The Oscar nominations came out on Thursday morning, and as of now, it's anybody's race. Some say 12 Years a Slave has it in the bag, while others think American Hustle will snatch the Best Picture trophy. There's no one way to know for sure — does the Academy weigh emotional impact? Flashy performances? The film's lasting message?
How about titles? Yes, you can tell a lot about a film by its title, and about its Oscar chances, too. We've compiled some handy data about each Best Picture nominee's title and what it says about the film's chances come time to hand out the awards. (You can also head over to BBC America to check out this fantastic infographic that predicts the Best Picture winner!)
Movies with the word "America" in their titles......to win a Best Picture Oscar: 2 (An American in Paris; American Beauty) ...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 2 (America, America; American Graffiti)
Movies whose titles refers to a crime or act of duplicity......to win a Best Picture Oscar: 2 (Mutiny on the Bounty; The Sting)...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 11 (The Racket; She Done Him Wrong; Imitation of Life; Libeled Lady; Grand Illusion; The Caine Mutiny; The Hustler; Mutiny on the Bounty; The Killing Fields; The Fugitive; Traffic)
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Movies with a main character's surname in their titles......to win a Best Picture Oscar: 10 (The Great Ziegfeld; Ben-Hur; Tom Jones; Patton; Annie Hall; Kramer vs. Kramer; Gandhi; Schindler’s List; Forrest Gump; Shakespeare in Love)...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 45 (Disraeli; Trader Horn; Arrowsmith; The House of Rothschild; Alice Adams; Captain Blood; David Copperfield; Ruggles of Red Gap; Anthony Adverse; Dodsworth; Mr. Deeds Goes to Town; The Story of Louis Pasteur; The Life of Emile Zola; The Adventures of Robin Hood; Goodbye, Mr. Chips; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; Kitty Foyle; Citizen Kane; Here Comes Mr. Jordan; Sergeant York; Mrs. Miniver; The Magnificent Ambersons; Madame Curie; Wilson; Mildred Pierce; Johnny Belinda; Julius Caesar; Mister Roberts; The Diary of Anne Frank; Elmer Gantry; Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb; Mary Poppins; Doctor Zhivago; Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Doctor Dolittle; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Barry Lyndon; Prizzi’s Honor; Jerry Maguire; Good Will Hunting; Saving Private Ryan; Erin Brokovich; Capote; Michael Clayton; Lincoln)
Movies whose titles include a military rank......to win a Best Picture Oscar: o...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 6 (The Smiling Lieutenant; Captain Blood; Captains Courageous; Sergeant York; Saving Private Ryan; Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World)
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB
Focus Features via Everett Collection
Movies with a city name in their titles......to win a Best Picture Oscar: 4 (Cimarron; Casablanca; An American in Paris; Chicago)...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 18 (Hollywood Revue; Shanghai Express; San Francisco; In Old Chicago; The Philadelphia Story; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; Casablanca; Roman Holiday; Peyton Place; Judgment and Nuremberg; Chinatown; Nashville; Fargo; L.A. Confidential; Gangs of New York; Munich; Letters from Iwo Jima; Midnight in Paris)
Movies whose titles seem like they should probably have a possessive apostrophe, but don't......to win a Best Picture Oscar: 0...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 4 (Boys Town; Kings Row; Dead Poets Society; Howards End)
Warner Bros via Everett Collection
Movies whose titles are a single intangible noun......to win a Best Picture Oscar: 1 (Crash)...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 8 (Alibi; Suspicion; Crossfire; Deliverance; Traffic; Atonement; Inception; Moneyball)
Movies whose titles end in "ity"......to win a Best Picture Oscar: 1 (From Here to Eternity)...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 3 (Double Indemnity; Atlantic City; Sense and Sensibility)
Warner Bros via Everett Collection
Movies whose titles are made up three letters or fewer......to win a Best Picture Oscar: 0...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 4 (Z; JFK; Ray; Up)
Movies that have the word "her" in their titles......to win a Best Picture Oscar: 1 (Ben-Hur)...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 1 (Hannah and Her Sisters)
Paramount via Everett Collection
Movies with U.S. state names in their titles......to win a Best Picture Oscar: 0...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 2 (In Old Arizona; Mississippi Burning) *Note: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Gangs of New York both refer to cities, not states, and the "Virginia" in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is a human woman.
