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Fun Facts About This Year's Best Picture / Director Nominees

The Official Best Picture and Best Director pages have been posted. I'm brainstorming some way to make the charts less static this year so you can enjoy returning to them whenever the mood strikes you. So now that the pages are up, you can vote on your choice of best (not your prediction) and read about the nominees. Let's spitball fun facts!

Box Office

You mean to tell me a sober drama about old age and death hasn't outgrossed The Avengers? 

  • I believe Amour is the lowest grossing Best Picture nominee ever (with under $350,000 in the can at the US box office as of this writing). At least for now! Box Office Mojo used to have before and after nomination box office gross charts for the Best Picture nominees of each year though I can't seem to find them now. The lowest previous pre-nomination gross I can personally recall was Clint Eastwood's Letter From Iwo Jima (2006), also a subtitled picture in miniscule release before the nominations arrived.


  • Silver Linings Playbook becomes the first film since Reds (1981) to win nominations in all acting categories
  • No Spielberg directed performance has ever won the gold -- no, not even Ralph Fiennes in Schindler's List (only one of the greatest performances of all time) -- but Daniel Day-Lewis and maybe even Tommy Lee Jones may well break that unlucky stat in February.
  • The Best Director Nominees have all directed actors to nominations: Haneke & Zeitlin (1 each), Lee (5 nominees), Russell (7, two of which have won), Spielberg (11 nominees)



  • Les Miz is the first musical nominee since Chicago (2002), which won and it received the same # of nods as Dreamgirls (2006), though Dreamgirls missed BP (back when there were only 5 nominees)
  • Lincoln is the first biopic nominee sinc --- kidding! We don't ever go a year without.

Trends & Stats

  • 5 of the 9 nominees have terrifying scenes involving drowning/flooding/watery-death (more on that here)
  • Les Misérable's Fantine sings about tigers and Life of Pi stars a tiger. Coincidence?! ;) 
  • Benh Zeitlin is the 8th youngest ever at only 30 years of age and also the first with an extra h in his name. He's also the 8th youngest nominee ever in this category at 30 young years.  The youngest is still John Singleton who was 24 when his debut film Boyz n the Hood made him a nominee.  

"Previously On..."

  • Lincoln is almost an exact carbon copy of Schindler's List in terms of Oscar noms. 12 nominations for each and the only difference is Lincoln has Supporting Actress in place of Schindler's List had "Makeup". Schindler's List eventually won 7 Oscars... can Lincoln replicate that success?
  • Life of Pi, with 11 nominations, becomes the great Ang Lee's most nominated picture. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon won 10 nominations in its year, also without any acting nods
  • The only other film version of the Victor Hugo novel Les Misérables to win Oscar attention was way back in 1935. It received 4 nominations. 
  • I keep starting trivia sentences about Kathryn Bigelow only to remember she was not nominated, the director's branch nominations being the Most Shocking of the Morning

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Reader Comments (37)

Amour is the most that will benefit the most from its nomination, by far. For one thing, it might actually play in theaters outside of New York and Los Angeles now.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

One little thing to correct: Silver Linings got actually 8 nominations. You have probably forgotten Best Film Editing.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPivo

I know this question gets thrown around a lot, but is supporting actor the first field in history with all previous winners?

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Rusk

4 out of the 20 actors nominated are first time nominees. Is the number decreasing?

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteragustin

Spielberg will most certainly win his third Director Oscar, which will tie him with William Wyler and Frank Capra. John Ford is still the Directing King with four golden boys.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Matthew -- it is, yes. i haven't double checked the math but i'm 96% because certainly freaks me out.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

LOL! was that a reference to ZD30, Nathaniel?

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

I know DGA lineup is more accurate when it comes to predicting Best Picture, not Best Director. But still, just out of curiosity are the two director lineup between DGA and Oscar differ the most this year? At least in recent history?

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

Supp Actor freaks you out? It's the old man's category and you wanted a stud muffin to Christoph Waltz on their parade, that's your fault.

Are rooting for Jessica Tandy this year, I mean the actress from Amour?

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

3rtful -- jessica tandy is no match for Riva! as for supporting actors. Sometimes studmuffins give the best performance. I challenge anyone anywhere to write something that makes me believe that Robert DeNiro or Alan Arkin were better in their movies this year than Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender or Matthew McConaughey. I mean, jesus, it's not even a contest.

bvr - yessss

PJ -- yes, that's the least it's matched since the 1960s (DGA to Oscar lineup)

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Poor Weisz. That's all I think about now.

