This year’s Oscar race is filled with familiar faces — but in many cases, they are in unfamiliar roles, all off-camera.
The roster features more than a dozen names in at least four non-acting categories. In some cases, these individuals stand a chance for Oscar attention; in a few other cases, the best they can hope for is acknowledgement in an acceptance speech.
The star of the group is Ethan Hawke, who could end up a triple Oscar nominee this year: Aside from his supporting performance in “Boyhood,” he wrote two songs, “Split the Difference” and “Ryan’s Song,” for the film, both among the 79 songs eligible this year.
The lineup of name performers behind the scenes also includes Don Cheadle, an exec producer of “St. Vincent”; Maria Shriver, exec producer of “Still Alice” (Shriver is a longtime Alzheimer’s advocate); Dan Futterman, co-writer of “Foxcatcher” (the second screenplay by the actor, both of them for director Bennett Miller); Andy Serkis, second-unit director of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”; and Billy Boyd, who acted in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and wrote the closing song for “Hobbit.”
The 2014 contenders also include several stars whose behind-the-scenes contributions have been more widely publicized. They include Brad Pitt, exec producer, and Oprah Winfrey, producer, on “Selma”; and Reese Witherspoon, producer on “Gone Girl” and “Wild,” meaning she’s also a potential three-time nominee, adding in her great performance in “Wild.” Witherspoon’s production partner, Bruna Papandrea, was exec producer on both films — meaning their newish company Pacific Standard has gotten off to a good running start.
Like Witherspoon on “Wild,” several other actors were producers on their starring vehicles, including Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”; and Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper.”
And, of course, there are actors in the director’s chair this year. The 2014 roster includes Angelina Jolie, “Unbroken”; Clint Eastwood, “Sniper”; Chris Rock, “Top Five”; Tommy Lee Jones, “The Homesman”; and Jon Stewart, “Rosewater.”
And a special tip of the hat goes to Andy Samberg for his work on the song “Everything Is Awesome,” the bouncy ear-worm tune from “The Lego Movie.” Shawn Patterson, who wrote the music and the lyrics, would be the sole nominee if the song makes the cut. Also contributing to the lyrics were several other names, including Lonely Island — a comedy-music trio consisting of Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone who’ve been performing together for years and who worked on the song’s rap breakdown.
So while there are more than a dozen stars working behind the scenes, Samberg is behind the behind-the-scenes. Which means he won’t be collecting any Oscars this year, though he might be collecting royalties.