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TRIVIAL OSCAR TRIVIA REDUX

     

             Katharine Hepburn's Best Actress Oscars.

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, March 2, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: The 90th Academy Awards will be doled out on Sunday, March 4 (to be broadcast on ABC, Ch. 4 locally), which last week prompted an Oscar-trivia article written in 1993 for the Deseret News. But a lot changes in 25 years so this new entry attempts to update that column — after a mild rant about a largely overlooked 2017 film, in terms of awards that is.

Twenty-five years after I wrote the trivia column that ran in this space last week, the Academy Awards broadcast is still the show that movie fans love to hate. And these days, the awards often go to movies that didn’t come close to being box-office biggies, which is to say that most of the nominated movies were not popular choices among the moviegoing masses.

And, speaking for myself, Oscar nominations are populated largely by films I haven’t seen. (And they wonder why the ratings drop from year to year.)

That has as much to do with Hollywood’s modern penchant for awarding edgy, politicized and perhaps controversial movies more often than mainstream films, no matter how affecting they are or how much they have to say about life and the human condition.

I'm not suggesting a conspiracy. Rather it has to do with Oscar voters' desire to appear politically correct to an audience that mostly doesn't care. (And by the way, periodic polls suggest that many of the Academy members don't see these films either; they vote for their friends or on the basis of word-of-mouth from their peers.)

One overlooked example still blows my mind. Oscar virtually ignored “Wonder,” a beautiful, touching film about a young boy with a facial deformity who heads to public school for the first time and must navigate bullies and his own insecurities before finding acceptance.

Jacob Tremblay, the 11-year-old who plays the central role, is amazing, and as his parents, Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson also impress. (Yes, Owen Wilson!)

“Wonder” did get a single Oscar nomination, for makeup. But it deserves a best picture nod and maybe a number of others.

And the old saw about movies being ignored because they don't open late enough in the year to be remembered or because of critical and/or box-office indifference doesn’t apply. 

     

Here are the stats: “Wonder” opened in November. It’s No. 24 on last year’s domestic box-office hit list, having earned some $132 million (and it’s No. 33 on the worldwide list, having pulled in nearly $300 million), according to Box Office Mojo. And on Rotten Tomatoes, 85 percent of the nation’s movie critics enthusiastically recommended the film.

Another bit of speculation about Oscars in the 21st century is that voters prefer R-rated films. Maybe that one does come into play; “Wonder” carries a rare PG rating. (Six of the nine best-picture nominees are rated R.)

By the way, “Wonder” is now on home-video discs and streaming sites; check it out.

So what were we here for? Ohe yes, let’s look at some of the trivia printed here last week and see what needs updating.

  • Walt Disney still holds the record for competitive wins (22) and for Oscars overall (32), from a total of 59 nominations.
  • Costume designer Edith Head remains the woman with the most statuettes (8).
  • Composter Victor Young retains the record for the most nominations without a win (21). (He won posthumously for his 22nd nomination).
  • Meryl Streep now holds the record for the most acting nominations (21), breaking Katherine Hepburn’s record (12). Jack Nicholson has the most male acting nominations (12). Several actors have won two or three Oscars, but Hepburn still holds the "win" record (4).
  • Glenn Close has joined Deborah Kerr and Thelma Ritter as the most nominated actresses without a win (each has 6 nominations).
  • Peter O’Toole is now the single most nominated actor without a win (8).
  • The most nominations for a single film is still 14, a record held by “All About Eve.” In recent years, that film has been joined by both “Titanic” and “La la Land,” each also nominated in 14 categories.

  

  • The most Oscar wins for a single film is still 11, with “Ben-Hur” being joined for that record by both “Titanic” and “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.”
  • The record of statuettes won by someone for a single film is still three, which once was held only by Billy Wilder. In the past quarter-century a number of others have joined him (too many to list).
  • Jessica Tandy, who was 80 when she won her Oscar, is no longer the oldest performer to win; she was bested by Christopher Plummer, at age 82. (He's now 88 and nominated again this year.)
  • Heath Ledger joins Peter Finch as the only actors to have won acting Oscars posthumously.
  • “Silence of the Lambs” remains the only horror film to win the best-picture Oscar. (Another is nominated this year, "Get Out.")