These two seemingly unconnected directors now have something in common.

These two seemingly unconnected directors now have something in common.

As will be seen when my Year and Film and History of Academy Awards for this year are done (after the Oscars), this has been a strange year.  Going into this morning, I had no idea what was going to happen with Best Picture.  I knew that, historically, at least a couple of trends were going to be bent.  They were bent far more than I thought.

Because they were announcing every category live this morning, I wrote ideas for all the categories, because it’s easier to just cross out the ones that are wrong and fill in the others.  There was a lot.  I went 4/5 in Director, Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress.  But I only got 7/9 for Picture (I wrote down 9 and got 7 right, but my #9 choice made it in, so I can’t say I was 7/8) and I didn’t get a single category 5/5.  I did correctly predict that Selma would be mostly snubbed, but was then stunned when it made it in the final Picture list rather than Foxcatcher, which I didn’t think would make it, but the other categories were there for it, so who knows.  So, I will just start in on the trivia.

  • Look at those two directors above.  One was born in Santa Monica, became one of biggest actors in the world and then turned to directing in his mid-40’s.  The other is from Mexico, began work in television and worked his way up to feature films.  What could they have in common?  This: of the over 1100 directors to ever have a feature film nominated for an Oscar, they are the only two to have all their first five feature films nominated for at least one Oscar.  Redford won Best Director his first time out for Ordinary People, Milagro Beanfield War won for Score, A River Runs Through It won for Cinematography, Quiz Show was nominated for Picture and The Horse Whisperer for Song.  Now comes González Iñárritu.  His debut, Amores Perros, was nominated for Foreign Film, 21 Grams was nominated for Actress, Babel was nominated for Picture, Biutiful for Foreign Film and now comes Birdman.  The first five films for each, all with nominations.
  • How remarkable is that?  Well, look at this list of directors: Pedro Almodóvar, Luis Buñuel, Charlie Chaplin, William Friedkin, Fritz Lang, Terrence Malick, Arthur Penn, Ken Russell, Preston Sturges, Quentin Tarantino and Luchino Visconti.  Know what they have in common?  All of them have only had four films nominated for Oscars.
  • American Sniper, on the other hand, is the 14th Clint Eastwood film to earn an Oscar nomination.  Only 19 other directors have ever done that.
  • This also marks the 7th straight year and 14th of the last 15 when either Eastwood, Scorsese or Spielberg has had a film nominated for an Oscar.  The last time there were back-to-back years with no films from one of those three was in 1972-73.
  • Birdman and Grand Budapest Hotel are tied for the most nominations (which I thought might happen).  But it’s the first time in 5 years that no film hit double digits.  I should point out that in 2006, Babel, also directed by González Iñárritu had the most nominations of the Best Picture nominees.  It lost to The Departed, which was nominated for Picture, Director, writing, Supporting Actor and Editing, all of which Boyhood is nominated for.
  • Foxcatcher just did what I thought would never happen again.  It earned Director and Screenplay nominations but not Picture.  That’s the first time it’s happened since 2007 and only the second time in all the years with more than 5 Best Picture nominees (1932-1943, 2009-2014).
  • Foxcatcher is an oddity in any year, not just the expanded lineup.  Since 1983, how many films have earned at least 5 nominations, including Director and Screenplay but not Picture?  Three – Thelma and Louise, Bullets over Broadway and Foxcatcher.  But how many films, like Interstellar, have earned at least 5 nominations without Picture, Director or Screenplay? 23, nine of which, like Interstellar (and Skyfall two years ago), earned at least 5 nominations without any acting noms either.
  • This makes Bennett Miller kind of like Stephen Daldry.  Daldry’s first film, Billy Elliot, earned Director and Screenplay nominations, then he twice earned Picture and Director noms (The Hours, The Reader), before having a film nominated for Picture, but he wasn’t nominated (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close).  Miller has made three films – the first earned Picture and Director noms (Capote), his second was nominated for Picture, but he wasn’t nominated (Moneyball) and now his third film gets Director and Screenplay but not Picture (Foxcatcher).
  • At least Benh Zeitlen two years ago was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.  Bennett Miller just got nominated for Best Director without a Globe, BAFTA, BFCA, DGA, Satellite or Indie Spirit nom.  The last director to do that was Fernando Meirelles in 2003.  The last to do it for an English language film was Lasse Hallstrom in 1999.
  • So this makes the sixth year of the expanded Best Picture lineup.  In four of those years, at least one film nominated for Director wasn’t nominated for Screenplay.  And in this year, one of the films nominated for Director and Screenplay isn’t nominated for Picture.  Only in 2012 did they fully match up, and in that year the film that won Picture wasn’t nominated for Director.
  • But the opposite of Foxcatcher is Selma.  With the expanded Picture lineup, it became apparent that a BP nominee might end up with only two nominations – look at Blind Side and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.  But at least those earned an acting nomination for their other nominations.  And in 1994, Four Weddings and a Funeral earned a Screenplay nomination.  Selma became the first film since 1951 to be nominated for Best Picture, earn only two nominations but not to have the other nomination be in a major category.  The 60 points that Selma has going in to the awards is the lowest for a Best Picture nominee since 1943.
  • The Theory of Everything becomes the 15th film nominated for Picture, Screenplay, Actor and Actress, but not Director.  Surprisingly, you would expect this to happen more often in the expanded Picture lineup, but this is the first time it’s happened since 2001 and it only happened twice in the original larger BP lineup in the 30’s and 40’s.
  • American Sniper was going to be baffling for Oscar prognosticators either way.  It earned a DGA nomination and since the Oscars expanded their Best Picture lineup in 2009, only one DGA nominee has failed to be nominated for Picture at the Oscars (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo).  On the other hand, what happened today is that American Sniper just became the first film since Gosford Park in 2001 to be nominated without a single BFCA nomination (it earned two nominations in genre categories that I don’t count).
