If “Argo” wins Best Picture as Oscar prognosticators are predicting after its sweep of the DGA and SAG awards, it won’t be the first time a film won without having its director nominated. Granted, it’s rare: The last time was in 1989, with “Driving Miss Daisy.”
However, there are other ways that the 85th Academy Awards, which will be held on February 24, might set several Oscar firsts.
1. If Daniel Day-Lewis wins Best Actor, he will be the only actor to have won three Oscars in this category. Jack Nicholson is currently the Oscar record holder with three wins, but one of those was for Best Supporting Actor (for 1983’s “Terms of Endearment.”)
3. If Emmanuelle Riva wins Best Actress for “Amour,” she will be the oldest Best Actress winner in history. At 85, she’s already set a record as the oldest Best Actress nominee. Jessica Tandy, who won for “Driving Miss Daisy” when she was 80, was the previous record holder.
4. Nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) has also set a record as the youngest Best Actress nominee, so if she wins, she will also go into the record books. The youngest Best Actress winner is still Marlee Matlin for “Children of a Lesser God,” who was 21 when she won. (This year’s frontrunner in the category, Jennifer Lawrence, is 22.) Wallis would also be only the second black actress to win Best Actress, after Halle Berry in 2001.
5. If “Beasts” director Benh Zeitlin (who’s 30) wins, he’ll be the youngest Best Director winner in history. However, he’s not the youngest nominee ever: that was John Singleton, who was nominated for “Boyz in the Hood” when he was 24. The youngest winner was Norman Taurog, who was 32 when he took the prize in 1931 for Skippy.
6. Day-Lewis could become the first actor to win for playing an American president.
Raymond Massey was nominated for his portrayal of Honest Abe in 1940’s “Lincoln in Illinois” but acting legend Henry Fonda wasn’t nominated for 1939’s “Young Mr. Lincoln.” Anthony Hopkins was nominated for playing Richard Nixon (“Nixon”), as was Frank Langella (“Frost/Nixon”). Hopkins was also nominated (as Best Supporting Actor) for playing former president John Quincy Adams in “Amistad.” And in the fictitious presidential Oscar race, there was Peter Sellers as President Merkin Muffley (one of his many roles in “Dr. Strangelove”) and Jeff Bridges as President Jackson Evans in “The Contender.”
7. Likewise, if Sally Field wins Best Supporting Actress, it’ll be the first win for an actress who played a First Lady. Joan Allen was previously nominated for her role as Pat Nixon in Oliver Stone’s “Nixon.”
8. If all four acting nominees from “The Silver Linings Playbook” win, it would be the first time in Oscar history. Out of the few films to score a full house of acting nominations, “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Network” each won in three categories. If none of “The Silver Linings Playbook” cast wins, they will join “Sunset Blvd.” and “My Man Godfrey” in being 0 for 4.
9. If Denzel Washington wins for Best Actor, he will be the first black actor to have won two Oscars in that category. With his nomination for “Flight,” Washington has already set an Oscar record: He now has six nominations and two wins, more than any other African-American actor in the Academy’s history.
10. If “Amour” wins Best Picture, it would be the first film in the French language to do so. “The Artist” was French-produced and directed, but when the actors did speak, it was in English. The same with Best Picture nominee “The Pianist” (which won Best Actor for Adrien Brody and Best Director for Roman Polanski): it was produced in France, but the actors primarily spoke English. “Amour” is more likely to win Best Foreign Film. It is also nominated for Best Director, Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay.
11. If “Frankenweenie” wins Best Animated Feature, it will be the first time a stop-motion film that isn’t claymation or from Aardman Studios has won. Tim Burton’s “Corpse Bride” was nominated in 2006, but lost to Aardman’s “Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.”
12. If “Brave” wins Best Animated Feature, co-director Brenda Chapman will be the first woman to win in this category.
BONUS: If Robert De Niro wins Best Supporting Actor, he will just miss setting an Oscar record. He won in the same category for 1974’s “The Godfather, Part II,” but the 38-year-span between that win and his nomination is one year shy of Helen Hayes, who won her first Oscar in 1932 for “The Sin of Madelon Claudet” and her second in 1971 for “Airport.” If De Niro, who won Best Actor for 1980’s “Raging Bull,” does have his name called on Oscar night, he would tie Nicholson and Walter Brennan — and possibly Day-Lewis — with three Oscars. He would also tie five other actors (Michael Caine, Melvyn Douglas, Jason Robards, Anthony Quinn and Peter Ustinov) for two wins in the category.