Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Sylvester Stallone's Quest for Oscar Trivia Glory

While Mad Max: Fury Road got all of the headlines yesterday, for me the moment of truth was Sylvester Stallone's victory for Creed.  Suddenly, in the ebb of massively positive reviews, pretty much the entire collective Oscar blogosphere (including yours truly) proclaimed Rocky Balboa one to beat in the Best Supporting Actor race.  This is a shock for a variety of reasons, principally because a few weeks ago I think most of us would be stunned to find out that Creed would actually be any good, much less a serious Oscar contender.  The movie, the seventh in the long-running Rocky franchise, is one that I admittedly haven't seen yet (it's toward the top of my list after all of this praise though, let me tell you), but we've all seen how Stallone's career and the movies that followed his initial Best Picture nominee ended up being kind of a joke-as a result it seemed impossible that he'd be back for another nomination for the same role (or, considering his somewhat limited macho action-hero appeal, another nomination period).  How rare is this?  Let's take a look at three select clubs Stallone is trying to join.

Actors Who Have Been Nominated Twice for the Same Role

Were he to be nominated, Stallone would be only the sixth actor ever to be nominated twice for playing the same part.  Other actors who have accomplished this include Paul Newman as 'Fast Eddie' Felson (The Hustler and The Color of Money), Bing Crosby as Father O'Malley (Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary's), Peter O'Toole as King Henry II (Becket and The Lion in Winter), Al Pacino as Michael Corleone (The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II), and Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I (Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age).  All five of these actors, though, unlike Stallone, were far more beloved by Oscar when they won the second nomination.  Crosby and Blanchett already had Oscars, O'Toole and Newman were both many times over nominees, and Al Pacino was in The Godfather Part II, arguably the finest sequel ever made.  Of the five Stallone has to be hoping to emulate Paul Newman, who is easily his most hopeful doppelganger.  Both are longtime actors that seem to be well-liked in the acting community (everything I've read about Stallone seems to be that he's pretty popular in Hollywood, which helps when you're doing a comeback campaign), both were nominated for arguably their most iconic roles, and both went from being the young upstart to mentoring an emerging movie star.  The similarities between The Color of Money and Creed are quite incredible, and Stallone has to be secretly hoping that he can keep that comparison going.

Actors Who Have Been Nominated for Sequels

This is nearly as short of a list, and one that isn't 100% comprehensive online.  The reality is that Oscar doesn't go much for sequels, but in particular he doesn't like actors in sequels.  Honoring the same actors for the same role is a thing they do at the Emmys, and with the exception of the four above (O'Toole doesn't count here as his films aren't really connected), usually when you're cited for a sequel you weren't nominated initially.  In fact, most of the people nominated for sequels (like Robert de Niro, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Ingrid Bergman) weren't even in the initial movies.  Only Sigourney Weaver and Talia Shire come to mind of actors who got in when they weren't cited for the previous film.  The Golden Globes, actually, are far more likely to cite a sequel.  David Carradine, Johnny Depp, and Michael Douglas, for example, recently were cited for sequels even though they didn't translate over to the Oscars.  Stallone getting nominated here would be pretty damn rare, particularly if the film didn't also score in other acting categories or Best Picture (Weaver in Aliens is the only one I can think of that felt completely solo), so Michael B. Jordan or the film itself may be being underestimated at this point if Stallone feels assured.

Nominees Whose First and Second Acting Nods are More Than 20 Years Apart

While Stallone was nominated not only for acting in Rocky, but also for writing it, he hasn't been nominated in the 39 years since his first nomination.  Were he to be cited for Creed, that would put him in a very elite crew of nominees who waited twenty years or longer to be nominated for a second acting award.  Only eleven actors have actually pulled off the feat, in fact (years apart in parentheses): Henry Fonda (41), Christopher Walken (34), John Wayne (20), Kenneth Branagh (22, though he was nominated in other categories in the meantime so it's questionable whether this should count), Richard Farnsworth (21), Richard Harris (27), Ralph Richardson (35), Max von Sydow (22), James Whitmore (26), Helen Hayes (39), and Lynn Redgrave (32).  As you can see, Stallone would be on the longer end of this club, but that's no guarantee that he would win the second trophy-Wayne and Fonda were the only two actors to have lost the first time and went on to win the second, and though he's a pretty big star Sylvester Stallone is hardly John Wayne or Henry Fonda.  It's also (randomly) worth noting that Stallone, whose gap would put him in second place behind Fonda and tied with Helen Hayes, could potentially not even be the biggest gap this year between first and second nominations, as Lily Tomlin is making a play in Best Actress for Grandma forty years after winning a nod for Nashville.  It should be further noted that, while Walken, Branagh, and von Sydow are all still living, none of these people so far have won a third nomination, so if Stallone wants the win it's now or never.

And there you have it-three tidbits of trivia about Sylvester Stallone's potentially record-breaking bid for a second Oscar nomination in Creed.  Do you think he'll do it?  And do you think he can win?  Share your thoughts below in the comments!

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