Flash Facts: 22 Things You Should Know About This Year's Oscars
Who's the youngest nominee? Which movie is the most nominated? Check out fun facts to make you an instant expert before the Oscars on Feb. 26(22 Photos)
The Artist is the first silent film to get a best picture nod in almost 85 years. (Wings was the only silent film to win that award. It collected its prize at the very first Oscar ceremony in 1929.) Meanwhile, if The Artist wins that category as expected, it will become the first black-and-white movie to win that prize since Billy Wilder’s bittersweet romance The Apartment did in 1960. Steven Spielberg’s 1993 epic, Schindler’s List, doesn’t qualify because the largely black-and-white drama contained one scene with a young girl wearing a red coat, and its modern-day ending was shot in color.THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY
Much has been made of George Clooney’s enduring friendship with frequent costar Brad Pitt. But The Descendants’ leading man has another longtime buddy nominated for an Oscar this year. Clooney and The Help’s Viola Davis have appeared together in three films now: Out of Sight, Solaris and Syriana. The sex symbol even fulfilled one of Davis' deepest fantasies. "I begged him to let me stay at his villa in Lake Como for my honeymoon," she says of his 22-room villa in Italy. He obliged, later joking, "I wasn’t there -- that was her request!"ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
Usually it’s the nominations that stir the drama. But this year, a behind-the-scenes kerfuffle erupted after Brett Ratner (Rush Hour, X-Men: The Last Stand) was elected to direct the ceremony, and recruited Eddie Murphy to emcee the proceedings. While making the press rounds, Ratner made a questionable reference to actress Olivia Munn’s ethnicity and dropped the (homophobic) F-bomb at a screening. He later apologized many argue for both transgressions, then resigned from Oscar duty -- while his leading man, Murphy, also quit out of allegiance to his director. And that brings us back to nine-time host Billy Crystal, the old-standby host. He quipped on Twitter, "Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up my prescriptions. Looking forward to the show."ALBERTO E. RODRIGUEZ/GETTY IMAGES ENTERTAINMENT/GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP; RABBANI AND SOLIMENE PHOTOGRAPHY/GETTY IMAGES ENTERTAINMENT
Meryl Streep picked up her 17th Academy Award nomination this year -- if you’re keeping count, that’s her 14th for best actress -- for her transformative role in The Iron Lady, as former British prime-minister Margaret Thatcher. To play the embattled leader, the normally fetching Streep made herself dowdy with the help of 20 neck pieces, 20 sets of cheeks, and 40 noses. (Not surprisingly, the film also got a best makeup nod.) "I was really living, eating, breathing Margaret Thatcher," the actress later remarked. "It was such a great thing to be able to take it off at the end of the day!"ALEX BAILEY/COURTESY OF PATHE PRODUCTIONS LTD
This year, Oscar-trivia nerds are marveling at how trailblazing Midnight in Paris’s Woody Allen has become after 50-plus years in the entertainment industry. He’s been nominated 23 times total, winning three of those. With his two latest nominations, he beats Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard) as the writer-director with the most double-Oscar nods. That also makes him the most nominated screenwriter (all for original screenplay), and the fifth most-nominated director. You would think that all of this attention would make Allen an Academy-Awards aficionado, but he's far from that. "The whole concept of awards is silly," he’s said. "Because if you accept it when they say you deserve an award, then you have to accept it when they say you don’t."ERNESTO RUSCIO/GETTY IMAGES ENTERTAINMENT
Her work as the timeless sex symbol in My Week with Marilyn has garnered Michelle Williams Oscar nomination no. 3, her second for best actress. Yet Marilyn Monroe herself was never nominated for an Academy Award, but did get four Golden Globe nods and picked up three of those statues. A timid Williams paid homage to the tragic icon in her Golden Globes acceptance speech in January, saying. "Thank you to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for putting in my hands the same award that Monroe herself won over 50 years ago. I’m honored."GETTY IMAGES/WEINSTEIN CO.
The New Girls
Among this year's group of best supporting actress nominees, which includes The Help’s Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain, Bridesmaids’ Melissa McCarthy and The Artist's Berenice Bejo, there is only one veteran nominee -- Albert Nobbs’ Janet McTeer. The 50-year-old actress from England who plays a cross-dressing 19th-century painter in the movie, was nominated for best actress 12 years back for her part as a free-spirited mom in Tumbleweeds. (Hilary Swank took home that year’s statuette for Boys Don’t Cry.) Last year, however, three of the best supporting actresses -- including winner Melissa Leo -- were repeat nominees.SUZANNE HANOVER/UNIVERSAL STUDIOS, STEVE GRANITZ/WIREIMAGE, COURTESY OF DREAMWORKS/WEINSTEIN CO.
