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« 25th Anniversary: "Reality Bites" | Main | Soundtracking: A "Titanic" melody and Oscar memory »
Wednesday
Feb202019

4 days until Oscars. More trivia fun.

Four is today's magic number so let's share some Oscar trivia.

Makeup prosthetics for Christian Bale as Dick Cheney (photo from Aida Dombr instagram)

IS ANYONE UP FOR A POSSIBLE FOURTH COMPETITIVE WIN THIS YEAR? 
Why yes, we're so glad you asked. In addition to the previously discussed costume designer Sandy Powell (The Favourite might make it four for that genius), Makeup artist Greg Cannom, who previously won Oscars for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Mrs Doubtfire and Bram Stoker's Dracula, might well win his fourth for giving Christian Bale that realistic looking Cheney bald cap and thick neck in Vice. If Cannom wins he becomes the second most awarded makeup artist of all time (after category king Rick Baker -- who appears to have retired? -- who took the Oscar an incredible 7 times). Now, technically, Cannom is already the second most awarded makeup artist but he's currently holding that honor in a tie with another three time winner Ve Neill (she won for Beetlejuice and Ed Wood, as well as Mrs Doubtfire alongside Cannom). Interestingly enough both Cannom and Ve Neill each won Makeup Guild awards this past weekend for Vice and A Star is Born respectively. 

Katharine Hepburn is the only person to ever win 4 acting Oscars... 

Three living actors have 3 (Daniel Day-Lewis, Jack Nicholson, and Meryl Streep) but both of the men are retired so only Streep has a shot at tying this record.

Our theory is she won't be able to do it (they'll wanna save some record for Hepburn) unless they stop nominating her every time out and she does something undeniable in her late 70s or early 80s. In other words: another Iron Lady won't cut it -- she'll have to do something Kramer or Sophie's or Prada or Madison County iconic again in old age to win a fourth. We firmly believe the excessive nominations were why she didn't win the third for so long. It felt like she had already won three by the time she did and perception often trumps reality in terms of whether or not someone is 'overdue' or, the opposite, 'overrewarded'

• John Ford is the only person to ever win 4 Directing Oscars. No one who's still living even comes close with Eastwood, Lee, Spielberg, Iñaritu, and Stone having half of Ford's total with two wins each. We imagine that Alfonso Cuarón will join this group of two-timers on Sunday, though. Can any of them even reach three though? 

• While several categories feature four-time winners (or more), the following categories from Oscar's 24 regular prizes have never had a four-time winner though most of them have had a 3 time winner: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short, and Best Animated Feature. Though Best Foreign Language Film wins are not technically credited to their directors (they should be) if they were, that category would have been a category with a single four-time winner: Federico Fellini for La Strada (1956), Nights of Cabiria (1957),  (1963), and Amarcord (1974).

• There are eight living actors with exactly four acting nominations who have not yet won an Oscar for acting: Jane Alexander, Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Ed Harris, Marsha Mason, Michelle Williams, and brand new to this list this season... Willem Dafoe and Bradley Cooper, both nominated for Best Actor this year.

Okay, because this was fun when we did it with 6 and 5, here are the Best Pictures of the years ending in 4 ranked. To my great shame (and I've shared this before but still haven't course corrected) I have not seen The Godfather Part 2 (1974) which is my single most glaring screening gap in Best Picture viewing history. My lame excuse is that I generally fill in classic cinema gaps through personal projects and I haven't found a good project involving 1974 yet since that Smackdown was already done years ago at StinkyLulu's and the 50th anniversary (we often use 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th anniversaries to catch up) is still so many years away. For the record I do think The Godfather is pretty great though it's not my favourite film of 1972 so I have a hard time assuming that this will become my favourite of 1974 since that spot is already taken by Francis Ford Coppola's other picture that year, The Conversation, but we'll see. Eventually!

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934)
If you were giving out Oscar's by genre, this one would obviously compete for the Title of Greatest Romantic Comedy of All Time with four other worthy players that are both hilarious and swoonworthy. But which? 

AMADEUS (1984)
Oscar used to worship huge costume dramas. They weren't always worthy but damn this one is great. One of those rare epically long movies that justifies its length. At least that's how I remember it. 

