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Are All Acting Oscar Records Made to Be Broken?

This year's slowly escalating Oscar race (prediction updates real soon) which sped up a little this weekend with major contenders like Silver Linings and Lincoln emerging or expanding, contains a number of big deal possibilities in terms of Oscar statistics. Were all Oscar records made to be broken? 

That's tough to say but this year seems likely to break (or tie) some records given the cotenders that have already emerged.


Will Daniel Day-Lewis be the first actor to win 3 Lead Acting Oscars? 
There are few "ties" in Oscar trivia quite as jam-packed with greatness as this one: Nine of Hollywood's most celebrated movie stars have won two Best Actor statues. Jack Nicholson has three statuettes (and the most nominations for a male actor) which makes him the most celebrated but one of his is in the supporting category. If you're counting any acting Oscar, Jack is tied with Supporting Actor champ Walter Brennan, a fixture of Hollywood's golden age who won all three of his prizes in a six year period.

No actor seems likely to beat Walter Brennan's remarkable achievement but I suppose it's possible that Michael Caine, who has two, might tie him if the right film or role comes around. The other option is Tommy Lee Jones who is arguably the frontrunner in the category this year for Lincoln. If he wins a second time (his first was for The Fugitive nearly 19 years ago) he'll join the following Runners-Up to Brennan's Supporting Actor crown: Anthony Quinn, Melvyn Douglas, Michael Caine, Peter Ustinov, and Jason Robards... all deceased but for Caine.

But the big deal "maybe" in terms of Oscar records this year is Daniel Day-Lewis's bid for his third Best Actor statue. It's not entirely uncommon for movie stars to win two lead Oscars. Twelve women and eight other men besides DDL (Spencer Tracy, Fredric March, Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson, and most recently Sean Penn) have done so. But if Daniel Day-Lewis wins for his lanky thoughtful wonky and very convincing time travelling biographical star turn in Lincoln he'll not only tie the overall three Oscar tally of Nicholson, Brennan, Streep and Bergman (a huge deal in and of itself) but he'll essentially become the most awarded movie star ever who isn't named "Katharine Hepburn", and the only runner up to her lead acting crowns.

Other Less Likely Third Oscar Dreams This Year:
Denzel Washington (Flight), Maggie Smith (Quartet), Robert DeNiro (Silver Linings) and Sally Field (Lincoln). If Sally Field wins -- an admitted extreme longshot but not outside the realm of possibility since the Supporting Actress field is still largely amorphous while we're still waiting for the presumed frontrunner (Hathaway) -- she would have the best Oscar batting average ever winning three for three.  Among living actors she's currently tied for "wins every time she's nominated" honors with Hilary Swank, Luise Rainer and Kevin Spacey.

As for ladies and their "all time" records...

Katharine Hepburn's 4 Lead Oscars is a Record that I don't think is made to be broken. Do you? Even Streep is only halfway there post Iron Lady. Kate the Great is safe for now but here's a less often discussed question...

Is any actress going to tie Dianne Wiest & Shelley Winters 2 Supporting wins record?
It took the Academy forty-years to come up with a double winner in this category and it took another 22 years to tie the record. It's been 18 years now since Dianne Weist accomplished it with Bullets Over Broadway. Nobody among this year's contenders could do it but who could do it in the future? The first names that came to my mind were Marisa Tomei and Cate Blanchett, the latter of which gets extra prestige points every time out and the former of which has defied all the odds post a controversial comic win to become an increasingly respected and yet still underappreciated and versatile performer. Doesn't that sound like the perfect status to win a second? Provided she gets another Wrestler-good role in the next few years. Do you have any other suggestions?

Another Acting Record Which Might Be Broken This Year

  • Quvenzhane Wallis would become the youngest Best Actress nominee ever if she makes it in for Beasts of the Southern Wild. The record is currently held by Keisha Castle Hughes for Whale Rider (2003). 

Acting Records That WON'T Be Broken This Year

Jennifer Lawrence might become the youngest to win two Best Actress nominations. But she won't become the youngest to win. 

