Friday, February 1, 2013

13 Fun 2013 Academy Awards Facts for the Chronically Oscar-Obsessed

We've all heard the ones about the youngest- and oldest-ever nominees for Best Actress (that would be Beasts of the Southern Wild's Quvenzhané Wallis, 9, and Amour's 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva, also the two nominees with the most-challenging-to-spell first names -- I keep wanting to give Riva two Ns!), and a Best Supporting Actor race featuring five previous Oscar winners. Now here are 13 more bits of 2013 Oscar trivia that perhaps you haven't already read everywhere else first.

1. If Daniel Day-Lewis or Denzel Washington win Best Actor for Lincoln and Flight, respectively, it will be the third Oscar for each. Both won their first Oscars -- Best Actor for Day-Lewis for My Left Foot, Best Supporting Actor for Denzel Washington for Glory -- in 1990.

2. That year also was the last time the Best Picture winner -- which was Driving Miss Daisy -- didn't also score a Best Director nomination. If Argo win Best Picture (as expected), it will be the first since Driving Miss Daisy to do so without a Best Director nomination.

3. Another Driving Miss Daisy/1990 connection: Before Emmanuelle Riva became the oldest-ever Best Actress nominee, the record was held by Jessica Tandy, who was 80 when she won Best Actress for Driving Miss Daisy.

4. He's not a nominee, but John Goodman might be Hollywood's best supporting actor. Last year, he appeared in two Best Picture nominees, The Artist (which won) and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. This year, he turned up in Best Picture nominee Argo as a Hollywood make-up artist and in Flight as Best Actor nominee Denzel Washington's drug dealer. If Argo takes Best Picture, it will be his second-straight year costarring in the grand-prize winner. And Goodman has still yet to score his first Oscar nomination (or his first Emmy -- but that's a sore subject for another post).

5. Best Actor nominees Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables) and Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) have both scored Oscar nods acting opposite non-2013 nominee Russell Crowe (Jackman, this year in Les Miz, Phoenix, in 2000's Gladiator, for which he received the first of his three nominations and for which Crowe won his Best Actor Oscar). Neither Crowe nor Denzel Washington were nominated for 2007's American Gangster, but their costar Ruby Dee did score a Best Supporting Actress citation.

6. Four-time Best Supporting Actress nominee Amy Adams now has been nominated for two films (Doubt and The Master) for which Phillip Seymour Hoffman received Best Supporting Actor nominations. She's also been nominated once for co-starring opposite Mark Wahlberg and once for co-starring opposite Joaquin Phoenix -- the guys, in turn, being costars twice previously (in 2000's The Yards and 2007's We Own the Night) -- in films with three syllables and the article "the" in the title (The Fighter and The Master, respectively). (Fun fact extras: Adams has never been nominated for a film with more than two words in the title, and she and fellow Best Supporting Actress nominee Anne Hathaway both have co-starred in films with Meryl Streep -- Doubt and Julie and Julia, and The Devil Wears Prada, respectively -- for which Streep was nominated for Best Actress. Her last three nominations came for films that earned at least two other acting nominations, and, like Doubt, The Master was left out of the Best Picture contest.)

7. This year the acting nominees span many consecutive decades. At least one was born in each of the last nine, pre-the 2010s (1 in the '20s, 1 in the '30s, 4 in the '40s, 3 in the '50s, 4 in the '60s, 4 in the '70s, 1 in the '80s, 1 in the '90s, 1 in the '00s).

8. The Best Actor line-up might be the most attractive one ever. Three of the nominees (Denzel Washington, Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper) have been named Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine. Daniel Day-Lewis was one of People's 50 Most Beautiful People in 1990, and Joaquin Phoenix once denounced his good looks by growing a beard and becoming a rapper (a bewildering phase documented in 2010's I'm Still Here). 

9. While Best Supporting Actor includes all previous Academy Award winners, Best Supporting Actress might have that category's best Oscar pedigree ever. Two of the nominees (Sally Field and Helen Hunt) are former Best Actress winners, Anne Hathaway is a former Best Actress nominee, and both Jacki Weaver and Amy Adams have been previous invitees to the Best Supporting Actress circle. It's a highly pedigreed Oscar contest all-around: Four of this year's nominated previous winners (Daniel Day-Lewis, Denzel Washington, Robert DeNiro and Field) are two-timers, and only four nominees (Hugh Jackman, Bradley Cooper, Quvenzhané Wallis and Emmanuelle Riva) are first-timers.

10. If Daniel Day-Lewis and Emmanuelle Riva win Best Actor and Best Actress, it will be the second time Day-Lewis has won in the same year as an 80-something Best Actress (Jessica Tandy in 1990) and the second time he's won in the same year (2008) as a French actress in a French-speaking role (La Vie en rose's Marion Cotillard, his soon-to-be costar in the 2009 flop Nine). (Continuing his French connection, in my favorite Daniel Day-Lewis film, 1988's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, he co-starred with French Oscar winner Juliette Binoche, my favorite actress from any country, and he has a 17-year-old son, Gabriel, with French actress Isabel Adjani, a two-time Oscar nominee.)

11. Of the Best Picture nominees, water figures prominently in three (Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Les Misérables), one is in French (Amour), one is based on a French novel (Les Miz), two take place during the era of slavery (Lincoln, Django Unchained -- both of which feature Best Supporting Actor frontrunners playing opponents of slavery), three detail political history (Lincoln, Argo, Zero Dark Thirty), and two (Argo, Zero Dark Thirty) were scored by Alexandre Desplat, who also scored Moonrise Kingdom and Rust and Bone in 2012, and received a Best Original Score nod for Argo. Since 2006, he's scored six Best Picture nominees (The Queen, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The King's Speech, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty), scored five Best Original Score nods, and thus far remains Oscar-less for scoring.

12. Brenda Fricker, 67, who won Best Supporting Actress in 1990 for playing the mother of Daniel Day-Lewis, 55, in My Left Foot, was born only 22 months before Sally Field, 66, nominated this year for playing Daniel Day-Lewis's wife in Lincoln. If Day-Lewis wins, two-time winner Field will have played the mother of one fellow two-time Oscar winner in the role that won him his second (Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump) and the wife of a three-time winner in the role that won him his third. (Fun fact extra: This is the second time that Day-Lewis has been nominated for Best Actor while two of his costars are nominated for Best Supporting Actor/Actress -- before Field and Tommy Lee Jones, the honors went to Pete Postlethwaite and Emma Thompson for In the Name of the Father).

13. The last three Best Original Song Oscar-nominated James Bond themes ("Nobody Does it Better" from The Spy Who Loved Me, "For Your Eyes Only" and "Skyfall") were all Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 singles sung by female Best New Artist Grammy winners (Carly Simon, Sheena Easton and Adele, respectively). Carly Simon went on to win her own Best Original Song Oscar for the Working Girl theme "Let the River Run," and if "Skyfall" wins, Adele will become the latest Best New Artist to also be a Best Original Song Oscar winner. (Fun fact extra: Though you won't hear it anywhere in the movie, "Ho Hey" by The Lumineers, a contender for this year's Best New Artist Grammy, provides the soundtrack to one of the Australian TV ads for Best Picture contender Silver Linings Playbook.)

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