CATEGORIES Movie NewsIt's not clear yet what form the Oscars' tribute to the James Bond franchise will take. On Friday, the Academy announced it had booked Shirley Bassey for her first-ever Oscar show appearance, so at the very least, we're likely get to hear her belt out one or more of the three Bond movie theme songs she recorded ("Moonraker," "Diamonds Are Forever" and of course, "Goldfinger"). We also know Adele will be on hand to sing her currently nominated theme to "Skyfall."
Beyond that, Oscar host Seth MacFarlane has made a promo clip where he plays a bartender who makes fun of James Bond (Pierce Brosnan, in an archival clip) for the distinctive way he orders his martini. Otherwise, there are few clues as to what shape the tribute will take, though there is a rumor that all six men who've played 007 -- Daniel Craig, Brosnan, Timothy Dalton, Roger Moore, George Lazenby and the now-reclusive Sean Connery -- will make an appearance.
At any rate, it's a good time for Oscar to pay homage to 007. Not only did 2012 mark the franchise's 50th anniversary, but "Skyfall" is also the most nominated Bond film ever, up for five prizes at the Feb. 24 ceremony. Still, just because Bond went in an artier direction with "Skyfall" (from its Oscar-pedigreed director, "American Beauty" alum Sam Mendes) doesn't mean that the Academy and the 007 movies don't have a long, shared history. In fact, the two dozen Bond films have been nominated for 14 Academy Awards over the past half century and have won twice.
The nominations began to roll in as early as the third Bond film, 1964's "Goldfinger" (the movie that most longtime 007 fans would agree was the first to get the formula just right). That film earned an Oscar for Best Sound Effects for Norman Wanstall, who worked on the first five Bond movies. The following year, "Thunderball," with its flying jet pack and underwater sequences, won an Oscar for Best Special Visual Effects for John Stears.
In 1971, "Diamonds Are Forever" earned an Oscar nomination for Best Sound for the team of Gordon K. McCallum, John W. Mitchell and Al Overton. "Diamonds" lost to the musical "Fiddler on the Roof," but McCallum won anyway, as he had worked on the "Fiddler" sound team as well. Mitchell, who worked on several Bond movies, was nominated again 13 years later for David Lean's "A Passage to India." For Overton, "Diamonds" represented his sole Bond film and his only Oscar nomination.
For 1973's "Live and Let Die," the smash theme song, composed by Paul and Linda McCartney, earned a Best Song nomination, but it lost to Marvin Hamlisch's "The Way We Were." A few years later, the 007 producers were smart enough to hire Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager to compose "Nobody Does It Better," the theme from 1977's "The Spy Who Loved Me." They also hired Hamlisch to compose the film's instrumental score. Hamlisch's song and score were both nominated, but they lost to the theme from "You Light Up My Life" and John Williams' epic "Star Wars" score, respectively.
"Spy" earned a third nomination for Art Decoration/Set Decoration, but it also lost that category to "Star Wars." One of the "Spy" nominees was Ken Adam, the influential art director who had been with the Bond franchise from the beginning. He was renowned for having created on a tight budget the elaborate sets like the villain's lair in "Dr. No" (the first 007 movie, from 1962), thus drawing the blueprint for the franchise's look for decades to come.
With its extensive outer-space sequences, 1979's "Moonraker" earned a Best Visual Effects nomination for the team of Derek Meddings, Paul Wilson, and John Evans, all of them veterans of several 007 films. That was a tough year, however, with three other space/sci-fi pics in the category: "The Black Hole," "Star Trek: The Motion Picture," and "Alien," which won the prize.
"For Your Eyes Only," released in 1981, earned a Best Song nomination for composers Bill Conti and Michael Leeson but lost to the theme from "Arthur." Conti, who is best known for composing "Gonna Fly Now" (the nominated theme from "Rocky"), won an Oscar two years later for scoring "The Right Stuff." He also spent several years conducting the pit orchestra at the Academy Awards ceremony, where it was his job to play long-winded speechmakers off the stage.
In the three decades since "For Your Eyes Only," the Bond franchise has suffered an Oscar drought until this year's "Skyfall" windfall. Among the nominees are some Oscar bridesmaids who are long overdue for their first win. "Skyfall" marks the tenth nomination for Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins, who has never won. He's best known for his painterly work on Joel and Ethan Coen's films; five of his Coen brothers projects, from "Fargo" (1996) to "True Grit" (2010) have earned him nominations. "Skyfall" composer Thomas Newman, best known for his "American Beauty" score, is hoping for his first win out of 11 nominations to date. Sound Mixing nominee Greg P. Russell, who shares his "Skyfall" nod with Scott Milian and Stuart Wilson, was 0 for 15 before this year. (Wilson has never won either, but "Skyfall" is only his second nomination. Milian has earned four Oscars; this is his eighth nomination.)
"Skyfall" has a nomination for Best Sound Editing for Per Halberg and Karen M. Baker. Halberg has been nominated four times and has won twice, for "Braveheart" and "The Bourne Ultimatum," an Oscar shared with Baker.
Of course, "Skyfall"'s best shot at an Academy Award is Best Original Song, for the theme composed by Adele and Paul Epworth, both first-time nominees. It's only been a year since Adele walked away from the Grammy stage with an armful of trophies, and she's still soaring on awards momentum from that event, so she's the frontrunner in the category.
Will Adele (or any of her fellow "Skyfall" nominees") become the first 007 Oscar winner in 47 years? Will the six James Bond stars form a kickline? No one knows, but one thing is certain: James Bond knows how to rock a tuxedo, so he'll look right at home on the Oscar stage.