Many films delved into history this year but only film actually changed it.  After seeing Lincoln, Mississippi finally got around to ratifying the 13th amendment.

I think there’s a 110 percent chance Daniel Day-Lewis will win. I think ‘Argo’ will definitely win Best Picture. I think Ben Affleck not being nominated for Best Director has now turned into a blessing because everyone’s outraged by the fact he wasn’t nominated, so now he’s going to win everything, and I think it’s a great movie too.” — Mark Wahlberg on the Oscar race, who then added Life of Pi was his favorite movie.

It has taken a while for anyone in mainstream press to get around to the Zero Dark Thirty Oscar story but this LA Times piece is a great place to start. One of the worst things about this year was watching the critics embrace Zero Dark Thirty almost completely, only to abandoned it when the torture debate started.   Usually critics will stand by the film rated their best reviewed film of the year.  Not this year.

Andrew O’Hehir makes a case why Argo doesn’t deserve Best Picture and in so doing sort of nails the swollen absurdity of this year, maybe every year:

“Then again, I’m the guy who told you a few weeks ago that “Lincoln” was a shoo-in, and might sweep all the major awards. As usual in Hollywood, nobody knows anything, and that sound you hear in the background is veteran Oscar-watchers beginning to hem and haw and hedge their bets all over the place. Roger Ebert recently wrote that he feels the momentum shifting toward David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” and that’s not an utterly outrageous suggestion. There’s definitely a mounting degree of anti-Affleck backlash out there, and it has to coalesce around something. Russell’s vaguely offbeat rom-com, which I enjoyed perfectly well but can barely remember beyond Robert De Niro’s supporting performance, has two great advantages. It makes absolutely no claim to have anything to do with real events (except insofar as mental illness and the Philadelphia Eagles both exist) and it’s the only nominated film that’s arguably even more trivial than “Argo.”




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  • “It makes absolutely no claim to have anything to do with real events (except insofar as mental illness and the Philadelphia Eagles both exist) and it’s the only nominated film that’s arguably even more trivial than “Argo.””

    hahahaha!! O’Hehir is right on the mark here!!

    Another great installment in this series!

  • Spacey

    Lovely to see Suraj Sharma receive praise from his peers. Pi is a beautiful performance.

  • So wait. Should we take Wahlberg’s quote to mean that he’s going to vote for ARGO even though LIFE OF PI is his favorite? I hope not. I hate that crap.

  • steve50

    The abandonment of Zero Dark Thirty during that ridiculous witchhunt is the real shame of this season. It magnified everything that is wrong with the Oscars.

    I hope Boal wins on Sunday, and I hope he makes the speech they need to hear.

  • Spacey

    Antoinette, I read it that he expects Argo to win but he’s voting for PI.

  • Elton

    I’m really starting to believe – and predict – thar Ang Lee will be named best director.

  • Antoinette

    @Spacey I hope so. I’ve been thinking PI as BP and Lee as BD in a non-split. But I’ve been going on the idea that PI is well liked. If the people who like it vote for something else, just because, then it’ll really suck.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    So a lot of people Mark Wahlberg talks with are outraged, and he must talk to a lot of AMPAS members since he is a power player now. Producer and box-office movie star. Would they still be outraged if ARGO had been directed by Michael Mann or David Fincher?

  • Spacey

    Elton, me too.

    But I think it’s magical thinking on my part

  • Spacey

    Actually my comment was about Pi winning Best Picture

  • The J Viewer

    My own bits and bites:


    If Pi wins, it will be great.

    I wish Lee could win Best Director. It is his film after all […].

    In my view, if a large enough number of voters happen to be too strategic for or against Lincoln or Argo for that matter, in the end, SLP may win the BP for that reason. Absurd or not, it could happen. [I am not champion SLP though.]

    Marky Mark sounds like he votes for Pi and expects Argo to win. Good for him.

    (In the vein a la Jon Stewart’s year’s gag) Emmanuelle Riva/Annette Bening, ZERO. Hunt/Bullock, ONE….

  • Ben Fan

    “I’m really starting to believe – and predict – thar Ang Lee will be named best director.”


  • TOM

    Since Wahlberg has a good friend at Price Waterhouse, maybe his great contact can let him know who the winners already are. His source told him last year that Viola Davis was winning Best Actress & that Transformers: Dark of the Moon would be sweeping the technical categories. (Meryl Streep & Hugo were the respectively recipients.) Kathryn Bigelow’s next film project: how 9-11 history was reverted when MW single-handedly battled the hijackers.

  • Kevin Klawitter


    That’s the type of common question people pose that I hate because 1.) It has no relationship to reality, as Fincher and Mann were never in contention to direct “Argo”, and 2.) If Fincher or Mann had directed “Argo” it would have been a completely different movie.

    We faced the same stuff when people started claiming “The Hurt Locker” was only winning prizes because it was directed by a woman: ” would people have loved this movie so much if it had been directed by Ridley Scott?” It’s demeaning and condescending.

    I like talking about hypotheticals, but only when they have some relationship with reality. If George Clooney had directed “Argo”, say, or if Orson Welles had played Kurtz in “Apocalypse Now”, THAT would be a conversation worth having.

  • Sally-n-Chicago

    One of the worst things about this year was watching the critics embrace Zero Dark Thirty almost completely, only to abandoned it when the torture debate started.
    ^^ ZD30 would have been a terrific movie in — 2014 or 2015. Since it was released only MONTHS after the UBL capture, it’s like an afterthought. Not much suspense, not much caring about what happened….I mean, we know how it ended and how he was captured. Although it WAS a well CRAFTED movie — direction, acting, action, cinematography. I’m not completely sold on Chastain’s performance as being the BEST. She definitely carried the movie.

  • Sally-n-Chicago

    Why “Argo” doesn’t deserve the Oscar

    Ben Affleck’s Oscar frontrunner is clever, but it distorts painful history into a cheesy propaganda thriller
    ^^ I agree. It was a good movie, not a GREAT movie. I sure hope the Academy gives it to BOTSW (the only ORIGINAL story) or Life of PI. I have a feeling it’s going to be Life of PI (which I haven’t seen).

  • CMG

    O’Hehir nailed it. Argo is the feel-good movie for the CIA than the agency could have ever hoped for with Zero Dark Thirty. The DVD extras in commercials are promoting real Tony Mendez and Jimmy Carter so more ignoring of Taylor and Canada’s role not to mention more amplifying a very minor story versus the CIA relationship to Iran, the hostage crisis, and many other rescue attempts by the US.

    And the impact of critic abandonment of ZD30 likely has untold, long-term consequences that really is just depressing to think about. How many studios got scared of ever doing a film with that subject matter of that period after seeing the beating Bigelow, Boal, Annapurna Pictures, and Sony took this season? I just hope somebody from the film wins, I don’t care if it is the Sound Editor, as they have a right to acknowledge they were victims of a whispering campaign more than any nominee in their speech.

  • unlikely hood

    Hey internet friends! Tired of beating the dead horse of Argo beating the better horses Lincoln and ZDT and Life of Pi?

    Here’s some Oscar trivia that Sasha and Ryan don’t know (no one does, but anyone can check it):

    Since 1968 (Oscars held in ’69), when Katharine Hepburn became the first actor since Walter Brennan to win a 3rd Acting Oscar, how many times has any actor threatened to win a 3rd Acting Oscar? How many years featured such a threat, and how many nominations could have turned into win #3?

    The answer, through last year, is 28 of the 43 years since (including Hepburn’s 1981 threat – and victory – for her #4), and 34 nominations. This year makes it 29 years, and Day-Lewis, DeNiro, Field, and Washington make it 35, 36, 37, and 38 nominations that could turn into win #3. As you know, only 4 of these have been successful – Ingrid Bergman in 1974, Hepburn in 1981 (if that counts), Jack Nicholson in 1997, and Meryl Streep last year.

