Random Facts for the Oscar Obsessed

Sure, there were a few surprises in this morning’s batch of Academy Award nominations – no Hanks! no Phoenix! no Johansson! no Lee Daniels or his Butler! not much Llewyn Davis! – but nothing to cause too much of an internet freak-out. So instead of complaints, I offer a random list of facts and figures from this year’s batch of nods.

Oscar Nominees 2013

– The Best Picture Expansion continues with another grouping of nine. This is the third year for the Academy’s “any number between five and ten can be nominated” rule, and the third year they’ve gone with nine. It’s the magic number.

– But unlike some past nominees to squeak into a Best Picture slot with thin support in other categories, this year’s contenders seem to be doing fine in nabbing nods elsewhere. Philomena has the fewest nominations of the bunch, with four (rounded out with Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Score), which is a pretty decent haul, actually. Her and The Wolf of Wall Street earned five nods apiece; Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Nebraska each earned six; 12 Years a Slave landed nine; and American Hustle and Gravity lead the pack with ten each.

– The Best Picture nominees have their casts to credit for their generous nomination counts, save one: Her is the only nominee to not receive an acting nomination.

– Meanwhile, Gravity has the smallest cast of any Best Picture nominee in Oscar history. And that’s including its voice cast; if you’re counting on-screen actors only, Sandra Bullock’s Best Actress nod leaves the film with fifty percent of its cast nominated – not a bad ratio at all, albeit not quite as impressive as Sleuth and Give ‘Em Hell, Harry!, the only two films to have their entire casts nominated. Neither, alas, were up for Best Picture, making Gravity a pleasant oddity.

– Meryl Streep continues her domination, with August: Osage County giving her a record eighteenth acting nomination. That’s fifteen for Best Actress (a record in its own right), plus three more for Best Supporting Actress. To round out the scorecard: She’s one of only five performers to have won three Oscars for acting, not counting Katharine Hepburn, who won four.

– Equally impressive is Jennifer Lawrence, who, at age 23, becomes the youngest person to earn three acting nominations. The runners-up are now Natalie Wood (then age 25) and Kate Winslet (26), who, for those keeping score, holds the records for youngest performer to earn five (at age 31) and six (33) nominations. (As for four nominations? That’s Bette Davis, at age 32.)

– The trend continues toward an acting lineup skewing heavily toward Best Picture nominees. For the 2009 awards, when the Picture category first expanded to ten titles, nine of the twenty performers up for an acting award were nominated for movies that were also up for Best Picture; by last year, it was fourteen out of twenty. This year, it’s sixteen out of twenty. All ten of the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nominees are found in Best Picture nominees. Only two of the five Best Actress nominees are in movies not nominated for Best Picture: Streep in August: Osage County and Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine. Curiously, the only two Best Supporting Actress nominees not appearing in Best Picture a contender are also from August and Jasmine (Julia Roberts and Sally Hawkins, respectively).

– The Best Picture Expansion means we’re now in an age where no Best Director nominee goes without a corresponding Best Picture nod. In the past, the easiest way to separate locks from longshots was to see how the two categories lined up. (Granted, there were famous exceptions, but that’s why they’re called exceptions.) In this new era, we can still gain some hints about each contender’s odds. This year, with no Argo-esque buzz building around a snubbed director, it’s easy to discount Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, and Philomena, the four Best Picture nominees without a Best Director nod, as frontrunners for the top prize.

– The writing categories line up less frequently, which is why it’s interesting this year to see only one Best Picture nominee – Gravity – not nominated for a writing trophy. On the flip side, only two writing nominees – Before Midnight and Blue Jasmine – didn’t earn a Best Picture nod.

– Once again, all five Best Editing nominees are also up for Best Picture. In the five years of the Best Picture Expansion, only one movie has been nominated for Best Editing without also being nominated for Best Picture. (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It won.)

Monsters University is only the second Pixar movie to not earn a Best Animated Feature nomination since the invention of the category twelve years ago, and the second Pixar feature in the company’s history to fail to earn an Academy Award nomination in any category. In both cases, the other movie was Cars 2.

– The short paired with Monsters University, The Blue Umbrella, is the first Pixar “original” short (that is, theatrically released and not based on characters that appeared in other Pixar movies) to not earn a Best Animated Short nomination since 2009’s Partly Cloudy. The last Pixar short to not get a nod before that? Knick Knack, all the way back in 1989. (Despite the streak, Pixar hasn’t actually won the category since 2000, with For the Birds).

– It’s a time honored tradition that many Oscar contenders premiere in New York and Los Angeles in late December to qualify within the Academy’s calendar year, then open nationwide in January to capitalize on the box office a nomination brings. Consider, however, the case of Alone Yet Not Alone, whose theme tune is up for Best Song. Following a limited run late last September, it doesn’t open nationwide until June. June. That’s a nine month holding pattern.

– Every year brings a technical nod that brings giggles, and this year, thanks to the Makeup and Hairstyling category, I’m pleased to type my new favorite phrase: Academy Award Nominee Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa.

A complete list of nominees can be found here.


Note: This post has been updated multiple times over the past twenty-four hours to clean up some typos and add a couple extra stats. The final update was 7:39 AM EST, Friday, Jan. 17, adding the bit discussing the overlap in the acting and Best Picture categories.

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