Oscar voters fail to make Clint Eastwood's day

Thu Jan 22, 2009 2:40pm EST
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Clint Eastwood just made one of the biggest movies of his career, but Oscar voters kicked the tires of "Gran Torino" and drove off in other vehicles.

The drama which Eastwood directed, produced and starred in -- as well as co-wrote the theme song -- failed to score a single mention when nominations for the 81st annual Academy Awards were announced on Thursday.

"Gran Torino's" best hope was for an acting award for Eastwood himself. He plays a grumpy old war veteran who takes on Hmong gang members, Dirty Harry-style. The Hollywood tough guy has four Oscars, but none for acting.

Of course, with five slots in the main categories, somebody's favorite film will always miss out. And "Gran Torino" fared poorly in other races this season with a grand total of zero Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards.

On the other hand, audiences embraced the Warner Bros. release. The recent chart-topper is on track to earn about $130 million at the North American box office, surpassing 1993's "In the Line of Fire" to become Eastwood's biggest movie to date.

Some critics said they were less than surprised by the snub. Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Observer said "Gran Torino" was "close to a Clint Eastwood parody."

As he did in 2007, Eastwood had two films in contention. He also directed the fact-based corruption drama "Changeling," which earned three nominations, including best actress for Angelina Jolie.

The Oscar frontrunners are "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" with 13 nominations and "Slumdog Millionaire" with 10.   Continued...

<p>Clint Eastwood accepts the award for Best Actor in "Gran Torino" at the National Board of Review Awards Gala in New York January 14, 2009. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton</p>