Oscar History

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17 Days Til Oscar

Today's Useless But Fun Oscar Trivia Numbers Chain!

17 years ago The English Patient (1996) won 9 Oscars, driving Julia Louis-Dreyfus Elaine to the brink of madness "quit telling your stupid story about the desert and just die already. die!!!" and making it one of the seven most-Oscared films of all time. (Only Titanic and Return of the King have since beat it). Can Gravity, which has 10 nominations but will definitely lose Best Actress, tie The Patient's record -- it would have to win ALL of its other nominations -- or do you foresee a "spread the wealth" year?

Sal Mineo is the only 17 year-old of either gender ever nominated for an Oscar. That nomination came for his role as "Plato" in Rebel Without a Cause (1955). Mineo also holds the record of youngest (male) actor to two nominations as he was nominated for Exodus (1960) by the age of 22. He would have turned 75 this very year had he not been murdered at the age of 37 in West Hollywood.

• Nomination #17 was the lucky number for Meryl Streep with The Iron Lady, finally giving her her controversial and long-awaited third win (2011). If it had only been for The Devil Wears Prada (2006) instead!

• There are only three people who've ever been nominated for an Oscar exactly 17 times. Those lucky souls are the production designer George W. Davis who won Art Direction Oscars for The Robe (1953) and The Diary of Anne Frank (1959),  the composer Miklós Rosza who won Best Original Score for Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945), as well as A Double Life (1947) and Ben-Hur (1959) and, finally and most recently, Gary Rydstrom who has been nominated in three different categories (Animated Short Film  and both Sound categories) and has won 7 Oscars! 

• In 1917 the Oscars hadn't been invented yet but if they had I'm reasonably certain that Mary Pickford would have won Best Actress unless scary Theda Bara had intervened (Pickford had at least three hits that year and then we could have been spared her career-tribute Oscar win for Coquette which so embarrasses Oscar historians!) 

And finally I made this photograph (and also the snowballs) this morning which I have christened


I had planned to do something far more elaborate an hour or two afterwards. (Yes, I am one of those sick sick people who loves winter and the snow) but then it quickly turned to sludge. Boo! 

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Reader Comments (20)

If Gravity does indeed win Best Picture (I'm still ecstatic that it's uncertain this far along in the race!), I think its total will be 7 or 8. Like you said, it's definitely not winning Best Actress, and I personally don't think it's winning Best Production Design either. So that would be 8, except that I think there's a chance that something else wins Best Editing too, which would be 7.

Even without winning Best Picture, it would be surprising for Gravity to win less than 5 Oscars, which is impressive.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

Didn't Titanic clean up the next year, and win more than English Patient?

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDylan

Dylan -- yes, and Return of the King after that. I think Slumdog also won 9?

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterConrado

conrado & dylan - UGH sorry what is wrong with me today. fixed both things.

February 13, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Slumdog won 8 Oscars

February 13, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

It's ok Nathaniel, it's probably all this snow. Stay warm!

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterConrado

as i see it Gravity is taking 6 or 7 oscars: director, visual fx, cinematography, both sounds, editing and possibly score (but in a perfect world this should go to Her). Production design is likely being taking by either Gatsby or Slave

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentereduardo

Miklos Rosza is one of the most accomplished film composers ever. His scores for Spellbound and Ben-Hur are haunting, powerful ...hypnotic. I didn't know he had 17 nominations...very cool. Lord knows he deserves him. The gorgeous theme to Ben-Hur is one of my favorite pieces of film music.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Happily, "Her" WON'T win Best Score for that unlistenable p.o.s. dirge that is somehow mistaken for a score.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

I think eight wins for Gravity (everything but Actress and Production Design).

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSean C.

The 17 stuff was a lot of fun. I didn't realize Sal Mineo was that young at the time. And Ralph Fiennes is definitely giving good face in that photo still. Yowza. Why didn't he get cast in such a hunky role again? Too good an actor? Too wierd? Too bald?

And yes, the love theme from Ben-Hur is on my ipod and gets played once a month or so. Lovely music. I saw it three nights in a row at BYU when I was a freshman.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Alamitos Beach

That is an intriguing thought if Mary Pickford would have won an Oscar in 1917 if they were around. Wonder who would have been her competition. Theda Bara was huge then but having seen one of her films she wasn't much of an actress and the others who are venerated now, Lillian Gish, Mae Marsh and Blanche Sweet, weren't as popular then.

Based on popularity polls of the time it might have been between Mary who reigned supreme and the now forgotten Marguerite Clark, who was Disney's model for Snow White, the infamous Mary Miles Minter, serial queen Pearl White who also did features and rising star Florence La Badie, even then Hollywood loved an up and comer, who managed to make five films that year before dying in an accident when the breaks on her car failed and it plunged over a cliff.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Dave, Ben-Hur is my favorite film. They played it once when I was in college in a cold auditorium and I sat on a hard folding chair. It was awesome.

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I gotta say, as a Business Analyst myself, I'm seriously impressed with how you are able to churn out trivia after trivia when it comes to Oscars and not only in major categories but in all below-the-line categories as well. You must have kept one heck of an organized database. How do you do it? Keep every year's record of every category line by line in an Excel spreadsheet and every time you need a trivia you just say "Excel Excel on my screen, who is the (enter you trivia criteria here) of them all" and your Excel will show their names on the screen magically? (OK, I admit that mirror mirror chant lost Its magical touch when you lost the rhyme of wall and all, but you get the idea. It sounded much better in my head LOL)

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

Meryl is a 3 time Oscar winner. Yay... I wonder if her 4th will come in lead
or supporting. I think probably a late, late career supporting turn ....

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Ooohh The English Patient is a remarkable movie! Poetry on the big screen. My ultimate love story movie. Ralph Fiennes has never looked better teamed up with the blond icy but warm Kristin Scott Thomas.

I like that Scott Thomas wrote a letter to Minghella and said: I am K in your movie and she got the part

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

Mark -- i'm not sure she'll win a 4th myself. I used to think she would but now i'm less sure. if so i think it will be in her 80s ;)

February 14, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The only 17 year-old of either gender? Um, wasn't Mineo's Rebel co-star Natalie Wood - born in July 1938 - 17 as well when the Oscar nominations for 1955 arrived? Oh Nat, and I'd always thought that Miss Wood/would be your favorite after Michelle. Then again, the mistake is understandable given the fact that Natalia is virtually non-existent in Rebel. For nearly six decades now, audiences all over the world only had eyes for Jimmy and Sal, and no one has ever noticed the presence of Natalie in this particular film. For Rebel Without A Cause, Natalie Wood is about as important as the rear-view mirrors of the cars that go down the cliff.

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

What PJ said. You are a mad, delightful genius savant. This was great. But I'm ruining it at the very moment you have 17 comments!!

February 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

That PJ and Nick feel the need to praise you for a posting that was littered with errors makes me wonder if I'm in North Korea here.

February 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

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