Brow Beat

Twelve Wins That Could Make History at the Oscars This Sunday

Still from The Shape of Water.
A still from The Shape of Water. Fox Searchlight Pictures

The biggest night in Hollywood is around the corner, and with it comes the possibility for a fresh batch of records to be broken and history to be made. Below, a few of the biggest Oscar milestones that may come to fruition on Sunday night.

The Shape of Water, First Science Fiction Film to Win Best Picture

Outside of the technical categories, sci-fi movies have always had a tough go at the Academy Awards. With rare exception, they’re usually overlooked for Best Picture—but depending upon who you ask, Guillermo del Toro’s Creature From the Black Lagooninspired love story between a woman and a fish-man is the current front-runner (or close to it).


Jordan Peele, First Black Person to Win Best Director and/or Best Original Screenplay


Though their respective films, 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight, were crowned Best Picture, Steve McQueen and Barry Jenkins didn’t manage to take home the coveted directing award. According to most pundits, Peele (only the fifth black director nominated in this category) seems unlikely to break that streak, though he seems to have a slightly better shot of making history as the first black winner for Best Original Screenplay.

Rachel Morrison, First Woman to Win Best Cinematography

Morrison is the first woman ever to be nominated in this category, for Mudbound.

Kumail Nanjiani, First Person of Asian Descent to Win for Writing

If he wins for the semiautobiographical rom-com The Big Sick in Best Original Screenplay, Nanjiani would share the award with his co-writing partner and wife, Emily V. Gordon.


Dee Rees, First Black Woman to Win for Writing

With her shared nomination for Mudbound, Dee Rees became the first black woman (and first black queer woman) nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Only one other black woman has been nominated for screenwriting before: Suzanne de Passe for 1972’s Lady Sings the Blues, in the Best Original Screenplay category.

Yance Ford, First Openly Transgender Director to Win an Oscar


For the Netflix documentary Strong Island, about the murder of his brother and the family’s search for justice, Ford became the first trans director of an Oscar-nominated film.

Agnès Varda, Oldest Winner of a Competitive Academy Award

Should she win for Faces Places, Varda, 89, would just barely squeeze past Call Me by Your Name screenwriter James Ivory for this superlative, having been born just a few days before him.


Meryl Streep, Tie for Most Acting Awards

Though Katharine Hepburn would still have the most awards as a lead actor, Streep could match the legendary screen star’s 35-year-old feat for most acting awards, period, with a fourth win for The Post. With 21 nominations now, Streep remains the most nominated actor ever.


Denzel Washington and/or Jordan Peele, First Black Person to Win Three Academy Awards

The legend is currently tied with sound engineers Russell Williams (who won back-to-back awards for Glory and Dances With Wolves) and Willie D. Burton (Bird and Dreamgirls) for largest number of competitive Oscars won, at two each. If he wins Best Actor for Roman J. Israel, Esq., he’ll be the most decorated black person in academy history. Likewise, Peele is nominated for three awards (including Best Picture, as a Get Out producer) and should he win in every category, would pull off the same feat in just one night.


Octavia Spencer, First Black Woman to Win Multiple Academy Awards

Until last year, when Spencer was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category for Hidden Figures, no black woman before her had ever been nominated for another Academy Award after having won one already. If she wins for The Shape of Water, that Oscar will join the one she already received for The Help.

Lebanon or Chile, First Win for Either Country in the Best Foreign Language Film Category

The Insult is the first Lebanese film to be nominated in the category. A Fantastic Woman is heavily favored to win, however, and if it does, it’ll be monumental not only for its narrative about a trans protagonist but for bringing Chile home the prize for the first time.

Other Potential Firsts to Look Out for

At 88, Christopher Plummer could surpass the record he currently holds as the oldest acting winner if he wins for rescuing All the Money in the World from the stench of Kevin Spacey at the eleventh hour. Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya could become the first black Brit to win Best Actor. Coco would be the first animated winner with a Latino protagonist, and Kobe Bryant could become the first ex-NBA player to win an Oscar, for producing the animated short based on his 2015 retirement letter, Dear Basketball.