Lexington native George Clooney is once again an Oscar nominee, this year for Up in the Air, a movie that got a lot of love from the Academy when nominations were announced on Tuesday morning.
The film, about a man who has untethered himself from any personal commitments, also got nods for best picture, best supporting actress for Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick, best director for Jason Reitman, and best adapted screenplay for Reitman and Sheldon Turner. It is the third acting nomination for Clooney, who won best supporting actor in 2005 for “Syriana” and was also nominated for best actor in 2007 for “Michael Clayton.” He was also nominated for best director and screenplay in 2005 for “Good Night, and Good Luck.”
In addition to “Up in the Air,” Clooney’s “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” was nominated for best animated feature.
If precedent-setting awards are any indicator though, Clooney will probably end up applauding Jeff Bridges on Oscar night, March 7. The veteran actor, who filmed two movies in the Lexington area in the last several years, “Simpatico” (1999) and “Seabiscuit” (2003), has already picked up the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award among several other honors for his performance as an aging country musican in “Crazy Heart.” The movie, which is scheduled to open Friday in Lexington, also has Kentucky ties in writer and director Scott Cooper, who grew up in Somerset. Maggie Gyllenhaal, who plays a reporter who interviews Bridges’ character, also earned a nomination for best supporting actor.
That’s the local interest in Oscar, though the world will be buzzing about the Academy’s new 10-feature slate of best picture nominees, and which blockbusters made it in along with the art-house fare that has dominated the category the past decade.
Among the surprises was “The Blind Side,” Sandra Bullock’s based-on-a-true-story film about a man who rises from poverty to become a professional football player. The hit joined “District 9″ and “Up,” also nominated for best animated feature, as films the Academy hopes will draw more viewers to Oscars, which have suffered declining ratings in recent years.
The best picture contest though seems to come down to a David-and-Goliath race between James Cameron’s “Avatar,” now the all-time box office champ, and his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow’s low-budget “The Hurt Locker.” If Bigelow beats her ex in the best director race, it will be the first time a woman has won the Oscar for best director.
Despite 10 nominees for best picture, there are some notable snubs, primarily “The Hangover,” which was a surprise winner of the Golden Globe for best picture comedy or musical. It also would have brought some populist interest to Oscar as “Hangover” is the highest grossing R-rated comedy in history. Of course the whole 10-picture, let’s-get-more-blockbusters-in-the-race thing started when critically acclaimed Batman film “The Dark Knight” was shut out last year. This year’s well-received “Star Trek” reboot was expected to be the best shot at a franchise film making it into the race, but it was left out of the running.