Break out the brooms because Renee Zellweger (“Judy”) and Joaquin Phoenix (“Joker”), Laura Dern (“Marriage Story”) and Brad Pitt (“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”) just completed the second acting sweep ever. The four claimed Oscars on Sunday — lead for Zellweger and Phoenix, supporting for Dern and Pitt — to go with their statuettes from the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA Awards this season.
The first quartet to go 20/20 at all the televised awards was Frances McDormand (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”), Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”), Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”) and Sam Rockwell (“Three Billboards”) two years ago. Until then, no foursome had done a full sweep since BAFTA became an Oscar precursor in the 2000-01 season, with the previous closest being the class of 2014: Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”), Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”), J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”) and Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”) went 19/20, thanks to Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) beating Redmayne at Critics’ Choice.
Last year, we got 15 out of 20, with Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”) as the sole sweeper (which he did not do when he won his first Oscar for 2016’s “Moonlight”). Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) lost Critics’ Choice to Christian Bale (“Vice”); Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) infamously wasn’t nominated at SAG and BAFTA; and Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”) didn’t win SAG and Critics’ Choice, the latter of which awarded Best Actress to Glenn Close (“The Wife”) and Lady Gaga (“A Star Is Born”) in a tie.
There were no snubs or eligibility issues or passion-backed alternative this year to derail Zellweger, Phoenix, Dern and Pitt. All four had been frontrunners since the beginning of the season, and while critics awards backed others (like Lupita Nyong’o in “Us,” who ultimately was snubbed), they were in the clear once the Globes affirmed their pole positions in their respective races.
All four also lucked out with the shorter season, which meant there simply wasn’t time for momentum shifts. When the Oscars were still in March at the beginning of the century, there were hardly any individual sweepers and they were full of surprises — Adrien Brody, anyone? — but since the ceremony moved to the end of February, where it’s returning next year and in 2022, there’s increasingly been more rubber-stamping of the acting favorites.
Since we got a relatively wacky year last year after the first-ever sweep, maybe we’ll have another unpredictable one next year.