With the Academy Awards less than a week away, time is running out to catch the top films before the big night. It’s a diverse bunch that could make Oscar history. Here’s a look at some facts and firsts for the Best Picture nominees:
If Rami Malek wins Best Actor, he'd be the first of Middle Eastern descent to win the prize. He's also be the first man to have won both the Best Actor Oscar, and Best Actor in a Drama series Emmy.
Rami Malek is widely tipped to win the Best Actor gong for his starring turn as cultural icon Freddie Mercury in "Bohemian Rhapsody". Malek, whose parents are Egyptian, would be the first actor of Middle Eastern descent to take the prize. On top of that, he’d also be the first man to have won both the Best Actor Oscar and the Emmy for Best Actor in a Drama Series, which he picked up a few years ago for "Mr. Robot". Not bad for your a first nomination.
Spike Lee has never won a 'typical' Oscar for his work.
Despite being an American iconoclast for over 30 years, Spike Lee has never won an Oscar for his work, or at least not a typical one. Before making his feature debut, Lee won a student Academy Award for his master’s thesis at NYU. He was also awarded an honorary Oscar in 2015. But it’s his work on "BlackKklansman" that has finally netted him his first nominations for Best Director and Best Picture, as well as his first nomination for screenplay since 1990.
"Black Panther" broke barriers with its majority black cast, but it also did the same behind the scenes. The screenplay, costume design, hair, soundtrack and art direction were all headed by black artists, and the film's cinematographer is the only woman to ever receive an Oscar nomination for her work.
We all know that "Black Panther" is big, but the tight team that made it started very small. Back in 2013, director Ryan Coogler made his feature debut with the tiny, independent project "Fruitvale Station". As he graduated to studio pictures with "Creed" and next conquered the world with "Black Panther", he relied on the same director of photography, editor, production designer and star to bring his visions to life. And while we all know the film broke barriers with its majority black cast, the film made sure to do the same behind the scenes. The screenplay, costume design, hair, soundtrack and art direction were all headed by black artists, while his cinematographer is the only woman to ever receive an Oscar nomination for her work.
Auditions for "The Favourite" had cast members twisting into human pretzels, humming their lines and envisioning force fields.
It’s common knowledge that movies can languish in development for years, but it’s always surprising to hear that an instant classic had a rocky road to getting made. The script for
"The Favourite" was first written 20 years ago, but the fact that it focused on three female leads made it a tough sell. With times changing in Hollywood, the movie was finally able to drum up enough interest to get made, but not before Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos added some of his signature quirk to the project. He asked auditioning actors to jump between carpet squares, hum their lines and envision force fields, while cast rehearsals included getting twisted into group human pretzels.
The same director from "Dumb and Dumber" and "There's Something About Mary" is behind "Green Book". While it may seem like a huge departure in genre, all the films have one thing in common: each centers on a highly dysfunctional road trip.
You probably know director Peter Farrelly from the classic gross-out comedies he made with his brother, Bobby, including "Dumb and Dumber" and "There’s Something About Mary". While his solo directorial debut has landed him his first Oscar nominations, it wasn’t supposed to be that way. Bobby was originally set to co-direct the project, but had to step away due to personal tragedy. The film may seem like a major departure from the brothers’ other work, but it does have one major thing in common with their first four films: each movie centers on a highly dysfunctional road trip.
There was supposed to be a full-blown musical number in "Vice", that didn't make the cut.
Director Adam McKay likes to pepper his films with unusual, fourth-wall-breaking moments and "Vice" is no exception. The movie features an entire scene of Shakespearean dialogue and a mid-movie credit sequence, but there’s one routine that didn’t make the final cut: a full-blown musical number. McKay had planned to have Steve Carrell’s Donald Rumsfeld show Christian Bale’s Dick Cheney the ropes when he first arrived in Washington. It may not have made its way into the movie, but it will likely find its way to the DVD.
"A Star is Born" was originally set to star Beyoncé and Clint Eastwood.
"A Star Is Born" is no stranger to reinvention. Bradley Cooper’s film is the fourth iteration of the Hollywood tale that’s provided a vehicle for some of the top stars of their day. That doesn’t make it any easier to believe that the latest version of the film was originally set to star Beyoncé and Clint Eastwood. Cooper had originally passed on the part, thinking he was too young. Eastwood was already attached to direct and stepped in to act as well. The project was delayed by Beyoncé’s pregnancy and Eastwood moved on to other things. An older and wiser Cooper returned to the project, which is set to net him his first Oscar win.
If "Roma" wins Best Picture, it would be the first foreign language film to ever nab the award.
"Roma" is looking to storm the history books Oscar night. If it wins Best Picture, it’ll be the first foreign language film to ever nab the top award. Director Alfonso Cuaron is already nominated for five Oscars for the film, the most ever for an individual at one ceremony. He’s also the first person ever nominated for directing and cinematography for the same film. He could well win four of his categories, tying Walt Disney for most ever won by an individual in one night, but standing alone as the most won by an individual for one film. The Netflix release is also the first film distributed primarily on a streaming platform to ever get a nomination for Best Picture, so if you haven’t seen it yet, you know where to look.