Oscars: 2020's Historic Nominees (and Other Noteworthy Stats)

3:56 PM 2/6/2020

by Jordan Wilson

From casting coincidences to record-setting families, here is a collection of noteworthy facts about this year's Oscar contending films.

Oscars  - Original Screenplay - 5 Split-Publicity - H 2020
Courtesy Photos

Hollywood isn't a big place. There are only so many studios, production companies, writers, performers and crew based inside the Thirty-Mile-Zone that has encompassed the setting of film production for over a century. Every year when the nominations for the Academy Awards are announced, a trove of facts and figures about those nominated come to light. 

Regarded as the highest honor in cinema, the Oscars often shed a light on the ever-shifting nature of the movie business. Actors, directors and writers of Oscar caliber tend to be nominated more than once, and stories of a timeless nature are remade ad infinitum with a different vision from each new director. 

Every year sees new performers and creators rise to the ranks of the Hollywood elite, and every year showcases the enduring talent of living filmmakers. Follow along with The Hollywood Reporter as we catalog some of the more interesting facts and trivia surrounding the 92nd annual Academy Awards, which will be broadcast on Sunday on ABC.   


  • Best Picture Nominees' Combined Box-office Revenue Is Down by Nearly Half

    The realms of the summer blockbuster and autumn Oscar contenders don't typically intersect. The 2020 Oscar race for best picture is no exception, but that doesn't mean that this year's best picture nominees didn't make any money at the box office. As THR's Pamela McClintock wrote the day of the nominations, the combined domestic box office from seven of the nine best picture nominees (Netflix's The Irishman and Marriage Story did not report gross figures) was just over $747 million. 

    Last year, the number was almost double that. The eight nominees last year pulled down $1.26 billion domestically. What happened? Audiences didn't stop going to theaters, there was no ticket-revenue error, so why the disparate numbers? Blockbusters, that's why. 2019 saw Black Panther, a film that grossed more than $700 million alone domestically, in the running for best picture. 

    No such contender exists among the 2020 nominees, but there is one striking similarity between the top-tier films of both years. With a domestic gross of more than $335 million, Todd Phillips' Joker, a comic-book adaptation like Black Panther, accounts for the biggest chunk of change earned by all of the best picture nominees this year.   

  • Several Nominees Are Vying for Multiple Awards

    Ten people have been nominated twice this year by the Academy in categories across the board, from acting to writing and scoring. 

    Of particular note, first-time nominee Scarlett Johansson is nominated for both best actress in Marriage Story and best supporting actress in Jojo Rabbit, while fellow best actress nominee Cynthia Ervio has also been nominated for best original song, both nominations for biopic Harriet. She's only the second person to achieve that feat, behind Mary J. Blige in 2018 and Lady Gaga last year.

    In more typical fashion, four of the five best director nominees are triple nominees, not only for their adapted and original screenplays, but for producing as well.  Bong Joon Ho (Parasite), Sam Mendes (1917), Todd Phillips (Joker), and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) all received three nominations apiece. 


  • 'Joker' Is the First Comic Book Movie to Lead Nominations

    Black Panther may have broken new ground at last year's Oscars as the first comic book adaptation to be nominated for best picture, but Todd Phillips' Joker has the last laugh.

    Based on the Batman villain of DC comics fame, the film garnered a whopping 11 nominations, from best picture and best director to best score and best makeup and hairstyling. The sheer volume of nominations is unprecedented for a comic book film, especially one that audiences were afraid would incite violence on its opening weekend. 

    Of particular interest is Joaquin Phoenix's nomination for best actor. This is the second time an actor has been nominated for portraying the same character as a previous Oscar-winning portrayal. His fellow Joker star Robert De Niro won best supporting actor for playing Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II, just as Marlon Brando was awarded a best actor Oscar for his original portrayal of the Godfather. The Joker was famously portrayed by the late actor Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, for which he posthumously won best supporting actor.

  • Hildur Gudnadóttir Could Become the first Woman to Win Best Score

    Hildur Gudnadóttir, the Icelandic composer who scored Joker, has already made history as the first solo woman to win a Golden Globe for scoring a film. She could make history again by being the first woman in Academy history to win a best original score Oscar.

    Women have won Oscars for musical composition before — Rachel Portman in 1996 for Emma and Anne Dudley in 1997 for The Full Monty — but those awards were for an original musical or comedy score (a separate Oscar was given for best dramatic score). In 1999, the Academy combined the two categories into best original score, but every winner since the change has been male. 

