Parallel Oscars? How the 1953 Ceremony Could Forecast Wins for Nicole Kidman, ‘Dune’ and ‘Belfast’

You can find strange similarities between almost any two years for Oscar prognosticating. Just days away from the 28th Screen Actors Guild Awards and three weeks out from BAFTA and Critics Choice ceremonies, there are odd correlations between this year’s crop of nominees and the ceremony that rewarded the 1952 cinematic year.

Denis Villeneuve’s omission from best director for the sci-fi drama “Dune” was the most shocking when Oscar nominations were announced. Nevertheless, the film landed 10 nominations, including best picture, adapted screenplay and every technical category, the sixth film in history to achieve this feat.

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In the current Oscar projections, the Warner Bros. adaptation of the famous series is projected to win anywhere between three and eight statuettes. However, if it manages to pick up more than five, it will surpass “The Bad and the Beautiful” (1952) as the most awarded film that was not nominated for best director.

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At the 25th Academy Awards, the classic film from Vincente Minnelli made history when it won five of its six nominations — supporting actress for Gloria Grahame, writing (screenplay), and three artisan categories when they were divided between color and black-and-white (cinematography, art direction-set direction and costume design). It lost best actor for Kirk Douglas. The last film that’s come the closest to achieving this was James Cameron’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991), which picked up four of its six noms.

However, even if “Dune” did surpass its record, the melodrama would still hold the record for the most awarded film not nominated for best picture.

Another eerie correlation to the 1953 ceremony was that until “Spotlight” (2015), it was the last ceremony where the best picture winner went home with only two Oscars. Fred Zinnemann’s highly-regarded western “High Noon” was heavily favored to win the top prize of the night, losing to Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Could we see another twofer with “Belfast” perhaps winning original screenplay?

Fifty-four years old at the time, Shirley Booth won best actress for “Come Back, Little Sheba,” becoming the first woman in her 50s to win the category. The second wouldn’t come until Julianne Moore, also 54, won for “Still Alice” (2014). Following her lead actress drama win at the Golden Globes and never awarded a SAG prize for film, Nicole Kidman, a nominee for playing Lucille Ball in “Being the Ricardos,” is 54 years old. She’s contending at the Oscars against first-time nominee Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”), three-time nominee Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”) and former winners Penélope Cruz (“Parallel Mothers”) and Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”).

Lastly, the major winners of the 1953 celebration for picture, director, and all four acting categories went to six different films: “The Greatest Show on Earth” (picture), John Ford for “The Quiet Man” (director), Gary Cooper for “High Noon” (actor), Booth (actress), Anthony Quinn for “Viva Zapata!” (supporting actor) and Grahame (supporting actress). This was a first in Oscar history. Since then, it’s only happened three other times:

  • 29th Oscars (for 1956): “Around the World in 80 Days” (picture), George Stevens for “Giant” (director), Yul Brynner for “The King and I” (actor), Ingrid Bergman for “Anastasia” (actress), Anthony Quinn for “Lust for Life” (supporting actor) and Dorothy Malone for “Written on the Wind” (supporting actress)

  • 78th Oscars (for 2005): “Crash” (picture), Ang Lee for “Brokeback Mountain” (director), Philip Seymour Hoffman for “Capote” (actor), Reese Witherspoon for “Walk the Line” (actress), George Clooney for “Syriana” (supporting actor) and Rachel Weisz for “The Constant Gardener” (supporting actress)

  • 85th Oscars (for 2012): “Argo” (picture), Ang Lee for “Life of Pi” (director), Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln” (actor), Jennifer Lawrence for “Silver Linings Playbook” (actress), Christoph Waltz for “Django Unchained” (supporting actor) and Anne Hathaway for “Les Misérables” (supporting actress)

Could it happen again this year with so many categories in flux? The film with the best shot at winning multiple categories is “The Power of the Dog” in picture, director for Jane Campion and supporting actor for Kodi Smit-McPhee. However, if “Belfast” tops it in picture and someone like Troy Kotsur pulls off an upset (he’s a solid contender to win the SAG Award this weekend), we could see the fifth occurrence.

Coincidentally, Mexican actor Quinn became the second Latino to win an acting award, two years after José Ferrer won lead actor for “Cyrano de Bergerac” (1950), and was also nominated the same night as Quinn for “Moulin Rouge” in best actor. This year, Ariana DeBose looks to become the second Latina ever to win an acting award after Rita Moreno won supporting actress for the original “West Side Story” (1961).

All of these items could just further play into the wide-open narrative we see in multiple races or it could be some context clues about who will win the big awards.

Final Oscar voting opens on March 15.

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