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Oscars: George Clooney, Brad Pitt may be their own worst enemies

October 26, 2011 | 10:09 am


Oscar's acting races are usually a fun study in contrasts -- gregarious actors squaring off against buttoned-down ones; Melissa Leo facing off against, well, anyone.

But this year brings a different sort of beast. Many of the actors are matched up with rivals who will no doubt look familiar: themselves.

As we explore in a piece in today's Times, more than half a dozen actors have multiple movies in the race, complicating things for them, their studios and even filmgoers, who could be forgiven for dropping in on said race only to find themselves saying "This guy again?"

Among the subplots: George Clooney could be deprived of his shot at best actor in "The Descendants" because voters will have devoted their goodwill for him to "The Ides of March," a movie on which he's personally eligible for director, screenplay, picture and supporting actor. Ditto for Brad Pitt, who seems like a favorite candidate for his wisecracking baseball executive in "Moneyball" -- unless some voters decide they'd rather write his name down only for "The Tree of Life."

And because Academy Awards voters are prohibited from voting for a person in the same category twice, Michael Fassbender and Ryan Gosling could be out of luck. Each of them has two lead roles ("Shame" and "A Dangerous Method" for Fassbender and "Drive" and "Ides" for Gosling), which means that voters could give them just about the right amount of votes for each role to deny them a nomination for either.

Ditto for Carey Mulligan, the bridge between the two: She's a strong supporting candidate for both "Drive" and "Shame."

There's a more concrete problem, too. Actors have only so much time, and wherewithal, to devote to the exhausting process that is running for Oscar. That means that when they have two movies they're going to have to decide which one to campaign for, "Sophie's Choice" style.

There's a pretty straightforward reason this is happening (besides hard-working actors). It's a lot tougher to get awards-caliber movies made these days. So producers keep coming back to the same small handful of stars who are perceived as sure things. That's good for these actors' bank accounts. But it may make some of us wonder if there isn't another young actor out there who can star in a drama besides Ryan Gosling.


Oscar's dual role problem

Is Ryan Gosling turning into George Clooney?

Is Brad Pitt beating George Clooney at his own game?

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: George Clooney in "The Ides of March." Credit: Sony Pictures

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