Woody Allen: Oscar No-show Again?

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Woody Allen: Oscar No-show Again?
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Woody Allen: Oscar No-show Again? (ABC News)

Woody Allen once famously said that "90 percent of life is just showing up."

Now, with Allen's "Midnight in Paris" nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture, a lot of people are wondering if Allen might actually show up at this year's Oscars, being broadcast this Sunday night on ABC.

But, if past awards ceremonies are any indication, don't bet on it.

"Midnight in Paris," which charmed critics and audiences alike, also earned Oscar nominations for best director, original screenplay and art direction. The tale of a modern-day Hollywood screenwriter, Gil (Owen Wilson), who travels back to the Paris of the 1920s to mingle with Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, is Allen's biggest box office hit ever.

Since opening last May, it's taken in more than $56.5 million in this country, and almost $92 million more worldwide. And at age 76, with 41 movies to his credit, Woody Allen is enjoying some of the best reviews of his career, after a string of films that garnered lukewarm reviews.

Peter Travers, whose program "Popcorn" airs on ABC News Now, named "Midnight in Paris" to his Top 10 list, saying, "Allen's love letter to the City of Light is his best and most beguiling film in years." In his Rolling Stone review, Travers wrote, "Not since 1979's Manhattan, in which he rhapsodized over the New York of his black-and-white dreams, has Allen used a camera to make such urgent, passionate love to a city." He added, "For all the film's bracing humor and ravishing romance, there are also haunting shadows. That alone makes it a keeper."

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And what has made this particular romantic comedy and fantasy such a hit with audiences?

On the website Metacritic, one moviegoer said, "I'm ashamed of myself that I never watched a single Woody Allen movie until now. 'Midnight in Paris' is just simply dazzling. The script is smart and provokes intriguing ideas." Another wrote, "Woody Allen's latest film is as light as air, but still manages to say something of substance about the dangers of nostalgia and romanticizing the past."

Woody Allen himself, the quintessential neurotic New Yorker, might have a thing or two to say about the raves.

In a recent Allen biography on PBS's American Masters, Allen said of his many films, "So few of them are worth anything."

But almost 50 years since his first screenplay (1965's "What's New Pussycat") and his directorial debut (1966's "What's Up, Tiger Lily"), Hollywood begs to differ. Allen's writing and directing have earned him more than 20 Oscar nominations, and he was even nominated once for Best Actor for his role in Annie Hall, which won a total of four Academy Awards in 1977, including best picture.

So why is the smart betting money he'll be a no-show on Sunday?

Through all the decades of accolades, Woody Allen has consistently shunned awards shows. Already this season, he skipped the Oscar nominees' luncheon and took a pass on the Golden Globes, where "Midnight in Paris" won best screenplay.

Back in 1974, when his funny, futuristic hit "Sleeper" was ignored by the Academy, Allen was quoted as saying, "The whole concept of awards is silly. I cannot abide by the judgment of other people, because if you accept it when they say you deserve an award, then you have to accept it when they say you don't."

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But there has been one, and only one, time that Allen appeared at the Oscars. He took the stage at the 2002 ceremonies, to show his support for New York in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks and urge the industry to keep making movies in the Big Apple.

In his own kind of personal love letter to the wounded city, he said New York was still a great, romantic, exciting place. In more typical Allen fashion, he acknowledged the standing ovation by quipping, "Thank you very much. That makes up for the strip search."

Now, Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," his love letter to the City of Light, has him front and center at Oscar time once again.

Is he likely to be a winner? Thelma Adams, contributing editor for Yahoo! Movies, tells us that "Midnight in Paris" has its best chance for an Oscar with its writing, and that in the best original screenplay category, it's the one to beat.

And will Allen be a no-show once again? When ABC News contacted his publicist's office on Wednesday, we were told they were not able to comment on that.

But, if 90 percent of life is showing up, when the awards are handed out Sunday night, Woody Allen will probably stick with the 10 percent.

Oscars Backstage Pass: cameras live at 4 p.m. