Double Trouble for Foxx's Oscar Quest?


Feb. 4, 2005 — -- Congratulations, Jamie Foxx, you've joined a handful of actors nominated for two Oscars in a single year. Now, are you ready for the bad news?

Nine other actors have been double nominees, and none of them won twice. But, wait, Mr. Foxx, the numbers are even grimmer.

Three of the last five double nominees were doubly disappointed on Oscar night -- losing in both categories.

In fact, even when double nominees do win, these two-timers more often take the lesser prize of supporting actor honors.

One more thing: As you often hear in commercials for mutual funds, "Past performance is no indication of future value." The same holds true for double Oscar nominees. Five of the nine two-timers were never again nominated for an Academy Award.

Foxx certainly has a lot to be proud of this year. Nominated as best actor for "Ray," he's also up for the best supporting actor Oscar for his work in "Collateral."

His portrayal of Ray Charles in "Ray" is amazing, and only more impressive when you consider that this Juilliard-trained piano player performed all the music, in a note-for-note homage to the music legend.

So what if Foxx didn't sing? He's also far and away the best part of "Collateral," playing a hijacked cab driver forced to take hit man Tom Cruise on the ride of his life.

Oscar night might be just as harrowing for Foxx. Here's a look at how nine previous double nominees have faired.

Fay Bainter in 1939

They say the best measure of supporting actors is that they make the lead actors look good. For double nominees, however, that's often a bittersweet skill, since they are helping the people they end up competing against.

Bainter, the first double nominee, won best supporting actress for "Jezebel," a film in which Bette Davis gave a career-defining performance as a tempestuous Southern belle. Bainter, 47, played the aunt who's mortified by her niece's scandalous behavior.

Bainter could have also won as best actress. She was nominated for "White Banners," in which she played a woman who takes a job as a housekeeper so that she can spy on the child she bore out of wedlock and gave up for adoption. Bainter earned acclaim for "White Banners," but Davis took home the Oscar.

Bainter wouldn't be nominated again until 1961, for her performance in "The Children's Hour."

Teresa Wright in 1943

Modern Hollywood may value youth, but few of today's over-achieving stars can match the early success of Teresa Wright, who earned Oscar nominations in her first three films, all before her 25th birthday. She played opposite Bette Davis in "Little Foxes," portrayed Lou Gehrig's wife in "The Pride of the Yankees" and took on a supporting role in the wartime classic "Mrs. Miniver."

"Mrs. Miniver" lorded over the 1943 Oscars show, and it was for more than poor Greer Garson, who won best actress for her role as the title character. Garson set the all-time record that year for long-winded acceptance speeches when she came to the podium to accept the award and rambled for seven long minutes.

Think of all the Oscar jokes that would have been lost if Wright had beat Garson with her portrayal of Eleanor Gehrig, the feisty but devoted wife of the baseball legend ravaged by a rare neurological disease.

Instead, Wright was honored for her turn as the young aristocrat who falls in love with Mrs. Miniver's son, despite the protestations of her crotchety grandmother, Lady Beldon. The actress, now 86, went on to appear in another 25 films. But after her blazing start, she never earned another Academy Award nomination.

Barry Fitzgerald in 1945

In one of the greatest quirks in Academy Award history, Irish character actor Barry Fitzgerald was nominated as both best actor and best supporting actor for the same role -- the crusty old priest in "Going My Way."

Another star of "Going My Way," Bing Crosby, eventually won for best actor. But Fitzgerald's double nomination spurred the academy to change nominating rules, making it impossible for anyone to repeat this feat.

Fitzgerald won as best supporting actor, but even then, the gods of irony smiled upon him. Because World War II was still raging and metal was scarce, Oscar statues that year were made of plaster. Fitzgerald accidentally broke his statue while practicing his golf swing. The Motion Picture Academy charged him $10 for a replacement.

Fitzgerald remained active as an actor, but passed away in 1961 without earning another nomination.

Jessica Lange in 1983

Jessica Lange began her film career as a punch line, starring opposite a 40-foot gorilla in the much-derided 1976 remake of "King Kong." But by 1983, she had redefined herself as an actor's actor, and cemented that reputation with a pair of Oscar nominations.

Interestingly, in both performances, Lange was portraying an actress, though the roles could hardly be more different.

In "Frances," Lange played the troubled Frances Farmer, who came to Hollywood in the late 1930s with expectations of glory, only to be committed to a mental institution after several drunken, violent episodes.

In "Tootsie," Lange took a comic turn as a soap opera star who is unaware that her supporting actress and new best friend is actually a man, and he's falling in love with her.

