March 2, 2015 at 10:51 am #181817
Okay, this is bugging the hell out of me. As far back as 2002, there had only been one person that ever won the Best Picture, Best Director and one of the Best Screenplay Oscars at the same Oscars for the same film, that was Billy Wilder in 1960 for “The Apartment”. Since then, 4 others have done it. Peter Jackson for “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings”, both Joel & Ethan Coen for “No Country for Old Men” and now, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”. 3 times that’s happened now? I know there’s more Producer/Director/Writers out there, but three times in eleven years! That just doesn’t make sense. I mean, you’re an Oscar voter, wouldn’t it be in the best interest of the Academy to just naturally split the award, especially if they’re gonna give the guy Director or Picture already? I can believe giving somebody an Oscar somewhere, maybe even two for a film they made that everyone liked, but three in a year? I mean, there really is no other legitimate option, and that just doesn’t seem like the case. Two of the times, Jackson and Inarritu, were not favored to win Screenplay, they were both huge upsets, the Coen Brothers were favored, but there was this sense that they’re night was long overdue and partially a makeup for “Fargo” not winning and the only other nominee in their category that could’ve won was P.T. Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood” and that film was too polarizing to the Academy so it wasn’t even a real threat to win there. And here’s the thing, at least, with “Lord of the Rings…” it was a sweep; they gave it everything, but with “No Country…” and now “Birdman…”, they barely won anything else. It they liked “Birdman…” that much, why didn’t it win an Oscar in something else? Just cinematography, no Actor, no Production Design, no Sound award; it wasn’t a sweep by any means. Neither was “No Country…” that only won Supporting Actor; it was four technical categories that year. I mean, basically they said, “Let’s give “The Grand Budapest Hotel” everything below the line, but then give “Birdman…” everything above the line? I don’t get this run of Triple Oscar Winners, I can’t fathom how this keeps happening all of a sudden. Unless, it’s just a pure laziness from voters. I mean, really it just seems like now, they pick a Best Picture, and then, unless there’s a damn good reason not to, just immediately give it Best Director and Best Writing. I mean, I know the names aren’t all on the ballots, but they gotta know Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater write almost all their films by now. I mean, it’s not like they can’t tell a Woody Allen script when the see one, they have to know the writers who are nominated; I don’t buy that. So, I want to know if there’s any legitimacy to this, so I went to see how often all three match up, just in general, and particularly, recently.
2014: “Birdman…” (All three)
2013: “12 Years a Slave”-(Picture and Screenplay, but “Gravity” wasn’t up for Screenplay and Cuaron did win two Oscars, Directing and Editing)
2012: “Argo” (Picture & Screenplay, not nominated for Directing, most think it would’ve won all three if it was nominated)
2011: “The Artist” (Picture and Director, lost screenplay to “Midnight in Paris”)
2010: “The King’s Speech” (All three, all either favorites or 2nd choice)
2009: “The Hurt Locker” (All three, Screenplay was an upset)
2008: “Slumdog Millionaire” (All three, all three were favorites)
2007: “No Country for Old Men” (All three, favorites, makeup for “Fargo”)
2006: “The Departed” (All three, plus making up for Scorsese’s previous failed bids, only Best Picture, was really up in the air, but it wasn’t a big upset)
2005: “Crash” (Won 2, didn’t win Directing, and Picture was an upset to most)
2004: “Million Dollar Baby” (Won 2, Best Picture not a runaway favorite, loss screenplay, was second choice for that)
2003: “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (All 3, huge upset in screenplay, but it went 11 for 11)
2002: “Chicago” (Only won Best Picture, lost Director and Screenplay to “The Pianist”, and neither of those were necessarily upsets that they loss.)
2001: “A Beautiful Mind” (Won all three, don’t believe screenwriting was an upset, but it was favored)
2000: “Gladiator” (Won only Picture, lost to “Almost Famous” in Screenplay and “Traffic” in Directing, directing was an upset)
1999: “American Beauty” (Won all 3, favored for all)
1998: “Shakespeare in Love” (Lost Directing, Picture win was upset, don’t know about Writing)
1997: “Titanic” (Won 2, not nominated in Writing)
1996: “The English Patient” (Won 2, lost to “Sling Blade” in Writing, slight upset)
1995: “Bravehear” (Won 2, lost Screenplay to “The Usual Suspects” that’s just a strange year in general)
1994: “Forrest Gump” (Won all 3, no real upsets)
1993: “Schindler’s List” (Won all 3, favorite in each)
1992: “Unforgiven” (Won 2, Lost writing to “The Crying Game”)
1991: “The Silence of the Lambs” (Won all 3, won the Big 5 in fact, that’s only happened two other times)
1990: “Dances with Wolves” (Won all 3, I think Writing was an upset)
1989: “Driving Miss Daisy” (Won 2, not nominated in Directing)
1988: “Rain Man” (Won all 3)
1987: The Last Emperor” (Won all 3, swept Oscars)….