  • Three of the five nominated directors have not been nominated before.  That’s the first time this has happened since 2007.
  • None of the nominated directors have won Best Director.  That’s also the first time this has happened since 2007.  However, the Coens, nominated that year, had Oscars for writing.  None of the nominated directors this year have an Oscar at all (though only Morten Tyldum is a complete first-time nominee – Linklater and Anderson have both been nominated for writing).  The last time we had five directors nominated with no Oscars at all between them was in 2002.
  • How stupid is Gone Girl‘s absence from Best Adapted Screenplay?  I currently have it as the fourth highest point total in history in the category to miss out on a nomination.  And if it wins any of its remaining nominations (WGA, BFCA, BAFTA), it would pass About Schmidt, Naked Lunch and Drugstore Cowboy and become the biggest snub ever.
    How many scripts have ever been nominated for the WGA, Globe, BFCA and BAFTA and failed to earn an Oscar nomination in either writing category?  Well, now there’s one.  But, even taking out the BFCA (which only came out in the 90’s), how many have done that?  Only six before today.  One of them, Cold Mountain, come out since the BFCA.  Four of them, Nashville, Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Being There, were from the 70’s, when the WGA had four categories.  That just leaves one other film, and that’s Mona Lisa.  This is a historic snub.  And, having just seen the film, a rather stupid one.  It absolutely should have been nominated.
    By the way, it still has a chance to be the Consensus winner, depending on those other awards groups.  If it is, it will join Drugstore Cowboy as the only Consensus winner in this category to ever fail to earn an Oscar nom.
  • None of the Best Actor nominees has an Oscar.  The last time we had no previous winners in this category was in 2006.  We also have four first time nominees.  The last time we had that was 2005.  Had they gone with Timothy Spall or David Oyelowo instead of Bradley Cooper, we would have had all first-time nominees since 1935.
  • Bradley Cooper just became the first actor nominated in three successive years since Renee Zelwegger in 2001-03.  But you’ll read that a lot of places.  He’s what you won’t read in as many places – the last person nominated without any critics wins, or a BFCA, BAFTA, SAG or Globe nom?  Tommy Lee Jones in 2007.  But, before that?  Ironically, Clint Eastwood, Cooper’s director, in 2004, with his last minute film, Million Dollar Baby.
  • I never thought Jennifer Aniston would get nominated.  I knew that final spot would either go to Amy Adams, following her path last year to a nomination (no SAG or BFCA, but a BAFTA nom and the Globe – Comedy win) or that Marion Cotillard would follow Emmanuelle Riva’s path from the year before of missing out on SAG and the Globes, but following three critics wins and a BFCA nom to a nomination.  It was the latter.
  • Julianne Moore has more previous Oscar noms then her four competitors (four to two), but they have two Oscars and she still doesn’t have one.
  • In Supporting Actor, the Oscars agree completely with SAG and the Globes.  That also happened in 2009.  In 2009, Christoph Waltz won five of the six critics groups (missing out on the NBR) and then won all the awards groups and the Oscar.  This year, J.K. Simmons won five of the six critics groups (missing out on the NBR).  Expect him to sweep the awards groups as well.
  • Robert Duvall earned his fourth Oscar nomination for Supporting Actor.  He’s unique here: the other four time nominees are Walter Brennan (won three times), Jack Nicholson (won once), Arthur Kennedy (never won an Oscar) and Claude Rains (never won an Oscar).  Duvall has an Oscar, but it was for Best Actor.
  • Laura Dern joins Jacki Weaver in 2012 and Maggie Gyllenhall in 2009 as recent Supporting Actress nominees who hadn’t been nominated for SAG, Globe, BAFTA or BFCA.
  • The Oscars at least have a chance with some consensus at Foreign Film this year.  Three of the four nominated films were nominated for the Globe and another for the Broadcast Film Critics.  Because of the rigid Academy rules on Foreign Film they often end up with films not eligible that had been nominated for earlier awards.  The last time only one of the Oscar nominees hadn’t been previously nominated by the Globes or BFCA?  2006.
  • For only the second time since Best Foreign Film became a category in 1956 there are no nominees from Western Europe.
  • There are three Foreign nominees from Eastern Europe for the first time since 1996 (that was the only other time it happened).  That was also the last time a winner came from Eastern Europe.  Since the two top contenders (Ida and Leviathan) are both from there, it has good odds on repeating that.
  • But it might not be Ida.  The last film nominated for Best Foreign Film and Best Cinematography?  The White Ribbon, also a black and white film.  It lost both.  In fact, the last three films to earn Cinematography nominations lost Best Foreign Film: White Ribbon, Pan’s Labyrinth and Amelie, though Pan won Cinematography.
  • Mauritania just became the first film since Nepal in 1999 to earn a nomination the first time it submitted a film.
  • How dumb is the LEGO Movie snub?  Since the Globes and BAFTAs began their Animated Film categories in 2006, it’s the fourth film to earn Annie, Globe, BFCA, PGA and BAFTA noms and fail to earn an Oscar nom.  But, unlike The Simpsons Movie, Despicable Me and The Adventures of Tintin, The LEGO Movie won two critics awards.  In fact, since the Oscar category began in 2001, only two films to win major critics awards for Best Animated Film have missed out on nominations: Waking Life in 2001 and Waltz with Bashir in 2008, and they each only won one critics award, not two.  It is far and away the biggest Animated Film to miss out on an Oscar nomination.
  • Birdman isn’t nominated for Best Editing.  That will hurt its chances of winning Best Picture, as no film has won without Editing since 1980.  It’s the first film since Dreamgirls to lead the noms without an Editing nom.  The last BP nominee to lead without it?  Brokeback Mountain.
  • Emmanuel Lubezki is nominated for Best Cinematography for the 7th time.  But at least he won last year.  Roger Deakins earns his 12th nomination, moving him into a tie for 8th place all-time in points and he still doesn’t have an Oscar.
  • Alexandre Desplat has been nominated for Best Score six times in the previous eight years but doesn’t have an Oscar yet.  He doubled his chances today with nominations seven and eight.
  • Really?  No Visual Effects nod?  Seriously?

