The film career of George Clooney has already reached a historic level – and he potentially has decades of great films ahead of him!
I absolutely love every decade of film and revere the great masters of the cinema. But in doing so, I think it is important that we consider that some of the best film makers in history are working today. I would argue that directors like Clint Eastwood, Woody Allen and Joel & Ethan Coen have already produced bodies of work that are comparable to those of earlier revered Hollywood directors. It is the same with actors. Amy Adams has never won an Oscar. Neither have Leonardo DiCaprio or Johnny Depp. But I believe that in decades to come film festivals will be built around their amazing careers.
This brings me to George Clooney. George Clooney Oscar nominations have reached historic levels. He has now been nominated for an Oscar in six separate categories. In the sound era when Preston Sturges and Billy Wilder pioneered writing and directing films, it was considered revolutionary. The studio system worked in a well-defined hierarchical manner. Directors directed. Writers wrote. Actors acted. Oscar nominations in multiple categories were fairly rare. Walt Disney was the notable exception, but most of his nominations came as the owner of the studio that allowed him to put his name on work that was not primarily his own. (I refer you to Neal Gabler’s superb biography for a clearer explanation of how Walt Disney’s name became attached to projects and works that he oversaw but did not primarily create.) George Clooney has now been nominated for an Oscar in six separate categories.
GEORGE CLOONEY OSCAR NOMINATIONS
BEST FILM “ARGO” 2012
George Clooney won the Academy award as one of the producers of “Argo.” The premise of the film is a perfect match for George Clooney’s personal and professional interests. It is about modern politics and how Hollywood distorts reality.
BEST ACTOR: “MICHAEL CLAYTON” 2007, “UP IN THE AIR” 2009, “THE DESCENDANTS” 2011
Obviously the Oscars are far from an infallible measure of quality. However, while the Oscars have compiled a long list of blogs and oddball choices, the sheer weight of being nominated for best actor three times in five years can hardly be described as a fluke. Clooney is a tremendous actor. George Clooney Oscar nominations for best actor also tell us about his range. Each of the three roles for which he is nominated was a mature, complex, and intriguing part. None of them are formulaic roles. None came in money-making franchise films. He portrayed complicated, flawed, and interesting men in unique situations.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: “SYRIANA” 2005
George Clooney Oscar nominations began with his win in 2005 as a supporting actor in an intense drama. If you add that acting nomination to his nods for best actor, it means that he was recognized by his hearers four times in seven years. Very few actors can claim that.
BEST DIRECTOR: “GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK” 2005
This dynamic black and white movie about the life of Edward R. Murrow showed what a talented filmmaker George Clooney is. He nurtured superb performances from a talented cast, boldly directed in black and white, and paced the film to increase tension as it sped toward a thrilling climax.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: “GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK” 2005
Not only did George Clooney direct this outstanding film, he also co-wrote and had an important supporting role in it.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: “THE IDES OF MARCH” 2011
George Clooney Oscar nominations clearly show that he is a tremendously gifted writer as well.
THE WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE
In this essay I have used the Oscars as a measuring stick, one I have admitted is imprecise. However all of these nominations could easily have been augmented by others for which George Clooney’s name was lauded. His work as writer/director/supporting actor in “Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind” could easily have netted him another two nods. “Gravity” and “Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?” might have added to his acting nominations. But let’s just look at what is. In the space of eight years, George Clooney has been nominated for eight Oscars in six categories!
Since Jimmy Stewart didn’t direct films, Billy Wilder did not act in films, and Humphrey Bogart didn’t write films, it’s difficult to find direct comparisons for George Clooney. Hollywood greats with whom he might be directly compared would be Warren Beatty, Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen, each of whom wrote, directed, and starred in a number of great films. What distinguishes George Clooney from this particular group of Hollywood heavyweights is that he is still in the middle of his career. Warren Beatty (77 years old at this writing) has not appeared in a feature film since 2001. Clint Eastwood (84) is toward the end of an absolutely brilliant career as a director. At 78, Woody Allen is still going strong and making fabulous films. But George Clooney is only 53 years old.His best work may very well be ahead of him. George Clooney Oscar nominations in six different categories have marked him already as one of the all-time greats in Hollywood.