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When Best Picture Nominees Go Home Empty Handed — It Happens More Than You’d Think

Last week, Kyle Buchanan at Vulture singled out Lady Bird as a film that might go home empty-handed on Oscar night. Indeed, it is one of two or three that might because there aren’t that many categories where it can or will win. The press seems unusually worried about Lady Bird, probably because they don’t want the only movie directed by a woman to go home empty handed. But that’s happened before. In fact, it has happened often, not just with women also nominated for Best Director but certainly with Best Picture.

I decided to take a look at how the wins laid out vis a vis Best Picture. I think you might find these charts interesting.

These are the Best Picture nominees directed by women that have gone home empty-handed:

An Education
The Kids Are All Right
Winter’s Bone

Even stranger is that these Best Picture nominees that WON the SAG ensemble went home empty-handed:

American Hustle
Hidden Figures

Only one year, 2014, did all of the Best Picture nominees win an Oscar. In all other years, films went home empty-handed, like The Wolf of Wall Street and True Grit. So it isn’t all that bad a thing to not win. At least you’re in good company.

This year things could go any which way, but let’s start with what they think MIGHT happen:

  • The Shape of Water — will likely win Best Director, but could also win Production Design, Score, maybe Cinematography
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — will likely win Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, COULD WIN Screenplay, Picture, Editing
  • Call Me By Your Name — will likely win Adapted Screenplay, COULD win Picture
  • Darkest Hour — will likely win Best Actor, Makeup. Could win Cinematography, Production Design
  • Phantom Thread — will likely win Costume, COULD win Score, outside shot Best Picture
  • Dunkirk — will likely win Sound, Sound Editing, Editing, COULD win cinematography, Score, Picture
  • Get Out — will likely win Original Screenplay, COULD WIN Picture, Director
  • Lady Bird — COULD win Original Screenplay, Picture, Supporting Actress, Actress
  • The Post — ???

It really does get down to being without the crafts nominations to pick up the slack. There are only so many Oscars that can be won. Thing is, it isn’t the worst thing to go home empty handed. Getting nominated at all is a big deal. Remember, Vertigo never won a single Oscar, was only nominated for two, and is now considered the greatest film of all time.