It isn’t uncommon for a film to earn multiple Oscar nominations in Best Supporting Actor or Best Supporting Actress. Just last year, after all, The Favourite scored noms for both Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz and, the year prior, Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri delivered recognition for Woody Harrelson and the ultimate Supporting Actor winner, Sam Rockwell.
Not since 1971 and The Last Picture Show, however, has a year seen both Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress filled out with multiple noms from the same film. That year, the Peter Bogdanovich film saw Jeff Bridges and Ben Johnson receive nominations in Supporting Actor, while Ellen Burstyn and Cloris Leachman were recognized in Supporting Actress.
This rare phenomenon has been seen only four other times in Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress: in 1959, with Anatomy of a Murder and Imitation of Life; 1957, with Peyton Place in both categories; 1954, with On the Waterfront and The High and the Mighty; and 1939, with Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Gone with the Wind.
This year, two films are viable contenders for multiple bids in these categories – The Irishman in Best Supporting Actor with Al Pacino and Joe Pesci and Bombshell in Best Supporting Actress with Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie. Both films are in the running for a plethora of nominations, including Best Picture, and none of these actors are strangers to the Oscars, with Pacino, Pesci and Kidman all having triumphed and Robbie earning a nom just two years ago for I, Tonya.
That isn’t to say it will be easy for both films to score pairs of nominations. If one of these films is more of a long shot in achieving this feat, it might be, for reasons both historical and due to the nature of this year’s Best Supporting Actor race, The Irishman.
Since the 9th Academy Awards, and the inception of these two categories, a total of 35 pictures have mustered multiple Best Supporting Actress nominations, while only about half that number, 18 films, have produced two or more noms in Best Supporting Actor. Of these nominations, 12 wins were produced in Supporting Actress, while six came in Supporting Actor. From 1992 to 2016, not a single picture scored multiple Supporting Actor nominations, while in every decade at least two films have earned two or more Supporting Actress noms.
Moreover, this year is shaping up to be one of the more chaotic Best Supporting Actor races in recent years, with upwards of 20 performers, including several other past Oscar winners, in serious contention for awards season love. The Best Supporting Actress field, while no slouch, may prove less crowded over the coming months. That Pacino and Pesci haven’t earned Oscar nominations since their wins in 1992 and 1990, respectively, may make the odds of both scoring noms all the longer.
Regardless of what goes down in these two particular categories, and whether they together can make some Oscar history, both The Irishman and Bombshell are well-positioned for a very nice nominations morning.
Andrew Carden is a contributing writer at Gold Derby and writes about all things Oscar on his blog, The Awards Connection. When he’s not on Twitter, lamenting Thelma Ritter’s 0-for-6 record in Best Supporting Actress, Andrew works in Massachusetts politics.