    Really? No Visual Effects nod? Seriously?

    What do the Middle-Earth films and the Star Wars films have in common?  Well, both have second trilogies that have a lot of criticism and aren’t as good as the originals, even if I love all six films in both series.  But, in this case, the original Star Wars trilogy all won Oscars for Visual Effects.  So did the original Lord of the Rings films.  Then, in the second Star Wars trilogy, the first two films were nominated but lost and third failed to earn a nomination.  Now, the same for The Hobbit – the first two lost for Visual Effects and the final film has failed to earn a nomination.  I liked Captain America.  It may have been the best superhero film of the year.  But The Hobbit belongs on this list over it.

  • But, Joe Letteri, who earned two Oscars for LOTR and two nominations for Hobbit films did earn his ninth nomination for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, moving him into a tie for fourth place all-time with 260 points.  If he wins, he moves into a tie for third.
  • On that theme, since X-Men revived the Marvel Universe on film in 2000, there have been 34 films with Marvel characters.  Before today, only 6 of them had been nominated for Best Visual Effects.  All six of those had either Spider-Man or Iron Man in the film.  But today, three Marvel films earned nominations and none of them have either Spider-Man or Iron Man.
  • Can Colleen Atwood finally win an Oscar when not nominated against Sandy Powell?  It’s never happened.  Six times they have faced off and one or the other won.  Atwood has been nominated four times without Powell and Powell three times without Atwood but neither has won except against the other.  Atwood is nominated for Into the Woods, and this nomination puts her in sixth place by herself (a win would move her into a tie for fourth).  It is the first time that Atwood has ever passed Powell in points.
  • It’s the second time in three years that the Oscars have nominated a song from a documentary.
  • There are 40 feature films nominated.  That’s a lot.  Since they dropped the Black & White / Color split in categories in 1967, it’s only the fifth time there have been 40 films.
  • With Fox Searchlight having two films, this is the 9th straight year that Fox, Warners and the Weinsteins (with Miramax in 2006-07, The Weinstein Company since) have faced off in Best Picture.  During that time, the only winner not to come from one of those three was The Hurt Locker in 2009.
  • With a March 7 release date, Grand Budapest Hotel is the first Best Picture nominee since 2000 to be released before May and it has the earliest release date for a BP nominee since Silence of the Lambs.
  • Only four BP nominees were released in November and December – the lowest total since 2009.
  • For the first time since 2007, no BP nominee has yet made $100 million as of the day of nominations.  Gone Girl would have easily been the biggest film, but it’s not nominated.  Stunningly, Grand Budapest is the biggest moneymaker, at $59 million, the lowest since 2005.
  • Although this will likely change after American Sniper opens wide tomorrow, right now, one film nominated for Best Actress, Gone Girl, has made more money than all five Best Actor nominated films.
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