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Oscar Quiz: Test Your Knowledge of Academy Award History

Henry Fonda The Grapes of Wrath Jane DarwellAcademy Award winner John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath, with Henry Fonda and Best Supporting Actress Academy Award winner Jane Darwell

Oscar Quiz: Test your knowledge of Academy Award history

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

1 – Which film director has elicited the largest number of Academy Award-nominated performances?

2 – Which performer has the longest hiatus between acting nominations?

3 – Which filmmaker has the longest hiatus between nominations in the Best Director category?

4 – Which performer has the longest Academy Award-nomination span (in years, obviously) in the acting categories?

5 – Two filmmakers have received two Best Director Oscar nods in the same year. Who are they? When did that happen? And for what movies?

6 – Who is the only performer to have been nominated twice for the same role in the same movie?

See answers below and in the ensuing two posts.

Oscar Quiz: Answer no. 1

William Wyler. From Walter Brennan* for Come and Get It in 1936 to Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl in 1968, Wyler directed 36 Oscar-nominated performances.

Elia Kazan comes in second place, with 24 nominations; George Cukor in third, with 21; and both Fred Zinnemann and Martin Scorsese in fourth, with 20.

* Following some serious “creative differences” with producer Samuel Goldwyn, Howard Hawks was replaced by William Wyler during the making of the 1936 family saga Come and Get It, for which Walter Brennan won the first ever Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Both Wyler and Hawks shared directing credit for the film.

Oscar Quiz: Answer no. 2

Henry Fonda, from John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath (1940) to Mark Rydell’s On Golden Pond (1981), a total of 41 years. These were Fonda’s only nominations in the acting categories, both as Best Actor. (He was also shortlisted as one of the producers of Sidney Lumet’s 1957 Best Picture nominee 12 Angry Men.)

Fonda lost the 1940 Best Actor Oscar to James Stewart for The Philadelphia Story, but he won the golden statuette the second time around.

Helen Hayes, Jack Palance, and Alan Arkin tie in second place, with a 38-year nomination gap. Hayes from The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931-32*) to Airport (in the Best Supporting Actress category, 1970); Palance, both as Best Supporting Actor, from Shane (1953) to City Slickers (1991); and Arkin from The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1968) to Little Miss Sunshine (in the Best Supporting Actor category, 2006).

Ralph Richardson comes in fifth, both in the Best Supporting Actor category, from The Heiress (1949) to Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984), 35 years; and Lynn Redgrave in sixth, from Georgy Girl (1966) to Gods and Monsters (in the Best Supporting Actress category, 1998), 32 years.

* The Oscars only began covering films released (mostly) during the calendar year in 1934.

Henry Fonda Katharine Hepburn On Golden PondKatharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond

Oscar Quiz: Answer No. 3

John Huston, from Moulin Rouge (1952) to Prizzi’s Honor (1985), a total of 33 years.

In 1952, Huston lost the Best Director Academy Award to four-time winner John Ford for The Quiet Man, and in 1985 to Sydney Pollack for Out of Africa. Huston, however, did win for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), which also earned his father Walter Huston the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Huston’s daughter, Anjelica Huston, was the 1985 Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner for Prizzi’s Honor.

Roman Polanski comes in second, from Tess (1980) to The Pianist (2002), 22 years; and Joseph L. Mankiewicz in third, from 5 Fingers (1952) to Sleuth (1972), 20 years.

In fourth place, with a 19-year gap between nominations, it’s a tie: Otto Preminger, from Laura in 1944 to The Cardinal in 1963; and David Lean, from Doctor Zhivago in 1965 to A Passage to India in 1984.

Oscar Quiz: Answer No. 4

Katharine Hepburn, from Morning Glory (1932-33*) to On Golden Pond (1981), a total of 48 years.

Hepburn won Best Actress Academy Awards for both of these, in addition to Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) and The Lion in Winter (1968), the latter a tie with Barbra Streisand for Funny Girl.

In second place, with a 46-year span, is Alan Arkin, from The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966) to Argo (2012). Arkin is followed by Paul Newman, from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) to Road to Perdition (2002), and Peter O’Toole, from Lawrence of Arabia (1962) to Venus (2006): both covering a 44-year span.

Julie Christie is next, with 42 years, from Darling (1965) to Away from Her (2007). Christie is followed by Henry Fonda from The Grapes of Wrath (1940) to On Golden Pond (1981), 41 years.

* The 1932-33 Academy Award “year” actually covered 18 months, from mid-1932 to December 1933, so as to allow the Oscars to cover films released during each calendar year from 1934 onwards. Having said that, early January releases in the Los Angeles area were allowed to compete for the previous year’s Oscars all the way to the early ’40s.

Oscar Quiz: Answer No. 5

Michael Curtiz in 1938, for the crime melodrama Angels with Dirty Faces and for the surprisingly touching family drama Four Daughters, and Steven Soderbergh in 2000, for the hard-hitting drug epic Traffic and for the maudlin biopic Erin Brockovich.

Curtiz lost the Best Director Academy Award to Frank Capra for You Can’t Take It with You, whereas Soderbergh won for Traffic.

Note: Actors are allowed only one Academy Award nomination per acting category. (See next page.)

