So the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed out a couple of hundred Oscar nominations, give or take, on Tuesday morning. But who’s counting?
Hollywood’s major talent agencies, that’s who.
Internal score-keeping gets sticky, as clients move, split representation or otherwise confuse their business lives. But people briefed on the dealings of the two biggest agencies, WME and CAA, say each is claiming an edge in the nominee count. WME partisans are calling that agency the overall winner, with 36 nominations to 26 for CAA. But those partial to CAA say it had at least 30 nominations in above-the-line categories, with the total count uncertain when all slots are counted. The dust may eventually settle around a final count, but probably not.
In any case, WME got serious points for La La Land, on which its clients include director Damien Chazelle and lead actress nominee Emma Stone, and Manchester By The Sea, on which it represents the director Kenneth Lonergan, lead actor Casey Affleck, and supporting actress Michelle Williams all nominated. (Paradigm picked up one of its several nominations for supporting actor Lucas Hedges on that one.)
Among the other big ones for WME were Denzel Washington, for Fences; Octavia Spencer, for Hidden Figures; Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali, for Moonlight; and Dev Patel, for Lion.
But CAA made a slightly stronger showing in the most prominent categories. At a quick glance, it appears to have Barry Jenkins of Moonlight, Mel Gibson of Hacksaw Ridge, and Denis Villeneuve of Arrival among the nominated feature directors. Among nominated actors, Viola Davis, Natalie Portman, Jeff Bridges, Isabelle Huppert, Michael Shannon, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Garfield and Meryl Streep all show up on the IMDbPro’s database as CAA clients.
Viggo Mortensen of Captain Fantastic was one of more than a dozen nominees for UTA, which also represents Theodore Melfi, the writer-director who shared a screenplay nomination for Hidden Figures.
Ryan Gosling of La La Land has lawyers and managers, but lists no agent on that service. Ruth Negga of Loving belongs to ICM Partners, which appears to have had seven nominees (including Raoul Peck, the just-signed producer-director of the documentary I Am Not Your Negro).
Gersh was in there with Taylor Sheridan, the writer of Hell Or High Water, and other agencies around the world logged around two dozen nominees, as well.