“Avengers: Endgame” might have surpassed 2009’s “Avatar” when it comes to its domestic box-office — besting James Cameron’s sci-fi fantasy’s $750 million handily by taking in $816 million since its opening on April 26. But it is still a far cry from 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” still the champ with $937 million in domestic ticket sales.
But on social media, there has been some discussion beyond the big bucks about whether “Endgame” with its multitudes of Marvel-ous superhero actors might have the most Oscar winners and nominees ever for a cast of a feature film. I know there is an ongoing thread in the forums about just this topic with various permutations on who counts or not. But for my purposes, actors who won or were nominated in categories other than acting do not qualify. Same with honorary trophies.
By that measure, I count seven winners among the names: Brie Larson, Natalie Portman, Marisa Tomei, Tilda Swinton, William Hurt, Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow. Add to that 11 nominees: Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Angela Bassett, Michelle Pfeiffer, Bradley Cooper, Robert Redford, Josh Brolin and Samuel L. Jackson. That’s 18 total.
Impressive, right? But at least a couple cinematic oldies can wallop that number.
Robert Altman never met an ensemble cast he didn’t like and apparently he outdid himself with his 1992 ode to Hollywood, “The Player.” The 12 winners: Tim Robbins, Whoopi Goldberg, Cher, James Coburn, Joel Grey, Jack Lemmon, Marlee Matlin, Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, Rod Steiger, Louise Fletcher and Angelica Huston. The 12 nominees: Richard E. Grant, Dean Stockwell, Peter Falk, Gary Busey, Sally Kellerman, Sally Kirkland, Burt Reynolds, Lily Tomlin, Teri Garr, Nick Nolte, Elliott Gould and Karen Black. The total: 24!
Can any other cast beat those Avengers? God only knows. The 1965 religious epic “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” directed by George Stevens, also goes beyond 18. The eight winners: Jose Ferrer, Van Heflin, Charlton Heston, Martin Landau, Sidney Poitier, John Wayne, Shelley Winters, Joseph Schildkraut. The 12 nominees: Max von Sydow, Carroll Baker, Victor Buono, Angela Lansbury, Dorothy McGuire, Sal Mineo, Claude Rains, Telly Savalas, Ed Wynn, Robert Loggia, Glynis Johns and Robert Morley. It adds up to a grand total of 20. Amen to that.
Sorry, Avengers, that is one record you can’t break. But maybe next time, the next chapter can assemble several more derring-do members of their crusading ranks. If you know of another film — using my method of counting solely acting bids and wins, of course — that outdoes “The Player,” please mention it in the comment section below.
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