The elite Oscar club George Clooney is set to join

Posted by · 6:00 am · February 22nd, 2013

Amid all the fuss over Ben Affleck in the run-up to Sunday’s Academy Awards — with his path from surprise omission to probable vindication, all in the space of a few weeks, likely to be the lasting narrative of this year’s Oscars — there’s been markedly little attention paid to his nominated co-producers. That wouldn’t normally be very surprising: producers, by and large, don’t tend to be as photogenic or as headline-friendly as the Ben Afflecks of this world. But it’s slightly different when one of the co-producers in question in George Clooney.

Clooney has been a typically urbane, but graciously quiet, presence on the campaign trail for “Argo” all season long: it’s Affleck’s film, after all, and he’s been selling the hell out of it, so there’s no call for his fellow A-list star to switch on the jazz hands.

Still, I can’t help thinking the Clooney association has been a subtle ace in the hand for “Argo” from the beginning, underlining the impression of “Argo” as an old-school Hollywood property, made — perhaps reassuringly, after the foreign invasion of “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist” — by people voters know, trust and are maybe just a tiny bit in love with. The mental image of both Affleck and Clooney clutching Oscars at the podium — two golden boys squared, if you will — is one reason I haven’t been able to let go of my “Argo” Best Picture prediction since October.

Back then, I wrote about the impressive Oscar record Clooney would claim with a Best Picture nomination for “Argo,” one that would bring his career tally up to eight nominations across six different categories — the latter number unmatched in the modern era (and previously matched, arguably only on a series of technicalities, by Walt Disney). Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Adapted Screenplay, Actor, Supporting Actor (his one previous win, for 2005’s “Syriana”) … the man’s done well for himself. It’s a stat Pete Hammond picked up on in a column yesterday, but his is the first mention of it I’ve come across since my idle post last year.

Still, it doesn’t stop there for Clooney, who’s poised to enter, if not quite the record books, at least a very elite Academy club if/when he wins Best Picture for “Argo” — as one of a small handful of Oscar-winning actors to have also won competitive awards in non-acting categories.

From Shirley MacLaine (did you know she was nominated for Best Documentary Feature in 1976?) to Alec Guinness (a writing nominee for “The Horse’s Mouth”) to screenwriter-turned-actress Ruth Gordon, a number of names have scored nominations in multiple fields while landing their lone win for performance. On the flip side, any number of overachieving multi-hyphenates — Warren Beatty, Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin, even Affleck and Clooney’s buddy Matt Damon — have been nominated in vain for acting while striking Oscar gold elsewhere. 

But only a select few — five, to my surprise — have nailed down wins for acting and another filmmaking discipline. Some of them you may remember; some of them may surprise you — all are listed in the gallery below. Click through to see the company George Clooney looks likely to enter on Sunday.

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