    Just for fun, I wrote a little paragraph on each of the 29 races – usually why so-and-so didn’t win #3, and occasionally why so-and-so did. Well not JUST for fun – also to try to handicap this year’s nominations that could turn 4 people (well, only 3 can win) into 3-time Academy Award Winners. Some of these recaps could use the help of the forum, if you have insight as to why someone in past years won or lost.

    It goes a little something like this…

    Year: 1968
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Katharine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter
    Favorite: Joanne Woodward as Rachel in Rachel, Rachel
    Winners: Hepburn and Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl (tie)
    Age when she won #3: 61 Nomination: 10th

    Everyone remembers the infamous tie, but not everyone recalls just what a great year this was in Best Actress – so great that they couldn’t even make room for pre-awards favorite Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby. Previous winner Patricia Neal was nominated, as was Vanessa Redgrave, though people were already criticizing her for her strident activism, making it a 3-way race. Had Woodward never won, this would have been a cakewalk for her. She took the Globe for Best Actress, Drama, while Streisand obviously took the one in Comedy/Musical. We can’t really get through this without mentioning, just in case some newbie reader doesn’t know, that newly installed Academy President Gregory Peck defied tradition and allowed Streisand to become a voting member on her first film (Peck: “When an actress has played a great role on the stage and is coming into films for what will obviously be an important career, it is ridiculous to make her wait two or three years for membership”) – and so, assuming she voted for herself (we’ll never know), she guaranteed her own first Oscar. That’s an old story; more important, why was the Academy so in love with late-model Kate Hepburn? Why, after one win in 9 nominations, did they give her two in a row (making it 3 wins in 11 nominations, setting a new record over Bette Davis’ 10 nominations)? Nostalgia? Making up for lost time? Sympathy for Tracy? Would she keel over now that Spence was gone? Did it grate that since before Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962), when people said Hepburn, they meant Audrey? Maybe Kate just is that good. Or maybe they saw in her the woman they wanted to be or have, the archetypal strong, independent woman that nonetheless would do anything for the right man. Hard to say.

    Year: 1972
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Shelley Winters as Belle Rosen in The Poseidon Adventure
    Favorite: Winters
    Winner: Eileen Heckart as Mrs. Baker in Butterflies Are Free

    Shelley Winters is the sort of actress, like Thelma Ritter or Dianne Wiest, where you can imagine the Oscars giving her three Supporting Actress trophies. She was a unique force on the screen, and beloved for it. And she did in fact win the Golden Globe for this role, making her the favorite in a year where the five Best Pictures produced no nominees in Best Supporting Actress. Her loss here served as early notice that just because Katharine Hepburn had 3 Oscars, that didn’t mean that the floodgates were now open. Oscar would maintain its reluctance to give out that third prize, and often stretch to find another recipient – in this case, stretch to a relatively obscure dramedy where Ms. Heckart played the mother of a blind man who has moved into his own apartment next to free-wheeling Goldie Hawn.

    Year: 1973
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Marlon Brando as Paul in Last Tango in Paris
    Favorite: Al Pacino as Serpico in Serpico
    Winner: Jack Lemmon as Harry Stoner in Save the Tiger

    You get the feeling nobody in the Academy would mind if people casually referred to Marlon Brando as “3-time Oscar winner”; he’s probably the greatest film actor of all time (Olivier preferred stage; give Day-Lewis maybe five more movies). Here, Brando stood to repeat Hepburn’s feat of 5 years before: winning a 3rd the year after he won a 2nd. In all likelihood, Brando got caught on the wrong side of a generational schism. His competition was Al Pacino, Bob Redford, and Jacks Lemmon and Nicholson. The industry was reeling from a sudden generational shift that saw stalwart directors and actors who had worked for decades suddenly put out to pasture – in the name of ruffian anti-heroes like Pacino and Nicholson. Though Brando had actually been around longer than Lemmon, Lemmon had always been a friendly insider, while Brando had not only “godfathered” the current renegades, he was nom’d for the pornish Last Tango in Paris. In a year when even Lemmon was playing a sort of anti-hero, they voted for him anyway because he was most reminiscent of the era with heroes.

    …and then I wrote 26 more. Anyone interested in my posting those? I need at least one anonymous stranger to say yes, or I’ll just assume I’m the only one interested in the 3-timers club. I’ll post no more unless someone says,

    “Go for it, unlikely hood.”

  • Robert

    Andrew O’Hehir makes some very good points. However I have decided that one of the reasons Argo keeps on winning is that it probably works just as well on TV (so many of the voters watching screeners at home)as it does in a theater, because it really is essentially like a well-made TV movie. Lincoln is dark, quiet yet monumental, gorgeous on the big screen, and perhaps not as effective at home–a film made to be seen in theaters. In the way that The Godfather Part II is so much better on a big screen because the of nuance (and gorgeous darkness of the photography–there are scenes in GFII where you can barely make out what you’re looking at on TV), but this was back when everyone saw the movies in theaters. This was my theory way back in 1989 for Driving Miss Daisy, another best pic that’s essentially a TV movie, and I think applies to many years–the movie that works best on TV may often turn out to be the winner.

    @unlikely hood: yes, please post more. I’m enjoying them. I think they voted for Hepburn in the tie because–in addition to her being wonderful in the film–there was huge love for Lion in Winter that year and many expected it to win Best Picture. Anthony Harvey had won the DGA. Also, Kate played against type in some ways–it’s a rather bawdy role for her.

  • Samhain

    Maybe there is so much negative focus on Argo that people may be missing the real threat: Harvey X 3?

  • Evelyn Garver

    Bravo, unlikely hood! More.

    On another subject: Every few years there’s the “last minute surge prediction.” It’s impossible to know when such a thing is true. For 2007 the MICHAEL CLAYTON surge was nonsense, but in 2005 the CRASH surge was [sadly] right on the money. Does Ebert’s groundswell for SLP have any validity? I wish I knew. I had finally made my peace with ARGO over [my favorite] LINCOLN.

  • unlikely hood

    Right on Robert. I like your feedback – I do agree Eleanor was a terrific role and a nice change for her. Feel free to provide more such insight.

    Not sure how many of these I can fit into one post, here we go:

    Year: 1974
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Ingrid Bergman as Greta in Murder on the Orient Express
    Favorite: Diane Ladd as Flo in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore
    Winner: Bergman
    Age when she won #3: 59 Nomination: 6th

    This was one of the most random races in Academy history. Of the five roles nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress (remember, then and now, supporting is not broken up into Comedy and Drama), only one was also nominated for an Oscar – and not the winner, Karen Black in The Great Gatsby, but instead Diane Ladd, making her the frontrunner in a year when the critics and guilds were all over the place. To our modern eyes, perhaps the most impressive of the five performances was Madeline Kahn’s in Blazing Saddles, but come on, they weren’t giving that film an award. Talia Shire is just okay in Godfather Part II, though she’s better than fellow-nominee Valentina Cortese in Day For Night. With this lineup, Bergman became a rather big fish in a small pond, despite the fact that the film was part of the latest genre that J. Hoberman described so well as “retirement villages for Old Hollywood” – the all-star casts of the likes of Airport, The Poseidon Adventure, and The Towering Inferno, just proving their relevance one last time. It was probably the most-seen of the films in this category other than the second Godfather. So Bergman benefitted from timing on only her sixth nomination. She also probably benefitted from residual guilt about the way she’d been drummed out of Hollywood for cuckoldry – could have happened to any of them, and perhaps otherwise there would have been more than six nominations. Not unlike Hepburn, she was never not beautiful, and never played a false note as an actress. You can’t say that about as many people as you might think.