We loved Nebraska, but this is really the only one we could think of for it. Sorry, Alexander Payne. Sorry, everybody.
Weinstein Company via Everett Collection
Movies whose titles are just a main character's first name......to win a Best Picture Oscar: 5 (Rebecca; Hamlet; Marty; Gigi; Oliver!)...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 20 (Skippy; Cleopatra; Ivanhoe; Shane; Fanny; Cleopatra; Alfie; Lenny; Rocky; Julia; Norma Rae; Tess; Bugsy; Babe; Elizabeth; Seabiscuit; Ray; Juno; Precious; Hugo)
Movies whose titles were mispronounced by Leonardo DiCaprio on live television......to win a Best Picture Oscar: 0...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 0 (There can be only one Philomania.)
12 YEARS A SLAVE
Movies with numbers in their titles......to win a Best Picture Oscar: 6 (It Happened One Night; Around the World in 80 Days; The Godfather Part II; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Million Dollar Baby; Slumdog Millionaire)...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 36 (Seventh Heaven; Five Star Final; One Hour with You; 42nd Street; The Private Life of Henry VIII; One Night of Love; Broadway Melody of 1936; A Tale of Two Cities; Three Smart Girls; One Hundred Men and a Girl; Four Daughters; One Foot in Heaven; 49th Parallel; Henry V; Miracle on 34th Street; A Letter to Three Wives; Twelve O’Clock High; Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; Three Coins in the Fountain; The Ten Commandments; 12 Angry Men; The Defiant Ones; A Thousand Clowns; Anne of the Thousand Days; Five Easy Pieces; Born on the Fourth of July; The Godfather Part III; Four Weddings and a Funeral; Apollo 13; The Sixth Sense; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; District 9; 127 Hours; Toy Story 3; Zero Dark Thirty)
Movies that refer to a unit of time in their titles......to win a Best Picture Oscar: 2 (The Best Years of Our Lives; Around the World in 80 Days) ...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 9 (One Hour with You; Lady for a Day; The Yearling; The Longest Day; Anne of the Thousand Days; Dog Day Afternoon; Remains of the Day; The Hours; 127 Hours)
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
Paramount via Everett Collection
Movies whose titles include mention of an animal......to win a Best Picture Oscar: 3 (The Deer Hunter; Dances with Wolves; The Silence of the Lambs)...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 17 (Of Mice and Men; The Little Foxes; The Maltese Falcon; The Ox-Bow Incident; The Snake Pit; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; To Kill a Mockingbird; The Lion in Winter; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; Dog Day Afternoon; The Elephant Man; Raging Bull; Kiss of the Spider Woman; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Black Swan; War Horse)
Movies whose titles include the name of a street......to win a Best Picture Oscar: 1 (The Broadway Melody) ...to get nominated for BP, but not win: 5 (42nd Street; The Barretts of Wimpole Street; Broadway Melody of 1936; Miracle on 34th Street; Sunset Boulevard)
Cast your bets, folks. Captain Phillips looks like it has this one locked down.
*Special thanks to Hollywood.com writers Julia Emmanuele and Jordan Smith for helping to compile data and entertaining the madness of this post, and to our CTO Greg Zimerman for recovering hours of work after my Word Doc crashed. You're a hero, Greg.
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Although we'll always think of Harrison Ford when we think of Indiana Jones, Keanue Reeves when we picture Neo, and Michael J. Fox when we reminisce about the adventures of Marty McFly, it's funny to acknowledge that these parts — as with many now-iconic movie characters — came very close to landing other actors entirely. Indy could have been Tom Selleck, Neo could have been Will Smith, McFly could have been Eric Stoltz. And the latest to be revealed in this line of alternate timelines is that which nearly embraced Cameron Crowe's classic romance, Jerry Maguire. On Wednesday, Nashville and Friday Night Lights star Connie Britton revealed to The New York Times that she was almost given Renee Zellweger's role.
Britton explains that director Crowe sent her the script back during production on the movie. "So I took it home and I read it," she says. "I was blown away. I loved the script, the role — I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is incredible.’"
