This Sunday, March 27, the lengthy footrace known as Hollywood’s awards season will reach its final leg: the 94th Oscars ceremony. Of course, the question at this point isn’t whether you’re ready for the show, but how much you’ll be able to impress fellow film buffs at your Academy Awards viewing party. (And be sure to follow along on the The A.V. Club as the winners are announced!)
Toward that end, The A.V. Club has compiled an array of fast facts, historic firsts, records that have been set, records that could be broken, and other fascinating nuggets of information tied to the 2022 Oscars. Read on for factoids about the nominees and potential winners of this year’s Academy Awards, a notable—and controversial—chapter in the history of cinema’s most prestigious honors.
Perhaps overcompensating after three host-less years, this year’s Academy Awards ceremony will be the first in more than a decade to have multiple hosts. More notably, the show will be hosted for the first time ever by three women: Regina Hall, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes.
The Academy generated controversy ahead of the ceremony after announcing that ABC’s broadcast would not present the winners of eight categories (including for short films, editing, and sound) live on air. Then the Academy brokered a partnership with Twitter to create two new participatory categories to celebrate this year’s theme, “Movie Lovers Unite.” The “Oscars Fan Favorite Vote” and “Oscars Cheer Moment” campaigns gathered votes via social media to reward mainstream fare like Spider-Man: No Way Home and Zack Snyder’s Justice League alongside the traditional nominees.
For more than 90 years, the Academy’s prize for Best Picture has gone to films distributed by Hollywood studios. Recent wins for A24’s Moonlight and Neon’s Parasite marked breakthroughs for smaller distributors, but there has yet to be a best picture winner from a streaming company. Netflix came close with Alfonso Cuarón’s 2018 film Roma, which earned Best Director. Could The Power Of The Dog or Don’t Look Up finally give the streaming giant the Oscar bona fides it craves this year? Or will CODA, Apple TV+’s debut contender, become the Academy’s historic first choice?
Speaking of CODA, Sian Heder’s film about a deaf family with a hearing daughter could mark multiple firsts for inclusivity and representation, as the film features actual deaf actors. CODA star Marlee Matlin remains the only deaf performer to win an Academy Award for acting—and that was in 1986 when she took home Best Actress honors for Children Of A Lesser God. The number of Oscar-winning deaf actors could double if Matlin’s co-star and Best Supporting Actor frontrunner Troy Kotsur captures his own Oscar statuette.
Actor-writer-director-producer Kenneth Branagh this year became the first individual nominated in seven different categories during his career—a feat that’s unlikely to be matched anytime soon. He received three nods for Belfast, but he’s still looking for his overdue first win.
Cate Blanchett, meanwhile, has now appeared in a whopping nine films that have earned Best Picture nominations, including 2022’s Don’t Look Up and Nightmare Alley. That puts Blanchett ahead of Olivia de Havilland, who previously held with record after appearing in eight nominated films.
Steven Spielberg, perhaps Hollywood’s most recognizable director, is now the first person to nominated in the Best Director category in six consecutive decades after his nod for West Side Story. In all, Spielberg has 18 nominations in his career and three wins.
Rising star Ariana DeBose, who earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for playing Anita in West Side Story, follows in the footsteps of co-star Rita Moreno, who played the same role in Robert Wise’s 1961 adaptation of the classic musical. If DeBose wins Supporting Actress like Moreno did 61 years earlier, the pair will join a select group of actors who claimed an Oscar for the same role in different films. Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro did it first as Vito Corleone in The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, respectively. Then Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix both earned gold as the Joker in The Dark Knight and Joker.
If West Side Story wins Best Picture, it will become the first property to win top honors twice.
Supporting actress nominee Ariana DeBose of West Side Story, best actress contender Kristen Stewart of Spencer, and Encanto co-director Byron Howard could deliver historic (known) firsts. While plenty of films featuring gay or transgender characters have achieved recognition, the number of Academy Award winners who identify as LGBTQ is frustratingly small and they’re concentrated in the Original Song category (Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, Sam Smith, and more). Wins by any of these nominees on Sunday would offer a beacon of hope in the shadow of anti-LGBTQ legislation like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee, another 2022 LGBTQ-centric contender, pulled off an astonishing feat with nominations in three major, and majorly different, Oscar categories: animated, documentary, and international film. If it wins two or even all three awards, Flee would hold a special place in Academy history, even as its success highlights the artistic and commercial appeal of similarly innovative projects.
Nomadland helmer Chloé Zhao made history at last year’s ceremony with wins for Best Picture and Best Director, becoming only the second woman and first woman of color to triumph in the latter category. Jane Campion, of Netflix’s The Power Of The Dog, is the first woman to be nominated twice for directing (she earned her first nod for 1993’s The Piano).
There are additional signs that Hollywood’s top awards show is finally recognizing gender parity behind the camera: The Power Of The Dog cinematographer Ari Wagner is only the second female nominee in her category (after Rachel Morrison for 2017’s Mudbound) and could become the first female winner.
With his astonishing ninth Oscar nomination, Washington has broken all kinds of records when it comes to the Academy honoring Black artists. Training Day, his second win after Glory, made Washington the first Black actor, make or female, to win multiple competitive Oscars and the first one to win for both lead and supporting roles. If he clinches his third victory with The Tragedy Of Macbeth, Washington will join a small group of three-time winners—which includes his Macbeth co-star Frances McDormand.
Lin-Manuel Miranda could finally achieve EGOT status
Will Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Best Original Song contender, “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto, fill out the “O” in the legendary collective of accolades known as EGOT? The multi-faceted artist already has multiple Emmys, Grammys, and Tonys. The biggest challenge he could face in adding an Oscar statuette to his list of achievements would be finding room for it on his already overstuffed mantlepiece.