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'Beginners' could bring Christopher Plummer an overdue Oscar

July 1, 2011 |  2:33 pm


It seems hard to believe, but Christopher Plummer -- who has starred in an Oscar best picture ("The Sound of Music") and was nominated for acting in the past -- has never won an Academy Award. But that may soon change thanks to his critically praised performance in "Beginners."

In the movie, written and directed by Mike Mills, Plummer plays an aging father who, after the death of his wife, finally admits to his son (Ewan McGregor) that he is gay. Roger Ebert calls Plummer "an actor filled with presence and grace" and declares that he "brings a dignified joy" to the character. Meanwhile, the L.A. Times' Betsy Sharkey says Plummer "seems to be having the time of his life" in this role.

After appearing in nearly 200 movies and television programs, the 81-year-old Plummer only has one Academy Award nod to his credit, as supporting actor for "The Last Station" (2010). He lost out to Christoph Waltz for "Inglourious Basterds."

It turns out that the television academy likes him quite a bit more, having thrown six Emmy nominations his way over the years. Plummer reaped two Emmy wins from that lot -- first as lead actor in a limited series for "The Moneychangers" (1977) and more recently for his work as a voice-over performer for "Madeline" (1994).

Plummer has two factors in his favor as he enters this Oscar derby. Voters love to reward veterans in that supporting category such as past champs Alan Arkin ("Little Miss Sunshine") and Jack Palance ("City Slickers"). Voters also like to hail straight actors who play gay such as winners in the lead actor race Sean Penn ("Milk") and Tom Hanks ("Philadelphia").


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-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Christopher Plummer, left, and Ewan McGregor in "Beginners." Credit: Andrew Tepper / Focus Features