Three writing nominees have appeared in their own films this year: best adapted screenplay competitor George Clooney in The Ides of March and Bridesmaids’s best original screenplay contenders, Annie Mumolo (immortalized as Nervous Woman on Plane) and star Kristen Wiig. The latter also happens to be the first and only Saturday Night Live cast member to get a nod while still starring on the late-night variety series. "I am so excited for Kristen and Annie," says Bridesmaids costar -- and fellow Oscar nominee -- Melissa McCarthy. "I can’t feel like more is right with the world."ALBERTO E. RODRIGUEZ/GETTY IMAGES, JASON LAVERIS/FILMMAGIC, CHRIS JACKSON/GETTY IMAGES
In addition to the illustrious group who’ve joined the winners’ circle, there are an equally talent set of icons who’ve never made it into the gilded pantheon: Marilyn Monroe, Fred Astaire, Mia Farrow, Cary Grant, Orsen Welles and Greta Garbo, to just name a handful. Each year brings surprising oversights, and this one was no different. Some of this year's snubs include hunks Ryan Gosling (Drive, The Ides of March) and Michael Fassbender (Shame, A Dangerous Method); vets Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar) and David Fincher (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo; previous Oscar-winners Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin) and Steven Spielberg (War Horse); and music rivals Elton John ("Hello Hello" from Gnomeo & Juliet) and Madonna ("Masterpiece" from W.E.).MICHAEL TRAN/FILMMAGIC, CARL COURT/AFP, KEVIN MAZUR/WIREIMAGE, JASON LAVERIS/FILMMAGIC
Portrait of an 'Artist'
As hard as it may be to believe, Berenice Bejo’s chipper ingenue charcter in The Artist was modelled, in costume and mannerisms, after an early Joan Crawford. "I connected very much with all the work of Joan Crawford, because she started as a flapper. She used to dance and sing, and she was very cute,” says the Argentinean-French star, up for best supporting actress, who also studied the movies of Marlene Dietrich. "She had something that was so different from what she is at the end of her life, and she (even) started in silent movies."THE WEINSTEIN CO. IMAGNO/HULTON ARCHIVE
Costars & Cronies
Best supporting actor nominee Jonah Hill first met his Moneyball costar, best actor nominee Brad Pitt at a Radiohead concert in Milan a few years back. There, actor Ed Norton, also in attendance, introduced them to each other. "We really hit it off, and he was great," Hill remembers. Later, their other mutual friend, actress Catherine Keener, suggested that Hill try out for the Moneyball role opposite Pitt. "When I got the part," continues Hill, "we spent so much time together, because we knew our relationship was really the central relationship of the film."MELINDA SUE GORDON © 2011 COLUMBIA TRISTAR MARKETING GROUP, INC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Jessica Chastain, a best supporting actress nominee for The Help, may very well be the hardest-working, up-and-coming woman in Hollywood today. The strawberry-locked beauty starred in no less than six films last year, and this year, she’s slated to star in six more -- among them, another film from her critically adored Tree of Life director Terrence Malick. She will also be working on Kathryn Bigelow’s breathlessly anticipated follow-up to her Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, which is about the search for Osama bin Laden. Yet all those credits still haven’t made her a household face. "I love that people don't know me," she recently told Entertainment Weekly of being mistaken for other redheads such as Kate Walsh.STEVE GRANITZ/WIREIMAGE
Should he win the best actor category, breakout star Jean Dujardin -- who plays the debonair, down-on-his-luck silent star at the heart of The Artist -- would be the first French actor to earn that honor. But first he had to be convinced to take his role, "I hesitated, and I even said no," says the actor, who’s a big star in France. "I didn’t want to do Charlie Chaplin." A year or so later, he received his Oscar nod, which has left him feeling, "proud, shocked, daunted and lucky."FRED DUVAL/FILMMAGIC
Based on Brian Selznick’s 2007 novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, this year’s most-nominated film (with 11 nods), is director Martin Scorsese’s 3-D debut as well as his first family film. The adventure-drama, about an orphan living in a Paris train station, is largely seen to be an homage to silent-film maker Georges Melies. But Scorsese motivation’s was actually twofold. "My wife said, 'Why don’t you make a film that our [12-year-old] daughter can see, for once?'" he recalled while accepting a Golden Globe for directing the picture. "'Because she can’t see any of the others.'"JAAP BUITENDIJK
Aged to Perfection