    Gudnadóttir has already had an incredible year, between the Golden Globe for Joker and an Emmy win for scoring HBO miniseries Chernobyl. An Oscar win would round out the trifecta.

  • 'Little Women' Nominations Total 14 Across All Adaptations

    Director Greta Gerwig was far from the first filmmaker to adapt Louisa May Alcott's novel Little Women for the screen, but her version has brought the most Oscar nominations of any adaptation yet. 

    The first version to be nominated for an Oscar was released in 1933 and starred Katherine Hepburn. It received nominations for best picture and best director, and even won best adapted story. The 1949 iteration was nominated for technical achievements in cinematography and art direction, winning in the latter category. 

    Though the 1994 adaptation didn't win in any category, it was nominated for costume design, music and actress in a leading role for Winona Ryder. 

    Gerwig's adaptation has received the most nominations of any iteration to date: six categories, including best picture, adapted screenplay, achievements in costume design and original score and best actress performances for Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh (lead and supporting, respectively).

    Ronan is also second-youngest four-time acting nominee at age 25. The only actor younger than her to be nominated four times is Jennifer Lawrence, who was last nominated for Joy in 2015, a few months younger than Ronan at the time of her nomination.  

  • Martin Scorsese Is the Academy's Most-Nominated Living Director

    There are only a handful of directors over the decades who have earned more than one nomination from the Academy. Even fewer have received more than four or five. But after all of the nominations received by The Irishman, Martin Scorsese remains the most-nominated living director with nine nominations for best director.

    Scorsese is in good company, having narrowly eclipsed late director Billy Wilder, who earned eight nominations in his lifetime. Steven Spielberg and Woody Allen are the second-most nominated living directors with seven apiece. 

    But Scorsese has some catching up to do if he wants to compete with Roman Holiday and Ben-Hur director William Wyler. Before his death in 1981, the filmmaker received a whopping 12 best director Oscar nominations.

    The Irishman itself is nominated for 10 Oscars, second only to Joker with 11.    

  • Cynthia Erivo Could Become the Youngest EGOT Winner in History

    Only 15 people have won the illustrious EGOT — an unofficial combination of winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony — and actress Cynthia Erivo could be the youngest of them all if she wins a coveted golden statue on Sunday. 

    The 31-year-old Erivo won a Tony in 2016 in the best actress category for her role as Celie Harris Johnson in The Color Purple. Her Grammy win came in 2017 in the best musical theater album category for the same role, and she won a Daytime Emmy Award later that same year for her performance on Today.

    Erivo is nominated in two Oscar categories: best actress and best original song, both for her work in Harriet, a biopic about slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Notably, she is the only person of color nominated in an acting category for the 2020 Oscars.   

  • Netflix Leads Nominations With 24, Disney and Sony Close Behind

    Netflix is the studio to beat at the Oscars this year. Between offerings The Irishman and Marriage Story Netflix has a total of 24 nominations across categories. 

    The streamer beat its own number of nominations from the previous year (15, including its first best picture nom for Roma) and recently earned 17 nominations at the Golden Globes. At the Globes, however, it was shut out of nearly every category, only earning a best actress win for Laura Dern for her role in Marriage Story. It also has yet to win a best picture Oscar.

    Netflix still catches the ire of many in the industry for not opening its movies with a traditional theatrical run, nor for keeping its gross profits and streaming numbers close to the chest. 

    Studio goliath Disney racked up 23 nominations, but perhaps more intriguing is Sony's third placement with 20 noms, up from five last year. 

  • 'Parasite' is the 6th Film to Be Dual-Nominated for Best Picture, Best International Film

    Director Bong Joon Ho's Parasite is the hot ticket of awards season this year. Not only is it the first film from South Korea to be nominated for best international feature film (formerly best foreign-language film), but it is the 11th film to be nominated in the top category of best film, and the sixth to be nominated for both. 

    Parasite has already won the best foreign-language film Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by a cast, where the actors received standing ovations from the crowd not only for their win, but earlier in the night when they introduced the film.  

    Bong has also been nominated for best director and best original screenplay. The film's nominations for production design and film editing bring total noms to six. 

  • Sam Mendes' '1917' Nomination Comes 20 Years After His Win for 'American Beauty'

    The last time Sam Mendes was nominated for an Oscar, Facebook hadn't been created.

    The 1917 writer-director is nominated in two categories: best directing and best original screenplay along with co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns. The last time Mendes attended the Oscars as a nominee was in the year 2000 for directing American Beauty. Mendes won, and Beauty took home four other golden statues: cinematography, original screenplay, best actor for Kevin Spacey and best picture. 

