Academy Awards nominations 2019: 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 15 2019
Oscars statuettes for Academy Awards

This year will mark the 91st 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 82 universities, theatre schools and specialist schools from all over the world on this list. 

Unsurprisingly, universities in North America and the UK dominate the table, but universities from Ireland, Italy, Mexico and Poland 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 – and some of the nominees’ education information was not available online at the time of publication. 

University of Southern California: five nominated alumni

The University of Southern California produced the highest number of nominees for the 2019 Oscars, improving from last year. Founded in 1880, it is the oldest private research facility in California.

Among this year’s crop hailing from the University of Southern California are Regina King, up for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her work in If Beale Street Could Talk and John Ottman, nominated for Best Editor for Bohemian Rhapsody.

Two of the university’s nominees are in the Best Short Documentary category, Jonathan Chinn for Black Sheep and Rayka Zehtabchi for Period. End of Sentence. 

Alumnus Film Nomination
Regina King If Beale Street Could Talk Best Supporting Actress
Erik Aadahal A Quiet Place Sound Mixing
John Ottman Bohemian Rhapsody Editing
Rayka Zehtabchi Period. End of Sentence Best Short Documentary
Jonathan Chinn Black Sheep Best Short Documentary

California Institute of the Arts: three nominated alumni

The California Institute of Arts or CalArts is made up of six professional art schools. It holds the monopoly for nominations in animation categories this year.

The nominees include Brad Bird, who was given a scholarship to attend California Institute of the Arts by Disney. He has previously won Academy Awards for Incredibles (2004) and Ratatouille (2007). Incredibles 2 was the second highest grossing animated film of all time.

Bird is up against Rich Moore, who is also nominated for his work on a sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet. Moore previously worked on the film's predecessor, Wreck-It Ralph (2012) as well as a number of other animated Disney movies and The Simpsons and Futurama

Alumnus Film Nomination
Brad Bird Incredibles 2 Best Animated Feature
Rich Moore Ralph Breaks the Internet Best Animated Feature
Andrew Chesworth One Small Step Best Animated Short

New York University: six nominated alumni

New York University, along with New York University’s Tisch School of Performing Arts, claims six nominees this year.

This includes Grammy-award winning popstar Lady Gaga (A Star is Born), nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Lady Gaga made her feature debut with the film and also helped write its soundtrack. Gaga dropped out of Tisch after a year in order to pursue her music career full time.

Mahershala Ali, who also attended Tisch, is nominated for his supporting role in Green Book. This is the second time Ali has been nominated in this category following his victory at the 2017 Oscars for his role in Moonlight.

Alumnus Film Nomination
Lady Gaga A Star is Born Actress in a Leading Role
Mahershala Ali Greeen Book Best Supporting Actor
María del Puy Alvarado Mother Live Action Short

University of Cambridge: two nominated alumni

As one of the most prestigious universities in the world, the University of Cambridge was bound to appear on this list. Both nominated for their work in The Favourite, Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz were both involved in student drama productions while studying at the university. 

Alumnus Film Nomination
Olivia Colman The Favourite Actress in a leading role
Rachel Weisz The Favourite Best Supporting Actress

Dartmouth College: two nominated alumni

Two Dartmouth College alumni have been nominated for their work on animated feature Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller met as freshman at the university and have gone on to write and direct several films together including Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009) and The Lego Movie (2014).

Almnus Film Nomination
Phil Lord Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse Best Animated Feature
Christopher Miller  Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse Best Animated Feature

University of Oregon: two nominated alumni

Skye Fitzgerald, who is nominated for his work documenting refugees in Lifeboat, was also a Fulbright Research Scholar, for his work on previous documentaries. 

Alumnus Film Nomination
Skye Fitzgerald Lifeboat Best Documentary Short
Sam Elliott A Star is Born Best Supporting Actor

National Film and Television School: two nominated alumni

Both nominees from the UK’s National Film and Television School based in London are nominated for their short animation, Animal Behaviour. They met as students and went on to marry and set up their own animation studio together.

Alumnus Film Nomination
Alison Snowden Animal Behaviour Animated Short
David Fine Animal Behaviour Animated Short

Where did the rest of the nominees go to university?

University Number of Nominees
Central School of Art 2
Columbia University - Journalism School 2
Concordia University 2
Georgetown University 2
National Autonomous University of Mexico 2
National Film School Ireland 2
San Francisco State University 2
Sheridan College 2
University of California, Los Angeles 2
Villanova University 1
AFI Conservatory 1
Allegheny College 1
American Conservatory Theatre School 1
American University 1
Baker University 1
Bellevue Community College 1
Bennington College 1
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School 1
California State University, Fullerton 1
Camera Obscura School of Art 1
Carleton College 1
Chapman University 1
Clark College 1
Colgate University 1
Complutense University of Madrid 1
DePaul University School of Music 1
DePauw University 1
Duke University 1
Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology 1
German Film and Television Academy Berlin 1
Hampton University 1
Harvard University 1
Indiana University 1
Johns Hopkins University 1
Kanazawa College of Art 1
Los Angeles City College 1
LMU Munich 1
Middlebury College 1
Morehouse College 1
National Film School in Lodz 1
National Institute of Dramatic Art 1
New York University 1
Northwestern University 1
Penn State University  1
Pratt Institute New York 1
Princeton University 1
Rhode Island School of Design 1
Solent University 1
Southern Illinois University 1
St Lawrence University 1
St Mary's College of California 1
Stavrako High Institute of Cinematographic Art and Television 1
Teesside University 1
Temple University 1
The Art Institutes 1
University of Huddersfield 1
Université du Québec à Montréal 1
University for Television and Film Munich 1
University of Adelaide 1
University of Brighton School of Art 1
University of California, San Diego 1
University of California, Santa Barbara 1
University of Cape Town 1
University of Cincinnati 1
University of Evansville 1
University of Florence 1
University of Hertfordshire 1
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1
University of Notre Dame 1
University of Oxford 1
University of Texas at Austin 1
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 1
Vassar College 1
Wright State University 1
Yale Law School 1

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


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