  • If both Marion Cotillard (Rust & Bone) and Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) are nominated for Best Actress that'll mark the first time two French-language performances compete in the category but it won't be the first time that two foreign language performances have been nominated in a single category. That's happened thrice before and, interestingly, ONLY in the Best Actress category:  1966 (Anouk Aimee and Ida Kaminska), 1975 (Carol Kane in Hester Street and Isabelle Adjani in The Story of Adele H) and 1976 (Marie-Christine Barrault and Liv Ullman)
  • If Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) is nominated she'll be, at 22, the youngest to ever achieve two Best Actress nominations beating Joan Fontaine's record of doing it by 24... but that's still not the youngest to win two female acting nominations. Angela Lansbury still holds the latter record having been nominated for Supporting Actress twice by the time she was 20. Kate Winslet is currently in runner up position for "quickest to two noms in any female acting category" -- by 22 she had one supporting and one lead nomination.

Related Posts:
Double Acting Winners
Youngest Best Actress Nominees
Podcast: the gang discusses Lincoln 

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Reader Comments (51)

wining a 3rd Oscar is very hard.... or used to be. It looks like DDL will sweep this year. I thought John Hawkes was going to stop but The Sessions seems to be fading in terms of buzz. He'll probably get nominated but won't win.

The only other scenario is that Jackman blows out of the water with a big emotional bombastic performance in Les Miz. I kinda don't want DDL to win so that the record stands, it's more fun to speculate.

You are right on the money with Blanchett & Tomei's chances in supp actress. Another name I'd throw in there is Tilda.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

Don't forget there're two other actresses who have won two Oscars out of two nominations: Luise Rainer (lead-lead) and Helen Hayes (lead-support).

It's really amazing to see how many Oscar-winning actors as strong contenders this year:
ACTRESS: Mirren, Cotillard, Smith.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS; Hunt, Fields and Smith.
ACTOR: Washington, Day Lewis and Hopkins,
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jones, Hoffman, Arkin, DeNiro, Walken.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Cate The Great's next Oscar is in Lead

Kate Winslet won't be winning another Oscar anytime soon, in my humble opinion.

I also was going to add Luise Rainer as a 2 out of 2 winner.

I'd love to see Maggie win a 3rd :)

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

A Second Supp Oscar for Dame Judi Dench before she leaves us.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I have a feeling Phoenix will win this year but DDL sure has a chance.

I think Mo'Nique might actually win a wecond one if she cares to. OR maybe I just think it would be fun if she did.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

I'm not sure we can count 'Babel' as a film with two foreign-language female nominations. Barraza's performance was partly in English... and Kikuchi didn't speak a word, so is it technically a foreign-language performance?

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNicolas Mancuso

Kevin Spacey is two for two, as well.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

Nathaniel, you forget also 1976 as a third year with two foreign language performances - The french Marie-Christine Barrault (Cousin Cousine) and The Scandinavian Liv Ullimann (Face to Face).

If the predictions are correct, maybe 1976 could be an interesting mirror of this year's race, if the lineup will be like that:

The French leading lady starring an interesting film related in a pool with an attractive male co-star:
1976: Marie-Christine Barrault
2012: Marion Cotillard

The veteran actress starring an acclaimed film by an auteur and favorite for the critics prizes:
1976: Liv Ullmann
2012: Emmanuelle Riva

A female revelation starring an unconventional film:
1976: Sissy Spacek
2012: Quvenzhané Wallis

A Bordeline performance and co-star starring the "feel-good movie" of the year. Also nominated two years ago:
1976: Talia Shire
2012: Jennifer Lawrence

The lead actress starring a political drama about an important situation:
1976: Faye Dunaway
2012: Jessica Chastain

Maybe I'm dreaming, but in this atypical year, maybe we can see another situation like this...

About Day-Lewis, I still think the Oscar is still in competition... Maybe Jackman can surprise ;)

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleon

If Lawrence wins Best Actress this year, will she become the youngest winner in Best Actress category?

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

@ Mirko

No, Marlee Matlin in "Children of a Lesser God" was younger :)

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

Mirko, she will be the second youngest actress... Marlee Matlin won at 21 years old, but Lawrence will be the youngest actress with two lead Oscar nominations -Kate Winslet and Angela Lansbury were younger than her, but Winslet was nominated once in lead and once in supporting, and Lansbury's both nominations are in the supporting category-.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleon

John Hawkes, Jennifer Lawrence, Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Hathaway. :)

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLalaland

Cate came close with "I'm not there". I was happy she didn't win then (even though, I loved that performance) because I wanted her to win the LEAD ACTRESS award someday. Once she wins that, people would probably stop mentioning the '98 Lead actress fiasco.

