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Can Woody Allen win 'Slumdog Millionaire' star Freida Pinto an Oscar?

February 24, 2009 |  2:29 pm

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Freida Pinto — the love interest in the Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire," — is now the newest young beauty to be cast as Woody Allen's muse. Pinto joins Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins ("The Silence of the Lambs") and Oscar nominees Josh Brolin ("Milk") and Naomi Watts for this untitled project.

Woody Allen's last film — "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," — marked a return to form for the one-time perennial Oscar contender. And while he missed out on a 15th writing nomination, Penelope Cruz became the 15th performer to earn an Oscar nod under Allen's direction. And she was the fourth of Woody's women to win when she took the supporting actress Academy Award for her serio-comic portrayal of a woman on the verge.

The other three actresses who owe their Oscars to Woody Allen are: Diane Keaton, lead actress, "Annie Hall" (1977); Mira Sorvino, supporting actress, "Mighty Aphrodite" (1995); and Dianne Wiest, supporting actress, "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) and "Bullets Over Broadway" (1994). Michael Caine — supporting actor, "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) — is the only man to be directed to an Oscar by Allen.

The 10 more who earned Oscar nods are: Woody himself, lead actor, "Annie Hall" (1977); Judy Davis, supporting actress, "Husbands and Wives" (1992); Mariel Hemingway, supporting actress, "Manhattan" (1979); Martin Landau, supporting actor, "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989); Samantha Morton, supporting actress, "Sweet and Lowdown" (1999); Geraldine Page, lead actress, "Interiors" (1978); Chazz Palminteri, supporting actor, "Bullets Over Broadway" (1994); Sean Penn, lead actor "Sweet and Lowdown" (1999); Maureen Stapleton, supporting actress, "Interiors" (1978); and Jennifer Tilly, supporting actress, "Bullets Over Broadway" (1994).

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While there are no details of this new project, it is possible that it will be made in Europe as it is being financed by MediaPro, the same Spanish company that funded "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." However, Allen's next film — the forthcoming "Whatever Works" — is set in Greenwich Village with Larry David ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") as the Allen stand-in and Evan Rachel Wood ("The Wrestler") as the catalyst for a series of love stories.

Woody Allen is one of the academy's longtime darlings. After ignoring him throughout the first decade of his blazing career ("Bananas," "Sleeper"), members more than caught up with him afterward. In fact, Woody holds the record for most screenplay nominations (14), compared with 12 for Billy Wilder. However, both Allen and Wilder have 21 nominations overall. And while Wilder won six Oscars for his efforts — screenplay, directing, "The Lost Weekend" (1946); screenplay, "Sunset Boulevard" (1951); screenplay, directing, producing, "The Apartment" (1961) — Allen has only two Oscars for writing and directing 1977 best picture champ "Annie Hall." and a third for his 1986 script for "Hannah and Her Sisters."

Woody Allen didn't bother to show up to accept those honors. In 1978 (for the '77 awards), it was far more important to him to remain in New York to play his clarinet in the New Orleans Marching and Funeral Band at Michael's Pub. Back then he scoffed, "I have no regard for that kind of ceremony. I just don't think they know what they're doing. When you see who wins those things — or who doesn't win them — you can see how meaningless this Oscar thing is."

But lots of stars have blasted the Oscars just like that, then turned around and — in the grand tradition of Hollywood hypocrisy — accepted the golden statuette with glee. Think Glenda Jackson, who denounced the kudofest as "a public hanging," and Dustin Hoffman, who pooh-poohed it as "an obscene evening."

Woody Allen did his flipflop in recent years, actually attending the ceremonies in 2002 (for the 2001 awards) and 2007 (for 2006 kudos). Voters may have been reluctant to embrace him with victory after he was tainted with a sex scandal, but they recently forgave Roman Polanski (best director, "The Pianist," 2002), who battled similar woes.

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Photos: Fox Searchlight, Los Angeles Times

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