‘Cafe Society’: Will Woody Allen break his own Oscar record?

Some Oscar records are made to be broken, sometimes by the very person who set them in the first place. Meryl Streep seems to do it anytime she steps in front of a camera, and so does Woody Allen when he sets pen to paper on a new script. With his latest film, “Cafe Society,” a rueful and humorous look at life in the 1930s, Allen could reap his 17th Original Screenplay nomination, shattering his previously held record of 16.

The film, which opens Friday (July 15), stars Jesse Eisenberg as a Bronx native who moves to Los Angeles, where he falls in love with the beautiful secretary (Kristen Stewart) of his uncle (Steve Carell), an agent to the stars. Eventually, he returns to New York to open a nightclub with his gangster brother (Corey Stoll) and marry a knockout blonde (Blake Lively), all the while yearning for his lost love.

Allen has won three Oscars for screenwriting (for “Annie Hall,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Midnight in Paris”) out of 16 nominations (“Interiors,” “Broadway Danny Rose,” “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” “Radio Days,” “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” “Alice,” “Husbands and Wives,” “Bullets Over Broadway,” “Mighty Aphrodite,” “Deconstructing Harry,” “Match Point,” “Blue Jasmine”).

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As well, he has won once for directing (“Annie Hall”) out of seven bids (“Interiors,” “Broadway Danny Rose,” “Hannah and Her Sisters,” “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” “Bullets Over Broadway,” “Midnight in Paris.”) He also received a Best Actor bid for “Annie Hall”: he lost to Richard Dreyfuss in “The Goodbye Girl.”

The previous record holder for writing nominations in both the Original and Adapted categories (as well as the now defunct Original Story) was Billy Wilder, who won three (“The Lost Weekend,” “Sunset Blvd.,” “The Apartment”)  of his  up a dozen nominations (the also-rans were: “Ninotchka,” “Hold Back the Dawn,” “Ball of Fire,” “Double Indemnity,” “A Foreign Affair,” “Ace in the Hole,” “Sabrina,” “Some Like It Hot,” “The Fortune Cookie”).

Allen’s three wins tie him with Wilder, Francis Ford Coppola (“Patton,” “The Godfather,” “The Godfather, Part II”), Paddy Chayefsky (“Marty,” “The Hospital,” “Network”), and Charles Brackett (“The Lost Weekend,” “Sunset Blvd.,” “Titanic”) for the most victories for writing.

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Unlike the others, all of Allen’s wins and nominations came in the Original Screenplay category. If we are just counting nominations for original works, Federico Fellini is next with six (“Paisan,” “I Vitelloni,” “La Strada,” “La Dolce Vita,” “8 1/2,” “Amarcord,” plus two in adapted for “Rome: Open City” and “Fellini Casanova”), followed by five-time contenders Ingmar Bergman (“Wild Strawberries,” “Through a Glass Darkly,” “Cries and Whispers,” “Autumn Sonata,” “Fanny and Alexander”) and Mike Leigh (“Secrets & Lies,” “Topsy-Turvy,” “Vera Drake,” “Happy Go-Lucky,” “Another Year”).

Allen holds the record for wins in this category as well, followed by two-time champs Wilder and Brackett (“Sunset Blvd.,” “The Apartment”), Chayesky (“The Hospital,” “Network”), and Quentin Tarantino (“Pulp Fiction,” “Django Unchained”). Should he win a fourth time, it may take someone a long time and a lot of original thinking to catch up to him.

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