Anybody who wins an Academy Award is bound to think of it as a historic night, but there’s also some real history that could be made on Sunday night at the Dolby Theatre.
Here are a baker’s dozen landmarks that could happen at the 89th Oscars show.
1. If Damien Chazelle wins for directing “La La Land,” he’ll become the youngest Best Director winner in Oscar history.
On February 26, Chazelle will be 32 years and 38 days old. The current record holder as the youngest Best Director winner ever is Norman Taurog, who won for “Skippy” at the age of 32 years, 260 days in 1931. Chazelle is the prohibitive favorite in the category, so Taurog’s 86-year run as the baby of the category seems destined to end.
Taurog, by the way, went on to direct more than 70 movies in the 37 years after his Oscars win, including nine Elvis Presley movies. Win or lose, Chazelle is unlikely to be quite so prolific.
2. If “La La Land” wins 12 or more Oscars, it’ll set a new record for the most wins by any film.
The film has 14 nominations, but two of those are in the same category, Best Original Song. To top the 11 Oscars won by “Ben Hur,” “Titanic” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” it can only lose in one of the 13 categories in which it’s nominated: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Original Song, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.
“La La Land” is not considered the favorite in Best Actor or Best Original Screenplay, and it’s in close races in Best Costume Design and Best Sound Editing, making it unlikely but not impossible that it could accumulate enough hardware to set a record.
3. If Denzel Washington wins Best Actor for “Fences,” he’ll become the first African American to win three Academy Awards.
Washington already has Oscars for “Training Day” (Best Actor, 2001) and “Glory” (Best Supporting Actor, 1989). A third would break the tie with sound mixer Russell Williams, who won for “Glory” and “Dances With Wolves.”
4. If Viola Davis wins Best Supporting Actress for “Fences,” she’ll become the first black actor or actress to win the triple crown of acting: Oscar, Tony and Emmy.
She won Tonys in 2001 for “King Hedley II” and in 2010 for “Fences,” and an Emmy in 2015 for “How to Get Away With Murder.” And now she’s almost a lock to add an Oscar for the screen version of her Tony-winning performance in “Fences.”
5. If Washington and Davis win, and Mahershala Ali wins Best Supporting Actor for “Moonlight,” it’ll be the first time in history that three African Americans win acting Oscars in the same year.
Three times in a six-year stretch between 2002 and 2007, two of the four acting winners were African American: Denzel Washington and Halle Berry in 2002, Jamie Foxx and Morgan Freeman in 2005 and Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson in 2007.
But we’ve never had a year where three of the four winners were black — until, perhaps, this year, when all three are favored to win.
6. If Kevin O’Connell loses the Best Sound Mixing Oscar for “Hacksaw Ridge,” he’ll extend his own record for the longest losing streak in Oscar history to 0-for-21. If he wins, he’ll break the streak at 0-for-20.
The Susan Lucci of the Oscars was first nominated for “Terms of Endearment” in 1984, when he lost to “The Right Stuff.”
He was nominated three more times in the 1980s, nine times in the ’90s, seven times in the ’00s and now again in 2017. Over the years he’s lost to “Out of Africa,” “Platoon,” “Terminator 2,” “Jurassic Park,” “Titanic,” “The Matrix,” “Chicago” and a lot more — and now he has the chance to either lose to “La La Land” and extend his record streak, or score an upset victory and end it.
7. If Lin-Manuel Miranda wins the Best Original Song award for “How Far I’ll Go,” he’ll become the youngest person ever to win the Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony grand slam known as the EGOT.
When he won for the song “Let It Go” from Frozen,” Robert Lopez secured the youngest-ever EGOT a few days after he turned 39. Miranda could do so this year at the age of 37 — but to accomplish that, he’ll need to upend the favored “La La Land” song “City of Stars.”
He might have a better shot in two years with one of the new songs he and Alan Menken are writing for the live-action remake of “The Little Mermaid,” assuming that film is finished in time — but by that year’s Oscars he’ll be about a month older than Lopez was when he won.
8. If Meryl Streep wins Best Actress for “Florence Foster Jenkins,” she’ll match Katharine Hepburn as the person with the most Oscars for acting.
Streep already holds the record for the most acting nominations, 20, but a fourth win for “Florence” is a real long shot. On the other hand, who wouldn’t want to hear her speech if she does win?
Actually, we can think of one person who might not want to hear the speech.
9. If Lucas Hedges wins Best Supporting Actor for “Manchester by the Sea,” he’ll become the youngest male ever to win an acting award.
Timothy Hutton was 20 years, 227 days old when he won the supporting-actor award for “Ordinary People” in 1981. Hedges, who is not expected to win, will be 20 years, 76 days at this year’s Oscars. The youngest Best Actor winner was Adrien Brody at 29.
10. If “Moonlight” wins Best Picture, Dede Gardner will become the first woman to win two Oscars for producing.
She also won for “12 Years a Slave” three years ago. In fact, Gardner and her producing partner Jeremy Kleiner are riding a four-year streak of Best Picture nominations, starting with “12 Year a Slave” and continuing through 2014’s “Selma,” 2015’s “The Big Short” and now “Moonlight.”
11. If “Tanna” wins Best Foreign Language Film, it’ll be Australia’s first win in the category.
It’s only the 10th submission for the country, which began entering the Oscar race sporadically in 1996.
12. If “Kubo and the Two Strings” wins the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, it’ll be the first animated film to ever win in that category.
It’s only the second to be nominated, after “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride.”
13. If Ryan Gosling wins Best Actor for “La La Land” or Justin Timberlake wins Best Original Song for “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from “Trolls,” they’ll become the first cast members of “The All New Mickey Mouse Club” to win Oscars.
For that matter, they’ll be the first cast members of any version of “The Mickey Mouse Club” to win Oscars.