    Mendes and 1917 already beat out the competition at the Golden Globes to win both best director and best picture categories.

    1917 is also nominated for best cinematography, makeup and hairstyling, original score, production design, sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects Oscars.

  • John Williams Breaks Own Record to Become Most-Nominated Living Person

    Longtime composer John Williams, with his nomination for best original score for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, is now the most-nominated living person in Oscar history. 

    A career total of 52 Oscar nominations began back in 1968 for his work composing music for Mark Robson's Valley of the Dolls. Williams has a long relationship of working with filmmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, scoring many of their films from Jaws, Star Wars, Schindler's List and Raiders of the Lost Ark

    The only person to eclipse Williams' nominations? None other than the original mouseketeer himself, Walt Disney. He received 59 nominations from the Academy; some were even awarded for films that premiered after his death in 1966.  

  • The Newman Family's Nominations Climb to 93

    Cousins Randy and Thomas Newman both received Oscar nominations for their work scoring 1917 and Marriage Story, respectively. Randy's additional nomination for original songs in Toy Story 4 bring the total nominations from the entirety of the Newman family to a jaw-dropping 93.

    Randy and Thomas are part of a long line of music composers who have worked on Oscar-nominated films since the dawn of Hollywood cinema. Brothers Alfred, Emil and Lionel Newman all composed film music from the 1930s to the 1960s and received several Oscar nominations along the way.

    Thomas' older brother David has been scoring films since the mid-1980s and received an Oscar nomination for his score to the animated feature Anastasia

    Regardless if either cousin wins the best original score trophy come Sunday, no family could hope to reach the level of Oscar recognition that the Newman family has.

  • The Acting Category Includes 5 First-Time Nominees

    The acting categories are crowded with two very different kinds of nominees — those who have never been nominated, and those who have won in the past. 

    Newcomers include Antonio Banderas, Cynthia Erivo, Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh and Jonathan Pryce. Johansson received two acting nominations; one for lead actress in Marriage Story and one for best supporting actress in Jojo Rabbit

    Eight acting nominees have won Oscars for previous performances. Kathy Bates, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Charlize Theron and Renée Zellweger have all taken home a golden statue before. 

    Saoirse Ronan, Laura Dern, Margot Robbie, Joaquin Phoenix and Adam Driver have all been nominated for Oscars in the past, but never earned a trophy. Notably, Driver was only nominated for the first time last year for his performance in BlacKkKlansman

    Brad Pitt, meanwhile, won an Oscar as producer of best picture winner 12 Years a Slave but has yet to win for acting.

  • Diane Warren Has 11 Lifetime Nominations, Zero Wins

    Songwriter Diane Warren is nominated for best original song for the lyrics and music to "I'm Standing With You," from the film Breakthrough. This makes 11 lifetime nominations for Warren, and with zero wins she has the dubious honor of being the most-nominated woman in Oscar history without a single win to her name.

    Warren was first nominated in 1988 with co-writer Albert Hammond for "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now," a power-ballad performed by the band Starship for the 1988 film Mannequin.

    She received the rest of her best original song nominations between 1997 and 2019, including for recognizable hits like "Because You Loved Me," for Celine Dion "How Do I Live," for LeAnn Rimes and "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" for Aerosmith. 

    "I'm Standing With You" faces stiff competition from the likes of "(I'm Gonna) Love Me Again" by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.    

  • Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler Among the Snubs

    The biggest non-category that the Oscar nominations produce is also one of the most talked-about: those actors, directors and films that got snubbed and received no nominations at all. 

    This year the snubbed category was a significant one. Several films and stars came out with no nominations despite heavy buzz during the latter part of the year. 

    Several actors did not receive nominations even if the film they starred in did. Christian Bale, Taron Egerton and Robert De Niro all starred in Oscar-nominated films but did not clench any acting nominations. Dolemite is my Name lead Eddie Murphy and Uncut Gems' Adam Sandler were also snubbed, as were their films. 

    There was a lot of speculation that Jennifer Lopez would receive an acting nomination for Hustlers, but it did not come to fruition.  

    Oscar-hopeful films that struck out on any nominations include Clemency, Dark Waters, Dolemite, The Farewell, Honey Boy, Hustlers, Just Mercy, Uncut Gems and Us.  

    In the directing category, one gigantic snub stood out: Little Women's Greta Gerwig received no nomination for best director (neither did any other women directors) despite the film itself receiving six nominations. Gerwig was nominated for best adapted screenplay, though. 

    1917, despite earning 10 nomination across the board, received zero acting nominations for any of its stars.