Records, Milestones & Feats Achieved at the 2015 Oscars

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The 2014 Oscars have come and gone. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance was named Best Picture winning four Oscars. Whether the winners were deserving or not is subjective. What’s not are the facts.  And here are a bunch of them I picked up from Sunday’s ceremony. Yes, I’m a nerd. No, I won’t stop doing this. And the answer to “Why???” is simply, “I enjoy it.” Read on…

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BEST PICTURE:

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way: Birdman becomes the first film to win Best Picture without a Best Film Editing nomination since Ordinary People in 1980; a 34-year gap.

Birdman is the third Best Picture winner in four years whose plot and characters revolve around the film industry. The Artist (2011) and Argo (2012) were the other two. Hollywood loves itself! Who knew?

At seven words, Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) becomes the film with the second-longest title to win Best Picture. The longest? The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003).

This is the first year since 2007 that every Best Picture nominee won at least one Oscar. Birdman won four, The Grand Budapest Hotel also won four, Whiplash won three, and American Sniper, Boyhood, The Imitation Game, Selma and The Theory of Everything all won one each.

The Grand Budapest Hotel, which opened in NYC and LA on March 7, 2014, had the earliest calendar release date of any Best Picture nominee since The Silence of the Lambs, which opened on February 14, 1991.

Birdman becomes the second film released by Fox Searchlight Pictures to win Best Picture in as many years. The studio won Best Picture last year with 12 Years a Slave. The Weinstein Company were the last studio to accomplish this feat in 2010 and 2011 with The King’s Speech and The Artist respectively.

In addition to sharing a studio, both Birdman and 12 Years a Slave were released by production company New Regency Pictures.

A big one: Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu becomes the first Mexican (and Hispanic) filmmaker to direct a Best Picture-winning movie. This is one year after Steve McQueen became the first Black filmmaker to direct a Best Picture winner. Maybe we Asians will get a shot at it this year (fingers crossed).

Birdman is the eighth straight Best Picture winner to premiere at a film festival. It premiered at Venice. In case you’re interested: 2013: 12 Years a Slave (Telluride), 2012: Argo (Telluride), 2011: The Artist (Cannes), 2010: The King’s Speech (Telluride), 2009: The Hurt Locker (Toronto), 2008: Slumdog Millionaire (Telluride), 2007: No Country for Old Men (Cannes).

Birdman also becomes the third straight Best Picture winner to open in the month of October (Argo, 12 Years a Slave). Watch the October 2015 calendar closely.

A stupid one: If you count the ridiculous subtitle, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) becomes the first Best Picture winner to have a parenthesis in its title.

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BEST DIRECTION:

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu becomes only the second Hispanic filmmaker (and second Mexican) to win the Best Direction Oscar. His good friend Alfonso Cuaron made history last year when he won Best Direction for Gravity. No pressure, Guillermo Del Toro.

The DGA continues to be the strongest barometer for Best Director success. Including Iñárritu this year, 60 of the 67 directors who won the DGA award went on to win the Best Direction Oscar too.

Iñárritu becomes the fifth straight non-American to win the Best Direction Oscar. In fact seven of the last 10 winners have been non-Americans. The previous five non-American winners were: 2013: Alfonso Cuaron (Mexico), 2012: Ang Lee (Taiwan), 2011: Michel Hazanavicius (France) and 2010: Tom Hooper (U.K.).

Bennett Miller became the first director to receive a Best Direction nomination without his film receiving a corresponding Best Picture nomination since 2007. He’s also the first to pull off this rare feat since the expansion of the Best Picture category.

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ACTING:

All four acting winners played professors or teachers! Julianne Moore played a linguistics professor in Still Alice, Eddie Redmayne played Stephen Hawking (who had a long stint as a mathematics professor) in The Theory of Everything, Patricia Arquette played an English professor in Boyhood, and J.K. Simmons played a jazz professor in Whiplash. Yay, teachers! (via The Film Experience)

All four acting winners also won at the SAG awards in January. This was also the case last year. In fact, SAG has correctly predicted every Best Actor Oscar winner for the last 11 years.

For the second year in a row, Alec Baldwin played the spouse of the Best Actress winner. Baldwin played Cate Blanchett’s cheating husband in Blue Jasmine in 2013. Amy Adams, Glen Close, Annette Bening, Sigourney Weaver… call your agents.

Julianne Moore (Still Alice) is the first Best Actress winner to be her film’s sole nomination since Charlize Theron and Monster in 2003.

Eddie Redmayne is the seventh actor in the last 10 years to win an Oscar for playing a non-fictional character. Seems like there’s still a lot of truth to that “Play a real person, win an Oscar” stat.

This is the second straight year where the Best Actor in a Leading Role winner was from a film released by Focus Features and the Best Actress in a Leading Role winner was from a film released by Sony Pictures Classics. Last year’s winners were Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) and Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) respectively.

This was the first time since 2010 that all four acting winners were first-time Oscar recipients.

Here’s a depressing statistic. In the last decade, only one winner of the Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar has gone on to receive another nomination: Cate Blanchett.

Bradley Cooper earned his third consecutive Oscar nomination this year. Although he didn’t win, he can take solace in the fact that all but one of the 10 actors (Richard Burton) who received three consecutive nominations eventually won an Oscar.

At 84, Robert Duvall is the oldest ever male acting nominee ever.

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SCREENWRITING:

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu becomes only the seventh filmmaker in history to win Oscars for writing, directing and producing the same movie: Previous filmmakers to achieve this rare honor include Billy Wilder for The Apartment in 1960, Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather Part II in 1974, James L. Brooks for Terms of Endearment in 1983, Peter Jackson for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2003, and Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men in 2007. Phenomenal company.

The Imitation Game is the first Oscar-winning screenplay that topped Hollywood’s annual Black List, the list of the most liked unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. It topped the Black List in 2012.

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OTHERS:

With his wins last year for Gravity and this year for Birdman, Emmanuel Lubezki became only the fourth cinematographer in history to win back-to-back Oscars. The previous three were John Toll for Legends of the Fall (1994) and Braveheart (1995), Winton Hoch for Joan of Arc (1948) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and Leon Shamroy for Wilson (1944) and Leave Her to Heaven (1945).

“Glory” from Selma becomes only the third rap song to win the Best Original Song Oscar after “Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile in 2002 and “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp” from Hustle & Flow in 2005.

Big Hero 6 becomes the second straight Best Animated Feature winner for Walt Disney Animation Studios after Frozen last year. With Pixar releasing both Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur this year, the streak is very unlikely to extend to three.

Ida becomes the first Polish film to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film after nine previous nominations.

With her fourth Best Costume Design Oscar for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Milena Canonero becomes the most awarded living designer. She previously won for Marie Antionette (2006), Chariots of Fire (1981) and Barry Lyndon (1975).

The Grand Budapest Hotel continues the trend of Best Picture nominees winning the Best Makeup & Hairstyling Oscar over non-Best Picture nominees. No Best Picture nominee has lost in this category since Titanic lost to Men in Black in 1997.

Alexandre Desplat’s Best Original Score Oscar for The Grand Budapest Hotel was his first win after eight nominations. Amazingly, the eight nominations came in the span of nine years.

For the first time since 2008, the Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects Oscars were won by separate films. The five-year streak was Avatar (2009), Inception (2010), Hugo (2011), Life of Pi (2012) and Gravity (2013).

Interstellar became the first non-Best Picture nominee to win the Best Visual Effects Oscar since The Golden Compass in 2007.

Roger Deakins is now 0-12 with the Academy. He’s the most nominated living cinematographer without a win to his name. What does this man have to do to win an Oscar?

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