Fun facts

Impress fellow movie-lovers with your trivial knowledge of the Academy Awards.

February 13, 2004|By Teddy Durgin | Teddy Durgin,Special to Baltimoresun.com

Are you having a few film buffs over for an Oscar party? Would you like to impress them with your uncanny knowledge of Oscar trivia? Here are a few fun facts about the annual ceremony to sprinkle in amid the overdone musical numbers and the nominees for Best Documentary (short subject).

The Show

The shortest Oscar ceremony on record was held in 1929. Since the winners were announced three months earlier, the whole shindig ran 15 minutes.

The longest Oscar telecast to date was the 2002 ceremony. It ran a whopping 4 hours and 16 minutes.

The Oscar statue itself is a depiction of a knight with a sword standing on a reel of film whose spokes represent the five original branches of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences -- Actors, Directors, Writers, Producers and Technicians.

The Stars

Laurence Olivier (for "Hamlet" in 1948) and Roberto Benigni (for "Life Is Beautiful" in 1998) remain the only actors to actually direct themselves to an Oscar for acting.

Jose Ferrer is the only actor who has ever won the Oscar, Tony and Emmy for playing the same role. The character? Cyrano de Bergerac.

Keisha Castle-Hughes, 13, ranks as the youngest performer ever to be nominated for Best Actress for her performance in this year's "Whale Rider." Who is the youngest male to receive a nod for Best Actor? Former child star Jackie Cooper for his lead role in 1931's "Skippy." Cooper was only 9 years old at the time.

The ages skew even younger in the supporting categories. Tatum O'Neal was only 10 when she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her work in "Paper Moon" (1973). Justin Henry trumps them all with his Best Supporting Actor nomination at the age of 8 for his role in "Kramer Vs. Kramer" (1979).

The Beatles won the Oscar for Best Musical Score for "Let It Be" (1970).

Judi Dench won Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Shakespeare in Love" (1998). She appeared onscreen for only eight minutes.

The 1935 version of "Mutiny on the Bounty" is the only film in history to have three nominees for Best Actor in a Leading Role -- Clark Gable, Charles Laughton and Franchot Tone. All three lost to Victor McLaglen for "The Informer."

The Films

"The Silence of the Lambs" (1991) was the first film to be available on home video prior to winning the Oscar for Best Picture.

"Beauty and the Beast" (1991) remains the only animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture.

"Gone With the Wind" (1939) was both the first color film to win Best Picture and the longest film ever to take the top prize, clocking in at 3 hours and 56 minutes.

"Cabaret" holds the record for the most Oscar wins (eight) without winning Best Picture.

The Oddities

Charlie Chaplin's "Limelight" (1972) won the Academy Award for Best Original Score 20 years after it was made. It was eligible that year because it had never previously been screened in Los Angeles.

George Bernard Shaw is the only person who has ever won both an Oscar (1938, Best Adapted Screenplay for "Pygmalion") and a Nobel Prize (1925 for literature).

Alfred Hitchcock never won the Academy Award for Best Director.

Oscar Hammerstein II holds the distinction of being the only person named "Oscar" ever to actually win an Oscar. He tallied two golden statues for Best Song in 1941 and 1945.

Academy Awards nominees

Academy Award facts

What: 76th Annual Academy Awards

When: Feb. 29, 2004 at 8 p.m.

Where: Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles

Network: ABC

Host: Billy Crystal, for the eighth time

Nominations announced: Jan. 27, 2004

Box office performance of nominated films

North American box office performance for Oscar nominees for best picture: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," New Line Cinema, 11 nominations, released in December, $337.8 million.

"Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," 20th Century Fox, 10 nominations, released in November, $85.3 million.

"Seabiscuit," Universal, seven nominations, released in July, $120.1 million.

"Mystic River," Warner Bros., six nominations, released in October, $58.8 million.

"Lost in Translation," Focus Features, four nominations, released in September, $34.7 million.

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