    Year: 1975
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Glenda Jackson as Hedda Gabler in Hedda
    Favorite: Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
    Winner: Fletcher

    Jackson never had a chance. She had won 2 in the previous 5 years, quite something for someone who was unknown to most Americans. She was not yet 40, not even close to Brennan’s age – never mind Hepburn’s or Bergman’s. Besides, Hedda Gabler is the kind of role the Academy can nominate without a second thought – like Elizabeth Barrett Browning – but how many of them actually saw this version in 1975? They all saw Cuckoo’s Nest, and many of them were aware of the kerfuffle in the press whereby Ellen Burstyn claimed that women should boycott the Oscars because of the bad 1975 roles for women. According to Wiley and Bona, “Fletcher called her up and asked what she meant by it. ‘I told her that I thought it would have been nicer if she had said what she said in a year when she had been nominated.’” Reporters noted that Burstyn, last year’s winner, wasn’t exactly offering to give her Oscar back. Besides, Fletcher had a great “Oscar story,” coming from deaf parents and hundreds of failed auditions (before the “rougher” 1970s) – her win promised an ennobling moment, and sure enough, her speech, partly given in sign language to her parents, brought the house down. Jackson was a non-factor.

    Year: 1978
    3-Time Winner, now Contender: Ingrid Bergman as Charlotte Andergast in Autumn Sonata
    Favorite: Jane Fonda as Sally Hyde in Coming Home
    Winner: Fonda

    Jane Fonda was winning awards all over the place, like NBR, LAFCA, and the Golden Globe. Bergman was in uncharted waters: she was the first and only person since Walter Brennan to win a third Oscar and be nominated for another one. It was either unthinkable to give her or anyone a fourth Oscar, or perhaps Bergman made them think about it enough to give a fourth to Hepburn three years later. But let’s face it, Ingmar Bergman’s actresses had filled out this category for years; they never won, perhaps because the larger voting body couldn’t (or wouldn’t) judge performances given in Swedish. This isn’t to say they didn’t love Ingmar; they loved both Bergmans, they loved that they finally got together, and the nomination was enough to express that love. But Fonda – in a Best Picture favorite (that did lose to the similarly themed Deer Hunter) – wasn’t missing this win.

    Year: 1980
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Jason Robards as Howard Hughes in Melvin and Howard
    Favorite: none
    Winner: Timothy Hutton as Conrad Jarrett in Ordinary People

    Jason Robards was the son of an underappreciated Hollywood actor, and Robards spent most of the 50, 60s, and, yes, 70s, making TV movies and Broadway plays. As such, the old bulldog built up a preposterous amount of goodwill amongst the Academy by the time of his first two Oscar nominations, and wins, for All the President’s Men (1976) and Julia (1977). There was an oh-hell-yes nature to his sudden stardom after all these years, not unlike Kevin Spacey’s circa American Beauty. At his age (58 in 1980), going 3 for 3 in Supporting in 5 years – in other words, the full Brennan – was certainly possible. One problem was that President’s and Julia were sober, necessary stories about Watergate and Lillian Hellman; Melvin and Howard was more of a speculative, niche-y romp about a supposed heir of Howard Hughes. A bigger problem was that it looked like the highly regarded Ordinary People would win nothing big – Mary Tyler Moore would lose to Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn, Sutherland wasn’t even nominated, and Picture and Director would probably go to Raging Bull – thus Timothy Hutton’s Supporting win would be the consolation prize. (Turns out the tea leaves were wrong about part of it; Joe Pesci might have had a better chance with different forecasting.) Despite his Globe win, Hutton was no done deal; he faced the bias that all newcomers face, but lucky for him he faced it in Supporting, which kind of looks like “surprising.”

    Year: 1981
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Katharine Hepburn as Ethel Thayer in On Golden Pond
    Favorite: Meryl Streep as Sarah/Anna in The French Lieutenant’s Woman
    Winner: Hepburn
    Age when she won #4: 74

    No one can really say why, during this year, lightning struck and for the first and only time an actor was awarded a fourth acting Oscar. We could say despite her Golden Globe this year, that it felt too soon for Streep to get her #2 only two years after her #1 (though the next year, when the subject was the Holocaust, they’d see their way around to it). We could say Susan Sarandon (for Atlantic City) was in just-happy-to-be-here territory after a mercurial 1970s. But that doesn’t really explain the miss of Marsha Mason (for Only When I Laugh), very esteemed for her work in Neil Simon movies, or that of Diane Keaton, who was going for #2 but was clearly beloved and great in a historical epic (Reds). We could tell the story of Jane Fonda’s labor of love to get On Golden Pond made and get her father an Oscar – which she did, mere months before he died. We could note that Henry Fonda and Hepburn appeared on the cover of Time with the headline “Golden Oldies,” and that the film became the sleeper hit of the season, earning $60 million, back when that number meant something. Unlike Reds but like Chariots of Fire, there was a sense that it had over-performed…but even that doesn’t explain Hepburn’s 4th Oscar. All we know is that after Spencer Tracy died, Hepburn never lost, going 3-for-3. We have to guess that Old Hollywood simply loved Hepburn – or always wanted to.

    Year: 1983
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Meryl Streep as Karen Silkwood in Silkwood
    Favorite: Shirley MacLaine as Aurora Greenway in Terms of Endearment
    Winner: MacLaine

    Thus began Meryl’s long, long, long march to #3. Had Karen Silkwood not only contracted but cured cancer, the Oscars still wouldn’t have given the 34-year-old Streep a third Oscar one year after giving her a very deserving second for Sophie’s Choice. Anyway, despite MacLaine’s hoo-ha about past lives, this was hers in a walk: she was Hollywood royalty, she’d gotten her brother Warren Beatty into the business (11 nominations to date), she’d had 4 nominations for Best Actress and never won (and a 5th for Best Documentary, also didn’t win), and most importantly the film was headed for a Best Picture win. The tiny question was whether she would split votes with her dying daughter played by Debra Winger, but the Academy of 1983 was happy to come together around one of Billy Wilder and Frank Sinatra’s old dolls. Wiley and Bona quote the Los Angeles Times: “Barring an upset by Winger or Streep, look for MacLaine to finally deliver the acceptance speech she’s been rehearsing for twenty-six years.” Meryl in Sophie’s Choice might well have lost even a second Oscar to MacLaine this year.

    Year: 1985
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Jack Nicholson as Charley Partanna in Prizzi’s Honor
    Favorite: none
    Winner: William Hurt as Luis Molina in Kiss of the Spider Woman

    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Meryl Streep as Karen in Out of Africa
    Favorite: none
    Geraldine Page as Carrie Watts in The Trip to Bountiful

    This year got weird when Jon Voight took the Drama Actor Globe for Runaway Train away from Harrison Ford and William Hurt. Nicholson won for Comedy for Prizzi’s Honor, but Jack had just taken his second Oscar two years before and was now 48; was it really time for #3? Probably Voight and Nicholson were both victimized by perception of genre – Runaway Train was sold as a thriller, Prizzi’s as a comedy. The real question here was why didn’t Harrison Ford win for Witness? Could genre have hurt Ford by proxy – the fact that he’d just starred in 5 of the 7 biggest genre films (or any films) of all time? Or perhaps, as a cop infiltrating the Amish, he just didn’t have enough “Oscar scenes” compared to William Hurt in a prison cell with Raul Julia. 20 years later, a lot of bloggers would ascribe Heath Ledger’s Brokeback loss to reflexive homophobia (odd, since he lost to someone playing Truman Capote), but here the Oscars proved themselves something other than regressive – Hurt’s character is “out” in every way other than out of jail. Nicholson probably had a reasonable chance here, but Kiss of the Spider Woman’s Best Picture nomination and general esteem gave voters the excuse they needed to keep a third Oscar from a quadregenarian (look it up).

