One of the most fun types of Oscar trivia involves people who are Oscar nominees for categories you wouldn’t associate with them. For example, Lars Von Trier is an Oscar nominee for Best Original Song (“Dancer In The Dark”); Owen Wilson is an Oscar nominee for Best Original Screenplay (“The Royal Tenenbaums”); Danny DeVito is an Oscar nominee for producing a Best Picture nominee (“Erin Brockovich”).
This year, there is no shortage of possible additions to this line of Oscar trivia. From short films to animated features to original songs, here are some of the well-known names who could end up nominated for categories you don’t typically associate with them.
There is a long history of Actors producing Best Picture nominees and winners. Brad Pitt was already an Oscar winner for producing “12 Years A Slave” well before he won an acting Oscar for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” as was Michael Douglas for producing “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” years before winning the Oscar for “Wall Street.” Similarly, many actors have found their way to the Oscars by directing or producing a short film. It’s how we have Oscar nominees Jeff Goldblum and Sean Astin, not to mention Oscar Winner Riz Ahmed.
With the Oscars’ tendency to avoid nominating purely comedic performances, the odds of Jack Black securing an Oscar nomination for his acting aren’t great unless he pursues a dramatic role. Jack Black is so aware of this fact that he sang a song about it at the Oscars one year. However, as any Tenacious D fan knows, Jack Black is a talented songwriter. This year, he wrote the original song “Peaches” for “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” Black also performs the song as the film’s villain, Bowser. Although the film itself is unlikely to break into a competitive Best Animated Feature Oscar lineup, Universal is making a concerted push to get the song nominated. If the song is nominated, Black, as one of the song’s credited writers, would receive an Oscar nomination.
Alden Ehrenreich has had a comeback this year. Playing the lead in the unsuccessful “Solo: A Star Wars Story” Star Wars prequel derailed Ehrenreich’s momentum for a time. Still, with acclaimed turns in “Fair Play” and “Oppenheimer,” people have remembered how talented he is. However, 2023 could become more significant for Ehrenreich’s career than people imagine. He directed and starred in an Oscar-qualifying short film this year called “Shadow Brother Sunday,” premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival this summer to solid reviews. The fact that Francis Ford Coppola produces it surely can’t hurt its chances of getting a nomination.
Like Jack Black, despite many iconic comedic performances, Will Ferrell’s brand of comedic performances rarely get Oscar love. Like Black, Ferrell knows this. He was up there at the Oscars singing about how comedic performances are ignored. However, Ferrell has had a prolific career behind the camera as a producer. He produced films alongside Adam McKay for years, including McKay’s Best Picture-nominated “Vice” (But Ferrell wasn’t nominated because he didn’t receive the PGA mark on the film). Ferrell and McKay have since parted ways, and Ferrell has begun producing an eclectic array of films, including “The Menu” and now Todd Haynes’s “May December.” The latter is rapidly gathering steam as a potential Best Picture nominee. And though the PGA has not yet determined who will receive the PGA mark, thereby deciding which of the film’s producers will be on the Oscar ticket, Ferrell may be one of the nominated producers (if the film makes it on the Best Picture roster). Natalie Portman is also one of the film’s producers. Unlike Ferrell, she is also in contention for a nomination for starring in the film. However, given the competitive field in Best Actress, she may have a better chance of being nominated as part of the Best Picture ticket.
Most would say that David Oyelowo should have already been an Oscar nominee for his Golden Globe-nominated turn as Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma.” The Academy can remedy that omission by nominating “The After,” the Netflix-backed short that Oyelowo produces and stars in.
Although Margot Robbie is fighting against a competitive Best Actress field this year, there is a good chance that she still comes out of 2023 with another Oscar nomination to her name. An increasingly prolific producer, Robbie was left off the nomination ticket when she produced the Best Picture nominated “Promising Young Woman,” as she didn’t receive the PGA mark on the film. This year, Robbie produced both “Barbie” and “Saltburn” and received the PGA mark for both. Although a Best Picture nomination for “Saltburn” is a long shot, “Barbie” is an almost sure thing.
Like Jack Black and Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen will struggle to be nominated for his onscreen comedic turns. As “Steve Jobs” and “The Fabelmans” have shown, Rogen is increasingly willing to pursue more dramatic onscreen roles. Rogen may end up as an acting nominee for something if he continues taking those sorts of roles. However, in the meantime, Rogen’s producing career could land him his first nomination. Like Ferrell, Rogen has been producing films for some time, including “The Disaster Artist” and “Joy Ride.” However, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” which Rogen also wrote, is the first to give Rogen a real shot at a nomination. Although the Best Animated Feature race is competitive, there likely is a space for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” And if there is, it’ll bring Rogen along for the ride.