ON THE WATERFRONT (1954)
Such a contendah. Though my Best Picture vote in its year goes to either Rear Window or Judy Garland's version of A Star is Born neither of which were nominated for the top prize even though they totally wipe the floor with the Best Picture nominees that year (but for On the Waterfront which is also pretty damn great)

BIRDMAN (2014)
Don't care that you hate it, I stan. Cinephiles be so crazy sometimes and just turn on movies they would normally love given their general affection for formal dynamism / cinematic invention. You can never know when people will just decide en masse that something is bad even when it's brilliant (or vice versa), but you can bet that when either of those twists happen, the Oscars are too blame!

MY FAIR LADY (1964)
This movie hasn't figured out how to be a MOVIE instead of a stage show, filmed, BUT the song score is among the greatest musical compositions in the history of the world (and probably other worlds, too), the costumes are among the greatest ever designed, Audrey Hepburn is beyond glamorous once the transformation hits, and Marni Nixon's vocals are sublime in the titular role. So there's a lot to recommend here despite the overal staginess. 

MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004)
People think I hate this movie but they're wrong. I just didn't want it to win any of its Oscars. It's an effective sometimes quite moving drama but there were several better movies in its year.   

GOING MY WAY (1944)
Not a fan of this one but Bing Crosby has such a dreamy voice.  

FORREST GUMP (1994) 
Shit/Gump happens! 

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Reader Comments (21)

My nominees for Greatest Romantic Comedy of All Time:

Annie Hall
The Lady Eve
His Girl Friday
The Philadelphia Story
Trouble in Paradise

It Happened One Night, When Harry Met Sally... And Claudine would make a 10-wide field of mine. Try filling out THAT preferential ballot. ;-)

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMJ

Meryl Streep getting a 4th is inevitable. Hepburn's record of 4 leading will only be duplicated with Day-Lewis since his retirement doesn't feel concrete.

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Alfonso is nominated for 4 awards this year (since Foreign Language doesn't count)

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Wait, switch out Annie Hall for The Purple Rose of Cairo and The Philadelphia Story for Claudine. Ugh! Too many choices...

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMJ

In the tradition of the 5's, here are my choices for the 4's

1934 It Happened One Night (The Thin Man)
1944 Going My Way (Double Indemnity)
1954 On the Waterfront (agree)
1964 My Fair Lady (Dr. Strangelove)
1974 The Godfather Part 2 (Chinatown) (Geez Nathaniel, AMC must show Godfather 2 on a biweekly basis!)
1984 Amadeus (Passage to India)
1994 Forrest Gump (Quiz Show)
2004 Million Dollar Baby (Sideways)
2014 Birdman (Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman #5 on a ranked ballot)

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

I say When Harry Met Sally and Shakespeare in Love as nominees for Title of Greatest Romantic Comedy of All Time, but no others pop into my head.

I think the "4" years are actually pretty consistently good.

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMike

I really don't buy Day-Lewis as retired. He's disappeared twice for 5 years at a time, so I see no reason why he won't be at it again when he's in his late-60s/early-70s. An artist like him is bound to get bored exploring and not acting.

I think Streep still has towering performances in her. The biggest hurdle for her will be to choose the right projects that have best picture heat. That helped Katherine Hepburn with her last three wins, but especially On Golden Pond. I do think this is more challenging for female performances in general, and especially now, since Hollywood is only slowly changing its aversion casting women, and those over 50, in the types of film that are intended to be Best Picture frontrunners.

I also think another challenge is that the academy won't reward her in supporting (ala Adaptation) even if she really deserves it.

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

The 4s turned out to be pretty good. Birdman is one of the best movies ever made. On the Waterfront leaves me rather cold, but I love the actors.

I really hope Jack comes out of retirement and gets that fourth soon.

#justiceformarsha

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I would agree that Streep would have to have a towering performance. But when was her last performance that towering? It's been a long time, unless one would want to make an argument for Adaptation.

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBruno

Amadeus is my favorite Best Picture winner of all-time.