One could argue that Dustin Hoffman should have competed among the actresses that year. "Tootsie" earned 10 Academy Award nominations, but took home only one prize, with Lange winning as supporting actress. Her victory was hardly certain. She was competing against fellow cast member Teri Garr, who played Hoffman's friend.

In the race for best picture, Lange hardly had a chance to win. She was going up against Meryl Streep, who delivered perhaps her finest performance in "Sophie's Choice."

Lange has since earned four more nominations, winning again 12 years later, this time as best actress for her work in "Blue Sky."

Sigourney Weaver in 1988

Sigourney Weaver has the dubious honor of being the first double nominee to go home with nothing, despite two strong performances. She was up for best actress for her role as Dian Fossey, the writer who lives among the apes in "Gorillas in the Mist." She was competing in the supporting category for playing the power-hungry boss in "Working Girl."

Weaver, indeed, faced tough competition in both races. In the best actress category, she faced fellow "Working Girl" Melanie Griffith in addition to Glenn Close ("Dangerous Liaisons"), Meryl Streep ("A Cry in the Dark") and the eventual winner, Jodie Foster, who played a rape victim in "The Accused."

Weaver probably had a better chance to win as a supporting actress. But support for her may have been split by Joan Cusack, who was also nominated for "Working Girl." If that were the case -- and we'll never know because voting is kept secret -- then Geena Davis may have been the accidental winner for "The Accidental Tourist."

Weaver had been previously nominated for "Aliens" in 1986, but she hasn't been nominated since.

Al Pacino in 1993

Al Pacino was on his way to rivaling Martin Scorsese as a hard-luck nominee. Up to this point, he was a six-time Oscar night loser, including two losses as Michael Corleone in the first and second installments of "The Godfather" saga.

But all that changed for Pacino with his "wo-ha!" performance as a blind, suicidal retired Army officer in "Scent of a Woman." Pacino topped Clint Eastwood ("Unforgiven"), Denzel Washington ("Malcolm X"), Stephen Rea ("The Crying Game") and Robert Downey Jr. ("Chaplin") to win best actor.

Still, Pacino's cutthroat real estate salesman in "Glengarry Glen Ross" was outgunned by Gene Hackman, who won best supporting actor for "Unforgiven."

In the years since becoming a two-timer, Pacino has failed to earn another nomination. On the bright side, few people remember his cameo performance in "Gigli."

Holly Hunter and Emma Thompson in 1994

Oscar had his first double-double in 1994, when Holly Hunter and Emma Thompson faced each other in both the best actress and the best supporting actress categories.

Between the two, Hunter turned out to be the only winner, taking best actress honors for "The Piano" while her 12-year-old co-star, Anna Paquin, became the second-youngest nominee ever to win as best supporting actress.

That year, Hunter was also nominated for her supporting role in the John Grisham thriller, "The Firm." She wasn't nominated again until last year, for "Thirteen."

Despite her performances in "The Remains of the Day" and "In the Name of the Father," Thompson joined Weaver in the double losers club.

As a form of vindication, however, Thompson became a double-nominee once again in 1996 for "Sense and Sensibility," earning Oscar consideration as a screenwriter and lead actress. She won for best adapted screenplay.

Julianne Moore in 2003

In both "The Hours," and "Far From Heaven," Moore plays very unhappy homemakers, and she had reason to go home unhappy on Oscar night, becoming the third double-nominee to go home empty-handed.

These days, it's very difficult to distinguish the difference between which performances should qualify as a leading role or supporting role for Oscar consideration. That was especially true in "The Hours," where an ensemble including Moore, Streep and Nicole Kidman gave strong performances.

Here's how voting works: Actors who are members of the academy are simply handed a ballot with five blank spots in each acting category. If an actor gets votes in more than one acting categories -- like Fitzgerald in 1945 -- officials simply count only the category in which that actor receives the most votes.

Studios attempt to steer Oscar voters by advertising heavily and urging those who pick nominees to fill out their ballot in a particular way.

In "The Hours," Streep and Moore actually have slightly more screen time than Kidman. But Miramax and Paramount, which co-produced the film, pushed Kidman as a best actress nominee, perhaps figuring her role as writer Virginia Woolf gave her the best chance of winning.

The studios may also have figured that Moore and Streep would get attention for other roles. Indeed, Moore earned a nomination for "Far From Heaven," in which she played a suburban housewife in the 1950s, coping with her husband's latent homosexuality. But in the end, she lost to her "Hours" castmate Kidman.

In the race for best supporting actress, Moore lost again, this time to Catherine Zeta-Jones, who played a singing gangster's moll in "Chicago."

Moore has yet to be nominated again, and is 0-for-4 on Oscar night.

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