Oprah Winfrey received her first Oscar nomination for starring in the Original “The Color Purple” nearly 40 years ago. She subsequently produced the stage musical adaptation of the film that is the basis for the 2023 “The Color Purple.” She has remained involved at every step of the adaptation and received the PGA mark accordingly. She previously was nominated as a producer of the Best Picture nominated “Selma.” If “The Color Purple” is nominated, this will be her third nomination.
As with actors, many directors have ended up with Oscar nominations for producing other people’s films. Edward Zwick, director of “Glory” and “Blood Diamond,” is an Oscar winner. Not for anything he directed but for producing “Shakespeare in Love.” Ryan Coogler wasn’t included on the “Black Panther” ticket but was nominated two years later for producing “Judas and the Black Messiah.”
Additionally, like actors, many notable feature directors have ended up with Oscar nominations or wins for short films, including Taika Waititi, Andrea Arnold, and Martin McDonagh, to name a few. However, these nominations are often earlier in a director’s career. This year, the live-action short category could net several established feature directors a nomination or win.
Wes Anderson has been nominated for seven Oscars but has never quite been able to close the deal on a win. Now, his star-studded, Netflix-backed Roald Dahl adaptation might change that. With a cast that includes the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, and Dev Patel and strong reviews, if “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” gets nominated, it is a real chance to get Anderson his eighth nomination and his first win.
John Carney has directed one film that won the Oscar for Best Song (“Once”) and another that was nominated for Best Song (“Begin Again”), but he was never nominated as a director, screenwriter, or songwriter for either of them. This time, Carney is a credited writer on the songs in the music-heavy Sundance hit “Flora And Son.” If AppleTV+ gets one of the songs nominated, it will be Carney’s first nomination.
Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón already received an Oscar nomination for producing last year’s Live-Action Short nominee, “Le Pupille.” This year, he’s back, producing a crowd-pleasing Disney+ short, “The Shepherd,” that stars John Travolta. The short film is directed by Iain Softley, known for directing “The Wings of the Dove” and “Hackers.” If the short is nominated, both would be on the ticket.
Jared Hess, best known for directing “Napoleon Dynamite” and “Nacho Libre,” has never come anywhere near the Oscars. However, he co-directed the Oscar-qualifying animated short, “Ninety-Five Senses,” which features the voice of Tim-Blake Nelson and has been selected by 17 Oscar-qualifying film festivals around the world, winning awards at Animation Dingle in Ireland (Best International Professional Short), the Guadalajara International Film Festival in Mexico (Rigo Mora Special Jury Award) and the Flickers Rhode Island Film Festival (First Prize, Best Short Animation). It stands a real chance at a Best Animated Short nomination.
Paul King may well get a directing Oscar nomination one day, given the skill on display in his “Paddington” films. “Wonka,” which he also directs, unfortunately, won’t be the film to do it. However, it boasts several original songs by King that have pretty good chances of being nominated.
Steven Spielberg shows no sign of slowing down as he ages. He remains a prolific director and producer, having received seven Oscar nominations in the past decade. Even without directing a film this year, he could end up with two nominations for producing “The Color Purple” and “Maestro,” both of which he received the PGA mark for, securing his spot on the nomination ticket. This would not be Spielberg’s first nomination for producing a film he didn’t direct: He previously did so for “Letters from Iwo Jima.”
Kris Bowers is one of our most prolific film composers. In 2023 alone, he scored for film and TV with “Chevalier,” “The Color Purple,” “Origin,” “Queen Charlotte,” and “Secret Invasion.” He has already received one Oscar nomination, but notably, not for composing (even though he provided the scores for the Oscar-winning “Green Book” and “King Richard“). Instead, Bowers received his first nomination for co-directing the documentary short, “A Concerto is a Conversation.” Bowers is back in the director chair again this year with “The Last Repair Shop,” another music-filled documentary short. While none of his scores may end up with Oscar nominations this year, it is entirely possible he still ends up with a second Oscar nomination this year.
Quincy Jones is a legend of music. Despite having been nominated for seven Oscars, including for composing for “In Cold Blood,” “The Wiz,” and the original “The Color Purple.” Like Oprah Winfrey, he has remained involved with “The Color Purple” as it transitioned to the stage and has received the PGA mark for producing this adaptation. If it is nominated for Best Picture, he will receive his eighth nomination.
Do you think any of these Oscar nominations will happen? Which one would you like to see the most? What are your predictions for the Oscar shortlists tomorrow? Please let us know in the comments section below or on Next Best Picture’s Twitter account. Also, please check out their latest Oscar predictions here and the 2023 precursor awards tally here.