Oscar’s Record-Setting Films

lalaOn the topic of the Academy Awards’ and record-setting Oscar films, the focus is usually placed on the following three categories: films with the most Oscar nominations, films with the most Oscar wins, and films that have swept the “Big 5” awards (Picture, Actor, Actress, Director and Writing – Screenplay or Adapted Screenplay).

After this year’s nominations were announced, the total number of films that shared the top spot in each of these categories reached three apiece. So now, as Oscar night quickly approaches (this Sunday!), I thought it would be fun to have a little looksee at these particular films and dig a little deeper for some interesting trivial tidbits (including a few that can actually be applied as tie-breakers in a couple of instances, if you’re the type of person who really likes to parse things down to a single, definitive winner).

And now, the Oscars went to…

Most Academy Award wins
11 wins 

Ben-Hur (1959)
Titanic (1997)
The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (2003)

Of the three most Oscar-winning films, Titanic is the only one that is also tops in most nominations, with 14 (Ben-Hur received 12 nods, LOTR: Return Of The King, 11)

Titanic received its 14 noms from a possible 17 categories, but the year Ben-Hur received its 12 noms, there were only 15 available categories. So, even though their total noms received differ, the total noms they missed is the same, as both films managed to get nominated in all but three of the available categories in their respective years.

Even though it garnered the fewest noms of the three films, the 11 wins for LOTR: Return Of The King  represented a clean sweep of all of its nominated categories, making it the film with the largest Oscars sweep ever.

Most Academy Award nominations
14 nominations 

All About Eve (1950)
Titanic (1997)
La La Land (2016)

The 14 nominations received by All About Eve actually represented nods in only 12 categories (out of a possible 16), as it received two nominations apiece in both the Best Actress (Bette Davis, Anne Baxter) and Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holm, Thelma Ritter) categories. Apparently cancelling one another out, none of the ladies went home with an award that night. Of the film’s eventual six wins, the only statuette it received for acting was given to George Sanders (for Best Supporting Actor).

Similarly, La La Land’s 14 nominations represent nods in “only” 13 categories, as two of the musical’s original compositions (“City of Stars” and “Audition”) made it onto the list of Best Song Nominees.

Titanic is the only film whose 14 nominations were in 14 different categories, giving it the distinction as the film with the most unique nominations ever.

Films That Swept The “Big 5” Awards
3 films

It Happened One Night (1934)
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

In the history of the Academy Awards, a total of 43 films have been nominated for all the “Big 5” awards – Picture, Actor, Actress, Director and Writing – with the above three being the only ones to manage a clean sweep.

The most recent film to join the ranks of Big 5 nominees is La La Land – which brings up an interesting point: None of the previous most nominated or most winning films had ever managed to have their impressive totals include all noms in Big 5 categories. This year, La La Land  became the first such film to finally break that barrier.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like La La Land will take it a step further and actually sweep the Big 5. Now, 4 out of 5 is definitely possible, but as much as I like Ryan Gosling, he seems to be, at best, coming up as a distant third place for Best Actor, behind front-runners Casey Affleck (Manchester By The Sea) and Denzel Washington (Fences).

But then again, we are living in a time of unbelievable voting outcomes, so who knows what will happen come Oscar night?


Alternate Oscars and Other Dubious Distinctions

As this year’s Academy Awards ceremony fast approaches, all signs point to it being a more “heavier” ceremony, what with boycotts and the ongoing issues with diversity, so I thought I would try and lighten things up a bit.

(Serious Sidebar – for the record, my view is yes – the Academy membership needs to be shaken up, but the reason for the lack of nominations for people of colour should not be focused so much on #OscarsSoWhite, but rather more on #FilmsSoWhite. The Academy has proven many times that it does recognize and award performances by people of colour – but the problem is that there needs to be more of these diverse performances in general. Film studios need to be casting more of their films with a colour-blind eye in order for change to really happen. Okay, serious stuff over).

Anyway, as I was saying – I’m just here to have a little fun with the Oscars right now. And to do so, I decided to create some frivolous Academy Award categories of my own, as well as some special achievement awards for some very special films, indeed.