    If you were following showbiz in the 80s, it seems strange in retrospect that Kathleen Turner never won an Oscar. She was the biggest thing on two wheels for a time. This should have been her year for Prizzi’s Honor, but after winning the Comedy Globe, she was somehow left off the Best Actress nomination list. This might have opened the door for the Drama Globe winner, Whoopi Goldberg for The Color Purple, had Celie been played by Diana Ross or anyone the Oscars had ever heard of. Best Actress is not a good category for total newcomers…but that doesn’t mean it’s always friendly to old-timers, and it was eyebrow-raising when Geraldine Page beat Goldberg and took home the trophy. In a more tradition-bound Academy, her previous 7 nominations without a win probably helped. Page said after the nominations, “I’d love to be champion for the most nominations without ever winning. The loser doesn’t have to get up there and make a fool of herself.” Methinks the lady didth protest too much. Wiley and Bona quote Liz Smith, at the height of her gossip powers: “Streep’s accent has become something of a national joke [in Denmark]. One TV station ran film snippets and asked viewers to call in. Most Danes agreed that Meryl sounds like she’s from somewhere, but not from Denmark.” Advantage Page.

    Year: 1986
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Maggie Smith as Charlotte Bartlett in A Room With a View
    Favorite: Smith
    Winner: Dianne Wiest as Holly in Hannah and Her Sisters

    This one is hard to figure, especially because Smith beat Wiest to win many precursors including the Supporting Actress Golden Globe. Perhaps Smith at 52 was a tad young to win #3, or just hadn’t spent enough time in Hollywood (unlike the other 3-time winners)?. Wiley and Bona claim that pundits had the race between the two actresses, and that Wiest was happy to attend the Oscars, unlike her famously recalcitrant director Woody Allen. Could that have made some sort of difference? Perhaps combined with this: “Maggie Smith did not make plans to leave London, informing reporters, ‘It’s a long way to go for a weekend.’” Can you just see the Downton Dowager saying that? Yes you can. Well, heavens shift, Demian Bichir gets in, Ben Affleck is left out, and Wiest somehow beat Smith. William nobody-knows-anything Goldman wins again.

    Year: 1987
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Meryl Streep as Helen in Ironweed
    Favorite: Glenn Close as Alex DeForrest in Fatal Attraction
    Winner: Cher as Loretta in Moonstruck

    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Jack Nicholson as Francis in Ironweed
    Favorite: Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street
    Winner: Douglas

    Streep was a non-factor, not only because she was 38 and already had 2 Oscars, but also because her film about homeless people wasn’t a Best Picture nominee, and three of the other contenders’ films were, making this a 3-way race between Cher, Glenn Close, and Holly Hunter in Broadcast News. Hunter had hit it out of the ballpark, but like Whoopi in Purple she was too unknown; had Close played Jane Craig, you can be almost certain we’d now refer to “Academy Award winner Glenn Close.” There’s a great story behind Close agreeing to do Fatal Attraction when the script made Dan the bad guy, and her refusing to shoot the new ending and then finally doing it…but voters didn’t know that story, they were choosing between a bunny-boiler and a new kind of America’s sweetheart, whom many said had been snubbed for Mask two years before.

    Nicholson was likewise on the sidelines against more buzzed-about performances, particularly Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam and Douglas. Wiley and Bona wrote, “Most Oscar pundits predicted that Williams would not be able to overcome hometown success story Michael Douglas, who had said that earlier in his acting career he had been intimidated by the reputation of his father.” People sometimes forget, looking back at wins by the likes of Lee Marvin for Cat Ballou (1965) or Kevin Spacey for The Usual Suspects (1995), that the voters may well have been thinking about all the actor’s work that year, and certainly in Douglas’ case, his non-nominated turn in Fatal Attraction wasn’t hurting his Wall Street chances. When it comes to taking the best-written dramatic roles of the year, greed…is good.

    Like the homeless people outside the Shrine Auditorium, Streep and Nicholson were forgotten.

    Year: 1988
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Meryl Streep as Lindy Chamberlain in A Cry in the Dark
    Favorite: Glenn Close as Marquise Isabelle in Dangerous Liaisons
    Winner: Jodie Foster as Sarah Tobias in The Accused

    Now on her 8th nomination, Streep was something utterly unknown in Oscar history – the 2-time winner who just kept delivering great performances year after year before she was even 40. Streep’s name stood for quality adult cinema of the 1980s even as her ongoing success also indicated how few quality roles really existed for women at all. But she was a non-factor again this year because all the buzz had gravitated to Best Picture nommers Glenn Close in Liaisons and Melanie Griffith in Working Girl. Then the Golden Globes threw spanners in the works, first by not nominating Close at all, second by giving Griffith the Comedy Globe (predictable), and third by giving three awards (a 3-way tie) for Best Actress, Drama, to Jodie Foster in The Accused, Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas in the Mist, and Shirley MacLaine in Madame Sousatzka! (Not predictable.) Here was a freakin’ race, but one that had nothing to do with Streep. In what must have been a barest plurality, the industry rallied around perhaps its most infamous (and innocent) victim of fame – their Foster child.

    …should I move on into the 90s and 00s? I’ll wait for Robert or someone else.

  • Spacey

    because it really is essentially like a well-made TV movie.

    Thank you! That’s the point I’ve been making, too; it works really well as a HBO movie.

    Pi and Lincoln are films that you really have to see in a theatre.

    If Lincoln can’t do it I really hope PI and Ang Lee win.

  • JP

    “One of the worst things about this year was watching the critics embrace Zero Dark Thirty almost completely, only to abandoned it when the torture debate started.”

    And people even dare to say that Argo won a lot with the critics. I get mad when I read those things. Of the main critics groups in America (NY, LA, National Board, National Society and Boston), 3 went to ZDT and 2 to Amour. The most important critics groups all went to ZDT or Amour. But it seems the critics abandoned the film when the debate started and forgot they have given all those trophies to the film.

    Critics have acted this way dozens of times. Let’s take TKS. They gave a 95% in RT and a 88 in Metacritic… Hadn’t they given such outstanding reviews to this just good film, it wouldn’t have beaten the film they thought was the best… And then they were sort of mad because TKS won all the awards from a point of the season on (and this is sort of reflected in the way Les Mis was received by them).

    And sometimes the critics opinion is distorted: I always read this mantra that Slumdog Millionare and The Artist are just feel-good solid movies… but I never read that those films won main critics groups, that both had the highest scores in RT and Metacritic in their years (with the exception of WALL-E in 2008 and A Separation in 2011… one animated and one foreign language film, which are hardly ever nominated for Best Picture).

  • The J Viewer

    “…should I move on into the 90s and 00s? I’ll wait for Robert or someone else.”

    Yes, please, “unlikely hood”.

    Amanda and I are both now in third stage, ready to co… ,er, go. So, please proceed, Captain!

  • unlikely hood

    Ok, great, this is for Robert, Evelyn Garver, The J Viewer, and Amanda. Feel free to provide corrections/insight/thoughts:

    Year: 1989
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Marlon Brando as Ian McKenzie in A Dry White Season
    Favorite: Denzel Washington as Pvt. Trip in Glory
    Winner: Washington

    This one was a pure Welcome Back to the Five and Dime, Marlon B, Marlon B. After spending most of the 1980s lounging around his tropical island, Brando emerged from his cabana to play a lawyer in an apartheid drama. The nomination was enough to say: we missed you. Brando’s belated involvement in justice for blacks had something in common with the Oscars in general. Days after nomination morning, as Nelson Mandela walked out of prison after 27 years, the Academy was belatedly realizing that they’d thrown too many noms at white-bread films like Born on the Fourth of July and Dead Poets Society and Field of Dreams, while critics and audiences were more interested in Do the Right Thing (no picture or director nods), Glory (ditto), and Driving Miss Daisy (no director nod). As the Academy struggled to recover face, Denzel Washington, with his Globe win and bravura, no-apologies performance, became an irresistible way for them to Do one Right Thing.

