15 fun facts about this year's Oscar nominees to trot out at the dinner table

From the "Whiplash" adapted screenplay controversy to Bradley Cooper's 3-peat.

By Anna Silman
January 16, 2015 2:56AM (UTC)
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Oscar statues are lined up backstage during the Oscars at the Dolby Theatre, March 2, 2014. (AP/Matt Sayles)

Now that the nominees have been announced, Oscar is officially a hot conversation topic -- which doesn't mean it's necessarily an interesting conversation topic. Aside from the obvious talking points ("Selma" was robbed! Everything is NOT awesome! Dick poop!) it's a good idea to arm yourself with some slightly more illuminating talking points to bring some spice to the redundant dinner party banter that you're going to have to sit through over the next few months. So when the conversation turns inevitably to prognosticating and pontificating about the big night, show off your stuff with some of these fun tidbits about this year's nominees:

Did you know that....


1. "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and "Birdman" are tied for the most nominations. It’s the first Best picture nomination for both Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater, and neither has ever won an Oscar (out of 4 and 2 nominations, respectively)

2. With Edward Norton and Mark Ruffalo both up for best supporting actor, there are two Hulks up for Oscars in one year. There's also a big "Spider-Man" contingent at this year's ceremony: Felicity Jones was in "Spider-Man 2" with Emma Stone, while J.K. Simmons was in the Tobey Maguire "Spider-Man."

3. With his surprising nomination for "American Sniper", Bradley Cooper becomes the tenth actor to be nominated three years in a row. Others include cinematic giants like Gregory Peck, Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson.


4. Unlike Bradley Cooper, nine of the nominated performers this year are nominated for the first time.

5. Nine out of 20 acting nominees portrayed real people (Stephen Hawking, Jane Wilde Hawking, Cheryl Strayed, Strayed's mother Bobbi Grey, Alan Turing and fellow codebreaker Joan Clarke, "American sniper" Chris Kyle, John E. duPont and wrestler Dave Schultz), verses 15 out of 20 last year. 66 actors have won Oscars portraying real people over the years.

6. ....yet "real" is something of a grey area. Christian Caryl writes in The New York Review of Books about how "The Imitation Game" played fast-and-loose with Turing's biography, while wrestler Mark Schultz slammed director Bennett Miller's handling of his life story in "Foxcatcher."


7. This will be Meryl Streep’s 19th nomination — she’s now the most nominated person never -- and her infinitieth time being the butt of presenters'  jokes (presumably)

8. This is the first time since 1998 that all the nominees in all the acting catergories have been white. Meanwhile, every best picture nominee but one has a white male protagonist.


9. There are only eight Best Picture Oscar nominees this year; In 2009, the limit for number of films was increased from 5 to 10, but this rule was changed two years later so that the number of nominees would just have to fall somewhere between 5 and 10, with nominated films required to earn at least 5% of the total first place votes in order to make the cut.

10. "Whiplash"'s got nominated for best adapted screenplay instead of original screenplay as the result of an annoying technicality. Back in 2013, director Damien Chazelle made "Whiplash" as a short film to garner interest in the feature; thus, according to Academy rules, the screenplay was technically adapted from the short (even though it's all Chazelle's original material). This is a blow for Chazelle, as best adapted screenplay is widely agreed to be the more competitive category.

11. The total domestic gross of all the Oscar nominated films is 203,078,365 (less than the single gross of blockbusters like "Guardians of the Galaxy," "The Lego Movie," "X-Men: Days of Future Past," and others). Last year’s total gross was much higher — $813,115,481 — buoyed by big yield films like "Gravity," "American Hustle" and "The Wolf of Wall Street." This is the lowest total gross since the category was expanded back in 2009.


12. Shockingly, "Selma" only received two nominations, for best picture and best song. As you may have gathered, it’s rare for a film nominated for best picture to receive so few nominations (the last was "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” back in 2011)

13. This is the first time ever that two Sundance films - "Boyhood" and "Whiplash" — have been nominated for best picture.

14. Of all the Best Picture nominees, "American Sniper" had the lowest average rating among critics (74% rotten tomatoes) while "Boyhood" had the highest (98%).


15. If Julianne Moore wins Best Actress -- as she is widely expected to -- Alec Baldwin will have played he Best Actress winner's husband two years in a row.

Anna Silman

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