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Can Clint Eastwood really win best actor? (Uh-oh! Wait! He's got to get nominated first)

December 29, 2008 |  4:10 pm

Michael Musto of the Village Voice isn't the only guru who believes that Clint Eastwood ("Gran Torino") will win best actor at the Oscars. Snooping through The Envelope's Buzzmeter, I see that Anne Thompson of Variety, Jeff Wells of Hollywood-Elsewhere.com and Kris Tapley of InContention.com agree. Thelma Adams of Us Weekly ranks Clint second behind Sean Penn ("Milk").

Hmmmm. Most other pundits rank Clint Eastwood low — down in the fourth position (Sasha Stone of AwardsDaily.com, Lou Lumenick of the New York Post and Ed Douglas of Comingsoon.net) or fifth place (Pete Hammond, Scott Feinberg, Mark Olsen and Patrick Kevin Day of The Envelope, Anthony Breznican of USA Today and Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today.

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Personally, I'm not confident about what to think. Right now I've got Clint dangling dubiously in my fifth slot, but I'm tempted to boot him for Richard Jenkins ("The Visitor"), who got a SAG nomination. Clint got snubbed by SAG and the Golden Globes. Yikes — that's serious!

However, looking back over the past three years — 60 Oscar noms for acting in lead and supporting — three contenders did manage to break into the academy derby after being similarly skunked earlier: Tommy Lee Jones ("In the Valley of Elah," 2007), Laura Linney ("The Savages," 2007) and William Hurt ("History of Violence," 2005). Please note: none of them won.

Clint's never received solo acting nominations at the Golden Globes or SAG, come to think of it, but he nonetheless got nominated twice at the Oscars for acting in best-picture nominees "Unforgiven" (1992) and Million Dollar Baby" (2004). So perhaps those snubs are meaningless again this time.

Maybe Clint is cursed just like all of those other actors who won for directing, like Robert Redford ("Ordinary People," 1980), Warren Beatty ("Reds," 1981), Kevin Costner ("Dances with Wolves," 1990), Mel Gibson ("Braveheart," 1995) — even John Huston ("Treasure of the Sierra Madre," 1948), Woody Allen ("Annie Hall," 1977), Richard Attenborough ("Gandhi," 1982) and Syndey Pollack ("Out of Africa," 1985). No actor who's won an Oscar for directing has ever prevailed in a performance category.

Sure, Clint is that rare, enduring superstar who's proved to be a Super Man in many showbiz fields — and "Gran Torino" may be special too. Clint insists that it's his last acting role. Is that enough to get him nominated? And get him a breakthrough, historic win? Currently, he holds four Oscar statuettes, two for directing and two for producing best picture champs "Unforgiven" and "Million Dollar Baby."

Yes, Clint won best actor from National Board of Review, but, come one, so did Campbell Scott ("Roger Dodger," 2002).

NOTE: An earlier version of this article noted that Clint Eastwood received a SAG Award nomination for "Million Dollar Baby." That's true, but only as a member of the film's ensemble acting team. He wasn't nominated by the guild for best actor. The details have been clarified above.


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