    Year: 1990
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Meryl Streep as Suzanne Vale (well, really, Carrie Fisher) in Postcards From The Edge
    Favorite: Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes in Misery
    Winner: Bates

    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Robert DeNiro as Leonard Lowe in Awakenings
    Favorite: Jeremy Irons as Claus von Bulow in Reversal of Fortune
    Winner: Irons

    Let’s make Meryl’s 9th nod short and sweet: Streep’s chances ended the minute she lost the Comedy Actress Globe to Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. If you can’t even win your Comedy Globe nomination, you’re not taking Oscar. Roberts suffered, like Hunter and Goldberg, from the too-new thing. Bates – who won the Drama Globe – had this one captured and tied to the bed.

    Over in Best Actor, Jeremy Irons won the lion’s share of the precursors including the Golden Globe. He also benefitted from the many people who screamed that he’d been snubbed for a nomination for Dead Ringers (1988). Wiley and Bona wrote that DeNiro was feted just before the ceremony at an American Museum of the Moving Image party, but perhaps it was too little, too late. In the post-Brennan era, his age of 47 was a little young for Oscar #3. And speaking of three Oscars, did they really want to give the third Best Actor in a row (after Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man and Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot) to a man playing a disabled victim? Not only was that getting a little cliché, but DeNiro’s performance arguably didn’t measure up to either of theirs. Irons had been turning in flawless performances for more than a decade, and his time had come.

    Year: 1991
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Robert DeNiro as Max Cady in Cape Fear
    Favorite: Nick Nolte as Tom Wingo in The Prince of Tides
    Winner: Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs

    This was supposed to be Nolte’s big triumph, and he did win the Golden Globe for Drama, Actor. You can’t blame genre for DeNiro’s loss – if anything, DeNiro and the eventual winner should have split the “horror” votes and handed it to Nolte. I don’t care what Craig Kennedy says about 1995 being the first year videotapes made a difference – if Silence of the Lambs had come out in November, most of the Academy would have turned up its nose at another genre piece and given Nick Nolte a golden boy. But Silence came out in February, on video by September, and that gave people time to realize: this wasn’t just another serial-killer thing, this might be the best, even most intelligent, thriller ever made. And Hannibal Lecter, despite the lack of screen time, was absolutely mesmerizing, as though pulled from our collective id and superego at the same time. The movie never left the Oscar conversation, to the point where it wasn’t really surprising to watch Billy Crystal open by taking the stage in a Lecter mask. That winter, DeNiro got a few people shouting “Counselor!” and “Come out come out wherever you are!” but not half as many as were slurping about fava beans and chianti. Sorry Bob, Nick, but Tony’s Oscar triumph is probably one of the least regretted votes in Academy history.

    Year: 1992
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men
    Favorite: Gene Hackman as Little Bill Daggett in Unforgiven
    Winner: Hackman

    Not even close, because Hackman won the LAFCA, the NYFCC, the National Society of Film Critics, and the Golden Globe, and was in the very visible Best Picture favorite. Plus Jack was only in his film for about 15 minutes – granted, 15 very memorable minutes. Jack made Aaron Sorkin’s career and then exited stage left – that was enough for one year.

    Year: 1994
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Jodie Foster as Nell in Nell
    Favorite: Foster
    Winner: Jessica Lange as Carly Marshall in Blue Sky

    This was as odd a race as any. With no Best Picture nominee amongst the five women competing, this would be a ground-game war – who could get their movie seen? Winona Ryder in Little Women and Susan Sarandon in The Client – neither of whom had ever won – had legitimate shots here. The voting was probably all over the place. It didn’t help Foster that she’d won two Oscars in the previous six years; it also didn’t help that she was already directing and all of 32 years old – factor in jealousy or just the notion that the Oscars had mixed feelings about being seen as Foster(’s) parents. Perhaps a little bit of disability fatigue had set in, after Rain Man and My Left Foot, everyone was jumping on the handicapped-space-bandwagon – DeNiro in Awakenings, Pacino in Scent of a Woman, etc. You might say, but Jessica Lange won for playing a mentally ill woman! Robert Downey Jr. was on to something all those years later in Tropic Thunder – you never go full retard. Foster in Nell screamed “I’m crippled!” while Lange in Blue Sky (and Tom Hanks, that year, in Forrest Gump) was more subtly afflicted. Still, Foster, with the Golden Globe, should have won – give a dead-broke Orion credit for getting Lange’s performance on video to everyone that mattered.

    Year: 1995
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Meryl Streep as Francesca Johnson in The Bridges of Madison County
    Favorite: Susan Sarandon as Sister Helen Prejean in Dead Man Walking
    Winner: Sarandon

    This year, Susan Sarandon basically turned the other four contenders into Dead Women Walking. Not that Meryl did anything wrong in Bridges, but at this point, the Academy nominated her to make themselves look good, not the other way around. Sharon Stone in Casino and Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas, good as they were, suffered from the sense that the noms were enough simply to welcome them as serious actresses after years of lighter reputations. (Unlike Cher in 1987, they didn’t have a Mask or Silkwood in their past.) Had Emma Thompson not already won for Howard’s End (1992), she could have become the first person to win an acting award and a screenplay award in the same night. But Sarandon had four previous noms and no wins while building an amazing resume that included Bull Durham (1988) and Thelma and Louise (1991) – and her Sister Helen was as sympathetic and luminous as anyone they ever wanted to win. Not this year Meryl.

    Year: 1997
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall in As Good as it Gets
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Dustin Hoffman as Stanley Motts in Wag the Dog
    Favorite: Nicholson
    Winner: Nicholson
    Age when he won #3: 60 Nomination: 11th

    Oddly, considering this was a rare third Oscar win, this was a walk all the way – Jack even slowed down his walk to the stage (pretending he had the OCD of the character). He’d nailed SAG and the Comedy Golden Globe – the Globes may have helped him by giving Drama Actor to Peter Fonda for Ulee’s Gold, who, despite some sentimental feeling, just wasn’t doing a big enough job in a big enough movie. Had the Globe gone to DiCaprio or Damon this might have been one of those too-new/too-old square-offs. But the Academy didn’t even nominate Hollywood’s biggest heartthrob role of all time – Jack Dawson – and Damon was not only brand-new, he was getting screenplay anyway. To nominate Hoffman instead of DiCaprio was enough of a reward…they went out of their way to remind Hoffman that they loved him, certainly he didn’t need an award for what was basically an extended Hollywood in-joke.

    Jack Nicholson’s relationship to the Academy can’t be compared to anyone else’s. He happily attended the Oscars throughout the 1970s, when his closest peers (Hoffman, Pacino, DeNiro, Duvall) considered it beneath them. He was the bridge between the old pre-Method Hollywood and the new emphasis on training/discipline (and even the blockbuster era, after Batman); also, he came every time he was invited, which was WAY more often than just his nominee years (these days, they don’t invite stars who aren’t presenting/receiving/nominated). He made them look good when they gave him “filler” nominations (like Denzel Washington has this year) since Terms of Endearment, but in 1997, he had no frontrunner to shine on other than himself. In his case, they had been looking for a way to give him #3 (and #2 in Lead), and they jumped at the chance.

