James Ivory lost his three Oscar races for Best Director but is heavily favored to win Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2018 Academy Awards for “Call Me by Your Name.” His skillful adaptation of Andre Aciman‘s 2007 coming-of-age novel has earned wide acclaim and the film directed by Luca Guadagnino is one of the best-reviewed of the year and a strong Oscar contender across-the board.
Over the years, films directed by Ivory have garnered a total of 30 Oscar nominations, including three Best Picture bids, and six wins. Let’s take a look back at his history at the Academy Awards as we look forward to his first possible victory.
After nearly two decades making feature films, Ivory’s cinema first caught the academy’s eye with “The Europeans,” the first of several adaptations of Henry James novels undertaken by the director and his two longtime collaborators, producer Ismail Merchant and screenwriter Ruth Prawer Jhabvala. The film earned a single Oscar nomination in Best Costume Design (Judy Moorcroft), a prize ultimately captured by “All That Jazz.”
Another Best Costume Design nomination would be earned in the following decade, this time for Ivory’s adaptation of James’ “The Bostonians” (1984). Designers Jenny Beaven and John Bright were recognized for their costumes and leading lady Vanessa Redgrave landed a nomination in Best Actress. The film was not triumphant on Oscar night, as Best Picture winner “Amadeus” earned the Costume Design prize and Sally Field (“Places in the Heart”) defeated Redgrave.
Two years later, however, the Ivory-Merchant-Jhabvala team was met with grand success at the Oscars. “A Room with a View” (1985), based on E.M. Forster‘s 1908 romantic novel, was a commercial success and significant contender that awards season, tying Oliver Stone‘s “Platoon” for most Oscar nominations (8). Among the categories the film graced were Best Picture, Best Director (Ivory), Best Supporting Actor (Denholm Elliott), Best Supporting Actress (Maggie Smith), Best Adapted Screenplay (Jhabvala), Best Art Direction (Brian Ackland-Snow, Eliot Altamura, Gianni Quaranta and Brian Savegar), Best Costume Design (Beaven and Bright) and Best Cinematography (Tony Pierce-Roberts).
At the ceremony, “A Room with a View” scored three prizes, in Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction and Costume Design. “Platoon” was triumphant in Picture and Director, while “Hannah and Her Sisters” stars Michael Caine and Dianne Wiest grabbed the Supporting acting prizes and “The Mission” took Cinematography honors.
Beaven and Bright were back at the Oscars the following year, this time with a Best Costume Design nomination for Ivory’s “Maurice” (1987), based on the 1971 Forster novel. The duo fell short to James Acheson, winning one of the many Oscars earned by Best Picture winner “The Last Emperor.”
Ivory’s pictures had a strong presence at the Oscars over the first few years of the 1990s.
Joanne Woodward received her fourth Best Actress Oscar nomination for portraying one half of the title characters in Ivory’s “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge” (1990), based on the Evan S. Connell novels. Woodward won raves for her turn opposite husband and leading man Paul Newman but it would be Kathy Bates (“Misery”) triumphant at the Oscars.
In 1992, Ivory, Merchant and Jhabvala achieved Oscar success that managed to surpass their earnings for “A Room with a View.” Not unlike seven years earlier, the team’s latest film “Howards End” tied another contender, Clint Eastwood‘s “Unforgiven,” for most Oscar nominations (this time 9). The picture, yet another Forster adaptation, earned nominations in Best Picture, Best Director (Ivory), Best Actress (Emma Thompson), Best Supporting Actress (Redgrave), Best Adapted Screenplay (Jhabvala), Best Art Direction (Luciana Arrighi and Ian Whittaker), Best Cinematography (Pierce-Roberts), Best Costume Design (Beaven and Bright) and Best Original Score (Richard Robbins).
“Howards End” walked away with a trio of prizes, for Thompson, Jhabvala and the team of Arrighi and Whittaker. The Eastwood film triumphed in Picture and Director, while “A River Runs Through It” earned Cinematography honors; “Dracula” took the Costume Design trophy; “Aladdin” scored the Original Score prize; and Marisa Tomei (“My Cousin Vinny”) pulled off one of the all-time great shockers in Supporting Actress.
Most recently, the “Howards End” team earned a plethora of nominations for “The Remains of the Day” (1993), based on the 1989 Kazuo Ishiguro novel. Unlike “A Room with a View” and “Howards End,” this film did not lead the pack on nominations morning. It did, however, earn eight – in Best Picture, Best Director (Ivory), Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins), Best Actress (Thompson), Best Adapted Screenplay (Jhabvala), Best Art Direction (Arrighi and Whittaker), Best Costume Design (Beaven and Bright) and Best Original Score (Robbins).
On Oscar night, Steven Spielberg‘s “Schindler’s List” largely steamrolled over the Ivory film, winning Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction and Original Score. “The Age of Innocence” earned the Costume Design prize, while Hopkins and Thompson were defeated by Tom Hanks (“Philadelphia”) and Holly Hunter (“The Piano”) respectively.
Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.