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Having yet to really break out into show business, Britton was passionate about earning the role of Dorothy Boyd. She says, "And I walked into my brand-new agent’s office the next day, and I put the script down on his desk, and I was like, ‘I have two words for you: Jerry Maguire.’”
And while Britton's screen test may have brought her very close to starring opposite Tom Cruise in the oft-quoted film, she explains that there was one minor issue: “they just want to screen-test one other actress.” And that, of course, was Zellweger. “It was heartbreak,” Britton says.
So what gave Zellweger the edge over the indelibly talented Tami Taylor to be? Britton speculates: "Maybe I was too tall." After all, at around 5'8", Britton would have had an inch or two on her potential costar Cruise (a dealbreaker in the Hollywood world). Zellweger, at only 5'4", would fit more snugly into a frame opposite Mr. Maguire.
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But we can't be too displeased with the fate we were dealt: in the absence of Jerry Maguire, Britton kicked off a long, much adored television career — 1996 placed her in the pithy sitcom Spin City, which she would eventually follow with occasional appearances on 24 and her beloved starring spot on Friday Night Lights. And now, following her haunting turn on American Horror Story, the world is treated to weekly doses of Britton on ABC's Nashville.
So we can't be too remiss about the actress' missing out on Jerry Maguire. You may not have snagged this role, Britton, but with everything you've done since, we can still sincerely profess: you complete us.
Follow Michael Arbeiter on Twitter @MichaelArbeiter.
[Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures; Ivan Nikolov/Wenn]
In 2003 in the prime of their country music careers the Dixie Chicks embarked on a world tour. At a concert in London in between songs in an impromptu moment on the eve of the Iraq war Natalie Maines said she was ashamed that President Bush was from her home state of Texas. The crowd went wild and the concert went on. Back home CNN picked up the London news reports. The country community was outraged. They protested boycotted burned and crushed Dixie Chick CDs and called them un-American. Over the course of their tour the Dixie Chicks tried to fire back but radio refused to play their music and death threats at their concerts required increased security. Two years later The Dixie Chicks set about writing a new album. Fueled by rage and emotion they compiled their new songs. The film follows both stories cutting back and forth from 2003 to 2005 to show the inspirations for their new hits and the danger of speaking one’s mind. Even if you disagree with the comment you can see the hysteria in bloom and our basic values lost in society. The Chicks handle the scandal with class despite their salacious manager’s joyful media whoring. Through the darkest times they stick together. Hollywood can’t invent stories like this--their redemption is sweeter than any hero getting the girl or saving the world. Everyone is just being themselves but they are the liveliest bunch we’ve seen on film in years. Maines is a spitfire with an answer for everything and it all makes sense. She’s never self-righteous just strong. Her two collaborators Emily Robison and Marty Maguire serve more as supporting characters standing by Maines although they have moments of indifference and sadness as well. Their manager is almost a fascinating villain potentially causing more trouble with his salesman-like approach to milking PR opportunities. His lack of self-editing could be dangerous but the Chicks come to their senses and reject his most outrageous ideas. George W. Bush gives the worst performance in a CNN clip talking about hurt feelings while the girls face death threats. It does all seem very natural like the girls aren’t playing for the cameras at all. Of course it could be that they’re just natural performers but these feel like candid moments. Directors Barbara Kopple and Celia Peck lucked out when they happened to be following the concert tour as the event of cinematic proportions occurred. What began as a fluff DVD extra is now an inside look at the makings of a PR crisis. From within the inner circle it shows managers feeding off of political heat and publicists advising against dramatic responses like the controversial Entertainment Weekly cover photo. Kopple and Peck also capture the human ramifications of punditry as the Dixie Chicks fear for their lives and their ability to care for their families with a career in jeopardy. But the filmmakers did not just settle for being in the right place at the right time. The crew rejoined the Chicks in 2005 as they wrote a new album and expertly cut back and forth between the two time periods. The filmmakers turn the tour and album pre-production into parallel stories reflexively informing one another. They chose the perfect pundit clips to illustrate the broader media while the majority of the film follows the Chicks. The music is used at appropriate moments. It’s not a musical but music is The Dixie Chicks’ trade so it’s great to see why their talent is worth fighting for.