But a GREAT performance is its own reward.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Nat, just looked at you Best Director page. Correction: Spielberg is in a five-way tie for most nominations for Best Director. The fifth is Woody Allen, who got Best Director nominations for Annie Hall, Interiors, Broadway Danny Rose, Hannah and Her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Bullets Over Broadway and last year for Midnight in Paris. Oddly enough, only three of those films were Best Picture nominees (one a winner) and he won Best Original Screenplay for those three. Anyway, just wanted credit where credit is due.....

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

I think Silver Linings will probably get wins for Jennifer and Deniro going by how popular it was with actors.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Nathaniel... Totally agree about supp. actor... Alan Arkin delivers the same performance in most movies.. John Goodman was better in Argo}(IMP)

I am so sad that Matthew McConaughey was left out..

Movies: Good Choices
Actor: good Choices
Actress: Wanted Weisz.... Not the young girl also wanted Marion Cotilliard in
Supp. Actor ..sad about inclusion of Arkin
Supp. Actress Happy Kidman left out ... Sad that Amy Adams and Jacki Weaver were included

In general ... unhappy SLP got so much attention... to me it was a pleasant film, but no big deal

Director... seems impossible that Ben and Kathryn were left out ... Unhappy Russell got in ..
Happy Ang Lee made it

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

I checked, and the line-up of the best supporting actor marks the first time ever in ANY of the four acting categories, where all the nominees are previous winners.

There have previously been one instance with 4 previous winners and the fifth turning out to be the winner, though:

- in the best actor category, in 2002, when Adrien Brody won over previous winners Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine,Daniel Day-Lewis and Jack Nicholson;

And then, there are very few examples where all the five nominees ended up, sooner or later, being Oscar winners:

It has happened 5 times in the best leading actress category:

- in 1968 Barbra Streisand tied for the award with previous winner Katharine Hepburn, beating previous winners Patricia Neal and Joanne Woodward; fifth nominee Vanessa Redgrave would have won years later;

- in 1985 Geraldine Page won over previous winners Meryl Streep, Anne Bancroft and Jessica Lange, and fifth nominee Whoopi Goldberg would have won five years later;

- in 1990 Kathy Bates won over previous winners Meryl Streep, Joanne Woodward and Anjelica Huston; fifth nominee Julia Roberts would have won later;

- in 2001 Halle Berry prevailed over previous winners Judi Dench and Sissy Spacek, with Nicole Kidman and Renée Zellweger winning in later editions;

- and in 2006, Helen Mirren won over previous winners Meryl Streep and Judi Dench, with Kate Winslet and Penélope Cruz winning later.

And it has happened once in the supporting actress category, in 2001, when Jennifer Connelly won over previous winners Marisa Tomei and Maggie Smith, and future winners Helen Mirren and Kate Winslet.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

George Clooney's nomination for Best Picture, (producer, Argo) represents his nomination in a sixth different Oscar category. He's previously been nominated in the categories of Original screenplay (2006, Goodnight and Good Luck), Adapted Screenplay (2012, The Ides of March), Director (2006, Goodnight and Good Luck), Supporting Actor (2006, Syriana), and Lead Actor (2008, Michael Clayton; Up in the Air, 2010; & 2012, The Descendants)

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

I can understand why Haneke & Zeitlin got in when it comes Oscar but not DGA, as they have people's respect and die hard supporters who vote them #1. Affleck & Bigelow probably lose out when other voters try to make up their mind who among them and Spielberg should be #1. But I cannot understand why O'Russell got in here when he missed out DGA. It's not like he was unjustly snubbed before (he did get a nom for The Fighter, and the film even won two acting awards so his name got mentioned twice on the stage). He has lots of #1 votes? Really? People chose him over Bigelow or Affleck?

Not sure why but Silver Linings Playbook does remind me of 1997's As Good As It Gets. A charming movie with charming performances, then ended up winning only the screenplay and acting awards (AGAIG didn't manage a director nom, right?). Even if Titanic had not swept that year's Oscar, it won't be AGAIG winning Best Picture either.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

Marco- Another such lineup is Best Actor 1967. Spencer Tracy was already an Oscar winner going into that year, then Rod Steiger won that year. The remaining three nominees all went on to win Oscars later, Warren Beatty for Best Director, Dustin Hoffman twice for Best Actor and Paul Newman for Best Actor (as well as Career Achievement).

