Pix precedents

Slicing the Oscar possibilities every which way

Studio haul: Should Columbia win the top Academy Award for “Adaptation,” the studio would earn its 13th best picture trophy, a record among studios. United Artists, prior to being merged with MGM in the early ’80s, earned 11 best pic Oscar statuettes. Paramount has also won 11, including its shared wins (with Fox) for 1995’s “Braveheart” and 1997’s “Titanic.”

High-end hyphenates: Steven Spielberg, who is favored for a best picture nomination as a producer on “Catch Me if You Can,” could earn his fifth bid in the category, tying him with Francis Ford Coppola as the most-nominated living producer. Eleven men, all deceased, have earned six or more noms in the category, with 19-times nominated Hal B. Wallis (a winner for “Casablanca”) the list topper.

Married to the job: “Lord of the Rings” producers Peter Jackson and Frances Walsh, or “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” producers Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson could become only the third married best picture winners, following Michael and Julia Phillips (1973’s “The Sting”) and Richard and Lili Fini Zanuck (1989’s “Driving Miss Daisy”).

Four score: DreamWorks, winner in whole or in part of the previous three best picture Oscars (“American Beauty,” Universal co-productions “Gladiator” and “A Beautiful Mind”), could extend that streak to a record four years with a win by “Catch Me if You Can,” or its co-prods with Fox, “Road to Perdition” and “Minority Report.” United Artists had a run of three consecutive pic winners almost 20 years ago, with 1975’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” 1976’s “Rocky” and 1977’s “Annie Hall.”

Int’l relations: Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron’s “Y tu mama tambien” and Spanish helmer Pedro Almodovar’s “Talk to Her” are this year’s strongest shots at picture and director nominations among foreign-language films. Only seven foreign-language movies have earned picture noms (and none have won): France’s “Grand Illusion” (1938), French-Algerian “Z” (1969), Sweden’s “The Emigrants” (1972) and “Cries and Whispers” (1973), Italy’s “Il Postino (The Postman)” (1995) and “Life Is Beautiful” (1998), and 2000’s Taiwanese entry, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

Triple Play: Peter Jackson — who co-produced, directed and co-wrote “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” — has a chance at being only the fifth individual to win Oscars in all three categories for a single film. The first hat trick was won by Leo McCarey for 1944’s “Going My Way.” He was followed by Billy Wilder for 1960’s “The Apartment,” Francis Ford Coppola for 1974’s “The Godfather Part II” and James L. Brooks for 1983’s “Terms of Endearment.”

Lucky 13?: “Chicago,” “Gangs of New York” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” are all expected to pick up many nominations, perhaps enough to rival the top pics on Oscar’s nomination leader board. Indeed, the first “Rings” pic — last year’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” — became the sixth film to earn 13 bids, tying “From Here to Eternity” (1953), “Mary Poppins” (1964), “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966), “Forrest Gump” (1994) and “Shakespeare in Love” (1998). “Fellowship,” incidentally, tied “Woolf” and “Poppins” as the most-nominated picture nominee not to win the top prize. “All About Eve” (1950) and “Titanic” share the record for most bids (14).

Studios’ lot: Warner Bros., whose strongest contender this year is “Insomnia,” claims the longest current gap since its last pic nominee — 1997’s “L.A. Confidential.” Columbia, which has “Adaptation,” hasn’t won a best pic Oscar since 1987’s “The Last Emperor,” a record among majors. Disney, this year campaigning for “25th Hour” and “Lilo & Stitch,” among others, is the sole major to have never won a best pic trophy.

To the max: Miramax has earned 12 pic nominations, beginning with 1989’s “My Left Foot,” in its 23-year history. The Disney-owned specialty division also lays claim to the longest active streak for pic nominees — 10 consecutive years — stretching from 1992’s “The Crying Game” through last year’s “In the Bedroom.”

Miramax addendum: If “Chicago” and “Gangs of New York” both earn bids, it would be the second year the distrib took two-fifths of the pic slate — in 1998, “Life Is Beautiful” and eventual winner “Shakespeare in Love” were among the nominees.

The Tony connection: “Chicago” could become the third musical pic to follow up a Tony-winning production with an Oscar. In 1997, the current Broadway run of the show, originally choreographed by the late Bob Fosse, won for best revival (the original B’way production, in 1975, lost in the musical race). Best picture winners “The Sound of Music” and “My Fair Lady” also won musical Tonys in their legit incarnations. Also, “Chicago” helmer Rob Marshall co-directed and choreographed the current Tony-winning B’way revival of “Cabaret” with Oscar’s 1999 director honoree, Sam Mendes.

New to U: Two distribs, Universal’s specialty division Focus Features (“Far From Heaven,” “The Pianist”) and IFC Films (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “Y tu mama tambien”) could earn their first picture nominations this year. Focus, it should be noted, however, is the former USA Films, which released pic nominees “Gosford Park” and “Traffic.”

Partners: Co-productions “Road to Perdition” (Fox-DreamWorks) and “The Hours” (Paramount-Miramax) are vying to be the latest joint-venture pix to earn pic nominations. The list of partnered nominees dates back to “The Towering Inferno” (Fox-Warner Bros.) in 1974. Among the five co-productions that have won pic kudos are “Braveheart” (1995) and “Titanic” (1997) (both Paramount-Fox pix), “Shakespeare in Love” (Miramax-Universal) and the DreamWorks-Universal films “Gladiator” and “A Beautiful Mind.”

Dear John: John C. Reilly could well appear in three of the five picture nominees this year, with his supporting roles in “The Hours,” “Gangs of New York” and “Chicago.” It wouldn’t be an unprecedented feat: in 1934, Claudette Colbert appeared in pic nominees “Cleopatra,” “Imitation of Life” and winner “It Happened One Night,” for which she won actress honors. A year later, actor nominee Charles Laughton appeared in nominated pix “Ruggles of Red Gap,” “Les Miserables” and “Mutiny on the Bounty,” for which he earned his thesp nom. Character actor Thomas Mitchell, who won the 1939 supporting actor Oscar for picture nominee “Stagecoach,” also appeared in that year’s pic winner “Gone With the Wind” and a third nominee, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Several thesps have appeared in two rival pic nominees, from Bette Davis (1940’s “The Letter” and “All This and Heaven Too”), Ingrid Bergman (1943’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Casablanca”) and Yul Brynner (1956’s “The Ten Commandments” and “The King and I”) to Sidney Poitier (1967’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and “In the Heat of the Night”) Robert De Niro (1990’s “GoodFellas” and “Awakenings”) and Geoffrey Rush (1998’s “Elizabeth” and “Shakespeare in Love”).