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‘Barbie,’ ‘May December’ and ‘Poor Things’ Could Bring Three Women Producers Double Oscar Noms for Acting and Best Picture

What do Natalie Portman, Margot Robbie and Emma Stone have in common? Aside from being in contention for this year’s best actress nominations, the three multiple-time nominated A-listers could follow in the footsteps of Frances McDormand in this year’s Oscar race.

All three women are producers on each of their films — Portman for “May December,” Robbie for “Barbie” and Stone for “Poor Things.” If any are nominated for best picture and acting, they would be the second (or third or fourth?) women recognized in both categories in the same year. The first was McDormand for “Nomadland” (2020), who went on to win her third and fourth statuettes, the first person ever to win both on the same night.

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BARBIE, Margot Robbie as Barbie, 2023. © Warner Bos. /Courtesy Everett Collection
BARBIE, Margot Robbie as Barbie, 2023. © Warner Bos. /Courtesy Everett Collection

Robbie has received raves for her performance as “Stereotypical Barbie,” one of the versions in “Barbieland,” who is stricken with a sudden sense of mortality, bringing her on a quest to the real world. Her turn has the Australian star in contention for her third acting nom following “I, Tonya” (2017) and “Bombshell” (2019). Coincidentally, Robbie lost her bid to McDormand for her turn in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which was also the same year as Gerwig’s first double noms for writing and directing “Lady Bird.” Under the label of her production company LuckyChap Entertainment, Robbie is one of the credited producers of the film, along with one of the co-founders (and husband) Tom Ackerley.

“Poor Things”
“Poor Things”

Stone, an Oscar winner for “La La Land” (2016), is also popular with the actors branch, with two previous acting noms — best picture winner “Birdman” (2014) and her previous collaboration with director Yorgos Lanthimos on “The Favourite” (2018). She’s in the best position to nab both of her bids, based on the reaction out of the festival circuit and Academy screenings. Under her production company Fruit Tree, which she founded with her husband Dave McCary in 2020, she’s credited with the official Producers Guild of America mark, along with Lanthimos, Oscar nominee Ed Guiney (“Room” and “The Favourite”) and Andrew Lowe. She won’t have to worry about hearing her name at least once on Oscar nomination morning in January.

May December. Natalie Portman as Elizabeth Berry in May December. Cr. Francois Duhamel / courtesy of Netflix
Natalie Portman in “May December”

Regarding Portman’s delicious dramedy helmed by Todd Haynes, it’s still pending whether or not she’ll have the official PGA mark, which would make her one of the nominated producers if it snagged a best picture nod. Under her production banner MountainA, which she co-founded with her partner Sophie Mas in 2021, the film also lists producers Jessica Elbaum and Will Ferrell (under Gloria Sanchez Productions), Pamela Koffler and Christine Vachon (under Killer Films), Tyler W. Konney (Tyler & Dodge) and Grant S. Johnson (Project Infinity). It should be noted that the Academy’s “Special Rules for the Best Picture of the Year Award” limits recipients to those who meet two main requirements:

  • those with screen credit of “producer” or “produced by”, explicitly excluding those with the screen credit “executive producer, co-producer, associate producer, line producer, or produced in association with

  • those three or fewer producers who have performed the major portion of the producing functions

The PGA mark doesn’t guarantee a person’s eligibility to be nominated and is ultimately determined by the Academy.

What’s pronounced in achieving this feat is how many of their male counterparts have done this before and on multiple occasions. Warren Beatty has done it four times (1968’s “Bonnie and Clyde,” 1978’s “Heaven Can Wait,” 1981’s “Reds” and 1991’s “Bugsy”), while Clint Eastwood (1992’s “Unforgiven” and 2004’s “Million Dollar Baby”) and Bradley Cooper (2014’s “American Sniper” and 2018’s “A Star is Born”) have two apiece. Eastwood won best picture for both of his bids, and Cooper can add one more this year with his Leonard Bernstein biopic, “Maestro,” which he also co-wrote and directed.

In addition to McDormand, only two other previous female acting nominees in the 95-year history of the Academy have been nominated for best picture (not in their acting designated year): Barbra Streisand (won for 1968’s “Funny Girl” in lead actress and nominated for 1991’s “The Prince of Tides” as a producer) and Oprah Winfrey (nominated for 1986’s “The Color Purple” in supporting actress and 2014’s “Selma” as a producer).

In Hollywood, we’re seeing a trend of acting entrepreneurs. A-listers, especially women, are taking up the mantle of the stories and doing the leg work to get the projects made. Jessica Chastain, who won best actress for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (2021), a movie she also made under her Freckle Films production company, continues the trend with her upcoming “Mothers’ Instinct” with Neon.

The multi-hyphenates are embedded in an overflowing best actress race that includes Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”), Carey Mulligan (“Maestro”), Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor (“Origin”), Sandra Hüller (“Anatomy of a Fall”), Greta Lee (“Past Lives”) and Annette Bening (“Nyad”).

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