At 26, the edgy The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star Rooney Mara is this year’s youngest acting nominee, while 82-year-old Swedish great Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) is the oldest. (The latter just beat out Beginners’ Christopher Plummer, also 82, by roughly eight months). But neither Mara nor von Sydow triumph in this battle of the ages. The youngest acting nominee was eight-year-old Justin Henry (Kramer vs. Kramer, and the oldest, Titanic’s Gloria Stuart, 87. But should either of this year’s contenders win, Sydow (as well as his barely junior Plummer) would take oldest-champ honors from 80-year-old Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy). Mara, however, wouldn’t stand a chance for the title of Oscar’s youngest winner: That title would still go to Tatum O’Neal, who got her gong at age 10 for Paper Moon.STEVE GRANTIZ/FILMMAGIC, ROB KIM/WIREIMAGE, FILMMAGIC
Friendly Rivalries Abound
The Oscars are instigating some friendly rivalries this year! Not only is George Clooney up against his Ocean's Eleven costar and buddy Brad Pitt in the best actor category, but gal pals Meryl Streep will joust with The Help's Viola Davis -- with whom she costarred in Doubt -- in the best actress category. "Can you wrap your mind around someone throwing you into the ring with Meryl Streep?" Davis recently quipped to Entertainment Weekly about her friendly face-off.GETTY IMAGES
Spencer for Hire
Having starred in everything from TV’s Ugly Betty and The Big Bang Theory, to the big-screen’s Spider-Man and Big Momma’s House, The Help’s Octavia Spencer has amassed 90-some acting roles on her resume. The biggest impacts The Help had on her career? For one, she controversially admitted to facing one obstacle: "When you reach a certain weight, you are less valuable" as an actress. Now, Spencer’s success affords her time to finally slow it down. "I want to see what’s out there because this was one of the best roles I have ever gotten to play," says Spencer, "and now I’m a little greedy."HANDOUT/GETTINY IMAGES/COURTESY OF DREAMWORKS
Whether or not she takes home the best actress prize at the Oscars, Rooney Mara made a strong statement about her committment to acting with her breakthrough role in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. To prepare for her turn as tormented hacker Lisbeth Salander, the actress got multiple piercings, took kickboxing lessons, and even talked to kids who suffered from Asperger's syndrome."I wasn't very fazed by the look," Mara told iVillage about her dramatic transformation for the role. "I was really excited to do it. And now when I see myself before, that actually seems sort of stranger to me than the way I look now."ANITA BUGGE/WIREIMAGE, BALDUR BRAGASON
No Muppet Show
This year, just two tunes -- "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets and "Real in Rio" from Rio -- received nominations. That’s the fewest number of best song nominees in the past 76 years. Though that gives Muppets writer-star-producer Jason Segel a 50-50 chance of picking up the award, the actor doesn’t seem to care. He re-tweeted friend Judd Apatow’s remark, "We need to start a riot," in reference to the uproar that no songs will be performed live this year. But it’s not too late for that to change, according to a Deadline source: "The show is not locked yet. Decisions about this and other things continue to be evaluated…." Stay tuned, indeed.PATRICK WYMORE/DISNEY
Message in a Bottle
If you suspected that Nick Nolte’s part in Warrior hit uncomfortably close to home for him, you thought right. The recovering addict, who was famously arrested for DUI in 2002, comes full circle with his Oscar-nominated role as an alcoholic grappling to heal a broken relationship with his Mixed Martial Arts-fighter sons. "I know it a bit from my own situation when I went in to AA, where you have to make those apologies that are necessary. It’s not a comfortable thing to do," says the three-time Oscar nominee. "You know you’re playing a role, but you’re still feeling it."LIONSGATE
Worth the Wait
Glenn Close may have 6 Academy Awards nominations under her belt, but none has been sweeter than the best actress nomination she received this year for Albert Nobbs. The reason for this? Because the actress has been trying to make this film for nearly 15 years! Close, who has never won an Oscar, cowrote the screenplay for this film about a woman trying to make a living in 19th century Dublin by dressing as a man so that she could score a job as a butler. "I’m a sucker for what I think is a good story, and also a character that I found incredibly challenging," the actress explained. "It really brings into play everything I’ve learned as an actor."CHARLES ESHELMAN/FILMMAGIC, PATRICK REDMOND
Oscar's Most Wanted
With 47 nods to his name, composer John Williams -- the now-80-year-old man behind scores for the Star Wars movies, the Harry Potter films, E.T. and Schindler’s List -- is the most-nominated living person today. (His first nod was for 1967’s fabulous pill-popping melodrama Valley of the Dolls.) He’s also the second-most nominated person ever after Walt Disney. The animation giant got 59 nods in his lifetime and won 32 of those, making him the biggest Oscar winner of all time. By comparison, Williams, who received best original score nods for War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin this year, has taken home a relatively modest five statuettes.
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Oscars: The 84th Academy Award Nominations AnnouncedSTEPHEN SHUGERMAN/GETTY IMAGES