    Year: 1998
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Tom Hanks as Capt. Miller in Saving Private Ryan
    Favorite: none
    Winner: Roberto Benigni as Guido in Life is Beautiful

    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Meryl Streep as Kate Gulden in One True Thing
    Favorite: Gwyneth Paltrow as Viola in Shakespeare in Love
    Winner: Paltrow

    Streep’s #11 wasn’t ever going to become #3, not least because One True Thing had only One Nomination – hers. (Even The Iron Lady got a makeup nod – and won it.) One True Thing had come in like a dramatic lion but left the box office like a lamb – Streep’s nod was the consolation prize. Anyway, this was a battle of the 16th century, with Globe winners Cate Blanchett and Gwyneth Paltrow squaring off as Queen Elizabeth and Shakespeare’s muse. Had the Academy heard of Blanchett before Oscar and Lucinda (1997), who knows? Harvey Weinstein put his thumb and his belly on the scale, and the rest is history.

    As for Best Actor, the Globe for Actor in a Drama went to Jim Carrey in The Truman Show, and the Oscars didn’t even bother to nominate him. In terms of critics’ organizations, Ian McKellen had the plurality with Gods and Monsters, and the fact that he didn’t win the Oscar may have been a smidge of homophobia combined with the fact that the film wasn’t all that seen. Had Hanks not been a 42-year-old who’d won two in the prior six years, starring (and crying) in a $200 million-earning Oscar-baity drama he would have almost certainly been the favorite. The Screen Actors Guild awards, only a few years old, proved themselves a force to be reckoned with here. Out of the near-blue, they gave Best Actor to Roberto Benigni – unlike Gods and Monsters, everyone saw Life is Beautiful that winter – giving Oscar license to repeat the same trick. Ricky Gervais could probably tell you that it didn’t hurt the Italian to have the more Holocausty role.

    Year: 1999
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Meryl Streep as Roberta in Music of the Heart
    Favorite: Hilary Swank as Teena Brandon in Boys Don’t Cry
    Winner: Swank

    With Nicholson sitting pretty with his 3rd Oscar and Meryl now 50, this was around the time when people started saying: hey, are we taking Meryl for granted? Yes she has two but it’s been a while. Can we expect her to keep propping up these people’s films that wouldn’t otherwise get funded (or Oscar nods)? Can we expect her to keep doing what no actress ever has done? Nonetheless, her white music teacher in Harlem wasn’t going to beat an exquisitely played transgender girl who was raped and murdered – who could? This race was between Swank and Annette Bening’s brilliant turn in American Beauty all the way. Streep was just there to make the other names in the category sound impressive.

    …one more to go. Then we get to figure out what it all means for this year.

  • PaulH

    Riva lost to Cotillard today at the French Golden Stars awards, a precursor to the Cesars: About all this momentum Riva’s supposed to have here?….

  • unlikely hood

    This is the end of it. Anyone please feel free to chime in with bon mots/new thoughts/cheap shots:

    Year: 2000
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland in Cast Away
    Favorite: Hanks
    Winner: Russell Crowe as Maximus in Gladiator

    Like Viola in Shakespeare in Love, the nature of this role would almost have guaranteed an Oscar – if the person playing it was both known and had never won before. Hanks made himself the favorite when he beat Crowe and others to win the Golden Globe. This year’s SAG Best Actor went to Benicio Del Toro for Traffic, but the Academy put him in the supporting category. Best Actor became a contest between 3 previous winners – Michael Douglas, Geoffrey Rush, and Hanks, – a then-unknown named Javier Bardem, and Crowe. Crowe was helped by the high praise (and nomination) he’d received for the previous year’s The Insider, and also helped by Cast Away’s surprising failure to get a Best Picture nomination – you could give Harvey Weinstein partial credit on Hanks’ loss here, because the light-as-air Chocolat took the place Cast Away should have had. With only one BP nominee in the Best Actor race, Crowe surged at the end.

    Year: 2001
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Maggie Smith as Constance Trentham in Gosford Park
    Favorite: Jennifer Connelly as Alicia Nash in A Beautiful Mind
    Winner: Connelly

    Smith was window-dressing here, like Denzel Washington this year. One problem was that she split votes in the category with Helen Mirren, and Mirren won the SAG – Smith won almost nothing but a few critics’ awards. Even had that not been the case, Connelly was almost a shoo-in – right age, right movie, right role (true story of supporting a mentally ill man), plus a slew of prior awards, plus the concern that this Best Picture favorite might not win any other acting awards – if Crowe somehow lost to Denzel (which he did).

    Year: 2002
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Meryl Streep as Susan Orlean in Adaptation
    Favorites: Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma Kelly in Chicago
    Winner: Zeta-Jones

    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Michael Caine as Thomas Fowler in The Quiet American
    3-Time Winner, now Contender: Jack Nicholson as Warren Schmidt in About Schmidt
    Favorite: Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York
    Winner: Adrien Brody in The Pianist

    If Streep had been strategizing how to finally land #3, perhaps doing her first supporting turn in a while would have made sense – in a year without Zeta-Jones in Chicago. Streep did win the supporting actress Globe, but there Zeta-Jones had competed in lead. Singing, dancing, working hard in a Best Picture favorite: in a supporting category – even with a co-star as competition (Queen Latifah) – that’s a very tough formula to beat.

    Wild year in Best Actor, made more so by Brody stepping to the podium and planting his lips on Halle Berry’s. Caine was really a non-factor. They had clearly felt bad about him having only one – so many of them had watched his acting-coaching videos – but they took care of that with The Cider House Rules (1999). The Quiet American was even quieter in the marketplace – it’s unlikely that even half the voting members bothered to watch it. Objectively, Caine’s was probably the least interesting of the five nominated performances – Nicolas Cage-haters routinely pretend Adaptation never happened, cause it’s clearly his career-best. Anyway, the Academy had other fish to fry – #2 for DDL (who’d won SAG) or #4 for Jack (who’d won the Golden Globe)? In a normal world, Day-Lewis would have walked away with this, but, as mentioned, Ricky Gervais knows this isn’t a normal world – these are the same people that had already given it to Benigni for his Holocaust movie. Monkey see, Brody do.

    Year: 2006
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada
    Favorite: Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen
    Winner: Mirren

    Yes, at this point it was getting ridiculous: when would Meryl get #3? We were now past the time when she was too young. The Academy may well have been ready to hand it to her in a year with less competition, but hey, Helen Mirren in The Queen, come on! Meryl’s fashion tyrant could hardly compare to a British grande dame leader of the late 20th-century who battled doubters in her family and the tabloid press – but hey, if you can’t beat em, join em.

    Year: 2008
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Meryl Streep as Sister Aloysius in Doubt
    Favorite: Streep
    Winner: Kate Winslet as Hanna Schmitz in The Reader

    On nod #15, the storm clouds were aligning for Meryl. She won more pre-Globe awards than she had in years, and even took the SAG. She lost the Globe to Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road, but seemed to catch a break when that role wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar. However, Winslet was nominated for The Reader…could that supporting Nazi really trounce the fascistic Sister? BAFTA said yes, and before you could accuse anyone of local bias, the Oscars agreed, handing the trophy to Kate for the first time on her sixth try. Meryl was partly a victim of timing; thanks to Harvey Weinstein’s usual Garibaldi-like campaigning, The Reader made the Best Picture five, and Doubt didn’t. Had they both come out the next year, when BP expanded to ten, no doubt Doubt would have made the 10 and been seen by more voters. In retrospect, The Reader was the linchpin role of Winslet’s career – instead of playing a precocious sybarite, she was now the older woman seducing a younger man (well, boy) into her previous characters’ sort of behavior. Or as Sasha Stone might put it, perhaps Meryl just wasn’t fuckable enough.

