Academy Awards nominations 2016: Where did the Oscar nominees go to university?

The film professionals nominated for Academy Awards for movies they have directed, produced, acted in, written and edited are a mixed bunch: these are the universities in the running to win the alumni Oscars.
February 26 2016

This year’s Oscars – the 88th Academy Awards – are upon us, and more than 200 individuals are nominated for films that they have directed, produced, written, edited or performed in.

Where did the 2016 Oscar nominees get the education and training that would set them on the path to success? All over the place, as it turns out.

While many of the big names didn’t pursue higher education, or dropped out without completing their studies, there are more than 100 universities around the world that can claim at least one alumnus among the nominations.

Unsurprisingly, universities in North America and the UK dominate the table, but Sweden, Australia, France, the Republic of Ireland, Mexico, South Africa and Japan also make appearances.

Out of all the nominations associated with a university, more than 13 per cent are associated with a university in California, suggesting that many stars are home-grown near Hollywood.

But before you budding film-makers pack your bags for the Golden State, it’s worth considering that this may not be a direct result of helpful networking opportunities; it’s possible that through living in the area, Californian-educated graduates are simply more likely to consider the film industry as a career path.

Without further ado, these are the universities up for Academy Awards:

Universities winning the Alumni Academy Awards for Oscar nominations

New York University: 9 nominated alumni

Winning again this year, New York University leads the way with nine alumni nominations – the same number as last year, although none of the graduates in the running this year were on last year’s shortlist.

The nominees include producer Steve Golin, who graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in 1976, and actress Rooney Mara, who attended NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study to study psychology, international social policy and non-profits. She graduated just six years ago and has received numerous award nominations since then.

Film

Alumnus

Nomination

The Revenant

Steve Golin

Best Picture

Carol

Rooney Mara

Actress in a Supporting Role

Carol

Phyllis Nagy

Writing – Adapted Screenplay

Bridge of Spies

Joel Coen

Writing – Original Screenplay

Anomalisa

Charlie Kaufman

Animated Feature Film

Anomalisa

Duke Johnson

Animated Feature Film

Racing Extinction

Anohni

Music – Original Song (Manta Ray)

The Hunting Ground

Lady Gaga

Music – Original Song (Til It Happens to You)

The Martian

Arthur Max

Production Design

 

Harvard University: 7 nominated alumni

As one of the best universities in the world, it’s no surprise that Harvard’s graduates go on to achieve greatness. The Harvard alumni are also a well-rounded bunch, landing nominations for producing, acting, writing, documentaries, music and cinematography.

Matt Damon, nominated for his role in The Martian, kick-started his career while studying at Harvard, performing in student plays and writing the screenplay for Good Will Hunting, which was nominated for nine Academy Awards in 1998.

Film

Alumnus

Nomination

The Big Short

Jeremy Kleiner

Best Picture

The Martian

Matt Damon

Actor in a Leading Role

Spotlight

Josh Singer

Writing – Original Screenplay

Carol

Ed Lachman

Cinematography

Carol

Carter Burwell

Music – Original Score

Cartel Land

Tom Yellin

Documentary Feature

The Look of Silence

Joshua Oppenheimer

Documentary Feature

 

Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London: 5 nominated alumni

As a world-leading centre for art and design, it’s no surprise that the graduates of Central Saint Martins in London, UK are over-represented in behind-the-scenes aspects of the film industry.

British costume designers Sandy Powell and Jenny Beavan have scooped up numerous awards for their work on high-grossing films, and are nominated this year for work on Carol and Mad Max: Fury Road.

Michael Fassbender, nominated for actor in a leading role for his portrayal of Steve Jobs, and Tom Hardy, up for actor in a supporting role for The Revenant, both attended Central Saint Martins' Drama Centre London.

Joshua Oppenheimer, the American director nominated for his documentary this year, achieved his PhD from Central Saint Martins after studying at Harvard University.

Film

Alumnus

Nomination

Steve Jobs

Michael Fassbender

Actor in a Leading Role

The Revenant

Tom Hardy

Actor in a Supporting Role

Carol

Sandy Powell

Costume Design

Mad Max

Jenny Beavan

Costume Design

The Look of Silence

Joshua Oppenheimer

Documentary Feature

 

Yale University: 4 nominated alumni

All of Yale’s nominees have also attended another university in the United States, making these alumni some of the most educated in Hollywood. Spotlight’s director and writer attended Boston College and Harvard University, respectively, while composer Thomas Newman, who wrote the score for Bridge of Spies, studied composition at the University of Southern California before transferring to Yale.

