By Arturo R. García
With apologies to fans of Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, et al., by far the most pleasant surprise of this week’s Academy Awards nominee announcements was seeing Demián Bichir get nominated for Best Actor–alongside “conventional” choices like George Clooney and Brad Pitt–for his role as an undocumented single father in A Better Life.
As Colorlines noted, Bichir’s nomination was one of several nods for Latinos in this year’s Oscar race: cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, also from Mexico, was nominated for Best Cinematography for Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life; Bérénice Bejo, a native of Argentina, earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her turn in the The Artist; Brazilian Sérgio Mendes was nominated for Best Song for “Real in Rio,” his collaboration with Siedah Garrett, of “Man In The Mirror” fame, from the animated film Rio.
But a look at some relevant figures further illustrates how painfully rare Bichir’s accomplishment is.
2: The number of Mexican-born nominees for Best Actor, with Bichir joining Anthony Quinn, who was nominated on two separate occasions, for Wild Is The Wind (1957) and Zorba The Greek (1964).
2: The number of white actors nominated for this category for playing Latino characters (Marlon Brando, 1952, Viva Zapata! and Spencer Tracy, 1958, The Old Man and the Sea).
47: The number of years between Quinn’s nomination for Zorba and Bichir’s nomination.
61: The number of years since a Latino actor born outside of Mexico and the United States was nominated for Best Actor; José Ferrer (born in Puerto Rico in 1912, before it became a U.S. territory) earned the honor in 1950 for Cyrano De Bergerac.
1: The number of:
- Latino actors (going into this year’s ceremony) to win Best Actor, with Ferrer taking the Oscar home.
- Latino actors born in the U.S. to be nominated for the category (Edward James Olmos, 1988, Stand and Deliver.)
- Latinas in Oscars history to win the Best Actress award (Rita Moreno, 1961, West Side Story.)
- Mexican-born actresses ever nominated in that category (Salma Hayek, 2002, Frida.)
0: The number of Latina actresses born in the U.S. to be nominated for Best Actress.
$1,759,252: Total domestic gross for A Better Life, per Box Office Mojo.
$75,524,658: Total domestic gross (as of Jan. 24) for Moneyball, starring Bichir’s fellow nominee Brad Pitt.
11,000,000: The total number of undocumented workers in the United States, as quoted by Bichir in a statement to US Weekly, as he dedicated his nomination to them.
6,650,000: Estimated number of undocumented Mexican immigrants in the U.S. as of 2009, according to the Department of Homeland Security (PDF).
25-to-1: Current odds of Bechir winning the Oscar, according to Vegas Insider.