Oscar nods look likely for triple threat George Clooney -- The director of ''Good Night, and Good Luck'' and star of ''Syriana'' talks about his good fortune and being provocative
Credit: George Clooney Photograph by James White

It’s the day before the announcement of the Directors Guild Award nominees, and although George Clooney is considered a sure thing for directing Good Night, and Good Luck, he won’t exactly be waiting by the phone for the 10 o’clock news.

”Here’s what I’m doing tomorrow. You’ll enjoy this,” he says. ”I’m getting a colonoscopy at 9 a.m. I scheduled it when I knew that the DGA nominations were coming because I figured any news is good news after that. ‘Well, you didn’t get a nomination.’ ‘Well, how’s the colon looking?”’ Plus, there’s a bonus: ”I hear they drug you up.”

There’ll be no need for any sedation when this year’s Oscar nominations are revealed on Jan. 31 — Clooney’s chances are as clear as a healthy GI tract. The 44-year-old actor-filmmaker, who won a Golden Globe for O Brother, Where Art Thou and received two Emmy nods for ER but has never been short-listed for an Academy Award, is well on his way to earning three nominations this year: Along with being recognized for co-writing and directing the crackling history lesson Good Night, and Good Luck, about CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow’s televised tussle with anti-Communist senator Joseph McCarthy, he’s also a likely Best Supporting Actor nominee for Syriana, the hot-button oil-industry exposé Clooney also exec-produced. In other words, get him a tuxedo: stat!

Having recently wrapped The Good German, which marks the fifth time he’s been directed by Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh, Clooney has been home in Los Angeles getting his ”oil changed,” as he puts it: ”I went to the dentist, which I was way late on. Friday I’m doing Lasik surgery on my eye.” Over a lunch of spaghetti and meatballs at his favorite West Hollywood ”hang,” we quizzed the politically aware (and unapologetically liberal) filmmaker on his two attention-grabbing — and awards-grabbing — projects.

EW You’ve never attended the Oscars before. But certainly you’ve been invited as a guest, right?
CLOONEY They’ve asked me to present. But that seems like me trying to force my way into a party that I wasn’t invited to. I think you go to the Oscars when you’re nominated.

EW From your two films to Munich, The Constant Gardener, and even Brokeback Mountain, this year’s awards will be dominated by political movies. Why do you think that’s happening right now?
CLOONEY Film reflects society; it doesn’t lead society. I don’t think we’re first responders. It takes us two years always. The best era of films was 1964 to ’76. They were reflecting all the upheaval in America: the Vietnam rage, the civil rights movement, the drug counterculture, Watergate. All that s— started playing out in film. You find there haven’t been many political films made [recently]. For instance, Three Kings was a really political film, but it didn’t hold political water in 1999, because there was no upheaval. It was just like, ”Oh, yeah, that was Iraq; that’s done.” But if you look at it now, the shift in [U.S.] policy made everybody in the world go from [saying] ”We’re all Americans, we’ve all suffered” to ”What the hell are you doing with all this ‘capital’ that you’ve just earned?” And you start to see some of that outrage play out in cinema. I thought The Constant Gardener was fantastic. That guy’s the real deal, [Fernando] Meirelles. What’s great about Hollywood in general is that when we get told we can’t do something, we tend to be pretty good at going, ”Hold on a minute.” Brokeback Mountain is a perfect example of that, where it’s like, Let’s take the most protected cinematic characters — the cowboys — and turn ’em on their ear.

Good Night, and Good Luck
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