Adam Stockhausen received a Master of Fine Arts from Yale School of Drama in 1999. He has previously won an Academy Award for his set design for Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Film

Alumnus

Nomination

Spotlight

Tom McCarthy

Directing

Spotlight

Josh Singer

Writing – Original Screenplay

Bridge of Spies

Thomas Newman

Music – Original score

Bridge of Spies

Adam Stockhausen

Production Design

 

Stanford University: 3 nominated alumni

Better known for producing billionaire entrepreneurs, Stanford University has seen significant success in the film industry, but its alumni are the more unusual characters in Hollywood.

This year, Pakistani journalist and documentary film-maker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, a Stanford alumna, is nominated for her short film about honour killing in her own country.

The composer David Lang attended Stanford as an undergraduate, and it was there that he met a replacement teacher from the University of Iowa called Martin Jenni, whom he credits for setting him on his illustrious career path.

Pixar producer Nicole Grindle, nominated for a short animation, studied for a master’s in documentary production at Stanford, graduating in 1987.

Film

Alumnus

Nomination

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

Documentary Short Subject

Youth

David Lang

Music – Original Song

Sanjay’s Super Team

Nicole Grindle

Short Film Animated

 

The Best of the Rest

In total, 59 universities included in the World University Rankings 2016 received at least one Oscar nomination for a graduate or a student who had once enrolled at the institution. A further 52 non-ranked universities – mostly specialised institutions that do not qualify for the rankings – also stack up a nomination or two.

There’s clearly no one specific path to success in Hollywood, as the list shows. Unusual talent is found and nurtured all over the world.

Universities with two or more nominated alumni

 

World University Rank

University

Country

Alumni Oscar nominations

30

New York University

United States

9

6

Harvard University

United States

7

 

Central Saint Martins

United Kingdom

5

12

Yale University

United States

4

3

Stanford University

United States

3

4

Cambridge University

United Kingdom

2

15

Columbia University

United States

2

16

University of California, Los Angeles

United States

2

51

Brown University

United States

2

64

Boston University

United States

2

68

University of Southern California

United States

2

131

University of York

United Kingdom

2

176

University College Dublin

Ireland

2

401-500

Bournemouth University

United Kingdom

2

 

Australian Film, Television and Radio School

Australia

2

 

Mills College

United States

2

 

Royal College of Art

United Kingdom

2

Ranked universities with one Oscar-nominated alumnus 

World University Rank 2016

University

Country

Alumni Oscar nominations

2

University of Oxford

United Kingdom

1

7

Princeton University

United States

1

13

University of California, Berkeley

United States

1

14

University College London

United Kingdom

1

17

University of Pennsylvania

United States

1

18

Cornell University

United States

1

23

London School of Economics and Political Science

United Kingdom

1

25

University of Edinburgh

United Kingdom

1

27

King's College London

United Kingdom

1

33

University of Melbourne

Australia

1

39

University of California, Santa Barbara

United States

1

44

University of California, Davis

United States

1

50

University of Wisconsin-Madison

United States

1

56

University of Manchester

United Kingdom

1

65

University of Minnesota

United States

1

70

Durham University

United Kingdom

1

75

Pennsylvannia State University

United States

1

81

Uppsala University

Sweden

1

82

University of New South Wales

Australia

1

101

Rice University

United States

1

104

Dartmouth College

United States

1

110

University of Southampton

United Kingdom

1

127

University of Colorado Boulder

United States

1

127

Tufts University

United States

1

144

University of California, Santa Cruz

United States

1

160

Trinity College Dublin

Ireland

1

161

University of Miami

United States

1

185

Brandeis University

United States

1

190

Boston College

United States

1

201-250

University of Iowa

United States

1

201-250

University of Western Ontario

Canada

1

251-300

Syracuse University

United States

1

251-300

Umeå University

Sweden

1

251-300

University of Delaware

United States

1

301-350

York University, Canada

Canada

1

351-400

Temple University

United States

1

351-400

University of Missouri

United States

1

401-500

American University

United States

1

401-500

Brunel University London

United Kingdom

1

401-500

City University London

United Kingdom

1

401-500

National Autonomous University of Mexico

Mexico

1

401-500

University of KwaZulu-Natal

South Africa

1

601-800

California State University, Long Beach

United States

1

601-800

Kinki University

Japan

1

601-800

Middlesex University

United Kingdom

1

601-800

Paris-Sorbonne University - Paris 4

France

1

601-800

University of Westminster

United Kingdom

1


- Best universities for the arts and humanities


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