David O. Russell's film does what only 13 other films in Oscar history have done
"Silver Linings Playbook" pulled off something Thursday that hasn't been done in 31 years when the off-beat comedy scored Academy Award nominations in all four acting categories.
Going into the Oscar nominations this week, few awards prognosticators predicted that "Silver Linings Playbook" would run the table in the acting categories. Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro were considered locks in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor race, but Bradley Cooper was seen as less of a sure thing in a crowded field of Best Actor hopefuls.
Not only did Cooper make the cut, but Jacki Weaver was a surprise Best Supporting Actress nominee for her understated performance as De Niro's long-suffering wife.
Credit for this coup may go to the film's distributor, The Weinstein Company. The indie label's head Harvey Weinstein is the consummate Oscar campaigner having racked up dozens of nominations and honors over the years for films like "The Artist" and "The King's Speech."
The last film to score nods in all acting categories was "Reds" (1981), which earned a Best Actor nomination for Warren Beatty, a Best Actress nomination for Diane Keaton, a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Jack Nicholson and a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Maureen Stapleton. Despite that impressive showing, only Stapleton went home with an Oscar for acting that year, although Beatty did win Best Director.
In fact, only 14 films in history have managed to snag nominations in all of the acting categories. It's a group that contains such film classics as "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967), "A Streetcar Named Desire"(1951), "Network" (1976), "From Here to Eternity" (1953) and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" (1966).
David O. Russell, the impresario behind "Silver Linings Playbook," has a reputation for being difficult to work with, but there's a reason he still has top actors lining up for his projects. "The Fighter," Russell's previous film, scored a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Christian Bale and a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Melissa Leo in 2010.
Prior to that, the last time one film had a monopoly on the supporting actor categories was in 1986, when "Hannah and Her Sisters" earned awards for Michael Caine and Dianne Wiest.
Next month on Oscar night, the "Silver Linings Playbook" stars will find out if Russell will continue to have a magic touch with Academy voters. If De Niro, Lawrence, Cooper and Weaver all win — something that almost no one expects to happen — they will have done something that no other film has managed in the 85 year history of the Academy Awards. A clean sweep of all of the acting categories.
For the record: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the previous film to capture both supporting actor honors was 1971's "The Last Picture Show."