Offbeat Academy Awards Trivia

The concept of spending a few days inside the head of someone who gets to nominate people for the Academy Award is nearly as frightening as spending an hour inside the head of any leading figure in Republican politics. Aside from the fact that these people thought Surf’s Up was more deserving of a Best Animated Movie nomination than The Simpsons Movie, there is also the fact that they seemed to get some kind of bizarre pleasure in nominating Steven Spielberg’s film The Color Purple in just about every possible category only to not grant the film a single award. The nominating is nearly as confusing as the process of determining the BCS Bowl Game teams in college football, but there is one thing that you have to admit. Occasionally, the nominating process for the Academy Awards results in some bizarre outcomes.

It’s a Drag.

1982 marked a high point in the history of movies that perhaps hasn’t been equaled since. Yes, the boring epic Gandhi won everything, but if you avoid that unpleasantness, 1982 made for some quite memorable films including E.T., Tootsie, Diner, and Sophie’s Choice. What the 1982 Academy Awards may best be remembered for was that three different actors received nominations for dressing up in clothing of the opposite gender and either pretending to be a member of that gender or pretending to be pretending to be a member of the opposite site. Dustin Hoffman was nominated and got screwed out of an award for Tootsie, John Lithgow got screwed out a Best Supporting Actor award for The World According to Garp, and Julie Andrews should just be glad she got nominated for Victor/Victoria as a way of making up for the fact she should have been nominated for S.O.B.

I’ll Drink to That.

Playing a drunk has been a surefire way to get nominated as with the ridiculous nomination for Dudley Moore for Arthur in 1981 and the bewildering win of Nicolas Cage for Leaving Las Vegas over Sean Penn for Dead Man Walking. But the 1983 Academy Awards really went on bender. No less than all five of the Best Actor nominees were characters that had one level or another of a drinking problem. Not to mention that a plurality of Oscar voters must have had a drinking problem they year they award Best Actor to Lee Marvin for Cat Ballou over Rod Steiger for The Pawnbroker.

What, Fred Astaire Couldn’t Act?

If you were to take a guess on who was the first person to receive a Best Actor nomination for a musical role who would you guess? Astaire? Gene Kelly? Nelson Eddy? Howard Keel? Oddly enough, the first actor to accomplish this still rare feat was James Cagney. Although quite the song and dance man, Jimmy Cagney is most usually associated with his tough guy roles, but he won his one and only Oscar (amazing!) playing James M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy.

The Long and Short of It:

The longest movie to win an Oscar for Best Picture remains Gone with the Wind (although the longest-feeling movie, Lord of the Ring: The Return of the King, felt like it lasted about seven hours), but the longest movie ever nominated was Cleopatra with Liz Taylor. The shortest film to win an Oscar for Best Picture was Marty (essentially Rocky without the boxing scenes), while the shortest film ever nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture was She Done Him Wrong, starring Mae West’s breasts.

Better Brown Than Red:

People in the movie business love to complain about the stupid rules and regulations associated with the Oscars that don’t allow worthy people to be nominated, such as the arcane rule that disallowed the best score of 2007, There Will be Blood, to even be nominated. The single dumbest rule ever introduced to the Academy Award voters took place in 1957. Beginning in that year, Constitutional rights were suspended so that nobody who was communist would be allowed to win an Academy Award. Funny how conservatives still insist that Hollywood is a hotbed of liberalism since that rule has apparently never been officially lifted.