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Archive for Sunday, March 25, 2001

Repeat winners are rare on Oscar night

March 25, 2001

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If Tom Hanks were to win the best-actor award tonight for his performance in "Cast Away," he would be the first male performer ever to win three lead-actor Oscars.

How rare are multiple winners?

Katharine Hepburn remains the only performer to have won four times: from "Morning Glory" in 1933 through 1967's "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and 1968's "The Lion in Winter," to "On Golden Pond" in 1981. Given Hepburn's 12 nominations, that represents a success rate of one-third.

Then there's Walter Brennan, who was the first supporting-actor winner, in 1936, and won a second and third time in 1938 and 1940.

Jack Nicholson also has three statuettes, but his 1983 nod for "Terms of Endearment" was as a supporting actor.

Hanks, who won in back-to-back years for "Philadelphia" and "Forrest Gump," in 1993 and 1994, recently quipped that his chances of winning this year are "one in five."

Others who won Oscars in two straight years were Luise Rainer, best actress in 1936 for "The Great Ziegfeld" and again the next year for "The Good Earth."

Jason Robards won best supporting actor in 1976 for "All the President's Men" and 1977 for "Julia."

Some stars, like Jessica Lange, have won in two separate categories: supporting actress for "Tootsie" in 1982 and lead actress for "Blue Sky" in 1994.

Emma Thompson shifted disciplines, taking best actress for "Howards End" in 1992 and best adapted screenplay for "Sense and Sensibility" in 1995.

Those who have won twice in the same category include supporting actress Dianne Wiest for "Hannah and Her Sisters" in 1986 and "Bullets Over Broadway" in 1994. And Wiest's "Hannah" colleague Michael Caine, who won supporting-actor for that film and for last year's "The Cider House Rules."

Caine said the second trophy validated his work in a way the first one didn't. "Better and better people are offering me better and better scripts," said Caine, 68.

Two-time winner Sally Field made a notorious acceptance speech when she was named best actress for the second time, for "Places in the Heart" in 1984. (She also won for "Norma Rae" in 1979.)

"The first time I didn't feel it," she gushed in the speech. Now, "I can't deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you really like me."

Is it possible for repeated mentions to lessen the thrill of the chase?

"I can't imagine getting blase about it," said Emma Thompson. "I think that would be so revolting."

Five of this year's Oscar nominees have a chance to win a second award: Juliette Binoche, Ellen Burstyn, Judi Dench, Frances McDormand and Geoffrey Rush.

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