You’ve memorized the names of the nominees, you’ll be brushing up on their movies this weekend, and you’re having your finest tuxedo T-shirt pressed in time for the March 5 telecast. Oscar season has arrived once again.
But when it comes to the office water cooler, however, simply being able to differentiate your “Crash” and “Capote” actors isn’t enough. For those who want to be smoother than Terrence Howard, wiser than Dame Judi Dench and as unexpected as an Amy Adams nomination, we present these little-known facts.
Good Morning, And Good Luck: After 77 Academy Awards ceremonies, George Clooney made history on Tuesday morning (January 31) as the first person to ever be nominated as a director (“Good Night, and Good Luck”) while being simultaneously recognized for acting in a different film (“Syriana”).
Tonight They’re Gonna Party Like It’s 1981: For the first time in a quarter-century, the Directing and Best Picture categories recognized the exact same films. (Also of note: Steven Spielberg has been a beneficiary both times. In 1981 his “Raiders of the Lost Ark” landed in both categories, and this year that feat was matched by “Munich.”)
|“Good Night, and Good Luck”|
Does This Mean Judi Dench Can Haze Them?: Fourteen of the acting nominees will be freshmen at the ceremony. The other six have previously received nominations, and four (William Hurt, Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand and Dench) already have Oscars on their mantelpieces.
A Man Of Many Languages: Ang Lee pulled off the rare task of earning a Directing nomination for an English-language film (“Brokeback Mountain”) after receiving his first nomination for a foreign-language film (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”).
Pixar, How We Miss Ya: For the first time since the Animated Feature category was created in 2001, none of the nominees is a CGI film. Does this signal the death of computer-generated cartoons? Unlikely, especially since powerhouse Pixar took a rare year off, and two of the films (“Corpse Bride” and “Curse of the Were-Rabbit”) are among a dying breed of stop-motion animation. With “Ice Age 2,” “Open Season” and Pixar’s “Cars” among the high-profile releases of 2006, the category will likely revert to form next year.
|“Good Night, and Good Luck”|
Songs Sung Blue: Why only three nominees for best original song? A new rule that requires a minimum number of votes for a nomination left only three tunes. Which could mean that there were so many great original songs that the votes were split, or that there were so few quality entries that the other tunes fell flat. In one of Oscar’s more bizarre matchups, Dolly Parton’s “Travelin’ Thru” (“Transamerica”) will square off against “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from “Hustle & Flow.”
A Big Step Forward: If “Brokeback Mountain” wins Best Picture, it would be the first predominately gay-themed film to do so.
No Mickey Mouse Act Here: Legendary composer John Williams landed two more nominations (“Memoirs of a Geisha” and “Munich”), bringing his lifetime total to a whopping 45. He is now second only to Walt Disney, who received 59 Oscar nominations.
Paid Their Dues: After three decades and nearly 30 movies (including duds like “Return of the Killer Tomatoes!”), George Clooney broke through in a major way, earning nominations as a director, supporting actor and writer. After more than 40 movies (and, even more shockingly, during the same year as “Herbie: Fully Loaded”), Matt Dillon landed his first Oscar nomination for “Crash.” The king of them all, however, has to be “Good Night, and Good Luck” star David Strathairn, who earned his first nomination after more than 70 television and film credits.
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Go here for the full list of Oscar nominees.