Memo to Oscars: Throw out your archaic rule that performers can’t be nominated twice

cate blanchett carol truth oscar best actress 13579086

No, you're not seeing double. Cate Blanchett stars in two high-profile Oscar contenders this year: "Carol," in which she plays a married woman who falls in love with a store clerk, and "Truth," where she portrays a news producer at the center of a scandal. However, because of an old, archaic Oscar rule that states that an actor or actress cannot be nominated twice (or more) in the same category in a given year, Blanchett is not eligible to receive two Best Actress nominations for her work in 2015. Academy members, isn't it time to update your acting rulebook?

Oscars: Brie Larson ('Room') widens lead over Cate Blanchett ('Carol') for Best Actress

In other words, if "Philadelphia" and "Forrest Gump" had both been released in the same year, Tom Hanks would have had to choose between his two Oscar vehicles and he'd only be a one-time winner. Sure, he could have bitten the bullet and declared one of these two performances to be supporting (he'd have been eligible for both films that way), but which one? Can you imagine the outcry if Hanks had declared Forrest to be a supporting character just to win an award?

To be clear, other categories allow the same person to be nominated twice — like Steven Soderbergh as Best Director for both "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich" in 2000 (winning for "Traffic"), and composer Alexandre Desplat, who competed for his "Grand Budapest Hotel" and "Imitation Game" scores last year (winning for "Grand Budapest"). So why are actors and actresses any different? If someone like Blanchett legitimately has two great lead performances within a calendar year, she shouldn't have to make a Sophie's choice between them.

Michael Fassbender is in a similar situation as the male lead of both "Steve Jobs" and "Macbeth." It seems evident at this point that he'll go with high-profile "Steve Jobs" and drop "Macbeth," but again, why are the Oscars forcing him to make this decision in the first place?

It's not like this at other awards. The BAFTAs allow multiple bids, as when Scarlett Johansson was a double nominee for Best Actress for "Lost in Translation" and "Girl with a Pearl Earring" in 2003 (she won for "Translation").

Our readers, many of whom are Hollywood insiders, have begun debating this hot topic in our all-new, much faster and easier-to-navigate movie forum. Read some of their comments below and then join the discussion in our forums here.

Bradderz: Absolutely. Oscars should be about awarding the performance, so it's ridiculous why somebody can't have multiple performances nominated.

thedemonhog: Yep.

zordon: Fully agree!

ETPhoneHome: I feel like that's just an oversight that nobody got around to fixing yet. It really should be corrected, because a great performance is a great performance. I feel like it may only change though when Meryl Streep has two lead roles in the same year.

KyleBailey: No one bats an eye when John Williams gets two nominations in one year. Why are composers allowed two in one year but not actors? In terms of work, composers and actors usually have the most credits in one year. Why aren't they treated as equals?

CanadianFan: 100% agree.

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6 thoughts on “Memo to Oscars: Throw out your archaic rule that performers can’t be nominated twice

  1. What about Diane Keaton in 1977 with Annie Hall and Looking for Mr. Goodbar ? I did not understand it then, and nearly 40 years later, I see no reason to change it now. I do not believe Blanchett deserves a nomination for Truth (if there were 10 nominees, maybe).

  2. Good, she lost for Elizabeth (Her perfomance was epic) , it’s time that They return what belongs her. Blanchett is another level

  3. Totally agree! It also happend in 2008, when Kate Winslet had two great performances in “The Reader” and “Revolutionary Road”, but could only be nominated for one of them. At the BAFTAs she was a double nominee for Best Actress for both films and won for “The Reader”.

  4. There are several misconceptions in this article that you really should fix.

    1 – That directors used to not be allowed to be nominated twice. Thus, Victor Fleming only for Gone with the Wind and not also for The Wizard of Oz. Or Francis Ford Coppola just for The Godfather Part II and not for The Conversation. The rule was put in place after Michael Curtiz’s double nomination in 1938 and was changed again sometime before 2000 when Soderbergh was nominated twice.

    2 – You imply that an actor can choose which category to be nominated in. Though they can be campaigned in any category, it is up to the voters to decide where to place them. So, it wouldn’t have mattered if Hanks campaigned for supporting for Forrest Gump since people would have voted for him as the lead.

    3 – You imply that someone can choose which film to be nominated for (a la Fassbender). People vote for the performances and if an actor is going to be nominated, then all their votes in that category then go for that performance and not another one. So, in 1993 it didn’t matter if you voted for Daniel Day-Lewis in In the Name of the Father or the Age of Innocence, of if you voted for Anthony Hopkins for The Remains of the Day or Shadowlands. In both cases, the former had more votes once he reached the nomination stage and all remaining votes for the actor counted for that performance no matter how many votes he received for the other performance.

    If you’re going to lambast the Academy for their rules, it’s good to have the proper idea over how the rules actually work.

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