There are 195 individuals nominated for Oscar this year. And when the winners are named Feb. 22, they will become part of film history, joining such greats as Billy Wilder, Ingrid Bergman, Ben Hecht and Walt Disney.
But 80% of the contenders will go home empty-handed. However, there is good news: They are in good company as well.
Here is a sampling of nominees that didn’t win: “Citizen Kane,” “Chinatown” and “Star Wars”; directors Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Stanley Kubrick and Ingmar Bergman; writers Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Dashiell Hammett, John Steinbeck, Graham Greene, Harold Pinter and David Mamet; actors Gloria Swanson in “Sunset Blvd.”; Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”; and Peter O’Toole in “Lawrence of Arabia.”
They managed to do OK, though.
It’s hard to say why they didn’t win. Sometimes tastes change. Sometimes there’s too much competition in one year. Frank Capra’s 1939 “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” was nominated for 11 Oscars, but won only one, for screen story (a discontinued category). Capra said he’d learned a valuable lesson: Don’t make your best movie the same year they release “Gone With the Wind.”
Even more good news for this year’s contenders: You’re a step ahead of many others. Among the works not nominated for best film, director OR screenplay: “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Vertigo,” “The Manchurian Candidate,” “King Kong” (1933), “Goldfinger,” “Harold & Maude,” “The Lion King” and “The Dark Knight.”
There was a lot of outrage over missing names when nominations were read Jan. 15 for the 87th Academy Awards, but we will never know: Did they miss out by a single vote, or did they get zero support?
Directors Clint Eastwood (“American Sniper”), Ava DuVernay (“Selma”), James Marsh (“The Theory of Everything”) and Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”) saw their films nominated as best picture, but they didn’t make the cut as director. Here’s a brief list of films that were nominated, though their directors were not: “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Maltese Falcon,” “Dark Victory,” “Jaws,” “Taxi Driver” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” Yes, if you were among this year’s director no-shows, you can commiserate with Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese.
Several classic performances were not even nominated, such as Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates, Sean Connery as James Bond, Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, Boris Karloff as the Frankenstein monster, Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade and Sidney Poitier as Virgil Tibbs.
And some actors never managed a single nom throughout their careers, including Marilyn Monroe, Edward G. Robinson, Toshiro Mifune, Rita Hayworth, Myrna Loy, Paul Robeson and Peter Lorre. And, so far, no noms for Jeanne Moreau or Jean-Paul Belmondo. Incroyable!
John Cazale was a wonderful actor who appeared in only five films before his untimely death in 1978: “The Godfather” parts I and II, “The Conversation,” “Dog Day Afternoon” and “The Deer Hunter.” All five were Oscar nominated for best pic and three of them won. But Cazale himself was never nominated.
And look at some of those who WERE nominated: Quinn Cummings, Justin Henry, Jackie Cooper, Tatum O’Neal, Quvenzhane Wallis and Anna Paquin. In other words, a bunch of talented performers under the age of 12. So how hard can it be to get a nomination? It seems to be kid’s play.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is always under fire for one reason or another, because they are Hollywood’s 800-pound golden gorilla. Oscar has a proud list of winners for the past 86 years. But for every winner, there were multiple also-rans.
So for all of you nominees this year, enjoy the moment and remember: It’s not about competition, it’s about accomplishment. And, win or lose, good work stands the test of time.
So have fun, bask in the attention of your great work — and bring a PowerBar. It’s gonna be a long evening.