Place Your Bets: How Many Best Director Nominees Will Show Up For the Oscars?

As you may have heard or read, the 2012 Academy Award nominations have stirred strong reactions in certain pockets of the Oscar snubculture. And you just know that Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close filmmaker Stephen Daldry -- a first-time non-nominee for Best Director -- is seething somewhere out there: "But at least two of those guys won't even show up!" Fair enough! Or is it?

While everyone expects Michel Hazanavicius, Alexander Payne and Martin Scorsese to attend the 84th Oscars ceremony on Feb. 26, the odds do not especially favor appearances by Woody Allen and Terrence Malick. Allen, who used to have his longstanding jazz dates at the Cafe Carlyle to excuse him from from the old Monday night Oscars (he has never formally accepted any of his three Academy Awards -- two in 1978 for Annie Hall, one for Hannah and Her Sisters in 1987), has only deigned to drop by the Sunday night Oscars once: In 2002, mere months after the Sept. 11 attacks, he drew a standing ovation before introducing a montage of classic films set in New York. By all indications, Allen's opinion of the event and its organizers hasn't changed much from 34 years ago, when he lobbed one of history's most enduring Oscar dismissals: "I have no regard for that kind of ceremony. I just don't think they know what they're doing. When you see who wins those things -- or who doesn't win them -- you can see how meaningless this Oscar thing is."

That said, Allen would do well to represent the biggest professional success of his career -- particularly on a night that's already shaping up as a showcase for Hollywood's complicated relationships with both nostalgia and the future. Moreover, this year's class of Director nominees contains three world-renowned masters (including Allen) at whom it would be pretty unreasonable to cast aspersions, plus a man who made a silent film about the futility of pride. Industry back-patting aside, this year -- of all years -- would be the one to express a little artistic solidarity with peers like Scorsese and Malick.

Oh, right: Malick. Terry, Terry, Terry. The legendarily publicity-shy filmmaker attended the Cannes premiere of Tree of Life last May but delegated producer Bill Pohlad to accept the Palme d'Or on his behalf. But according to Pohlad, Malick was "genuinely happy" to hear about Tree's nominations and may be responsive to persuasion when it comes to attending.

"I'm hesitant to push Terry to do something he doesn't like doing, but I also want him to enjoy it," Pohlad told the LAT, adding: "Sometimes, its frustrating how removed from it he tries to keep it, but it comes from a real place. He's tried to do something original and adventurous and he wants the focus to be on that."

Hmm. Well, trust me, Mr. Malick: We all pinky-swear to focus on The Tree of Life and all of its originality and adventurousness and the rest if you just drop in for a little while. Ryan Seacrest promises not to accost you on the red carpet; Christopher Plummer promises not to bring up any more hard feelings about The New World. The Academy even promises not to vote for you if not having to take the stage would guarantee your attendance. We'll do anything! Just say the word.

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  • The Winchester says:

    I get the feeling that Clooney would go up and accept for any of them, even if the winning director is in attendance.

  • Artist-hating Charles says:

    I'm not the world's biggest Woody Allen fan, but he's right about the Oscars being pretty damn clueless in picking winners.

    Re Martin Scorsese: In a piece about the nominations, my local movie critic wrote that Scorsese is the "sentimental favorite" to win the directing Oscar.

    I don't get it. If he won just a few years ago for The Departed, what would make him a "sentimental favorite" this year?

  • HighandLow says:

    And in a completely unexpected turn, Woody Allen and Terrance Malick will appear onstage to present The Muppets with Best Original Song!