It’s a rare occurrence at the Oscars and it hasn’t happened in over a decade – one actor being nominated in the same year in the lead and supporting categories. To be precise, this has occurred 11 times in the 91 year history of the Academy. Eight women, three men. And if you think this rare honor might lessen the chances of the performer winning, seven of them did. The first four of them emerged victorious for their supporting roles. The last three won for lead.
One of them gets an asterisk and a rather fascinating one for awards trivia buffs. In 1944, Barry Fitzgerald was a double nominee for the same movie! That would be Going My Way. He won for Supporting Actor, but lost out to Bing Crosby in lead. What did Bing win for? Going My Way. After that, the Academy changed their rules so that could never happen again and we didn’t even see another double year individual until almost 40 years later.
That brings us into the modern era when Jessica Lange took gold in Supporting Actress for Tootsie. She came up empty handed in lead for Frances, losing to Meryl Streep (Sophie’s Choice). Somewhat surprisingly, Streep is not one of the 11 designees despite her record setting amount of nods.
1992 saw Al Pacino finally win a statue for his lead part in Scent of a Woman and he was also nominated for Glengarry Glen Ross. The following year, Holly Hunter won for The Piano and got a supporting nod in The Firm. And our last double year winner was Jamie Foxx in 2004 for Ray with supporting recognition for Collateral. Cate Blanchett is currently the last performer with this rare honor. She heard her name called in 2007 for Elizabeth: The Golden Age (lead) and I’m Not There (supporting). She’s won two Oscars, but not that year, despite the double play.
So why write about this now? In 2019, there are two legitimate possibilities for inclusion to this short list. And both of them have decent shots at winning one of the categories. Let’s start with Scarlett Johansson. She’s somehow never been nominated for an Oscar. And with Marriage Story, it seems that streak is going to end. That would fall under lead and she is a contender to win. Yet she could also find herself in the mix in supporting for Jojo Rabbit.
And how about Brad Pitt… who’s been nominated but never won? He’s already achieving front runner status in Supporting Actor for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Could his momentum also propel him to a lead actor nod in Ad Astra? Unlikely perhaps, but it’s feasible.
There are plenty of Oscar years where this double nomination thing isn’t even a realistic proposition. 2019 is a different story.
Here’s the full list of the double nominees:
Fay Bainter: Actress (White Banners), Supporting Actress (Jezebel – WON)
Teresa Wright: Actress (The Pride of the Yankees), Supporting Actress (Mrs. Miniver – WON)
Barry Fitzgerald: Actor (Going My Way), Supporting Actor (Going My Way – WON)
Jessica Lange: Actress (Frances), Supporting Actress (Tootsie – WON)
Sigourney Weaver: Actress (Gorillas in the Mist), Supporting Actress (Working Girl)
Al Pacino: Actor (Scent of a Woman – WON), Supporting Actor (Glengarry Glen Ross)
Holly Hunter: Actress (The Piano – WON), Supporting Actress (The Firm)
Emma Thompson: Actress (The Remains of the Day), Supporting Actress (In the Name of the Father)
Julianne Moore: Actress (Far From Heaven), Supporting Actress (The Hours)
Jamie Foxx: Actor (Ray – WON), Supporting Actor (Collateral)
Cate Blanchett: Actress (Elizabeth: The Golden Age), Supporting Actress (I’m Not There)