And now, the (not really an) Oscar goes to…

Best Performance by Supporting Characters in a Lead Role

The Minions in Minions

Best Performance by a Lead Character in a Supporting Role

Tom Hardy as Mad Max in Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Performance by Channing Tatum as a sexy beast (figuratively)

As the titular stripper in Magic Mike XXL

Best Performance by Channing Tatum as a sexy beast (literally)

As Caine, the alien/dog hybrid bounty hunter in Jupiter Ascending

Outstanding Mascot of the Year (animal)

Bears (The Revenant, Ted 2, Paddington)

Outstanding Mascot of the Year (non-animal)

Droids (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Outstanding Achievement in Title Punctuation (cumulative work)

The colon (:)

The saviour of number-prone sequel titles, the colon was used in the titles of no less than 14 films released in 2015 (only one of which, Kingsman: The Secret Service, was a non-sequel/non-franchise film)

Outstanding Achievement in Title Punctuation (individual)

The period (.)

There’s nothing like a snappy acronym, and the period pulled quintuple duty to draw attention to the one in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Best-Titled Sequel

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

This and Jurassic World were the only sequels released in 2015 that eschewed both colons and numeric designations, but the edge goes to Hotel for craftily working into its title the fact that it’s the second Marigold Hotel movie

Worst-Titled Sequel

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Both this and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation employed punctuation overkill with the combination of colon + dash, but only M:I – RN gets a pass, since the colon is part of its original tile. The Hunger Games however goes for the unnecessary overkill. Pro-tip: if you are including a numeric designation in your title, you don’t need to further separate it with any punctuation (even if there’s already a colon in play, which is amazingly something that Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 got right)

Best Film To Demonstrate Everything Wrong With Reboots, Superhero Films and Reboots of Superhero Films

Fantastic 4

Say what you will about the goofy Jessica Alba Fantastic Four films – at least they gave us an FF that was an actual superhero team using their super powers to do super-heroey things. In this desperate cash grab/film rights extender, we were supposedly getting a “grittier” version of the FF, but what we got was a sullen, sulky batch of millennials who spend almost the entire movie indoors (or in a dismal, dark otherworldy dimension) working on science stuff, bickering , walking down hallways and acting angsty. It was the film equivalent of someone shrugging their shoulders.

Best Anti-Tourism Film for a Title Location

San Andreas  (“Come for the great weather, stay because the earth cracked open and swallowed you up)
Everest  (“Come for the breath-taking views, stay because the altitude is also breath-taking, so now you’re dead.”)
Brooklyn (“Come to 1950s Brooklyn and see how charming, clean and pretty it is, stay because it’s 1950s Brooklyn and you’re stranded because smartphones, wi-fi, GPS and Uber haven’t been invented yet”)

Most Misleading Titles of the Year

Magic Mike XXL…the “XXL” was only in reference to the film’s running time
Trainwreck…was not a locomotive-based disaster flick
Ricki and the Flash…was not about a former talk show host who teams up with a superhero speedster

Least Creative Titles of the Year (aka “Titles that could also be MadLibs answers”)


And finally, a Special Award going to the year itself, 2015, for:

Outstanding Achievement in Box Office – Worst Wide Openings

A “wide opening” film is a film that debuts on at least 2,000 screens. 2015 saw the release of not one, not two, but FOUR wide opening films that did so bad that they all managed to land in the Top 20 on the list of films with the all-time worst opening-weekend box office grosses (the most of any year represented on the list).

Even more incredible is that three of the films, Jem and the Holograms ($1.37mil), Rock The Kasbah ($1.47mil) and We Are Your Friends ($1.76mil) charged in right to the top tier, nabbing the fourth, fifth and sixth slots. 2015’s other entry on the list, Victor Frankenstein, just barely sneaked in at number 19 ($2.46).

And so, by producing not only some of the biggest box-office blockbusters of all time like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 …but also some of the biggest flops of all time as well, 2015 showed that it truly was a diverse year for movies!

Congrats, 2015!




Resurgence Requested: Movie Soundtracks (80s-style!)

While movie soundtracks are still “a thing”, they are nowhere near being the pop culture touchstones that they were back in the 1980s.

There once was a time when a major film simply would not be released without an accompanying well-promoted radio single – let alone a tie-in soundtrack full of original songs from multiple artists. But with the decline of physical album sales and the rise of the internet, social media and outlets like YouTube, there are a number of less costly options available to film studios to cross-promote their releases. And it seems that these days the only soundtracks that seem to really get the push from studios are for musicals (animated or otherwise) or music-centered films, which means we’ve gone full circle back to the 1950s and 60s.

Back then, hit soundtracks were solely the domain of the movie musical and  their showtunes. But as the musical film genre began to fade in 1970s,  the soundtracks to films like Saturday Night Fever (1977) and later, Flashdance (1983) stepped forward to prove that not only did a film need not be a musical in order to produce a hit soundtrack, but that a heavily promoted tie-in single (or singles) was great for profits and advertising. Thus, the modern movie soundtrack genre was off and running.

