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SYFY WIRE Oscars 2020

Oscars 2020 stats: Joker nominations make history, Toy Story continues winning streak, more

By Josh Weiss

The nominees for the 2020 Oscars have arrived and Joker is maniacally cackling at the top of the list with a whopping 11 nods. It's even up for Best Picture and Best Director, but we're getting ahead of ourselves here.

Genre movies permeate this year's list of Academy Award hopefuls, and Joker's just one of several genre films that have made a mark for sci-fi, horror, and fantasy films gunning for some serious hardware on Oscar night. Here are some notable milestones for genre films among Oscars' Class of 2020:

Joker becomes the first comic book movie to dominate all nominees

With 11 nods for Joker, this is the first time in Oscar history that a comic book-inspired movie has led the list of nominees. Of course, other genre flicks have dominated in the past — fantasy-driven The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King topped all comers with 11 nominations (and won Best Picture) in 2004, and in 2014, Gravity lifted off with 10 nominations, tying for the most with American Hustle. Two years ago, Guillermo del Toro's creature feature/love story The Shape of Water swam toward 13 nominations and ended up winning four of them, including Best Picture. But with Joker, this marks the first year that the most-nominated film took its cue from comic books.

Joker follows Black Panther's lead

The DC film is also only the second comic book movie in Oscar history to snag a nod for Best Picture. Marvel Studios' Black Panther broke the superhero barrier last year when it was nominated in this category.

A Joker double-header

As a Best Actor contender, Joaquin Phoenix is the second performer to be nominated for playing Gotham's Clown Prince of Crime. In 2009, Heath Ledger was recognized for his iconic performance as the scarred Joker in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight and posthumously won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for it. Phoenix joins a rare club of actors who have been nominated for playing a role that previously scored an Academy Award nod for another actor. In some rare instances, a few of those actors actually reprised the same role later in their careers.

Todd Phillips gets the last laugh

While Black Panther was able to claw its way to the top category, the Academy snubbed Ryan Coogler for Best Director. As such, Joker has become the first comic book movie to snag an Oscar nomination for its director. The screenplay Phillips co-wrote with Scott Silver is also up for Best Adapted Screenplay — a rear feat for a comic book movie. (two years ago, Logan scored a nod for Best Adapted Screenplay.) 

Joker composer Hildur Guðnadóttir breaks barriers

Thanks to her score for Joker, Guðnadóttir becomes just the eighth female composer in history to be nominated for Best Original Score; only three have come away victorious. This is certainly notable during an awards season that many have called out for a lack of representation. One of the biggest criticisms of this year's Oscar nominations is that female directors (like Little Women’s Greta Gerwig) were completely shut out of that race.

John Williams smashes his own record

As we reported earlier this morning, composer John Williams shattered his own record as the most-nominated living person with his score for The Rise of Skywalker. To date, he's nabbed a staggering 52 Oscar nods, winning five times.

How To Train Your Dragon goes three for three

Following in the footsteps of its two predecessors, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World became the third film in the franchise to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature, completing its trifecta. The first two films, however, walked away empty-handed. Could the third time be the charm?

Toy Story 4 continues Pixar prominence

Speaking of animated films, this year marks a momentous one for the Toy Story franchise. The fourth film snagged a nod for Best Animated Feature and also continues the trend of bagging a nomination for an original song written by Randy Newman. After such classics as "You've Got a Friend in Me," "When She Loved Me," and "We Belong Together" (the only song of the bunch to win), Newman is now in the race with the Forky-centric diddy "I Can't Let You Throw Yourself Away." The franchise now has the distinction of scoring Oscar nominations for every single one of its four entries.

It must be noted, however, that the Best Animated Feature category was not introduced until 2002, seven years after the first Toy Story hit theaters. Toy Story 2 missed the new category by three years. The original film, however, was recognized with a Special Achievement Award for its director, John Lasseter. Toy Story 3 was the first entry to win Best Animated Feature at the 83rd Oscars in 2011, which also saw a triumph for "We Belong Together."

Klaus delivers awards-season cheer to Netflix

Despite the fact that some old-school directors don't think Netflix films should be eligible for Oscars, the streaming company continues to dig in its awards-season heels. Case in point: Netflix received its first-ever animation nomination for Klaus, a new take on the origins of Santa Claus that features the voices of J.K. Simmons, Jason Schwartzman, and Rashida Jones.

Netflix previously proved its Oscar mettle in the live-action space with last year's Roma and followed that up this year with Martin Scorsese's The Irishman and Noah Baumbach's Marriage Story, which both scored major nods. The company landed the most nominations of any studio with 24 in total, trumping both Disney (23) and Sony (20).

The 92nd Academy Awards will be held at the Los Angeles' Dolby Theatre on Feb. 9 and air live on ABC at 8 p.m. EST.

For the complete list of the 2020 nominees, click here. For our recap of all the snubs and surprises, click here.