In term of record, it's looking more and more likely DDL will pull it through. I'm hoping for a Denzel Washington win, though. He's such a great actor (who deserves to win a third oscar).

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGolden

Joaquin Phoenix. Jennifer Lawrence. Leonardo Di Caprio. Anne Hathaway.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarl

I just still can't imagine Jennifer Lawrence winning the Oscar yet. I deeply want Emmanuelle to win but that's not happening. I kind of believe Jessica Chastain's going to knock it out of the park.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdinasztie

Watching old videos of past Oscar shows, the most remarkable thing (for me) was how many absentees there were. Not only nominees, but winners also. That hardly ever happens these days. So, maybe it's because they didn't give them so much importance in the past, and they saw them as the way we see the Golden Globes today. That would explain the multiple times winners, far more rare today.

All this, to say that I think that's why records aren't so easily broken today.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

I think you missed a few other feats de niro could win a 3rd and 2nd in support,hoffman could win a second so he would have lead and support,helen hunt could add to her actress trophy in support,maggie smith could win her 3rd and 2nd in supporting but unlikely and then theres clooneys producer nom role nommed in 6 categories in his career,hopkins or mirren could win a 2nd for hitchcock,lots of records there,

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermark

I really hope that there will be a lot of first time wins this year.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarl

Although we still know little, things "seem" to be closing in around Affleck, JLaw, TLJ and Hathaway. I'm wondering/hoping if it stays a heat between Day-Lewis' third and Washington's third, it will be a situation like 2002 (DDL/Nicholson) where we don't have a clue what actor's name will be in the envelope. It sure seems like the best chance for unpredictability from here.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

I think that Cate Blanchet's next win should be a lead! But she's appearing soon in a Woody Allen movie, so Best Supporting Actress #2 might be more likely.

One name I'd like to throw in for a second BSA is Anjelica Huston (she should have been nominated for 50/50). But the next two-timer could very well be Meryl Streep...

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPat

I think Meryl has a decent shot of at least tying Hepburn. She very well could win soon for "Osage County"....then get another one for a driving miss daisy type when she's in her 70's - 80's. that would be 5!

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjimmy

Streep won't win again in her 60's unless she category frauds her way into a 2nd Supp Oscar.

Streep and Lange are the only Supp Actress winners who Upgraded their 2nd Oscar inscriptions to Best Actress—Blanchett and Jolie are the only ones with a fighting chance in hell of repeating that feat.

Pat, I agree Anjelica Huston was nomination worthy in 50/50—she should have won a 2nd for Choke (2008).

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

leon: That was a great analysis about 1976-2012!

James T: If Mo'Nique pursues her announced plans for a Hattie McDaniel biopic she'll get a nomination for sure and maybe the Oscar itself.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Pat- I think she's lead in Woody Allen's next film.

By the way, Is Anne Hathaway unstoppable? Granted no one has seen the film yet but she's going through the same route as Jennifer Hudson. She's campaigning the hell out of it now so I think people are gonna start to turn on her like they did with Kate Winslet when she campaigned hard last time.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGolden

Yes Golden, you're right Blanchett is leading the show in the Allen film!

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjohn

Streep has a great shot at BA #3 for August Osage County. Great role; great script.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterme

me that never meant anything in the past. Streepers are damn delusional post-Viola — Meryl addressed the obvious that win was about her career and not The Iron Lady. Julia Roberts is a threat for her second Best Actress win and both women will likely cancel each other for anyone else in the category.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Nate, You need to update your Oct, 2011 link. Streep now has 3 wins. You only have her for 2, Kramer and Sophie. She also has a great shot next year.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

dinasztie, I agree. I'm predicting Jessica Chastain... Even thiugh we've yet to hear her speak a word in the trailer.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Anjelica Huston should have been the first actress to win three Supporting Actress Oscars ('Prizzi's Honor', 'The Dead', and 'Enemies: A Love Story'). Also, she deserved a lead win for either 'The Grifters' or 'The Witches' in 1990.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike M.

Also, she deserved a lead win for either 'The Grifters' or 'The Witches' in 1990.

No she didn't. Kathy Bates' one and done nomination and win in Best Actress is the most correct one of them all.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

"Nobody among this year's contenders could do it but who could do it in the future?"

