Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Peter Mountain/ DreamWorks Pictures
Oscar rules, Oscar history, Oscar procedures - your questions answered!

Question: Debate about the Oscars: why weren't any of the songs of Sweeney Todd nominated? It's Sondheim, after all! Could there be a reason, like a regulation or something?

Dreamgirls was on Broadway first and had songs nominated, didn't it? We don't understand.

Love you all at TV Guide, though! Thanks! Lila


FlickChick: None of Stephen Sondheim's songs could be nominated because of rules. In order for a song from Tim Burton's film version of Sweeney Todd to have been eligible for an Academy Award, it would have to have been written specifically for the film.

You're absolutely right, Dreamgirls (2006) was a Broadway musical before it was filmed, but the three - count 'em, three - nominated songs ("Listen," "Love You I Do" and "Patience") were all new. And they all lost.

That's also how Chicago (2002), picked up its best-song nomination: John Kander and Fred Ebb, who wrote all the songs for the stage production, contributed one new number, "I Move On," to the movie.

Question: How does the Academy Awards voting process work? Is it that once you're nominated for an award you're automatically a member. And once you're a member, can you go to every ceremony, or do you have to be invited?

I don't know why this is so important to me. I'm just curious as to how it all works and if there is a lot of politics involved. Thank you for any insight you can give me. - Sharon


FlickChick: The current membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is about 6,500, a number that stays relatively stable from year to year.

Membership is by invitation only and there's no automatic in: Normally candidates are sponsored by at least two members of the appropriate branch. So an actor needs at least two actors who are already Academy members to propose him or her to the acting branch, a film editor needs a nomination by at least two of his or her colleagues, and so on.

The nomination is then either approved or not by the executive committee on a branch level, and if approved goes to the Board of Governors, which currently has 43 members. They include actors Tom Hanks, Ed Begley Jr. and Henry Winkler, along with a range of behind-the-scenes types.

Non-members who are nominated for and/or win an Oscar are generally, but not always, invited without needing sponsorship. I'd say there's some room for politicking and personalities there.

All Academy members participate in the nominating portion of the balloting process, but only within their own branches: Again, animators nominate animators, cinematographers nominate cinematographers, and so on. Which only makes sense: Who better to notice and single out exceptional work than someone who knows exactly what that work entails?

Once the nominees are chosen, every Academy member gets to vote the entire ballot. All Academy members are invited to attend every ceremony.

Question: Has there ever been a tie for any of the major awards in Oscar history? - John

FlickChick: Only two: Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn both received best-actress statuettes in 1968, Streisand for Funny Girl and Hepburn for The Lion in Winter.

And Wallace Beery and Fredric March were both named best actor at the 1931/1932 ceremony for, respectively, The Champ and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Technically speaking, March received one vote more than Beery, but the rules at the time called it a tie if the difference was three votes or fewer.

Question: Has anyone ever won both best actor/actress and best supporting actor/actress in the same year? - Paul

FlickChick: No, but a number of actresses have been nominated for both in the same year:

Fay Bainter in 1938 for White Banners and Jezebel (she won supporting for Jezebel); Teresa Wright in 1942 for The Pride of the Yankees and Mrs. Miniver (she won supporting for Mrs. Miniver); Jessica Lange in 1982 for Frances and Tootsie (once again, a win in the supporting category for Tootsie); Sigourney Weaver in 1988 for Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girl (no win); Holly Hunter and Emma Thompson in 1993, Hunter for The Piano and The Firm (she won best actress for The Piano) and Thompson for The Remains of the Day and In the Name of the Father (no win); Julianne Moore in 2002 for Far from Heaven and The Hours (no win) and, of course, Cate Blanchett this year for Elizabeth: The Golden Age and I'm Not There (no win).

The only actors ever nominated in both the best and best supporting categories in the same year are Al Pacino in 1992 for Scent of a Woman and Glengarry Glen Ross (he won best actor for Scent) and Jamie Foxx in 2004 for Ray and Collateral (he also won best actor, for Ray).

And though you didn't ask, Barry Fitzgerald is the only actor (or actress) ever to have been nominated for the same role - Father Fitzgibbon - in both the leading and supporting categories. That was in 1944, and the film was the Bing Crosby vehicle Going My Way. Fitzgerald won best supporting and lost best actor to Crosby.

The Academy subsequently fine-tuned the rules for tabulating nominations in the leading and supporting categories, so the situation never recurred.

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