Will Ridley Scott be the oldest nominated director?

Singer Lady Gaga performs the national anthem during the 59th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, DC on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 (Photo Credit: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times / TNS / Courtesy Photo)

Directors can be seen as longshots until they start to appear on multiple lineups of nominations at various awards shows. Four-time Oscar nominee Ridley Scott is one of the greatest living filmmakers to ever win an Oscar, despite one of his films winning Best Picture. However, with two distinct characteristics this year—Gucci House and The last duel– Scott’s influence in the industry and his late narrative could lead him to one historic nomination (or maybe two?).

Scott turned 84 on November 30 and if he does manage to be nominated for the directorial position, he will surpass John Huston as the oldest nominee in the history of the category. Huston was 79 when he was nominated for Honor of Prizzi (1985). No filmmaker was ever nominated in the ’80s, although this conversation will certainly return next year for Martin Scorsese. Moon Flower Killers.

A respected Hollywood veteran, Scott’s career spans over 40 years, with classics such as Alien (1979) and Blade runner (1982). His history with the Academy has been fascinating to analyze on a macro level. Her first nod as a director came for the female road movie Thelma & Louise (1991). Debuting out of competition at Cannes, the film was a summer release and a box office hit. It also serves as the final film with two great ladies, Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, both recognized as Best Actresses. He got another nod for the war movie Black hawk down (2001), but its closest gold moment was a year earlier with Gladiator (2000).

Scott is one of the few filmmakers in history to combine critical prestige and mainstream box office with Russell Crowe’s film. A summer film that caught the attention of the general public, it won five Oscars for Best Picture, Actor (Crowe), Sound (Scott Millan, Bob Beemer, Ken Weston), Costumes (Janty Yates ) and visual effects (John Nelson, Neil Corbould, Tim Burke, Rob Harvey). So how did Scott lose the directing award? What’s interesting is that in hindsight, his loss is not surprising. He hasn’t won any essential precursor like the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, DGA or BAFTA.

Plus, he would end up losing to Steven Soderbergh, the last person to be doubly nominated for directing two films, which Scott’s campaign team surely wants to emulate this season. Soderbergh has been selected for Erin Brockovitch and won for Traffic. The only other double nominated filmmaker was Michael Curtiz, nominated for Angels with dirty faces (1938) and four girls.

The polarization of Scott’s two current films will indeed present obstacles. Yet at this point in the other respective awards seasons, I don’t think many experts have judged Todd Phillips (Joker), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw ridge) or Terrence Malick (Tree of life) final contenders for the race. Perception may be reality, but the narrative that The last duel is critically divided has occupied the conversations around him. However, with an admirable 86 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, why are so many of us canceling the 20th Century Studios movie? With stellar performances from stars Jodie Comer and Ben Affleck, the two could be one of those seemingly “dead in the water” contenders coming back in full force for the first half of the precursor season (i.e. Emily Blunt in The girl on the train or Daniel Bruhl in To rush).

The reactions for her outing with Lady Gaga on Gucci House are everywhere, but official reviews won’t fall until November 22, two days before its theatrical release. Does this mean United Artists Releasing and MGM distributors can expect a lower number than expected? Likely, or maybe at this point, a massive box office will cover any critical division for crime drama. The savvy campaign arguably puts Gaga at # 1 for Best Actresses, along with supporting actor Jared Leto, costumes and makeup.

The narrative of late directors usually doesn’t quite resonate with award-seekers like actors do. It was a bit present when Scott crossed out The Martian (2015), but that was not enough to prevent Alejandro G. Inarritu from winning two consecutive statues. The social media and industry campaign for the Martin Scorsese Oscar has grown dramatically with New York gangs (2002), and led to another name for The aviator (2004) and finally to his first Oscar victory for The dead (2006), which was awarded to him by his “three friends” – Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, one of the best Oscar-winning moments in modern history. This type of campaign doesn’t happen too much anymore.

In 93 years of Oscars, countless authors have never made it to the Oscar podium. For example, Orson Welles, who directed Citizen Kane (1941), which many consider the greatest film ever to be made, left the world without an Oscar in hand. Coincidentally, he lost his Kane Oscar to John Ford for How green was my valley which marked his third (of his possible four) career victories.

Add in other masters of cinema like Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Lumet, and Stanley Kubrick, and you may be shocked at the list of names that never made their trip to the Oscar scene.

If this year doesn’t work out for Sir Ridley Scott, maybe it’s time to present him with an Honorary Oscar.


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