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December 30, 2008

Oscar for Eastwood, the actor?


He growls and scowls for the duration of the two-hour movie, and his is a polarizing, openly bigoted, racist, crusty character with, as it turns out, a heart not so far underneath.

If you walk into "Gran Torino" knowing that -- or better yet, embracing it -- you might really feel drawn to the movie, as we did, and Clint Eastwood's compelling performance in it.

Does that mean the iconic Eastwood deserves an Oscar nomination for his work here? Never mind that he's said, not so definitively, that this could be his last acting gig.

The question has kept critics and bloggers busy lately, with folks like the Village Voice's Michael Musto, Variety's Anne Thompson, InContention's Kris Tapley and a few others saying that not only will Eastwood be nominated but he'll win.

Over Sean Penn? Over Frank Langella and Mickey Rourke?

We're still, at this point, casting our vote for Penn, no matter what kind of dustup he might be causing by airing his personal politics. We see Langella as a strong second choice but think Rourke, despite the riveting performance he gave as an on-the-ropes grappler in "The Wrestler," won't appeal to enough Academy voters to put him on top.

(We like Jeff Wells' recent post at HollywoodElsewhere that says he's perhaps more taken with "the idea" of Mickey Rourke than with the actor himself. Don't we all love a glorious comeback from a notorious badass?)

Encyclopedic awards guru Tom O'Neil points out that several A-list actor/directors like Eastwood have hit pay dirt for their behind the camera efforts without ever having won an actor trophy. In fact, "no actor who's won an Oscar for directing has ever prevailed in a performance category." That includes Robert Redford, Warren Beatty and Woody Allen. O'Neil thinks Eastwood, already a four-time Oscar winner for directing and producing, will continue that run, and we agree.

Go here to check in on a crop of current Oscarologist picks, including ours, and see how many people have now jumped on our Richard Jenkins bandwagon. Copiers!


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Clint deserves the Oscar over Penn and Rourke. If he doesn't get it, then the academay is just full of Liberal ideologues with their hyper-sensitivities on stereotypical humor. For god's sake, are there any more real men left in American cinema?

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Oscar Contenders

  • So "The Dark Knight" didn't make it into the final five after all, never mind that critical and popular support. Let's just call the comic-inspired mega-hit "The Biggest Snubee."

    Here are the best picture contenders in a race that, two weeks away from the Oscars, seems to be a foregone conclusion ("Slumdog") unless there's a come-from-behind possibility ("The Reader" anyone?)

    "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett; the politically timely "Milk;" rags-to-riches fairy tale, "Slumdog Millionaire," Holocaust best-seller-based drama "The Reader," and Watergate-era biopic "Frost/Nixon."

    Could "Button" and "Slumdog" split the vote, allowing another film to take the prize? Doesn't seem likely. After having clung to "Button" for months as what we thought would be the Academy voters' top vhoice, our money's now on "Slumdog." Momentum can't be ignored.

    Watch this blog for updates, ephemera and all manner of postulating.

Picture this

  • Mmmmm, chocolate Oscar. Not every star will walk away from the 81st annual Academy Awards with a trophy, but if they hit the high-profile Governor's Ball they can have pastry chef Sherry Yard's gold-dusted candy version. Also on the menu from celeb chef Wolfgang Puck is tuna tartare in sesame miso cones, chopped Chino Farms vegetable salad with ginger soy vinaigrette, Maine lobster and caviar. Serve it up! (Getty Images)

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