One of the reasons we get so caught up in the Oscars is because of the tradition and history of it all. The actors we award in 2013 get the same award that was bestowed in 1928. And as with any institution that prizes its history, the record books are full of all sorts of little milestones. Emmanuelle Riva is the oldest Best Actress nominee! Quvenzhane Wallis the youngest! In that respect, Oscar nerds are no different from, say, baseballs nerds. We both like records and milestones and firsts and all-time bests.
One bit of history was made with Thursday morning's Oscar nominations, when the Best Supporting Actor category was composed entirely of former winners. That's the first time that's ever happened in an acting category. In fact, looking back through the record books, there are only eight (now nine) acting categories that even became an all-winners lineup after the fact. Are these the best acting lineups in Oscar's history? Judge for yourself.
2012 Best Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin - "Argo"
Robert DeNiro - "Silver Linings Playbook"
Phillip Seymour Hoffman - "The Master"
Tommy Lee Jones - "Lincoln"
Christoph Waltz - "Django Unchained"
Five previous winners, meaning one of these guys is about to become a two-time Oscar champion (or, in the event of a DeNiro win, three-time). Hoffman's previous win was in Best Actor ("Capote"), while Arkin, Jones, and Waltz have Supporting Actor trophies on shelves in their respective bathrooms.
2006 Best Actress
Helen Mirren - "The Queen"
Penelope Cruz - "Volver"
Judi Dench - "Notes on a Scandal"
Meryl Streep - "The Devil Wears Prada"
Kate Winslet - "Little Children"
When nominations were announced, only Streep ("Kramer vs. Kramer"; "Sophie's Choice") and Dench ("Shakespeare in Love") were Oscar-winners. Mirren would go on to win here, and in 2008, both Cruz (for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona") and Winslet (for "The Reader") joined the winners' club.
2002 Best Actor
Adrien Brody - "The Pianist"
Nicolas Cage - "Adaptation
Michael Caine - "The Quiet American"
Daniel Day-Lewis - "Gangs of New York"
Jack Nicholson - "About Schmidt"
On Oscar night, Brody faced down FOUR previous Oscar winners and ended up pulling one of the most memorable upsets in Academy history. All told, the five men in the category have won EIGHT Oscars, and are likely on their way to nine, with Daniel Day-Lewis's likely win for "Lincoln" this year.
2001 Best Actress
Halle Berry - "Monster's Ball"
Judi Dench - "Iris"
Nicole Kidman - "Moulin Rouge!"
Sissy Spacek - "In the Bedroom"
Renee Zellweger - "Bridget Jones's Diary"
Judi Dench and Sissy Spacek were the only Oscar-winners in the category back in 2001, with Berry soon to join them via a hyperventilating freakout of an acceptance speech. The very next year, Kidman would win for "The Hours," and the year after that, Zellweger would complete the circuit by winning Best Supporting Actress for "Cold Mountain."
2001 Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Connelly - "A Beautiful Mind"
Helen Mirren - "Gosford Park"
Maggie Smith - "Gosford Park"
Marisa Tomei - "In the Bedroom"
Kate Winslet - "Iris"
On nomination day, only two-time winner Maggie Smith ("The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie"; "California Suite") and Marisa Tomei ("My Cousin Vinny") were previous winners. Connelly triumphed on Oscar night, and by the end of the decade, Mirren and Winslet's wins would make this an all-winners lineup, as well as a Best Supporting Actress category populated by three Best Actress winners.
1990 Best Actress
Kathy Bates - "Misery"
Anjelica Huston - "The Grifters"
Julia Roberts - "Pretty Woman"
Meryl Streep - "Postcards from the Edge"
Joanne Woodward - "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge"
Streep, Huston, and Woodward all had Oscars on their bookshelves when these nominations were announced (maybe that's why Streep and Woodward didn't bother to attend that year). Bates became the fourth winner in the group by winning for "Misery," and ten years later (to the day!), Julia Roberts would win for "Erin Brockovich."
1985 Best Actress
Geraldine Page - "The Trip to Bountiful"
Anne Bancroft - "Agnes of God"
Whoopi Goldberg - "The Color Purple"
Jessica Lange - "Sweet Dreams"
Meryl Streep - "Out of Africa"
Meryl Streep had already won twice, Anne Bancroft had won for "The Miracle Worker" in 1962, and Jessica Lange had won her first of two Oscars in 1982 for "Tootsie." After eight previous nominations, Geraldine Page finally won for "The Trip to Bountiful." And in 1990, Whoopi Goldberg made this category 5/5 with her Supporting Actress win for "Ghost."
1968 Best Actress
Barbra Streisand - "Funny Girl"
Katharine Hepburn - "The Lion in Winter"
Patricia Neal - "The Subject Was Roses"
Vanessa Redgrave - "Isadora"
Joanne Woodward - "Rachel, Rachel"
This category is history-making for more than one reason, as Streisand and Hepburn tied for the Best Actress win. It was Hepburn's second in a row, after winning for "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" the year before, and her third of a record-setting four Oscar wins. Both Woodward ("The Three Faces of Eve") and Neal ("Hud") were already Oscar-winners by this point, and in 1977, Vanessa Redgrave would give her infamous "Zionist hoodlums" speech, after winning Best Supporting Actress for "Julia."
1939 Best Actor
Robert Donat - "Goodbye, Mr. Chips"
Clark Gable - "Gone With the Wind"
Laurence Olivier - "Wuthering Heights"
Mickey Rooney - "Babes in Arms"
James Stewart - "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"
This year comes with a bit of an asterisk, as Mickey Rooney was a recipient of the Academy Juvenile Award in 1938. Still, it's an acting award, so let's be generous to the Mickster and say it counts.
BONUS: 2008 Best Actress
Kate Winslet - "The Reader"
Anne Hathaway - "Rachel Getting Married"
Angelina Jolie - "Changeling"
Melissa Leo - "Frozen River
Meryl Streep - "Doubt"
This category doesn't count ... yet. But Winslet, Streep, Jolie, and Leo are all winners, and with Anne Hathaway a GIANT lock to win Best Supporting Actress this year, it's only a matter of time.