Academy Awards nominations 2018: 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 28 2018
Oscars statuettes for Academy Awards

This year will mark the 90th anniversary of the Oscars and we’ve looked 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 105 universities from all over the world on this list. Other routes taken by some of this year’s nominees were to head to film or theatre schools. 

Unsurprisingly, universities in North America and the UK dominate the table, but universities from Ireland, Denmark, New Zealand, Italy, Mexico and Hungary also feature.

It is also important to note that universities were still included in this list even if the nominee dropped out part-way through their course – and some of the nominees’ education information was not available online at the time of publication. 

New York University: six nominated alumni

New York University produced the highest number of nominees for the 2018 Oscars including best actor in a leading role nominee Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name). Currently studying at NYU's Gallatin School of Individualised Study, he is one of the few people on this list who is still at university.

A number of nominees also attended the university's Tisch School of the Arts, including Dee Rees, nominated for the writing (adapted screenplay) award, for her work on the Netflix original film Mudbound, and Kevin Wilson Jr, nominated for the short film (live action) award. Another New York University alumnus, nominated for her work on Mudbound, is Rachel Morrison. She is the first female to be nominated for a cinematography Oscar in the 90-year history of the awards. 

Alumnus Film Nomination
Timothée Chalamet Call Me By Your Name Actor in a leading role
Rachel Morrison Mudbound Cinematography
Mark Bridges Phantom Thread Costume design
Paul Thomas Anderson Phantom Thread Directing
Kevin Wilson Jr My Nephew Emmett Short film (live action)
Dee Rees Mudbound Writing (adapted screenplay)

Yale University: three nominated alumni

The master of fine arts programme at Yale University is responsible for producing some of the finest actors working today. These include Frances McDormand, nominated for the best actress in a leading role award for her portrayal of a grieving mother in Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri. McDormand won the best actress Oscar back in 1997 for her performance in Fargo. She was also nominated for the best supporting actress award in 1989, 2001 and 2006.

Fellow best actress in a leading role nominee, Meryl Streep, is also a graduate of the master of fine arts programme at the Ivy League institution. This is her 21st Oscar nomination since she was first nominated in 1978, meaning she holds the record for the most Academy Award nominations of any actor. She has won three times, in 1979, 1983 and 2011.

Alumnus Film Nomination
Frances McDormand Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Actress in a leading role
Meryl Streep The Post Actress in a leading role
Robert Lopez Coco Music (original song)

Emerson College: three nominated alumni

Emerson College is a private college situated in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. Three of this year’s nominees attended this university but best director nominee Paul Thomas Anderson, recognised for his work on American period drama Phantom Thread, left after two semesters. 

Alumnus Film Nomination
Paul Thomas Anderson Phantom Thread Director
Julie Goldman Abacus: small enough to jail Documentary (feature)
Elaine McMillion Sheridan Heroin(e) Documentary (short subject)

Harvard University: three nominated alumni

As one of the most prestigious universities in the world, Harvard University was bound to appear on this list. Composer Carter Burwell has received his second academy award nomination for his score for Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Alumnus Film Nomination
Dan Cogan Icarus Documentary (feature)
Thomas Lee Wright Edith+Eddie Documentary (short subject)
Carter Burwell Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri Music (original score)

University of Michigan: three nominated alumni

Among 2018’s crop of nominees who hail from the University of Michigan are Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (known as Pasek and Paul), an American songwriting and composing duo. The pair started working together while they were freshmen at the university and have composed music for theatre, TV and film including La La Land and Dear Evan Hansen.

Almnus Film Nomination
Benj Pasek The Greatest Showman Music (original song)
Justin Paul  The Greatest Showman Music (original song)
John Nelson Blade Runner 2049 Visual effects

University of Oregon: three nominated alumni

Two University of Oregon alumni who worked on sci-fi sequel Blade Runner 2049  have been nominated in the visual effects category and the production design categories respectively.

Alumnus Film Nomination
Richard R Hoover Blade Runner 2049 Visual effects
James Ivory Call Me By Your Name Writing (adapted screenplay)
Dennis Gassner Blade Runner 2049 Production design

University of Southern California: three nominated alumni

Two nominees in the adapted screenplay category attended the University of Southern California, including James Ivory, who adapted André Aciman’s novel Call Me By Your Name. The second USC alumnus in this category is Virgil Williams, who adapted Mudbound by Hillary Jordan into the Netflix Original production of the same name. 

Alumnus Film Nomination
Doug Hemphill Blade Runner 2049 Sound mixing
James Ivory Call Me By Your Name Writing (adapted screenplay)
Virgil Williams Mudbound Writing (adapted screenplay)

Where did the rest of the nominees go to university?

University Number of alumni nominated
Columbia University 2
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art 2
Florida Agricultural and Mechnical University 2
California Institute of the Arts 2
MoPA 2
Rhode Island School of Design 2
Netherlands Institute for Animated Film 2
University of California, Berkeley 2
Syracuse University 2
The New School 2
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School 1
Rose Bruford College 1
Bethany College 1
Vassar College 1
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 1
Hanover College 1
Illinois Weslyan University 1
McGill University 1
Kenyon College 1
Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts 1
Illinois State University 1
Auburn University 1
National Film and Television School 1
École supérieure d'études cinématographiques (ESEC) 1
Leon Schiller National Higher School of Film, Television and Theatre 1
A.F.I Conservatory 1
National Film School of Denmark 1
University of Sussex 1
Royal College of Art 1
Stony Brook University 1
University for the Creative Arts 1
UCL 1
Sarah Lawrence College 1
Barnard College 1
Santa Monica Community College 1
University of Guadalajara 1
James Madison University 1
Southern Illinois University Carbondale 1
Kellogg University 1
Paris-Sorbonne University 1
École du Louvre 1
University of Colorado Boulder 1
Danish School of Journalism 1
Hamilton College 1
Trinity College Dublin 1
CUNY City College 1
West Virginia University 1
Wingate University 1
Andrés Bello University (UNAB) 1
University of California, San Diego 1
Russian Academy of Theatre Arts 1
Eötvös Loránd University 1
University of Gothenburg 1
Liverpool John Moores University 1
University of Portsmouth 1
London College of Fashion 1
Oxford Brookes University 1
University of California, Los Angeles 1
Hope College 1
Williams College 1
Los Angeles Pierce College 1
California State University-Northridge 1
Central School of Speech and Drama 1
Wimbledon College of Art 1
Academia di Belle Art in Venice 1
University of Brighton 1
Brown University 1
Gobelins School of the Image 1
Cornell University 1
National Institute of Dramatic Art 1
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University 1
Hamburg Media School 1
New Munich Drama School 1
Courtald Institute of Art  1
University of South Florida 1
Fanshawe College 1
The A.C.T Conservatory 1
University of California, Santa Cruz 1
Portland State University 1
Full Sail University 1
Sheridan College 1
Berklee College of Music 1
Coventry University 1
Mississippi State University 1
Sherborne School 1
Ithaca College 1
University of Bristol 1
Bournemouth University 1
University of Canterbury 1
Brigham Young University 1
University of British Columbia 1
University of Pennsylvania 1
London School of Economics and Political Science 1
University of California, Santa Barbara 1
Stanford University 1
University of North Carolina at Greensboro 1
Grinnell College 1
Interlochen Centre for the Arts 1
San Diego State University 1

Read more: Where do Oscar-winning actors and actresses go to university?

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