Alright, I can keep going, but up until recently, if somebody nominated in multiple categories, there is clearly, usually an attempt to spread the wealth around and give the Oscar to another film, in usually Writing, but one of the categories at least. Most every time, a film won 3 Oscars before, usually it’s not the same person(s) nominated for each skill. It was much more deliberate too. Give Oliver Stone Directing and give Woody Allen Screenplay, that kinda happening. And usually they’ve go out of their way, unless a film is sweeping everything, or damn near everything. And even then, often times those films with technical achievement, would not win Writing or sometimes like “Titanic” not even get nominated. And frankly, there’s no need to give somebody three Oscars. Even if the Academy thinks that film is worthy, to give the same person three Oscars for the film, is not only repetitive but to see the same guy come up three times in one show? That can’t be something that the Academy wants to see becoming a trend, can it? They give all these awards in Primetime to show off the different sets of skills involved in filmmaking, if the same guy keep accepting the award, what does that say? I know they don’t want the perception of them just giving themselves awards, but that’s gotta be preferable to giving the same guy a bunch of awards on the same show? This isn’t Santana at the Grammys, this is the Oscars?! I really don’t understand this trend, and why the Academy thought giving Inarritu 3 Oscars was worth it for one film? Same film, okay, but the same person 3 times? That’s never been the preference of the Academy until very recently. There’s gotta be a reason for this, maybe it’s laziness of the voter, but even accounting for a % of voters like that, I can’t imagine why others are voting to give the same guy 3 Oscars in one night on purpose.
I know, I flew off the rails on this column, but does anybody have an explanation why this has become a trend that makes any sense at all? Why it once last century but now, 3 times this one? I’d like to know, ’cause honestly, it’s just stumping the hell ouf of me.March 2, 2015 at 12:05 pm #181819
I don’t see any change at all. The Academy has always given the majority of crucial awards to one film. Birdman is the 44th best picture winner to take both directing and screenplay. This is more than 50 percent of the time. Yes, the different thing is that it’s the same person accepting all three awards but I doubt this mattered much to voters. Oscar voters don’t see the corresponding name in all three categories. Only the film is listed on the ballot and I believe that quite often voters simply don’t give a damn who the nominated writer is. And we happen to live in a time when the majority of directors also write or co-write their own films. In the studio era it simply didn’t happen this way and there was more structure. Now things have changed – for the better, I guess.
You ask why the Academy voted for The Grand Budapest Hotel in the below-the-line categories and then switched to Birdman. Actually you can’t say that there was much of a switch. Birdman didn’t lose a single award to The Grand Budapest Hotel – it wasn’t nominated in production design, costume design, make-up & hair and score. And while Wes Anderson’s loss in original screenplay is painful and I’m not a fan of Birdman, the Academy simply loved it more. The thing is that a film that isn’t really beloved could win in crafts categories, but to win a major category you have to be a beloved film. And maybe The Grand Budapest Hotel simply isn’t their cup of tea. I can picture plenty of voters going: The Grand Budapest – I don’t know what this film is about. Wes Anderson isn’t my kind of a filmmaker. But well, it was gorgeous. Great set, great costumes, the music was charming (just remember the whole audience at the Dolby loving it) and well, that’s it…March 2, 2015 at 12:30 pm #181820
If there’s anything I’ve learned from the Oscars recently, it’s that they are, contrary to popular belief, an unsentimental lot. These are the people who denied an octogenarian who travelled all the way from France just to attend the ceremony, on her birthday, in favour of a new Hollywood It-Girl who would doubtless be nominated again, and indeed was the very next year. The recent instances of films winning all 3 of Picture, Director and Screenplay are really no different from those of past decades, except that more “Oscar movies” nowadays are the works of auteurs who regularly write, produce and direct their films. Voters don’t care if all the awards which they’re voting for their favourite movie happen to go to the same person, even at the expense of others nominated in multiple categories. I suspect the lack of nominees’ names on the ballots plays some part in this, though I’m not sure if the names ever were listed, or when Academy officials decided to remove them if they were. Honestly, if a voter prefers one film’s direction, script and overall merits over all other nominees, (s)he should vote accordingly. Personally I would have voted for PT Anderson’s There Will Be Blood in all 3 categories, even over the Coens.
