Three Ducks will have a chance to collect 2018 Academy Awards

James Ivory

When the curtain rises on the 90th Academy Awards ceremony this Sunday, it will bring an opportunity to root for several Ducks as well as a favorite film.

Three UO alumni are competing for Oscars in major categories this year. Acclaimed filmmaker James Ivory — a 1951 graduate whose papers are held in the permanent collections of the UO Libraries — is nominated in the category of best adapted screenplay for “Call Me by Your Name.”

Dennis Gassner, a 1971 graduate, is nominated for best achievement in production design for his work on “Blade Runner 2049.” And Bergen Swanson, a 1996 graduate, was an executive producer on “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which is nominated for best picture. All three Oscar nominees hold degrees from what is now the UO’s College of Design.

“People tend to imagine that Hollywood filmmakers are born and raised in LA or NYC,” said Michael Aronson, head of the Department of Cinema Studies. “But to have three UO alum nominated for major Oscars this year is recognition that artists that make the kinds of movies which are celebrated worldwide can just as easily come from Klamath Falls.

“Clearly, long before we had a cinema studies department, the university has helped nurture the creative talent of our students, and we can all be proud that these three and their critically acclaimed movies will continue to inspire future generations of Oregon filmmakers, artists and scholars.”

Following an acclaimed filmmaking career with Merchant-Ivory Productions and three previous Oscar nominations in the best director category, Ivory heads up the “UO delegation” of 2018 nominees. Adapted from a novel by André Aciman, his script for “Call Me by Your Name” is a romantic, coming-of-age drama set in a multicultural and multilingual Italian household.

In addition to Ivory’s screenwriting nod, the film has been nominated in the categories of best picture, best original song and best actor in a leading role.

“Call Me By Your Name” headlined UO’s 26th Queer Film Festival in February. The festival partnered with the cinema studies department to bring Ivory to campus for a question-and-answer session following the sold-out screening in the Erb Memorial Union.

When asked about his Oscar plans, Ivory, whose films made in partnership with Ismail Merchant were previously nominated for 31 Academy Awards, said that it was nice to be nominated again but not much planning would be required.

“Sure, I’ll be going. But a man doesn’t have to pick out an outfit — he has a tuxedo, keeps it in a bag in a closet, gets it out and makes sure it’s pressed and doesn’t have any spots on it, and makes sure he has a couple shirts.”

Like Ivory, the other UO alumni will not be attending the Oscars for the first time. Gassner has collected five previous nominations and won the Academy Award for best art direction-set decoration for his work on 1991’s “Bugsy,” which he shared with Nancy Haigh. Swanson’s previous production credits include work on the Oscar-nominated films “The Kids Are All Right” in 2010 and “Wild” in 2014.

“It’s been a very good season for movies,” Ivory said. “It’s been a good year, I think. I’ve seen a lot of films that I’ve been very fond of, and I’m sure there are other good ones out there and I will do my best to see them all before I have to vote.” 

—By Jason Stone, University Communications