There's no shortage of Oscar trivia, so I thought we'd prepare for Sunday's awards by finishing out the week with a couple of posts on the topic. Stay tuned for tomorrow's installment.
Some roles just seem destined to win an Oscar, don't they? For example, a Best Supporting Actress Oscar has been handed out to women who have played prostitutes a staggering eight times (that would be Anne Baxter, Claire Trevor , Donna Reed, Jo Van Fleet, Dorothy Malone, Shirley Jones, Mira Sorvino and Kim Basinger). And in 1984, three of the five Best Actress nominees were nominated for playing farmers desperately trying to keep the farm going under in the face of hardships (Sally Field in Places of the Heart, Jessica Lange in Country and Sissy Spacek in The River).
Likewise, playing a certain character seems to increase your chance of taking home the statuette as well. Here are 20 people who were nominated for playing the very same role.
1. Laurence Olivier and Kenneth Branagh were both nominated for their roles as Henry V in adaptations of Shakespeare's Henry V (the 1944 and 1989 versions, respectively). Coincidentally, they both also directed. And here's another bit of random trivia for you: both Laurence Olivier and the real Henry V are buried at Westminster Abbey.
2. Anthony Hopkins and Frank Langella were both nominated for playing Richard Nixon "“ Hopkins in 1995 and Langella just last year. Hopkins lost to Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas) and Langella lost to Sean Penn (Harvey Milk).
3. It's not restricted to actors playing real people, though "“ fictional characters make the list, too. Leslie Howard and Rex Harrison both received Oscar nods for portraying Professor Henry Higgins "“ Howard in Pygmalion (1938) and Harrison in the version with Audrey Hepburn that most people know, My Fair Lady (1964). Harrison won the Oscar; Howard didn't.
4. If you ever get an offer to play Vito Corleone, you'd better not refuse. (Feel free to groan at my horrible pun. I won't be offended.) Marlon Brando won for playing Don Vito in the first Godfather in 1972; Robert DeNiro won Best Supporting Actor for playing the younger version of him in The Godfather Part II just two years later.
5. 1999 was a pretty unique year "“ it's the only time two actresses have been nominated for playing the same person in the same year, but in different movies. Cate Blanchett was nominated for Best Actress for her title role in Elizabeth, but Judi Dench also portrayed Henry VIII's daughter in Shakespeare in Love. Blanchett lost to Gwyneth Paltrow, of course, but Judi Dench took home the trophy. She later said she felt weird about taking Oscar home because she just deserved a little sliver of him since she was only onscreen for eight minutes of the entire movie.
6. And, speaking of Cate Blanchett, she has the special distinction of being the only actress to be nominated twice for playing the same person. She was again nominated for playing the Queen in Elizabeth: The Golden Age nine years after the first movie.
7. There's another trend: playing a member of the royal family seems to give you an Oscar edge, because Charles Laughton and Richard Burton were both nominated for playing the gluttonous Henry VIII. Laughton stepped into Henry's breeches in 1933 "“ in fact, it made him the first British actor to win an Oscar (granted, it was only the sixth Academy Awards ever). Burton didn't have the same success "“ he lost to John Wayne (True Grit).
8. A Star is Born is one of those movies destined for Oscars. The original 1937 version earned Janet Gaynor a nomination and the 1954 remake starring Judy Garland got her one as well. Barbra Streisand didn't get a nomination when she played the role of the young ingÃ©nue in the 1974 remake, but that may have not counted for this list anyway "“ whereas the first two movies had the lead actresses portraying thespian Vicki Lester, Streisand played a singer named Esther Hoffman. And while Babs didn't get an Oscar nom for lead actress, she did win an Academy Award for Best Original Song for this movie.
9. Kate Winslet and Gloria Stuart were nominated for playing the same person in the same movie in the same year. I bet you know what I'm talking about "“ Winslet played young Rose DeWitt in the 1997 blockbuster Titanic and Stuart portrayed the, shall we say, mature version of Rose. They were both nominated "“ Winslet for Best Actress and Stuart for Best Supporting Actress. Both lost.
10. Strangely, Winslet experienced the exact same thing at the 2001 Academy Awards, when both she and Judi Dench were nominated for playing Iris Murdoch in different time frames in the movie Iris. Again, they both lost. But we all know Winslet has an Oscar now (and apparently keeps it in her bathroom).