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

If Rami Malek wins the Oscar, I predict Lakeith Stanfield is next in line from Short Term 12 to win. But maybe John Gallagher Jr will surprise in a large enough role to garner Oscar attention.

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

If you're feeling great shame for having not seen The Godfather Part 2, I'm feeling even more for having not seen any of them. I've had the entire trilogy for years but have been waiting for a rainy day where I can watch all three back-to-back-to-back; sometime soon hopefully.

My ranking of the '4 Best Picture winners:

All-timers:
Amadeus
On the Waterfront
It Happened one Night

Pretty damn great:
Birdman

Unfairly maligned because it won Best Picture over two superior movies:
Forrest Gump

Perfectly fine:
Million Dollar Baby
My Fair Lady

Excessively saccharine:
Going My Way

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

Insane that Ralph Fiennes isn't among that four-nomination group. He should have at least that many nominations and a couple wins.

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

Greatest Romantic Comedy of All Time nominees (for me):

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
El Inocente
It Happened One Night
The Purple Rose of Cairo
When Harry Met Sally

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFernando Moss

Streep is undoubtedly winning a 4th Oscar. When 15 years pass after the Iron Lady win (we're halfway there), the overdue narrative will weigh in again, and she won't have to be extraordinary at all to win again.

I'm very interested in finding out what happens with her Scorsese and Soderbergh projects. She's finally teaming up with two of the greats!

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

Yavor -- but has she done anything in that time for people to think she'd been overdue again. that long long stretch from SOPHIE'S to IRON LADY has so many Oscar worthy performances that didn't win. I dont think you can build narrative for another win unless you have a stretch of performances that people feel are genuinely great and not, to quote Meryl on her own detractors "oh, her again".

I maintain that overly generous nominations actually can hurt performers. I've rarely seen people come for an Amy Adams performance like they ahve for VICE. and it's hardly the first time she's been only 'okay' in a picture.

Hayden -- yeah, i'll never quite get the resistance to him. To think he couldn't even score a Globe win for GRAND BUDAPEST when he deserved to win Best Actor, no matter what genre you were talking about. And he won onlya few small critics prizes the entire season: The Denver Film Critics Society, The Film Bitch Award, the International Cinephile Award, and the Indiana Film Journalists Association. I mean what the hell? Sometimes critics and awards bodies are so damn unadventurous.

Bruno -- i would argue that Streep's last truly towering performance was Prada and before that Angels in America. If she did something as shockingly *genius* as Angels in America in a movie she'd totally win a fourth. But i really do think it will need to be something really grand that has universal acclaim to do it since she has this narrative of overrewarded due to excessive nominations. Four Oscars isn't really too many for an actor of her calibre but 21 nominations sure is (she's probably going to double the nomination count of any rival in ALL OF HISTORY which seems absurd. At least from where I sit.)

February 20, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

rub it in LOL

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

Love:
Birdman, and it was the best nominee just above Boyhood
My Fair Lady, and yes I'd vote for it over Dr. Strangelove
The Godfather Part II - I know, shame on me for going so low - amazing year and I'd vote Chinatown
On the Waterfront - probably gets my vote; a true classic
It Happened One Night - fantastic winner, gets my vote (Thin Man great too)

Nothing much to say:
Going My Way - should have lost to Double Indemnity

No thanks:
Forrest Gump - Pulp Fiction was robbed
Amadeus - A Soldier's Story gets my vote
Million Dollar Baby - Why these five? I guess Neverland and it makes me sad to pick it

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Day-Lewis has retired 24 times since My Left Foot so I don't believe him.

That list of 4timers is spotless.

The Godfather Part II is monumental. Like visiting the The Sistine Chapel or la Sagrada Família.

February 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Mrs. Streep doesn't deserve and will not win a forth Oscar.
She can be overrated in nominations - 11 noms would be right - but won't bem on winnings.
Miss Hepburn is the greatest of all and will always have the record of 4 OSCARS. And 4 OSCARS AS LEADING ACTRESS. ❤

February 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFabio Dantas Flappers

Oops, I forgot my ranking

1- On the Waterfront
2- The Godfather - Part II
3- My Fair Lady
4- Forrest Gump
5- Birdman

February 22, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterFabio Dantas Flappers

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