Also, was Return of the King really an upset in screenplay? My Oscar-season following doesn’t go back that far, but I always figured it was expected to win for the challenges of adapting such a massive text for all three films (in a similar way to RotK’s Best Picture win being at least in part an award for the whole trilogy). What was thought to be the frontrunner; Mystic River? I know American Splendor won WGA but that was never going to win the Oscar.March 2, 2015 at 12:32 pm #181821
I’ve repeated some of what Zooey said, but her comment hadn’t appeared yet before I posted so bear with me.March 2, 2015 at 12:50 pm #181822
I think in this case it is because “Birdman” is a movie with the sort of acting, story, and dialogue that just screams to them that this is something important to them because it is about acting.March 2, 2015 at 1:21 pm #181823
Eddy Q, yes, “LOTR”, was in no way the favorite in Screenplay; in fact I think most people had it fifth that year and that was a biggest shock over anything else that year. I think I predicted “Mystic River” winning, but it was up against the other 3 Best Picture nominees, (“Lost in Translation” won in Original Screenplay was the other nominee) all of which had overdue writers who were respected and nominated, and Peter Jackson was winning Picture and Director and it didn’t win any precursors in Writing. Nobody saw that coming, and somehow it took Writing in the Sweep. It wasn’t even nominated for Writing for the second film, the year before, so that was a real upset, one of the biggest single-category upsets in recent years.
As to the streamline voting for Picture Director, Screenplay, I get that, to some extent, but I can’t fathom that as the clear reason though. It is only half the time, so there’s plenty of examples where a film won’t win one or two those awards, plus, even still, “Birdman…” could’ve taken much more than just those three and cinematography. We can ration it all you want, but I don’t think “They’re not sentimental and don’t care” is really a sweeping answer. I think it might be, but, I can’t imagine, the Academy sees one movie and collectively decides, “That was great, let’s give this guy as many Oscars as we’ve given Meryl Streep?” It just-. Really? I can’t fathom that most of the Academy just does that. Especially in writing, it’s not, Sound Editing or something, where half the people voting barely know what it is, it’s writing. Everybody knows good writing or not. There’s hardly a category of the Academy where they don’t consult the script when creating their art. They all have a sense of good writing, they all have some idea of who’s writing what movies, especially if they are the auteurs…. It feels and seems weird. This went from a very rare and prestigious distinction by Academy standards to, “Eh, every couple years, will give somebody three.” Odd, very odd.March 2, 2015 at 10:22 pm #181824
The scripts for ROTK and Birdman were written by more than just their directors, it’s probably worth noting.
I’m not sure why this isn’t just a consequence of more witer/director/producers, for Birdman at least. A lot of BP winners get the trio. Sure, a lot of people knew Peter Jackson and the Coen Bros pulled triple duty. But how many were completely aware that Innaritu did when they voted for him thrice? He’s not established as a triple threat like others. So it likely just happened by chance (and bad luck for Wes Anderson).March 3, 2015 at 9:18 am #181825
With the rise of independent films, there have been more filmmakers that have written, directed, and produced their films. Over the past ten to twenty years, the Oscars have included more and more independent films so that the Oscars and Independent Spirit Awards now nominate and reward the same film. That is why triple winners have become more frequent.
If you think a movie is the best of the year, then you probably think it is the best written film of the year, the best directed film of the year, or both. The Oscars don’t “spread the wealth” like other awards, such as Cannes(which caused a scandal one year where they gave Barton Fink three awards) or National Board of Review(which this year gave Picture to Most Violent Year, Director to Clint Eastwood for American Sniper, and Screenplay to Lego Movie and Inherent Vice. Did Birdman deserve to win its award? As another character from a different Eastwood Oscar winner once said, “Deserving ain’t got nothin’ to do with it.” I happen to agree with the Academy(somethinng that rarely happens since this is the first Best Picture that went to the the movie I think is the best film of the year since 1997) that Birdman was the best film, best directed film, best written film, and the best shot film. I would have also given it Best Actor and Best Editing as well.
One other point to note is the way the ballots are. First, they don’t have the nominees name in all the categories. Second, you are voting by yourself on a secret ballot. If your favorite film is nominated for the top awards, you might vote for it in Picture, Director, and Screenplay hoping it may win one of those categories(like Screenplay) even if another film wins the other categories.