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Friday, January 17, 2014

Can Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto Both Win An Academy Award This Year?

The Academy Award nominations were recently announced, and both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto were nominated for their work in Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey for Best Actor and Leto for Best Supporting Actor. Both won the Golden Globes for their respected races, and both are probably the favorites to win the Oscars come March 2. However, I wanted to see how often it is for two males to win the Oscar from the same movie.

Since the Best Supporting Actor award was created in 1937 for the 9th Academy Awards, two male actors from the same movie winning Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor has happened only four times, and only once since 1960. Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald first did it in 1945 for Going My Way, and Fredric March and Harold Russell did it two years later for their work in The Best Years of Our Lives. The next time this phenomenon occurred was in 1960 when Charlton Heston and Hugh Griffith both won for Ben Hur. The next and last time this happened was 44 years later when Sean Penn and Tim Robbins won for their work in Mystic River.

The fact that an acting duo from the same film won only a decade ago bodes well for McConaughey and Leto, but the fact that it's only happened about as many times as a film won Best Movie without having its director even nominated isn't something to be thrilled about. Yet Argo won Best Picture last year, so maybe we're in a new era of Hollywood...

But the fact that this occurrence happens so infrequently isn't necessarily a bad sign for McConaughey and Leto. It could just be that the deserved winner from each category just so happens to star in different movie. It's very possible that the person who deserves to win does win, and it's irrelevant if they star in the same movie or different ones. So I went and looked back at recent history at the possible and realistic chances where an actor and his co-star should have both won, but did not.

2013- Lincoln

ACTUAL WINNERS: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) and Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
COULD HAVE BEEN: Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) over Waltz

I think this is the closest example where voters did not want to vote for two actors in the same film, and the clear case against McConaughey and Leto. Tommy Lee Jones was a respected and veteran actor (I guess he still is technically) who won the SAG award for Best Supporting Actor. In my mind, Jones was the clear cut favorite and I predicted he would take home the Oscar.

However, there's a little more nuance to this story. For starters, Django Unchained received zero SAG nominations. The SAG nominations get released fairly early, and the Tarantino flick was released on Christmas Day- well after the nominations were released. I suspect that either Django Unchained was either ineligible, or the SAG voters never end up seeing the film because of the late release date, or both. So Tommy Lee Jones' win there gets a little bit of an asterisk.

Secondly, while Tommy Lee Jones won the SAG award, Christoph Waltz was the one who took home the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor- over both his fellow Django counterpart Leonardo DiCaprio and Tommy Lee Jones.

Third, by the time the actual Oscars had come around and the voting had come to an end, Lincoln had lost a lot of support in Hollywood. With big wins at the Golden Globes and a 2012 leading 12 nominations, Lincoln was the clear favorite at the beginning of the process. But then the backlash happened (in my mind deservedly so). Ben Affleck getting snubbed for Best Director helped propel Argo to victory over Lincoln for Best Picture, and Ang Lee ended up winning Best Director over Lincoln director Steven Spielberg. Lincoln only ended up winning 2 Oscars last year- Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Best Production Design.

Around the same time as Lincoln was fading, Django Unchained, particularly Christoph Waltz started gaining steam. It seemed that all Academy voters had to do was see the film to realize that Waltz was the better candidate over Jones. Lincoln's November 16th release date gave the film a clear jump ahead of the competition, but once the nominations were officially in, it was all about letting the best man win.

1997- Jerry Maguire

ACTUAL WINNERS: Geoffrey Rush (Shine) and Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire)
COULD HAVE BEEN: Tom Cruise (Jerry Maguire) over Rush

Cruise won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical for his work in Jerry Maguire, but Rush also won the Golden Globe for Best Actor (his was in the Drama category) as well as the SAG award for Best Actor- beating out Cruise there as well. Cruise was guaranteed to get nominated, but Rush was the favorite to win.

1994- Pulp Fiction

ACTUAL WINNERS: Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump) and Martin Landau (Ed Wood)
COULD HAVE BEEN: John Travolta (Pulp Fiction) over Hanks and Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) over Wood.

This is really more of a fantasy than reality. There was no way in hell or on God's Green Earth that Hanks was going to lose for his amazing work in Forrest Gump. Probably the more realistic possibility was Gary Sinise beating out Landau for his role as Lt. Dan, but Landau had won the SAG and the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor beforehand. Both Hanks and Landau were the favorites, and both won.

1990- Driving Miss Daisy

ACTUAL WINNERS: Daniel Day-Lewis (My Left Foot) and Denzel Washington (Glory)
COULD HAVE BEEN: Morgan Freeman (Driving Miss Daisy) over Day-Lewis and Dan Aykroyd (Driving Miss Daisy) over Washington

Again, this was never going to happen. While Morgan Freeman had a very good shot winning the Best Actor Oscar seeing as how he won a Golden Globe and Daniel Day-Lewis did not, there was no way Denzel Washington was going to lose. I'm sure the scene where he gets whipped in Glory (a great scene in terms of acting) won it for Washington. Not only did Denzel win the Golden Globe that year, Aykroyd wasn't even nominated. While the 1990 Academy Award was a huge year for Driving Miss Daisy (excluding Argo, it's the last film to win Best Picture without having its director nominated), the prestige of the film helped Aykroyd get nominated. It was never going to propel him to a win.


I don't think there's any evidence that in recent years Academy Award voters do not inherently like having an acting duo from the same movie win. The general rule that's essentially set in stone is that the group as a whole tends to vote for the favorite (although in their minds they probably view it as the best nominee, one in the same).

I think Jered Leto is a lock to win Best Supporting Actor, so the real question will be whether Matthew McConaughey is truly the favorite and/or can gain enough steam to take home the award. I think there is. Not only is McConaughey an extremely charismatic man who knows how to work the circuit, but I think his story line of his resurgence (or The McConaisseance as the internet likes to call it. Seriously, it already has a nickname!), will play better with Academy voters. Plus, McConaughey will also have the added bonus of being apart of the zeitgeist thanks to his new HBO television program True Detective. McConaughey also gave a great Golden Globe acceptance speech- another (unfortunately, yet true) little thing that I think propels the Texan to victory.

But really what it comes down to, is that McConaughey is cleaning up in the Awards circuit. He won the SAG award for Best Actor, the Critics Choice Award for Best Actor (Drama), and the Golden Globe for Best Actor (Drama), defeating Ejiofor all 3 times. I would have said a week ago that Ejiofor is the favorite, but now McConaughey is clearly in the driver's seat.

Unfortunately, I can't give my opinion on which actor I think actually deserves the award as of this writing. With a full time job, and wife at home, my movie watching experiences are now more limited. I actually had the choice to see either Dallas Buyers Club or 12 Years A Slave, and I choose the latter (Dallas Buyers Club comes to for rent on February 4th. I'll be able to give you guys my opinion then). I will say this though- Ejiofor gave a good performance, but not a great one. Now I also didn't really like the film all that much, but I think even those who clamored over it realize that Ejiofor really didn't so anything THAT outstanding. It kind of seems like (based upon what I'm hearing) that McConaughey did do that. So I'll say that McConaughey and Leto both take home Golden Statutes on March 2nd.

Do you think McConaughey and Leto will both win Academy Awards this year?


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