In the two dozen years since Paul Thomas Anderson first became an Oscar nominee (Best Original Screenplay, “Boogie Nights”), he has received seven more bids across four categories, the two most recent of which came in 2018 for “Phantom Thread” (Best Picture; Best Director). He has also directed nine nominated performances that span three of the four acting categories; to date, no Anderson film has ever figured in a Best Actress lineup. But now, Alana Haim (“Licorice Pizza”) could make history as the first to do so.
Haim, whose performance in “Licorice Pizza” marks her film debut, ranks ninth in our Best Actress odds but that should change based on her surprise BAFTA bid. Those running ahead of her are four women snubbed by the BAFTAs — Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”), Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”), Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”) and Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”) — plus Lady Gaga (“House of Gucci”), Penélope Cruz (“Parallel Mothers”), Rachel Zegler (“West Side Story”), and Jennifer Hudson (“Respect”). Though she sits outside of our predicted five nominees, she has a shot based on the tradition of there having been at least two first-time Best Actress nominees in each of the last seven lineups and at least one in the last 72.
Haim’s featured castmate, Bradley Cooper, just misses making our Best Supporting Actor top five. Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”) is the leader of that pack, followed in order by Troy Kotsur (“CODA”), Ciarán Hinds (“Belfast”), Jared Leto (“House of Gucci”), and Jamie Dornan (“Belfast”). If Cooper’s Screen Actors Guild Award bid for “Licorice Pizza” translates to an Oscar one, it will be his fifth for acting. The academy has previously recognized him as a lead for “Silver Linings Playbook” (2013), “American Sniper” (2015), and “A Star Is Born” (2019) and as a featured player for “American Hustle” (2014). He has yet to win.
Haim and Cooper could each bring Anderson’s nominated actor total into double digits and thereby put him in the company of just 34 (6%) of the 550 directors who have guided performers to Oscar nominations. The all-time record holder is William Wyler, whose films merited 36 acting nominations and 14 wins between 1937 and 1969. Behind him with 24 nominated actors in each of their filmographies are Elia Kazan (1946 – 1962; nine wins) and Martin Scorsese (1975 – 2020; five wins).
A total of 69 directors (13% of the 550) have seen their actors cover all four categories. Gregory La Cava became the first entrant on this list when leads William Powell and Carole Lombard and secondary players Mischa Auer and Alice Brady all earned nominations for his “My Man Godfrey” in 1937. Kenneth Lonergan joined the group most recently when his “Manchester by the Sea” (2017) garnered bids for lead Casey Affleck and supporting performers Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams. Laura Linney had previously been nominated for starring in his debut feature “You Can Count on Me” (2001).
The first actors to earn notices for their work in an Anderson film were Burt Reynolds and Julianne Moore (“Boogie Nights”), who lost the 1998 supporting contests to Robin Williams (“Good Will Hunting”) and Kim Basinger (“L. A. Confidential”), respectively. Next came 2000 Best Supporting Actor nominee Tom Cruise (“Magnolia”), who was bested by Michael Caine (“The Cider House Rules”).
In 2008, Daniel Day-Lewis became the first and only person to win for a performance directed by Anderson when he was awarded a Best Actor trophy for “There Will Be Blood.” Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams were all then recognized for their roles in Anderson’s “The Master” (2013). Phoenix lost Best Actor to Day-Lewis (“Lincoln”), while Hoffman and Adams were edged out on the supporting side by Christoph Waltz (“Django Unchained”) and Anne Hathaway (“Les Misérables”). Lastly, leading man Day-Lewis and featured actress Lesley Manville scored bids for “Phantom Thread” but ultimately lost to Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”) and Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”) respectively.