Also, this year there's the potential of another Best Actress lineup in which all the nominees become Oscar winners. Best Actress 2008. If Anne Hathaway wins this year for Les Misérables (as everyone believes she will) then every nominee in the 2008 Best Actress lineup will be an Oscar winner (Meryl Streep and Angelina Jolie were already Oscar winners going into that lineup, Kate Winslet won that year and Melissa Leo won two years later). Another lineup that is just one winner short of being complete is Best Actor 2009 (the only one missing is Jeremy Renner, though with so many action franchises, that may not happen for a while).

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

I did a post on some of the weird facts of today's nominations at the website I work for, since I'm their resident Oscar guy (who takes this all way too seriously).

I have a lot of Oscar books so I did a lot of my own research, but I did cite a fact I got from EW. I also cited one more fact I got from you, Nat (regarding Amour's low-grossing BP status).

Anyone so inclined can check it out here: http://www.rickey.org/the-history-making-stats-of-todays-oscar-nominations/

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick

Richter, I omitted the 1967 lineup because Beatty ended up winning in "a non acting" category.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

PJ: Or Moonstruck?

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Paul Outlaw: I have not watched Moonstruck before (it's harder to find some older movies here in my country), but I did wiki search it and yes, looks like it's also the same situation.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

PJ - I swear that As Good as it Gets analogy I use all the time, both in its awards and quality.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

Oh wait, As Good As It Gets didn't win screenplay that year, Matt Damon & Ben Affleck did. But I kinda hope it did, the screenplay of AGAIG is better than the performance, and also better than the screenplay of Good Will Hunting (no offense, Matt & Ben). But I guess that work out a way to reward LA Confidential, AGAIG & GWH equally in the huge shadow of Titanic that year, with the with AGAIG winning two leads, the other two winning one supporting & one screenplay.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

Another fun fact about this year's Best Director nominees: people will continue to refer to David O(wen) Russell as "David O'Russell."

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJ.P.

Possibly notable statistic: With DDL and TLJ looking like the obvious winners in their categories, that is an excellent sign for Lincoln's BP chances (one of many). Only four previous films have won both male acting categories, and three of them (Going My Way, The Best Years of Our Lives, Ben-Hur) won Best Picture. Mystic River didn't, but it almost certainly would have if not for the unique multi-year LOTR phenomenon.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSean C.

PJ - Watch Moonstruck! It should have won best picture...

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

...unlike Silver Linings Playbook.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Where is Argo! Screw the Oscars! Nobody watches them anymore so their solution is "Lincoln"... the C-SPAN film of the decade! Whatever!

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIraqi

Completely agree with " jessica tandy is no match for Riva!" And your next observation is dead-on: "Sometimes studmuffins give the best performance. I challenge anyone anywhere to write something that makes me believe that Robert DeNiro or Alan Arkin were better in their movies this year than Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender or Matthew McConaughey. I mean, jesus, it's not even a contest."

That Garrett Hedlund (whom I never heard of before seeing On the Road) was never mentioned within the peanut gallery (as far as I know), is just down right irksome to me. The film was better than it was given credit for, but whenever he was within the frame, it was all genius, charisma and a baritone voice that melts all his and hers notions of chastity. I think when the dvd comes out, I will just listen to the dialogue, with eyes wide shut.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLevi

Is Jennifer Lawrence the youngest two-time Best Actress nominee?

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

This is the first time since 2005 that none of the BP nominees have "The" at the beginning of their title.

First time since 2008 that the eventual BP winner has "The" at the beginning of their title.

EDIT: Unless we count the "Les" in Les Miserables!

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKen

Ken - you seem to have forgotten 2007: Atonement, No Country, There Will Be Blood, Michael Clayton, Juno.

No "The" for any of them! Unless you count THEre Will Be Blood... ;)

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

OMG I finally saw Lincoln and Mary Todd is SUCH a Shelley Winters character, right?! Or is Sally Field just giving a Shelley Winters performance?

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIan C.

Can anyone answer John's L-Law question because I can't find an answer. And there really isn't an easy way to search for that specific stat on the web ;)

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Nathaniel, I haven't managed to find the trivia online (and can be bothered researching it myself, tbh) but 'Life of Pi' is probably the most nominated film in history without any acting noms, fon't you think?

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarlos

Carlos - no. "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King." There may be more.

Also - can someone tell me the last film to be nominated for three acting awards and NOTHING else? "The Master" seems to be a rarity.

Another little stat - this is the first year since 2008 that none of the nominated animated films are hand drawn. It's the first ever, more interestingly, if you only count years where five films were nominated.

January 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

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