    Year: 2009
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Meryl Streep as Julia Child in Julie & Julia
    Favorite: Bullock
    Winner: Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side

    Carey Mulligan and Gabourey Sidibe were brand-new, and thus non-factors. Globes were a split, comedy for Meryl, drama for Sandra. Streep lovers despaired when The Blind Side made the brand-new BP 10 – and Julie & Julia didn’t. Then they despaired again when Bullock pulled out the SAG. Bullock’s much-tabloided “Oscar story” of heartbreak wasn’t hurting either. Though no one knew it at the time, the de-facto lifetime achievement award for Bullock may have actually been the straw that broke the voter’s backs. Sure, they held Sandra aloft during her stage dive, but they felt greasy and dirty about it afterward, and maybe a little tired of hearing about Meryl’s record nomination count (now 16) and record consecutive nominations without a win (now 12). Something would have to be done – preferably before Streep started to collect Social Security.

    Year: 2011
    2-Time Winner, now Contender: Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady
    Favorite: Streep
    Winner: Streep
    Age when she won #3: 62 Nomination: 17th

    Early predictions had the long-overdue Glenn Close taking this in a walk, with her transgender performance in Albert Nobbs, but critics found her cold and unaffecting, and she didn’t wind up winning enough precursors. This became a battle between Streep and Viola Davis, who partly owed her role in The Help to Streep, her co-star in Doubt, because she publicly begged for more roles for a woman like Davis. Streep had to overcome a non-BP nom versus a BP nom, but Davis had to overcome a perceived lack of screen time. In the end, Meryl Streep completed a journey unlike any other potential 3-time winner: a third Oscar was once way too much for a young talent, now it was way overdue and almost a consolation prize for the many non-wins of years past. Put another way, had Streep retired for 28 years after Sophie’s Choice and come back with The Iron Lady, no way she would have beat Davis here. Could Streep in The Iron Lady have beaten Mirren in The Queen, Winslet in The Reader or Bullock in The Blind Side? It’s hard to say; certainly Davis had hardly built up their levels of appreciation, not least because black actresses hardly get as many chances to work.

    So where are we in 2012? Well…

    Robert DeNiro’s age: 69 Nomination: 7th
    Sally Field’s age: 66 Nomination: 3rd
    Denzel Washington’s age: 58 Nomination: 6th
    Daniel Day-Lewis’s age: 55 Nomination: 5th

    A win by DeNiro would simply be part of the continuum of Oscar history – he wouldn’t be setting any record in terms of age, fewest nominations, or anything else. Field would enter the record books because of going 3 for 3, something only Brennan did – until the year after his 3rd win, when he was nominated and lost. Washington would surprise partly because absolutely no one is predicting him now, but if he did win we would expect a lot more “greatest black star” than he gets even now.

    The likeliest new 3-time winner is Daniel Day-Lewis, because: precursors, his amazing performance, his under-praised competition (who would beat him?), Spielberg has never directed an actor to an Oscar before (or is that a reason against?), the Academy doesn’t feel bothered by the idea of people saying “3-time Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis,” and the presumption that Lincoln will lose Best Picture to Argo and it needs a consolation prize. If Joaquin Phoenix or anyone else wins, after the caught breath, bloggers will be talking all Monday about the history detailed on my posts here. If and when Day-Lewis wins #3, no matter what happens during the rest of the night, Day-Lewis will become the youngest and least-nominated 3-time winner since Brennan, the only person to win 3 Lead Actor Oscars, and only the third to win 3 Lead Acting Oscars (after Hepburn and Bergman). As many people have said, there’s a sort of unbelievable serendipity with Streep scheduled to hand over the Best Actor Oscar. Day-Lewis is lucky that this movie came out a year after Streep’s #3; otherwise he’d be trying to do something no one had done in 15 years, and not for another 16 years before that. But thanks to Meryl, the Rubicon is crossed. The Oscars are likely to let Meryl hand Daniel the torch.

  • The J Viewer (KUDOSTORM, unlikely hood)

    Thank YOU very much, “unlikely hood”, for some great read in several posts. I really enjoyed it.

    I was a huge fan of The Silence of the Lambs and everything, as well as virtually everyone (the main cast plus supporting thesps), in it. However, I also loved Bob’s performance as Max Cady in “Cape Fear” so much! And Nick Nolte gave us his equally great performance *I still remember his character’s sobbing in Streisand’s warm, motherly embrace* [actually, it was him lying upon her lap weeping like a child – one of the poignant scenes], just as marvelous as Hopkins’ and De Niro’s. It was one of the great movie years in my book.

    I’ve heard or read somewhere, rumor has it that Hopkins only beat Nolte by TWO VOTES (more or less) only…. True or not, it could have gone either way, and I wouldn’t complain either. Kudos to De Niro for such a wonderful performance in the revamped version of the classic “Cape Fear” as well.


    unlikely hood, if you’d like, you should compile these particular posts of yours into one article – namely, in your own blog if any. That way, people can enjoy it and praise you for the feats properly while visiting your blog. Just saying.

    Either way, thanks again for a good time. Cheers!


    [*signed out* It is *already* Wednesday morning here. I am a vampire (lol); so, I sleep during the day and work out my things at night…. xD]

  • unlikely hood

    Thanks JV!!

  • KT

    Here’s is a fantastic Dateline interview with Ang Lee you missed for your bits and bites.

    He’s very emotional at the end, when answering why he wants the Best Picture Oscar for Life Of Pi:

  • thank you KT!

  • daveinprogress

    Dear Unlikely Hood – i am dazzled by your coverage and scope of detail in your posts on these years. I just have to respectfully correct a detail in your wrap up, which is that Ingrid Bergman did not receive 3 Lead Actress Oscars (2 lead and 1 support) So if DDL does win 3 he will be the first and only male to do so, and the 2nd person after Hepburn’s 4. Cheers.

  • unlikely hood

    Thanks Dave, good point!

  • Robert

    Unlikely hood, this was fabulous. Thank you so much. Some thoughts:

    You made me laugh out loud in my cublicle at work: “This one was a pure Welcome Back to the Five and Dime, Marlon B, Marlon B. After spending most of the 1980s lounging around his tropical island, Brando emerged from his cabana to play a lawyer in an apartheid drama.”

    This is brilliant: “Though no one knew it at the time, the de-facto lifetime achievement award for Bullock may have actually been the straw that broke the voter’s backs..” I completely agree. But she still might not have won for Iron Lady without the magic of Harvey Weinstein, reminding everyone how long it had been since she had won Best Actress.

    1974/Ingrid Bergman: I agree that there must have been guilt over how she had been treated in the 50s. But also Murder on the Orient Express was a big hit, and I remember there was surprise it didn’t get a best pic nomination (especially when The Towering Inferno did). It still got 6 nominations, and Bergman’s is a funny, memorable performance.

    Re 1981: It seemed to me at the time that, despite her win 4 years before, Diane Keaton was the frontrunner because of all the nominations for Reds, and her performance was a contrast to the comedy of Annie Hall. I disliked On Golden Pond back in 1981–I thought it was cheesy and too sentimental. I was also 21. Today I find it moving and lovely, and Kate’s performance is just wonderful. So perhaps the older members of Academy reacted the way I do today–the feeling that this is either my life or my life in an increasingly nearer future. It really was amazing that a movie starring two old movie stars made a bundle of money.

    2002: DDL is brilliant in Gangs of New York (an otherwise terrible film) and I would have been very happy to see him win, but Adrien Brody gives a lovely, subtle performance in The Pianist. I don’t think it’s fair to compare him to the unwatchable, unbearable Roberto Beningi in the horrible Life is Beautiful.(I’m quite certain the Academy members regretted voting for him the moment he started climbing over chairs to get to the podium to accept). Plus The Pianist was having its late, post-BAFTA surge. I actually predicted Adrien Brody that year and my friends scoffed!

