The last film to score those two awards was “Million Dollar Baby” (2004), which won Best Actress for Hilary Swank, who earned her second statuette in that category. “Nomadland” is the 12th film total to win Best Picture and Best Actress, with three of those films also winning Best Actor. In comparison, there have been 27 films that have won Best Picture and Best Actor, the most recent being “The Artist” (2011), with star Jean Dujardin also in the winner’s circle.
There have been some close calls in recent years for a Best Picture and Best Actress match. “The Shape of Water” (2017) won Best Picture without star Sally Hawkins, who lost Best Actress to McDormand, who won for Best Picture nominee “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” The year prior, Best Picture and Best Actress matched for about, oh, two minutes when we were mistakenly informed that “La La Land” (2016) had won Best Picture. It was, of course, in fact “Moonlight” that had won, but there was no confusion over “La La Land” star Emma Stone‘s Best Actress victory.
McDormand, who’s a producer on “Nomadland,” made history in multiple ways with the dual wins. She’s the first to win Best Picture and Best Actress in the same year. This marks her third Best Actress Oscar and only Katharine Hepburn, with four, has more. McDormand is also the seventh performer to win at least three Oscars after Hepburn and fellow three-time champs Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson, Daniel Day-Lewis, Ingrid Bergman and Walter Brennan. Besides “Three Billboards,” her other win was for “Fargo” (1996). She has actually never lost a Best Actress race, but she’s lost all three of her Best Supporting Actress bids for “Mississippi Burning” (1989), “Almost Famous” (2000) and “North Country” (2005).
While “Nomadland,” which also won Best Director for Chloe Zhao — just the second woman and first woman of color to win — was expected to take Best Picture, McDormand’s Best Actress victory was far more up in the air after precursors went to four different women this season: Andra Day (“The United States vs. Billie Holiday”) took the drama Golden Globe; Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”) won Critics Choice; Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) snagged the Screen Actors Guild Award; McDormand scored BAFTA. McDormand, who was in fourth place in our overall odds, is the first Best Actress winner to prevail with just BAFTA as a precursor.
Here’s hoping it doesn’t take another 16 years for Best Picture and Best Actress to match up again.
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