[“Oscar Quiz Answers: Steven Soderbergh, Katharine Hepburn” continues on the next page. See link below.]

Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda On Golden Pond photo: Universal Pictures.

Barry Fitzgerald in Going My Way: Oscar Quiz Answer No. 6

Barry Fitzgerald received Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nominations for his role as the cranky but golden-hearted elderly priest in Leo McCarey’s 1944 Best Picture Academy Award winner Going My Way. Fitzgerald lost the Best Actor Oscar to Bing Crosby, the official star of Going My Way, but won the Best Supporting Actor statuette – which he accidentally decapitated shortly thereafter.

Academy rules were then changed to prevent any more double nominations for the same role. As for Fitzgerald’s headless Oscar, it was replaced by another statuette with a golden head on its shoulders.

Double Oscar nominees in the acting categories

Besides Barry Fitzgerald, ten other performers have been nominated for acting Academy Awards in the same year – but for different films. They are:

  • Fay Bainter in 1938 (Best Actress for White Banners, Best Supporting Actress for Jezebel);
  • Teresa Wright in 1942 (Best Actress for The Pride of the Yankees, Best Supporting Actress for Mrs. Miniver);
  • Jessica Lange in 1982 (Best Actress for Frances, Best Supporting Actress for Tootsie);
  • Sigourney Weaver in 1988 (Best Actress for Gorillas in the Mist, Best Supporting Actress for Working Girl);
  • Al Pacino in 1992 (Best Actor for Scent of a Woman, Best Supporting Actor for Glengarry Glen Ross);
  • Holly Hunter in 1993 (Best Actress for The Piano, Best Supporting Actress for The Firm);
  • Emma Thompson also in 1993 (Best Actress for The Remains of the Day, Best Supporting Actress for In the Name of the Father);
  • Julianne Moore in 2002 (Best Actress for Far from Heaven, Best Supporting Actress for The Hours);
  • Jamie Foxx in 2004 (Best Actor for Ray, Best Supporting Actor for Collateral);
  • Cate Blanchett in 2007 (Best Actress for Elizabeth: The Golden Age; Best Supporting Actress for I’m Not There)

Like Barry Fitzgerald, Fay Bainter, Teresa Wright, and Jessica Lange won in the supporting category. (Also like Fitzgerald, Bainter and Wright lost the “lead” Oscar to another performer in the same film, respectively, Bette Davis in Jezebel and Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver.) Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, and Jamie Foxx won as leads. Sigourney Weaver, Emma Thompson, Julianne Moore, and Cate Blanchett lost in both categories.

Important Academy Award rule in the Acting categories

Actors can’t be nominated in the same category for different performances in the same year. For example, let’s say that in 2006 Meryl Streep delivered two Oscar-caliber performances in leading roles: The Devil Wears Prada and God Wears Donatella. No matter how superb Streep is in both films, she can be nominated in the Best Actress category for only one of them.

Here are four possible scenarios:

  1. After sifting through a zillion “For Your Consideration: Meryl Streep for Best Actress” ads, Academy voters pick only one Streep performance among their top five.
  2. After sifting through a zillion “For Your Consideration: Meryl Streep for Best Actress” ads, Academy voters pick both Streep performances among their top five. In that case, only Streep’s top-voted performance will be nominated. In place of the bottom-voted Streep, actress #6 in the balloting will be added to the Academy’s official shortlist of five Best Actress nominees of 2006.
  3. With the studios’ publicity machines begging for Best Actress votes for Meryl Streep Film #1 and Meryl Streep Film #2, her votes are split in two – in case Academy members opt not to include the same actress twice in their ballots and/or if voters aren’t necessarily placing their favorite Streep performance at or near the top of their ballots. As a result, Streep ends up nominationless.
  4. Oscar-savvy Meryl Streep tells one studio to push her in the Best Actress category, and the other studio to push her in the Best Supporting Actress category. The fact that she’s the lead in both films doesn’t really matter; Academy members tend to vote as they’re told. Thus, Streep quite likely ends up with two nominations, one in each female acting category.


Barry Fitzgerald Going My Way photo: Paramount Pictures.

Oscar Quiz image of Jane Darwell and Henry Fonda in John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath: 20th Century Fox.

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Bill B. -

I did fairly well. lol. I’ve never understood the rationalization of not allowing a performer to be nominated against his/her self. I get the reasoning (split voting could cost a win), but if those two performances are among the five best, so be it. I’m not sure, but didn’t this rule at one time also include the director category? I seem to remember that being the reason why Francis Ford Coppola wasn’t nominated for his brilliant The Conversation in the same year as his nomination for The Godfather, but my memory fails me. In any event, he didn’t win for either. As an aside, I’ve always considered The Conversation the better movie, probably not a very popular opinion.

Alt Film Guide -

@Bill B.

Doesn’t seem that directors were ever precluded from being nominated twice in the same year…

Michael Curtiz was nominated twice for the year 1938 (Four Daughters, Angels with Dirty Faces). Sixty-two years later, Steven Soderbergh was also nominated twice (Erin Brockovich, Traffic – for which he won).

François Truffaut (Day for Night) and John Cassavetes (A Woman Under the Influence) were the 1974 spoilers not only for a second Francis Ford Coppola nod (The Conversation) but also for John Guillermin (The Towering Inferno).


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