Maggie Smith could win a second supporting Oscar this very year, for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It's a longshot, of course.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Besides Tomei and Blanchett, I see Redgrave winning a second supporting Oscar. A Song for Marion next year, maybe?

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I made a comment and it disappeared. I said that I expected Redgrave to win a second supporting Oscar, and maybe A Song For Marion is the movie to make it happen

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I don't see Day-Lewis as automatic. A third BA Oscar in 5 nominations will be difficult to pull off and the academy loves Jack Nicholson and will be reluctant to eclipse his record. John Hawkes could sneak iin and we've yet to see Jackman who could win it all with a powerful performance in Le Miz.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterme

I think Jackman could sneak in and win it a la Rex Harrison Its between him and Cooper for the Globe, BAFTAs will probably go for it.

I really hope TLJ doesn't win. It will pain me if he has two Oscars and Ralph Fiennes has none because of him.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeigh

For all of the people who are saying the Academy might be reluctant to give DDL a third Oscar, have you heard the way other actors talk about him? He's arguably the most respected actor in the world right now. If there's any actor they'll feel comfortable handing a third statue, it's him.

As for future two-time Supporting Actress winners, Blanchett and Tomei are definitely possibilities. Someone also mentioned Tilda Swinton, and although I'm not sure the Academy is as taken by her as they should be (I can't believe her Michael Clayton win remains her ONLY nomination), given the right role in the right movie she could certainly pull it off.

Judi Dench seems as likely as anyone to win a second Supporting Actress Oscar. If anything, she's probably approaching "overdue" status for a second Oscar given how many times she's been in the conversation since her win.

Have we all written off Tom Hanks's chances of winning a third Best Actor Oscar? He probably came very close with Cast Away. I wonder if playing Walt Disney could do the trick for him.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

brandz -- i'm not sure what link you're referring to. and

everyone -- i was very careful to cite in the statistics in this article if i meant Lead Acting Statues or Any Acting statues so everything I said about Streep is correct above. She only has 2 Best Actress Oscars (Sophie & Iron Lady). on that same angle, If DDL wins his third Best Actor he'll be the first to do so (since one of Jack Nicholson's is for supporting).

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Kathy Bates was a caricature in "Misery" .... Huston should have won....

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrick

Nathaniel -- Have you heard any buzz about Vanessa Redgrave in "A Song for Marion"?

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn D.

Kathy Bates was a caricature in "Misery" .... Huston should have won....
Since Sarah Palin and George W Bush aren't evil figments of our imagination I'd say Bates in Misery and Martindale in Million Dollar Baby are attempting performances that play like documentary than dramatic film acting.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

If Hugh Jackman takes Best Actor would that be the first for a musical? I don't think you can really count Jamie Foxx for Ray.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Jamie-Rex Harrison and James Cagney both won for musicals.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Thanks John. Time for a third. :-)

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

For all of the people who are saying the Academy might be reluctant to give DDL a third Oscar, have you heard the way other actors talk about him? He's arguably the most respected actor in the world right now.

Well, Edwin, this kind of respect had Meryl Streep since 2002, and only this year she can win a third. Also, there's Denzel Washington, who's not only one of the most respected actors of his generation -With the same respect by thespians like Day-Lewis-, he's also one of the biggest draw at box office at his 50s. -Something Day-Lewis didn't have yet. I don't say Day-Lewis can't win, but even if he's widely respected, he's not the only one -Washington and Jackman (He's respected by the stage world in both sides of the Atlantic)-.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleon

Jamie and John T: Yul Brynner also won for The King and I.

I know we are talking about repeat wins in the Best Supporting Actress category, but I sure hope Catherine Keener and Patricia Clarkson win their Oscar one day!

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Vivien Leigh is 2 for 2 as well. And considering she won hers for Gone with the Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire, she'll be the most deserving holder of the 100% record till the day of the Apocalypse!

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWhy not?

i just can't see jennifer lawrence winning because of how young she is. true the academy prefers to award actresses while they're young, but to win Best Actress at 22? i'm skeptical but i guess it can happen. other than lawrence, right now, i can imagine either jessica chastain or keira knightley possibly winning...however, lawrence seems more likely than anybody else right now

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkent

I got nothing. I just love Oscar posts like these. Keep up the terrific work!!!

November 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

I don't care who wins but I'm a big fan of Denzel Washington. He is doing great.

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