It’s pretty likely that at some stage over the next week or so you’ll have at least one conversation about the Oscars.
With the ceremony coming up on Monday, February 25, we’ve compiled a few fun facts about the eight films nominated for Best Picture.
There’s only one fact per film and they’re all easy enough to remember so that when you’re discussing the Oscars, you can wheel them out mid-convo and sound like a film buff.
What it’s about: Ron Stallworth, an African American police officer from Colorado Springs, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch with the help of a Jewish surrogate who eventually becomes its leader. Based on actual events.
Fun fact: Playing the role of Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke took quite the toll on former That ‘70s Show star, Topher Grace.
“I was so depressed,” Grace told IndieWire about his mindset during filming.
“I was probably a terrible husband at the time. It was so disturbing to go home and turn on the news to see how his ideology was affecting us at the moment.”
But Grace found a unique way to cope with the psychological stress. He spent his spare time editing The Hobbit trilogy into a single, two-hour long movie.
“I don’t know what other guys do. Go fishing?” Grace joked to IndieWire. “For me, this is just a great way to relax,” the actor said. “There’s something really Zen about it.”
What it’s about: The story of Dick Cheney, an unassuming bureaucratic Washington insider, who quietly wielded immense power as Vice President to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today.
Fun fact: Christian Bale did a hell of a lot of research about heart attacks because his character, Dick Cheney, has suffered five in real life.
Bale’s extensive research ended up saving the life of director Adam McKay who suffered a heart attack not long after filming the movie.
“When we shot one of the heart attack scenes, Christian Bale asked me, ‘How do you want me to do it?’ and I go, ‘What do you mean? It’s a heart attack. Your arm hurts, right?’” McKay told IndieWire.
“He says, ‘No, no. One of the more common ways is that you get really queasy and your stomach hurts.’”
When McKay was working out with his trainer one morning, he started to feel queasy and his stomach was hurting so he rushed off to get medical help.
“I got to the hospital really fast, and the doctor said, because you did that, no damage was done, your heart is still really strong,” McKay said. “That’s because I remembered Christian Bale telling me that.”
What it’s about: A working-class Italian-American bouncer becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.
Fun fact: Viggo Mortensen gained more than 20 kgs to play Tony Lip, the chauffeur/security guard to world-class musician Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), in the movie — and even though that might sound like fun, it really wasn’t according to the actor.
“At first, I really enjoyed it,” Mortensen told Inquirer.net. “After a while, I got tired of it because I realised I had to keep eating that amount just to maintain the weight. I would come back to the set after a weekend and I had gone back to eating normally for two days.
“On Monday morning, the costume people would say, ‘Your pants are a little loose. You need to pick up the pace. Have a couple more doughnuts or whatever. Have an extra pizza this time.’
“My technique, which is a horrible thing to do, health-wise — I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone — was to have a big meal with dessert or a couple of desserts just before going to bed. You are not supposed to do that. That was the only way I could keep my weight to that level.”
What it’s about: A year in the life of a middle-class family’s maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s.
Fun fact: Alfonso Cuaron wrote and directed the movie and decided to keep the script a secret from pretty much everyone.
“The crew went crazy,” the director told Jimmy Fallon. “They didn’t have the script, nobody had the script. I wrote a very precise script, but nobody had it.”
Cuarón filmed the movie in chronological order and each day the actors were only given the script for the scenes they were going to shoot that day.
The film’s lead, Yalitza Aparicio, made her acting debut in Roma and therefore just assumed that not seeing the script until the day of shooting was the norm.
“I thought that that’s how directors worked,” she told Variety. “But as things progressed, I did start getting curious about what was going to happen to my character or what was going to happen to the story that we were all living.
“At some point, though, I realised that I had to stop worrying about what was going to happen … so I began to just allow myself to live day-to-day and to experience what was happening to me as it was just happening day-to-day because life truly does not have a script.”
A STAR IS BORN
What it’s about: A musician helps a young singer find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral.
Fun fact: The makeup team used a couple of special tricks to transform Bradley Cooper into the boozy rocker, Jackson Maine.
Speaking to Refinery29, makeup artist Ve Neill revealed that she used menthol to give Cooper bloodshot eyes.
“I blew it in his eyes all the time so he’d look high and drunk,” Neill said. “We did everything we could to make him appear worn out.
“On the days he was supposed to look really messed up, I’d stipple in a glazing red gel at the top of his eyelids and bottom of his lash line so it looked like he’d really been up all night drinking,” she told Refinery29.
What it’s about: In early 18th century England, a frail Queen Anne occupies the throne and her close friend, Lady Sarah, governs the country in her stead. When a new servant, Abigail, arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.
Fun fact: Rachel Weisz won the Best Supporting Actress BAFTA earlier this week and she’s been nominated for an Oscar as well for her work in The Favourite.
But she wasn’t actually director Yorgos Lanthimos’ first choice to play Lady Sarah.
“Kate (Winslet) and I were in discussions for a while, and I think that got out, but early on it became apparent that it wouldn’t work with her dates and her other commitments,” the director told Joe.ie about his initial preference for the role.
“Cate Blanchett was initially attached for a while, but these films take a while to put together and all the cast had to fall into the place in order to finance it, and also for me to have the people that I wanted.
“Rachel was someone I had worked with before and had always loved and we wanted to work together again. So, when all of the pieces came together, by the end it was the ideal cast for me.”
What it’s about: T’Challa, heir to the hidden but advanced kingdom of Wakanda, must step forward to lead his people into a new future and must confront a challenger from his country’s past.
Fun fact: Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis are the only white actors that have major roles in the movie, a fact that Freeman said wasn’t lost on him during filming.
“You think, ‘Right, this is what black actors feel like all the time,’” Freeman told Radio Times. “And Andy (Serkis) wasn’t there often, so I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m the white guy. And I’m the English white guy.’”
What it’s about: The story of the legendary rock band Queen and lead singer Freddie Mercury, leading up to their famous performance at Live Aid.
Fun fact: The highlight of the movie is when Rami Malek and co recreate Queen’s legendary Live Aid performance with stunning accuracy.
Speaking to news.com.au last year, Malek revealed he studied footage from the actual event “probably somewhere around 1500 times, maybe more”.
“That’s something we tried to get move for move, even just gesture for gesture perfectly,” he said.
The actor, 37, had a recording of Queen’s performance on set with him at all times during the Live Aid sequence which he used for back-up every now and then.
“It felt like I had it in my bones and I didn’t want to keep going back to it,” he said about the footage.
“It felt like sometimes you would lose a little bit of the authenticity if you tried to nail it so perfectly. Things won’t exactly always match up, there might be a hint of something that’s off, but I think that kept it feeling really alive and in the moment and it was better to sacrifice it that way, but yeah, I was watching it non-stop.”