Not only is this year’s Oscars unpredictable in where the voters may lean, but there are numerous Oscar records that could be achieved next month. Added to that are numerous categories containing rivals, whether they are pop-culture or legendary individuals, being in competition with each other, making for one of the most interesting Oscar ceremonies in recent years. Below are ten such examples of potential records or rivalries we will see going into Oscar night.
1. Last year Alejandro González Iñárritu won the Best Director Oscar for Birdman and is poised to win his second Oscar this year for The Revenant. If Iñárritu were to win, it would be the first back-to-back directing Oscar win since 1950 when Joseph L. Mankiewicz won in 1949 for A Letter to Three Wives and then the next year in 1950 for All About Eve. Additionally, only two directors have ever achieved this recognition: Mankiewicz and John Ford. If Iñárritu were to win this year, he would make the third director in the history of the Oscars to win back-to-back directing Oscars.
2. If The Revenant were to win Best Picture this year, along with Iñárritu winning Best Director, this would actually make Oscar history. In the span of the ceremony, never once has there been back-to-back Best Picture winners that had been from the same director, who won both times. If both The Revenant and Iñárritu win, Oscar history will have been made.
3. With the exception of Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club, comeback performances that earn Oscar nominations almost always lose at the eventual Oscar ceremony. Notable comeback performances that got nominated, had the nostalgia to win, but lost include: Burt Reynolds (Boogie Nights), Gloria Swanson (Sunset Blvd.), John Travolta (Pulp Fiction), Julie Christie (Away From Her), Michael Keaton (Birdman), Mickey Rourke (The Wrestler), Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder), and Ruby Dee (American Gangster). So if either Sylvester Stallone or Jennifer Jason Leigh win Oscars this year, they will be defying a common Oscar trend.
4. John Williams further solidified his legacy with his fiftieth Oscar Nomination for the score for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If Williams wins, this would be his first Oscar win since 1993 for Schindler’s List. He will also be in competition with another legendary composer: Ennio Morricone, whose score for The Hateful Eight is his first western score in 40 years (since his years of westerns such as The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly). Added to that, Morricone has never won an Oscar for any of his work (He has been awarded an Honorary Oscar). Yet very easily, both of these living legends could cancel each other out and give the award to Carter Burwell, who despite being part of the film industry for over thirty years, is finally looking at the possibility of winning his first Oscar. Best Score could go in many directions.
5. Best Song has never been more exciting than this year. While much of the focus has been on “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey, most are going to be looking at this category as Sam Smith (“Writing’s On the Wall” from Spectre) versus Lady Gaga (“Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground), and quite frankly, that makes for a unique and one-of-a-kind competition in this category. Added to that, both Sam Smith and Lady Gaga won Golden Globes this past Sunday and with them now being Oscar nominees too, this has been a spectacular week for both of them.
6. In the Best Actor category, Eddie Redmayne, fresh from his Oscar win last year for The Theory of Everything, is nominated for his performance in The Danish Girl and stands a good chance of pulling an upset as one of the pioneers of the transgendered movement. Back-to-back Oscar wins in the acting categories are not unusual, but they rarely occur. If Redmayne were to win, he would be the first actor to win back-to-back Oscars since Tom Hanks achieved it in 1994 (Philadelphia in 1993, Forrest Gump in 1994).
7. Jennifer Lawrence made history with her fourth Oscar nomination for Joy by being the youngest actress to achieve four nominations at the age of 26. The previous record-holder was Kate Winslet when she got her fourth nomination for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in 2004 at the age of 29. If Jennifer Lawrence were to win her second Oscar, she would additionally become the youngest actress to ever win two Oscars.
8. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki is already tied in his category’s history when he won back-to-back Oscars for Gravity then Birdman. This astounding cinematographer is poised to win his third Oscar for The Revenant. If he were to win, it would be the first time in the history of the Oscars that a cinematographer won the Oscar three years in a row.
9. Most people have the misconception that in order to win Best Picture, there must be a nomination for Best Director too. While there is some truth to that with only Argo (2012) and Driving Miss Daisy (1989) being the only Best Picture winners without a directing nomination in recent years, but there is a more glaring category that truly speaks of who the frontrunners nominated for Best Picture are, to which one of them will likely win Best Picture. That category is Best Editing. There has been no Best Picture winner without an editing nomination since 1980 when Ordinary People won the Best Picture Oscar (36 years ago). The exception to this is last year’s Birdman, but that does not count. Birdman was filmed in long, continuous shots to emulate the idea of the film being seamless and without cuts (like a theater experience), therefore the film had NO editing, to which it didn’t get nominated for Best Editing. Using this information towards the nominees this year, those nominated in the Editing category plus Best Picture are: Spotlight, The Revenant, Mad Mad: Fury Road, and The Big Short. Those four films are this year’s Oscar frontrunners for Best Picture.
10. Over the course of the Academy Awards, animated movies have slowly made their way into the major categories, most notably the Screenplay category. Over the years, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E, Up, and Toy Story 3 have all been nominated for Original Screenplay, but none have ever won. Inside Out is the newest addition to this list, which asks the question: Could Inside Out break this barrier and be the first animated movie to win in the Screenplay category?