For the next decade, it seemed that a major movie couldn’t be released without an accompanying single, and soon the music charts were beginning to resemble the box-office charts – with such diverse films as Against All Odds, The Woman in Red, Ghostbusters, The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, The Goonies, Back to The Future, White Nights, The Karate Kid Part II, Beverly Hills Cop II, Mannequin, Cocktail and Batman – just to name a few – all producing signature hit singles.

However, there were some films that spawned multiple hit singles and whose soundtracks went on to become some of the biggest selling albums of their decade and now stand as a perfect snapshot of their era – the likes of which we have yet to see happen this millennium for a non-musical film:


The soundtrack for the 1984 film starring Kevin Bacon as a toe-tappin’ high schooler that rebels against authority was a massive success, selling 9 million units in the U.S. and spawning 6 Billboard Hot 100 hits, including the #1 singles “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins and “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” by Deniece Williams as well as the #7-peaking “Almost Paradise” by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson. Other hits to climb the charts included “Holding Out For A Hero” (Bonnie Tyler, #34), “Dancing In The Sheets” (Shalamar, #17) and another entry from Loggins, “I’m Free [Heaven Helps The Man](#22)

Top Guntop gun

The soundtrack to Tom Cruise’s high-flying hit of 1986 has also been certified for sales of 9 million. And also like the Footloose soundtrack, it was propelled by a hit single from Kenny Loggins – in this case “Danger Zone” which reached #2. Even bigger though was “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin. Not only did it reach #1, but it also took home the Academy Award for Best Original Song. Subsequent singles emerged in the forms of  “Heaven In Your Eyes” (Loverboy, #12) and yet another release from Loggins (“Playing With The Boys”, #60).

And can we just take a moment here to acknowledge something – specifically, how in the 80s, Kenny Loggins became the undisputed king of movie soundtracks? Because, in addition to his multiple singles from  Footloose and Top Gun, Loggins also scored hits that decade with songs from Caddyshack (“I’m Alright”, #7), Over The Top (“Meet Me Half Way” #11) and Caddyshack II (“Nobody’s Fool”, #8). And just to show that he’s no slouch, in 1996 Loggins proved that he still had the movie-magic touch when his single “For The First Time” from the film One Fine Day hit #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts (and the song itself went on to be nominated for an Oscar). Clearly, a soundtrack could do no wrong once Loggins  was added to the roster of artists.

Dirty Dancingdirtydancing

Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey’s little film about dancin’ and romancin’ at a Catskills resort in the 1960s was an unprecedented phenomenon at the box office in 1987, and the soundtrack was no different, eventually shifting over 11 million units domestically. Buoyed by hits from Eric Carmen (“Hungry Eyes” #4) and Swayze himself (“She’s Like The Wind” #2), the soundtrack is most remembered for its #1 smash “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, which would also go on to snag the Best Original Song Oscar.

And speaking of the Oscars, there’s perhaps no better example of just how sharp the decline of the “hit single-infused” movie soundtrack has been since the 80s than this look at the 1984 Academy Award nominees for Best Original Song:

I Just Called To Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder (The Woman In Red)
Footloose – Kenny Loggins (Footloose)
Take A Look At Me Now – Phil Collins (Against All Odds)
Let’s Hear It For The Boy – Deniece Williams (Footloose)
Ghostbusters – Ray Parker Jr. (Ghostbusters)

Not only were these all hit singles, they were all #1 hit singles. Which means that in 1984, the number of Best Song nominees that also hit #1 on the singles charts is greater than the number that have done so in the last 15 years. *sigh*

Unexpected Oscar Wins

With this year’s Academy Awards ceremony fast approaching (this Sunday!) it seems to be a night set for few relative surprises (i.e. Cate Blanchett and Jared Leto appear to be a lock in their respective acting categories and Best Picture will most likely go to either Gravity or 12 Years a Slave). However, if there’s one thing that years and years of Oscar ceremonies have proven, it is to expect the unexpected. With that said, let’s take a little peek into the past at some previous unexpected Oscar wins.

