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Oscar winners of old worth watching again

Turner Classic Movies is kicking off its "31 Days of Oscar" campaign on Monday. It's just what it sounds like — a nonstop, commercial-free marathon of Oscar-winning (or at least nominated) movies on the classic Hollywood cable channel. Give this year's Academy Award contenders a few decades and perhaps they'll be on TCM's playlist, too. Thirty-one days is a lot of couch time for anyone, so Times film critic Steve Persall suggests 10 movies from TCM's lineup that remind him of this year's Oscar contenders. Warm up those DVRs for these selections to kill time before this year's Oscars telecast airs on March 7. You can find the entire schedule at

Feb. 2, 3:15 p.m.

Sergeant York The flip side of The Hurt Locker, with best actor Oscar winner Gary Cooper, above, as a pacifist sharpshooter turned reluctant war hero.

Feb. 7, 8 p.m.

81/2 Federico Fellini's Oscar winner for best foreign film inspired the musical Nine, with its creatively blocked director (Marcello Mastroianni) confronting the women in his life.

Feb. 10, 2:30 a.m.

Tender Mercies — Jeff Bridges' country music has-been in Crazy Heart could be the illegitimate son of Robert Duvall's Mac Sledge. Duvall earned a best actor Oscar, and his appearance in Crazy Heart makes this connection even clearer.

Feb. 13, 5:45 p.m.

Roman Holiday — The first time I saw Carey Mulligan in An Education, she brought memories of the gamine beauty of Audrey Hepburn, below with Eddie Albert, left, and Gregory Peck, in this best actress Oscar winner.

Feb. 19, 2:15 p.m.

Forbidden Planet In order to truly appreciate the special effects in Avatar, revisit this 1957 nominee, featuring a crew of astronauts (including Leslie Nielsen when he acted seriously) in an alien world.

Feb. 20, 8 p.m.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind — Steven Spielberg's notions of alien contact with Earthlings are much more benign than District 9. At least Spielberg put the creatures in a mothership, above Wyoming's Devil's Tower, with enough fuel to return home.

Feb. 22, 6 a.m.

The Stratton Story — Think football player Michael Oher had it tough in The Blind Side? Try being a major league baseball pitcher after losing an leg in a hunting accident. James Stewart, above with June Allyson, is terrific in this fact-based sports drama.

Feb. 23, 2:45 p.m.

The Awful Truth — In order to fully appreciate how (500) Days of Summer reinvents the romantic comedy, check out this 1937 gem starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, above.

Feb. 25, 3:15 a.m.

Mrs. Brown — Emily Blunt's portrayal of Young Victoria is a fitting companion to Judi Dench's Oscar-winning turn as the British monarch in old age.

Feb. 26, 12:15 a.m.

The Dirty Dozen — Wouldn't you love to see a war movie teaming Lee Marvin's convict commandos with Brad Pitt's Inglourious Basterds? Just try to not cry when Jim Brown takes a Nazi bullet in the back.

Steve Persall can be reached at or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at

Oscar winners of old worth watching again 01/29/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 29, 2010 11:08pm]
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