This year will mark the 92nd anniversary of the Oscars, and we’ve taken a look at where this year’s nominees went to university to prep themselves for a career in the film industry.
Although some of the talent did not attend university, choosing instead to dive straight into work, there are 98 universities, theatre schools and specialist schools from all over the world on this list.
Unsurprisingly, universities and colleges in North America and the UK are common across the table, but universities from New Zealand, South Korea, Syria, India and North Macedonia also feature.
It is also important to note that universities and theatre schools were still included in this list even if the nominee dropped out part way through their course or transferred to another university part way through their degree programme – and some of the nominees’ education information was not available online at the time of publication.
University of Southern California: four nominated alumni
The University of Southern California came joint first in producing the highest number of nominees for the 2020 Oscars. Founded in 1880, it is the oldest private research facility in California. It is also, of course, very near the cinematic centre of Hollywood.
Among this year’s crop hailing from the University of Southern California are Thomas Newman (nominated for original score for the epic war film 1917), who attended the university for two years before transferring to Yale University, and Kathryn Hendrickson (nominated for best animated short film for her work on Kitbull).
Gary Rydstrom (nominated for sound mixing in the movie Ad Astra) attended the USC School of Cinematic Arts, which is a private media school within the University of Southern California.
|Thomas Newman||1917||Achievement in music written for motion pictures (original score)|
|Gary Rydstrom||Ad Astra||Achievement in sound mixing|
|Rian Johnson||Knives Out||Original screenplay|
|Kathryn Hendrickson||Kitbull||Best animated short film|
Another best director nominee, this time an alumnus of the Tisch School of Performing Arts, is Martin Scorsese, nominated for his work on The Irishman.
|Todd Phillips||Joker||Achievement in directing|
|Martin Scorsese||The Irishman||Achievement in directing|
|Nicki Ledermann||Joker||Achievement in make-up and hair styling|
|Jane Rosenthal||The Irishman||Best motion picture of the year|
Columbia University: four nominated alumni
Another New York institute, Columbia University, also produced four of the nominees for this year’s Oscars.
Jinko Gotoh (nominated in the best animated feature film for Klaus), achieved a BS in applied maths, then an MFA in film from Columbia University. Two nominees in the best short documentary category, Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan, met while at Columbia University.
|Jinko Gotoh||Klaus||Best animated feature film|
|Smriti Mundhra||St. Louis Superman||Best documentary short subject|
|Sami Khan||St. Louis Superman||Best documentary short subject|
|James Mangold||The Irishman||Best motion picture|
Victoria University of Wellington: three nominated alumni
A somewhat surprising entry into this list is the Victoria University of Wellington, which isn’t usually a high performer here.
Director of World War Two comedy Jojo Rabbit Taika Waititi (nominated in best motion picture of the year and adapted screenplay categories) studied theatre at the Victoria University of Wellington. Another nominee in the adapted screenplay category, Anthony McCarten, studied creative writing at this New Zealand institution.
|Taika Waititi||Jojo Rabbit||Best motion picture of the year and adapted screenplay|
|Matt Aitken||Avengers: Endgame||Achievement in visual effects|
|Anthony McCarten||The Two Popes||Adapted screenplay|
University of Texas at Austin: two nominated alumni
Best actress nominee Renee Zellwegger studied English at the University of Texas at Austin, while best animated short film nominee Karen Rupert Toliver studied liberal arts there.
|Renee Zellwegger||Judy||Best actress|
|Karen Rupert Toliver||Hair Love||Best animated short film|
San Francisco State University: two nominated alumni
There are two nominated San Francisco State University alumni: Jonas Rivera, in the best animated feature film category, and Steven Zailian, in the best adapted screenplay category.
|Jonas Rivera||Toy Story 4||Best animated feature film|
|Steven Zailian||The Irishman||Best adapted screenplay|
Where did the rest of the nominees go to university?