The best picture prize is what every studio and filmmaker covets, whether they publicly admit it or not. But, of course, it would help if you had the star power to make it happen. Oscar winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett both have proven that they have said star power with the amount of best picture nominees (and winners) they’ve appeared in over their careers. With DiCaprio starring in “Don’t Look Up” alongside Blanchett, who is co-starring in another awards vehicle, “Nightmare Alley,” both stand a solid chance of getting close to — or possibly breaking — a record.
This year, Blanchett’s double feature outings could have her breaking a significant record for female actors. The two-time Oscar-winning actress currently has had a role in seven former Academy nominees: “Elizabeth” (1998), “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy (2001, 2002, 2003), “The Aviator” (2004), “Babel” (2006) and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008). She’s currently tied with eight other women who have the same distinction: Beulah Bondi, Gladys Cooper, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Deborah Kerr, Elsa Lanchester, Meryl Streep and Elizabeth Taylor. Only “Gone with the Wind” star Olivia de Havilland has more credited roles with eight. With two shots at the goal this year — Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up” and Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” — she could either tie or surpass de Havilland’s long-held record, thus making Oscars history.
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A fun fact to recall is her “Don’t Look Up” co-star DiCaprio was once attached to “Nightmare Alley” before dropping out and being replaced by actor and producer Bradley Cooper. So essentially, we could have had two Leo-Cate vehicles this year. McKay’s satirical comedy marks their second outing following Martin Scorsese’s “The Aviator,” which Blanchett won supporting actress for playing, coincidentally, Katharine Hepburn. DiCaprio was also nominated and would ultimately win for the revenge-thriller “The Revenant” (2015), the same year Blanchett was nominated again for “Carol,” which was snubbed for best picture and would have tied the record she now seeks.
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DiCaprio has appeared in nine nominees, the same number as Gary Cooper, Tom Hanks, William Holden and Spencer Tracy. Despite the critical divide for the Netflix feature from co-writer and director Adam McKay, it’s performed very well on the awards circuit, with nods at the Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice Awards in the top categories. If the film receives a nomination for best picture, DiCaprio will tie three-time Oscar-winner Jack Nicholson, who’s appeared in 10 best picture nominees. He’ll only be second to two-time Oscar-winner Robert De Niro, who holds the record with 11 films, beginning with “The Godfather Part II” (1974) up to “The Irishman” and “Joker” (2019).
What’s most interesting about these two climbing the charts is that their future slates with acclaimed filmmakers will likely continue the trend over the next few years.
DiCaprio is re-teaming with Scorsese on two of his upcoming projects, “The Killers of the Flower Moon” for Apple Original Films and “Roosevelt” for Paramount Pictures. In addition, Blanchett has a lot on her plate with upcoming roles in Pedro Almodóvar’s “A Manual for Cleaning Women,” his first English-language feature, which she will also produce. She’ll also appear in “TÁR” from Todd Field, “Pinocchio” from Guillermo del Toro and “Borderlands” from Eli Roth, with another possible project in the works, Francis Ford Coppola’s “Megalopolis,” which she’s been rumored to be circling alongside Oscar Isaac and Zendaya.
It’s important to note that many of these long-held records are based on technicalities dealing with acting credits during the golden age of Hollywood. Bess Flowers and Ward Bond technically appeared in more Oscar nominees with 23 and 13 films, respectively. In the case of Flowers, all her appearances were uncredited, while Bond has five that didn’t bear his name.
For best picture winners, the classic vaudevillian actor Franklyn Farnum, who appeared in over 1,000 films, holds the record for appearing in seven of the Academy’s top picks: “The Life of Emile Zola” (1937), “Going My Way” (1944), “The Lost Weekend” (1945), “Gentleman’s Agreement” (1947), “All About Eve” (1950), “The Greatest Show on Earth” (1952) and “Around the World in 80 Days” (1956).
We’ll see if the Blanchett and DiCaprio awards momentum can continue. Oscars voting opens on Thursday.
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