1968 – Best Actress (Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn)

What was unexpected about this was not that Barbra Streisand or Katharine Hepburn was bestowed with the Best Actress honour Oscars_barbraof 1968, but that it was tie, and both were bestowed with that title. It was the second of only two ties (so far) ever awarded in an acting category, but even more astonishing is that of the two, it was the only “real” tie (previously, the rules had allowed for nominees within 3 votes of the winning nominee to be named as a tie winner – which was how Frederic March was able to be named 1932’s Best Actor along with highest vote-getter Wallace Beery). Bonus trivia – there was a bit of controversy because of a bending of the rules that allowed for Streisand to be admitted as a member of the Academy before her first movie – the movie she won for, Funny Girl – had even been released. It goes to reason then, that – being an eligible voting member, -she would have voted for herself. Meaning that this little “bending of the rules” resulted in Streisand not only becoming a member of the Academy earlier than usual, but also in becoming an Oscar winner.

1992 – Best Supporting Actress (Marisa Tomei)

There were a few reasons why this was an unexpected win. To start with, the film Tomei won for, My Cousin Vinny, was a broad comedy – and comedic performances tend to get oscars_tomei_bigoverlooked by the generally stuffy Academy. Furthermore, Tomei wasn’t just the relative newcomer in her category (her most notable prior work had been a season on the Cosby Show spinoff A Different World) but the other nominees – Vanessa Redgrave, Judy Davis, Joan Plowright and Miranda Richardson were all respected and seasoned British actresses with a bevy stage & screen credits as well as numerous prior acting awards and accolades shared among them. So, it was indeed quite shocking when the young and relatively inexperienced Tomei was called up to the podium that night. In fact, many in the media started snarkily speculating that presenter Jack Palance had somehow read the wrong name. Of course, that was just untrue, since the Academy would never have let a mistake like that, no matter how embarrassing, go without correction. And, as Tomei has demonstrated via her work since then (including two more Oscar-nominated performances) she is definitely an actress worthy of her win.

2011 – Best Actress (Meryl Streep)

Of course, it’s not unexpected that Meryl Streep – the record holder for most acting nominations (18 and counting!) should win an Oscar. But, what is unexpected is that she finally won her third Oscar (for The Iron Lady) 29 years and 12 nominations after her previous Oscar win. After scoring two Oscars early in her career (Best Supporting Actress for 1979’s Kramer vs Kramer and Best Actress for 1982’s Sophie’s Choice), it seemed that the Academy was content to let Streep become the Susan Lucci of film and rack up a string of record-breaking consecutive nominations without a win. But in 2012, her vivid portrayal of Margaret Thatcher and was able to sway voters away from strong contender Viola Davis (nominated for The Help) and make them disregard the “Oh, Meryl gets nominated for anything” notion to see that she truly did give the performance of the year, and awarded her, rightly so.


I’ve got my fingers crossed that this year we’ll see some more unexpected wins – like perhaps last year’s Best Actress winner, Jennifer Lawrence winning again this year – but this time for Supporting Actress (there hasn’t been a back-to-back acting winner since Tom Hanks 20 years ago). Could happen…and time (will soon) tell.

The Best Worst Actress

PROBLEM: A likeable  A-list star is the odds-on favourite for the Best Actress Oscar at the upcoming Academy Awards. However, she also appears to be the front-runner for the Worst Actress award, to be given out at the Razzie Awards on the night before the Oscar ceremony. Even more dubious, she could become the first performer to win an Oscar and a Razzie in the same year.

CASE STUDY: Sandra Bullock

Sandra Bullock was on a hot streak in 2009 with her summer hit  The Proposal and her fall smash The Blind Side. The latter film was also earning her some of the best accolades of her career. Nothing could stop her momentum as she became the one to beat for that year’s Best Actress Oscar.

Well, almost nothing. Released in between her two hits was another Bullock film – All About Steve. The oddball comedy didn’t catch on with critics or moviegoers. It did, however, grab the attention of the Golden Raspberry Foundation, who “dishonour” the worst in films each year with their Razzie Awards. And thus, on the eve of winning the Oscar for Best Actress,  Bullock was bestowed with the Razzie for Worst Actress.


SOLUTION: Be a good sport. Like, a REALLY good sport.

Understandably, Razzie recipients very rarely show up to receive their awards in person. So imagine how the heads turned when Bullock not only showed up to the ceremony to claim her award, but did so while pulling a wagon full of All About Steve dvds to give out to the audience. And just to show how game she was, Bullock brought along the shooting script for the film and offered to do line readings from the awards podium.

RESULT: Award-worthy success. Bullock’s appearance was PR gold and her good-natured handling of the situation only seemed to reinforce what so many people like about her – which Razzie founder John Wilson summed up pretty well after Bullock’s appearance:

 “If you are going to win a Razzie, then that’s the way to do it and have fun with it. I wish there were more people with that combination of self-deprecation and guts.”