    As for this year, I think DeNiro may win, but he’s not like Meryl and many of the other 3-time winners. He’s essentially done crap followed by more crap for most of the 30 years since his last win, with the rare good work (Marvin’s Room) and then more phoned-in Fockers crap. So I don’t think there’s a sense that he’s overdue a 3rd. But since they’re all previous winners, that may not matter. How I would love to see Sally Field take home a 3rd for her Mary Todd. What a performance.

  • Naruse

    Unlikely hood. Thanks for the great writeup.

    A few comments.
    Valentina Cortese was actually the favorite going into the Oscar night as she dominated the critics awards.

    In 1975 Adjani was a big threat as she was the critics darling and swept all the major critics awards making her one of the few that lost the Oscar after winning NY, LA, NBR and NSFC.

    In 1978, Bergman won NY, NBR and NSFC. Fonda won LA and GG but did not win NBR.

  • Naruse

    Also Calling de Niro to have done mostly crap since his last win was so unfair to his string of great work in the 80s and early 90s. King of comedy, Once upon a time in America, the Untouchables, The mission, Midnight run, Goodfellas, Awakenings, Cape Fear, Casino, Heat. That kind of filmography would highlight a great career for 99.9% actors out there.

  • Naruse

    Lange won GG best actress drama along with LA. Foster was not even runner up in critics award circle but did win SAG.

  • Robert

    Naruse, you are right–I should have said in the last 15-20 years, not since his last win (although I am not a fan of his work in Awakenings or Cape Fear, though I know others are, and I count Casino & Heat as not at all good work from him). He is wonderful in The Mission, Midnight Run and Goodfellas and sensational in Untouchables. I’ve just been so dismayed by what he’s done in the last 15-20 years I forgot about the lovely work he did in the 80s/early 90s.

  • unlikely hood

    Thanks for corrections, Robert and Naruse. I was but a wee tyke in the 1970s and am relying on Wiley and Bona, and sometimes JIm Piazza and Gail Kinn’s “The Academy Awards,” for the buzz on those years, including 1981. Now that I think about it, Hepburn’s win there wasn’t so unlike Jack Lemmon’s for Save the Tiger – she was the fixture from a previous age, and the other four were all “New Hollywood” – probably Keaton and Streep split votes.

    I just saw Day for Night for my 2nd time about 3 months ago, and I have to say Valentina Cortese did nothing much to impress me. Sorta like Alan Arkin this year. On the other hand, Adjani was awesome…which goes to show local bias as well as the power of an “Oscar story” like Fletcher’s.

    If DeNiro does win, I think a lot of people will refer to those films, as well as Brazil…he WAS his BFF Harvey Keitel before Keitel was Keitel, that is, working for scale to get great projects off the ground. If DeNiro loses, then we’ll have to say that the Fockers films are still too fresh in the memory. Either way it’s not much about playing an Eagles fan and tough father with a heart of gold.

  • JP

    Although Jodie Foster is one of my favorite actresses, she was too young to win a 3rd Oscar. A pitty Angela Bassett’s Tina did not come in 1994. I think she could have won.

  • CMG

    Sally, that’s crazy talk. First of all it was not ‘months’. A year in, they were still filming and it was released 19 months later in a few screens and 20 months in a wide relese. Bigelow and Boal May 1st, 2011 had a film project on the failed capture of UBL in the months following 9/11 that was 2/3 of the way done when they decided to change their script and story. How would it change he it been exactly the way it was in 2014 or 2015? Because people would forget? People still came in and saw the movie surprised that the film portrayed UBL killed unarmed when the initial WH reports, later changed, portrayed it as a shoot-out. To say the raid scene had no intensity because the result was known (although scant on the details) is to say the same thing about a lot of movies. Argo may have racked the tension in its airport scene but no way a movie of that kind of tone has a unhappy ending, even if it’s not an as well-known of story as the death UBL which gives it some advantage. All the President’s Men came out 2 yrs. after Nixon’s resignation, was it wrong for Goldman and Pakula to immediately make a pretty great movie about it?

  • Watermelons

    I’m just happy this on-line comments thread took some time to recognize the professional achievements of Oscar-winning cinema legend Kate Winslet (The Holiday, Finding Neverland)!


  • Robert

    Day for Night was loved by the critics and had already won Best Foreign film the year before in 1973. This was when the Academy had odd rules and a film could be up for foreign film one year and then other categories the following year. Valentina Cortese’s performance was so lauded, and Ingrid Bergman suggested that Valentina should have won in her acceptance speech. But like you Unlikely Hood I was never dazzled by her performance.

    Also despite what I said above about De Niro’s work over the past 15 years I’d love for him to win this year because he’s great in SLP. I just don’t think he’s overdue for a 3rd Oscar the way Meryl was last year.

  • Naruse

    Never understand the buzz about Day for Night. To me this is not even top 8 Truffaut.

    Adjani should have won based on performance alone. However I would argue that Romy Schneider deserved the win more in that crazy pornish film Important Thing to Love.

    Bergman’s turn in Murder on the Oriential Express was so un-Bergman like. I guess that she won for a variety of reasons such as a long respectable career, the most famous female star in the world in the 40s, the horrible treatment she received for 8 years from Hollywood after the scandal, and she should have been Oscar nominated for roles such as in Notorious (should have won), Inn of sixth happiness, and she gave great performances in some of the Rosselini films. Well, she was a legend and one of the most respected stars/actresses in Hollywood, and it was a surprise that she won in such a weak field.

  • SallyinChicago

    RE the piece about ZD30….as I wrote in my review…concerning the “torture” scenes that Congress was so upset about and may have had a hand in turning around the movie’s wins….I’ve seen worse torture in Tarantino movies…honest, that torture wasn’t THAT bad….and for Congress to lie and cover up that the U.S. does not torture — come on! we know we do! 🙂

  • Scotty

    Thank you so much for all your posts Unlikely Hood. I love for Oscar trivia like this.

    One correction though. In 2000, Michael Douglas wasn’t nominated for his wonderful and Oscar-worthy turn in Wonder Boys. It was seen as a snub. Ed Harris was nominated for Pollack and was seen as a spoiler.

  • Andre

    @Kevin Klawitter

    I just re-watched my “Collateral” DVD for the first time in about 6 years, at least.

    the thought of a Mann-directed “Argo” might have just made me jizz in my pants. I don’t even need to see it. the thought of it is enough.

    and I LIKED “Argo” as it is, but… damn! Mann would have been a perfect match for that particular script.

    anyone agree?

  • Unlikely hood

    Thanks Scotty and nice one, I should have remembered that. So there were two men who hadn’t won, but only one attached to a BP nom. Yet I do remember pollock’s late surge, resulting in Harden’s win, still considered one of the biggest upsets of the last few decades.

  • Scotty

    ^ Thinking about it now, it’s quite amazing that Marcia Gay Harden had that surprise win without a SAG nomination or much fame going in. She was a New York theatre actress who got her big break in a small indie film. I don’t think most of America knew who she was at the time.

    I wonder if it was a vote against Kate Hudson, and finding that Marcia Gay Harden had the best role of the other nominees. We had Judi Dench in Chocolat who won SAG, but the role really wasn’t meaty enough. We also had Frances McDormand in Almost Famous and as good as she was, it really was a filler nomination. I guess one could have made a strong case for Julie Walters in Billy Elliot.

    If only Zhang Ziyi had been nominated for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon…now that was an Oscar-caliber role and if I were an Academy member, I’d vote for without hesitation.

    My personal favorite just to get in would have been Lupe Ontiveros for Chuck & Buck. I think I’m biased because I love that “Selena’s murderer” was given a role that wasn’t defined by her ethnicity, and played it very well.

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