and voice actor won four Academy Awards: Best Documentary Feature (“The Living Desert”), Best Documentary, Short Subject (“The Alaskan Eskimo”), Best Short Subject, Cartoon (“Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom”) and Best Short Subject, Two-Reel (“Bear Country”).  No other person has won that many Oscars on a given night though, to be honest, not many have had the opportunity with this many hands in the process.

Ten people have won three Academy Awards in one swoop, but none of them were starring in their respective films.

James L. Brooks“Terms of Endearment” (1983)Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay
James Cameron“Titanic” (1997)Picture, Director, Film Editing
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen“No Country for Old Men” (2007)Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay
Francis Ford Coppola“The Godfather Part II” (1974)Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay
Marvin Hamlisch“The Way We Were” and “The Sting” (1973)Original Score, Original Song, Adapted Score
Alejandro González Iñárritu“Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (2014)Picture, Director, Original Screenplay
Peter Jackson“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003)Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay
Fran Walsh“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003)Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Original Song
Billy Wilder“The Apartment” (1960)Picture, Director, Original Screenplay

Cooper has emerged as a formidable contender for 3 out of his five chances for Best Director, Best Actor, and as a producer for Best Picture.  Original Song will be difficult as the big numbers of the film are penned by Lady Gaga herself, and the category only allows two songs from a film to be nominated.  The front-running song from the film will be “The Shallow,” as heard in the film’s trailer but is vastly elevated when the moment plays out on screen.  The final number, “I’ll Never Love Again” is one of the more emotional numbers at the end, and will contend heavily, becoming the “Audition” of the movie, and probably being the “Oscar scene” for Lady Gaga in Best Actress.

It may seem like a cakewalk, but there are other songs to emerge.  Walt Disney Pictures are making a push for “Black Panther” in a major way, and with that Original Song “All the Stars.”  Many thought the push would be for “Pray for Me,” but there’s still plenty of time to make a play for two if they choose.

Other tidbits from TIFF include the rise of “If Beale Street Could Talk” by Barry Jenkins, performing very well for audiences while “Widows” by Steve McQueen got crowds chatting quite a bit, despite the “popcorn movie” label that had surrounded it leading into it.

Annapurna’s “Destroyer” tried to bounce back after Telluride, scoring good notes for star Nicole Kidman.  Claire Denis’ “High Life” with Robert Pattinson has some admirers but unsure if its an awards player while Jonah Hill’s directorial debut “Mid90s” has people beating the drum for him in a big way.  We’ll see what A24 can do with it.

Vox Lux” by Brady Corbet got picked up by NEON, thrusting Natalie Portman in a Supporting Actress race that has only managed Claire Foy (“First Man”) to enter the mix.  Such is the case because the awards team behind “The Favourite” have not officially announced category placements for stars Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz.

Stan & Ollie” was another pickup, although it didn’t screen for critics at the festival.  John C. Reilly is making a strong case for his second Oscar nomination, partnered with his lead bid for “The Sisters Brothers.”  There’s still no word on where he and co-star Steve Coogan will campaign as Laurel and Hardy.  While co-leads would seem like the appropriate play, we often find a duo such as this being split into separate categories, better known as, category fraud (i.e., “The Master”).

Boy Erased” by Joel Edgerton played like gangbusters, showcasing an alternative option for distributor Focus Features in the Best Picture race.  Lucas Hedges and Nicole Kidman will undoubtedly be in the thick of it while Russell Crowe will try his hand in a supporting bid but may not have enough to get him over.

The flounders were plenty, even if Film Twitter and critics didn’t treat it that way.  The biggest was “Beautiful Boy” which mustered enough good word for stars Steve Carell, Timothee Chalamet, and perhaps Maura Tierney to stay in the race, but outside of that, the film will have trouble.  “Ben Is Back” boasts a strong performance from Julia Roberts, but the film two-random story structure keeps it out of any other category.

Oscar Predictions have been updated accordingly.  Check the sidebar and the official pages with commentary.