5 Oscar Secrets You Know… And 5 You Don’t

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Blair Cowan

The 91st Oscars are coming up soon, and we’re excited about it, time difference or not! But, similar to the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards have been suffering from declining viewership over the last few years and, indeed, courting controversy on all sides.

There’s #AskHerMore, the campaign to get reporters to ask women on the red carpet about more than just their dresses, which continues to gain traction year after year on red carpets from the Oscars to the Golden Globes and even the Olympics.

Then there’s #OscarsSoWhite, the hashtag campaign that took over after the 2015 Oscars, a ceremony that blatantly snubbed actors and filmmakers of colour.

And let’s not forget the Award for Outstanding Achievement In Popular Film proposed earlier in this awards cycle and widely perceived to be a way to give Black Panther a ‘separate but equal’ award instead of the far more prestigious Best Picture.

Oh, and we’ve all heard about the host scandal of 2019, right? After Kevin Hart was unceremoniously removed from his role thanks to homophobic comments from a few years ago, the Academy declined to name a new host, so for the first time since 1989, the Oscars won’t have a host. It’s worth noting that last time the ceremony went forward without a host, Disney ended up suing the Academy for copyright infringement after an actress dressed like Snow White appeared to sing a duet with Rob Lowe during the opening. The 1980s were a rough time for everyone, it seems.

But despite these scandals, we can’t look away from the annual ceremony: from the outfits to the comedic bits to the vindication when our favourite film wins, there’s something for everyone at the Oscars. Think you’re an expert on Academy Award history? Here are five Oscars moments you probably remember… and five you may not:

The Wrong Awards:

So we all saw La La Land be presented with Moonlight’s award in 2017. While presenting the award for the night’s most prestigious award, Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty were given the wrong envelope and presented the award to the incorrect film. The cast of La La Land accepted the award and gave their speeches before realising something was amiss and turning the stage over to the cast of Moonlight. Oof.

 But did you know…

Back in 1993 after Marisa Tomei won the Best Supporting Actress trophy for her role in My Cousin Vinny, a rumour started that the presenter (Jack Palance) had read the wrong name from the envelope and she was not, in fact, the intended winner. Despite all evidence to the contrary (including the Academy’s own official statement that Tomei was the rightful winner), the rumour continues to unfairly crop up today.

The Most Awards:

Meryl Streep is an icon of our time, there’s no disputing it. She has won or been nominated for every award under the sun, and they’ve all been deserved. In fact, she holds the record for most acting Oscar nominations ever (21) and the record for most Best Actress nominations (a whopping 17), though she’s only won three times.

But did you know…

Katharine Hepburn actually holds the record for most acting Oscars won (4). These four wins span nearly a half-century and include a historic tie with Barbra Streisand for Best Actress in 1969, which Hepburn won for The Lion In Winter.

The Unwanted Awards:

Everyone knows Marlon Brando once skipped an Oscars ceremony to protest… something. But the details seem broadly lost to time as it wasn’t a particularly well-thought-out stunt. In an effort to promote awareness of Hollywood’s poor treatment of Native Americans, he sent a Native American woman to accept the award in his place, in what may be the most awkward acceptance speech until 2000, when Angelina Jolie used her acceptance speech to announce that she was in love with her brother.

But did you know…

In a move more graceful and less controversial than Brando’s, George C Scott refused to accept his Oscar for Patton in 1970, a move he warned the Academy about months before he won. His reason? A firm belief that it’s impossible to compare acting performances as each one is unique.

The Youngest Awards:

Quick! Who is the youngest person to ever win an Oscar? If you answered Shirley Temple, great job! But everyone knows she was the winner; she’s a legend! And, at only 6 years and 310 days, it’s unlikely anyone will ever beat her record. However, her award was an ‘Academy Juvenile Award,’ a now-defunct honorary category given only a handful of times over a 25-year period.

But did you know…

This means Temple’s award was in a non-competitive category, and she was not nominated against other actors. To find the youngest actor who has ever won in a competitive category, we have to fast forward to 1974 and Tatum O’Neal’s win for Paper Moon. She won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1974 for her role alongside her father, Ryan O’Neal, at the age of only 10.

The Multiple Awards:

It’s not surprising to find out that Walt Disney won the most Oscars in a single night (4, in 1953, for four different films you probably haven’t heard of). The awards were Best Documentary Feature (The Living Desert), Best Documentary Short (The Alaskan Eskimo), Best Short Cartoon Subject (Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom), and Best Short (Bear Country). A far cry from the types of awards we associate with Disney films, he nevertheless has held the record for 65 years.

But did you know…

Amateur actor Harold Russell is the only person who has ever won two Oscars for the same performance. In 1946, Russell, who had never acted before, was cast in The Best Years of Our Lives, a drama about World War II and veterans’ attempts to acclimate to life after the war was over. Russell had lost both his hands during the war and, despite having never before acted, he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor award. However, the Academy worried that Russell was such a long shot to win Best Supporting Actor that they created an honorary award for his role at the 1947 ceremony, for bringing recognition to the plight of veterans across the country. When he ended up winning the competitive award as well, he became the only person awarded twice for the same role, a distinction he holds to this day.

There have always been scandals, controversies, and new records at the Oscars, but in recent years declining viewership and a feeling of staleness has overridden the once-elite ceremony. The 2019 Oscars will have the most diverse slate of nominees ever — will it be enough to boost their ratings to the glory days of years’ past? We can’t wait until 24 February to find out!

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