When the Oscar nominations were announced on January 10, nothing prepared us for the fact that the seemingly innocuous Silver Linings Playbook would make history by becoming the first movie in 31 years to receive nominations in all acting categories. This event has become a true novelty which occurs just once or twice every decade (it occurred nine times between 1942 and 1967, resulting in only two movies almost pulling off the hat trick winning three awards each) and most films associated with this achievement have become regarded as true classics.
Even when nominations for Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro were almost a given from the start of the season (one’s a star making performance, the other’s a return to form for an actor who’s been sleep acting for the past fifteen years) Bradley Cooper had remained on the sidelines for a while because he didn’t seem as impressive as say John Hawkes in The Sessions or Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables. Most surprising of all however was Jackie Weaver’s nomination, the Australian actress had earned prominence Stateside with her devastating performance as a criminal matriarch in Animal Kingdom and perhaps voters were keen to write her name down one more time because her sweet Dolores Solitano in Playbook is nothing like the monstrous Janine of Kingdom.
Before discussing the movie more, let’s take a look back at the films which in the last two decades could’ve realistically achieved nominations in all categories but failed to do so:
1987 — Moonstruck
The movie Silver Linings Playbook is compared to the most — because they are both brilliant romantic comedies helmed by respected directors — earned Academy Awards for Cher and Olympia Dukakis and a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Vincent Gardenia. It missed out on Best Actor though, with a then unknown Nicolas Cage not turning his Golden Globe nomination into an Oscar nod.
1997 — As Good As It Gets
Ten years after Norman Jewison’s romantic classic, James L. Brooks delivered what until Silver Linings Playbook remained the last contemporary romantic comedy (Alexander Payne’s movies can’t really be called rom-coms, right?) to earn high profile Academy Award nominations. The movie was among the few to win Actor and Actress Oscars, with Supporting Actor Greg Kinnear receiving his first nomination. Both Lupe Ontiveros and Shirley Knight received Supporting Actress mentions from other organizations.
1998 — Shakespeare in Love
Joseph Fiennes’ snub for the Best Actor Oscar remains one of the most shocking in recent years, given he received nominations from SAG, BAFTA and the Golden Globe. His movie also resulted to be the most nominated that year and he plays the title character. When you come to think of it though, just a year before AMPAS had notoriously snubbed Leonardo DiCaprio for his turn in Titanic and in 98 they snubbed Jim Carrey for his wonderful turn in The Truman Show. There’s not much of a pattern to follow here given that even if the Oscars are often thought of as being anti-comedy, Shakespeare in Love is among the very few true comedies that have won the top prize. Perhaps they just weren’t feeling the Fiennes love at all.
1999 — American Beauty
Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening were frontrunners for the Oscar from the moment the movie was released; however a few other organizations — like BAFTA who went cuckoo over the film — paid attention to the brilliant turns offered by the much younger supporting cast which included Thora Birch, Mena Suvari and Wes Bentley. Arguably the Oscars offered their two strongest Supporting Actor and Actress lineups in decades in 99, which makes the snubs all the more understandable.
2002 — Chicago
This one was another head scratcher given that everyone thought Richard Gere had a Best Actor nomination in the bag after winning the Golden Globe and being nominated for the SAG. All of his co-stars received nominations but in Oscar’s defense the 2002 Actor lineup was strikingly brilliant.
Silver Linings Playbook has been touted to have a great chance at winning the Best Actress Award for Jennifer Lawrence and history might be on the movie’s side since out of the 14 which have been nominated in all categories, 12 have received at least one award (only My Man Godfrey and Sunset Blvd. failed to win any).
Do you think the movie deserved all of its nominations? If so, which ones do you think it should win?