CINCINNATI - Cincinnati will never be confused for Tinseltown, but as the Academy Awards approach on Feb. 24, the Queen City definitely has a few Oscar jewels that shine.
Take a look at these 9 people and films with local connections who received Oscar nods over the years.
1. Steven Spielberg. Okay, Cincinnati can’t quite claim him all to itself, but the director of Lincoln was born here on Dec. 18, 1946 to Leah Adler and Arnold Spielberg. Spielberg’s family moved often due to his father’s carrier, according to his biography on the New York Times website. The director is nominated for best director this year for his Lincoln biopic. The movie also leads the Oscar nomination field with 12 nods from the Academy. Overall, Spielberg has been nominated for 16 Oscars.
2. Rain Man. Okay, the oak trees lining the drive to St. Anne Convent in Melbourne, Ky. may be gone, but they will never be forgotten. The movie that related the familial bond between brothers Charlie (Tom Cruise) and Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) Babbitt also showcased many Greater Cincinnati staples before Charlie and Raymond trekked cross-country together. The 1988 film picked up eight Oscar nominations, four wins (including best picture) and a permanent spot on any Cincinnati trivia movie list.
3. Seabiscuit: It may seem a stretch, but we’ll take it. The 2003 movie had some primary filming done at Keeneland Racetrack in Lexington, Ky. and other scenes shot in nearby Paris, Ky. So what makes the connection here? The film held an open casting call for local extras in Cincinnati at the Millennium Hotel downtown and more than a couple of locals can be seen in the background. The movie about a race horse was nominated for seven Oscars according to the International Movie Database, but fell short of taking home any of the little gold statues.
: Okay, if this movie were filmed here today, it may be a story of politicians, tolls and bridge replacements, but the superbly directed 2000 Steven Soderbergh drama (for which he won a best director Oscar) took a pretty hard look at the war on drugs, from the supply chain in Mexico to young users in affluent suburbs outside of Cincinnati. The movie was nominated for five Oscars and won four (missing out on picking up the best picture award).
5. The Asphalt Jungle: Before the drug war, and before Axel Rose welcomed Cincinnatians to the jungle, there was director John Houston’s gritty black-and-white 1950 crime/heist drama. Yes, the film was a studio production, so “on location” was really in a Hollywood back lot, but the Roebling Bridge and a 1950 Cincinnati riverfront is clearly seen in opening credits, giving the illusion that the story is happening in the Queen City. As a bonus, and totally not Cincinnati related, The Asphalt Jungle starred a young Marilyn Monroe in a role that earned her critical acclaim and helped launch her career. The movie received four Oscar nominations: Best actor in a supporting role, best black and white cinematography, best director and best writing for screenplay.
6. Doris Day: Staying with the golden age of film, let’s talk about the 90-year-old Doris Day who was born in Evanston on April 3, 1922 and honed her performing skills in local Cincinnati theater and radio before moving on to Hollywood. Beyond her 650-plus music recordings, the Cincinnati native starred in 39 films and was nominated for best actress in a leading role for her role in the 1959 film, “Pillow Talk.” She shared the nomination with Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and winner Simone Signoret.
7. George Clooney: If you think about it, the transition from the Golden Age of cinema, back to the present makes perfect sense with George. The man with eight Oscar nominations, and 1 win, comes from a family with roots in front of the camera. His aunt, Rosemary Clooney, had a prolific career as a singer and golden age film star, even crossing paths with Doris Day as they both started their careers locally. This isn’t to mention George’s dad, Nick, with his storied career as a TV broadcaster and longtime columnist for the late Scripps newspaper, The Cincinnati Post. Also, George showed Cincy (though the Clooneys hail from Maysville, Ky.) some love by filming the eighth Cincinnati-Oscar related item here.
8. The Ides of March: Okay, so, anyone from this area hoped the political thriller directed by George did better than it did with only one nomination at the Oscars last year, but man was the area abuzz in February 2011 when primary filming started here. Downtown pretty much stopped when film crews were out and there are hundreds of stories, some true and some probably not, about seeing either Clooney or Ryan Gosling around town. For those with short memory, that Oscar nom Ides received was for best writing, adapted screenplay.
9. A Doll’s House: This one is more like six degrees of Oscar separation and most definitely looking ahead, if it happens at all. Listed as “in pre-production,” the seventh adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 dramatic work was set to begin filming here in January of last year, but then got delayed to late fall and now? Who knows? The Internet is silent on this one. So what’s the Oscar connection anyway? The current adaptation is set to be filmed in Cincinnati and stars actor Ben Kingsley as Dr. Rank. The Academy has nominated Kingsley for four Oscars, and he won one for his portrayal of Ghandi in the 1982 film of the same name.
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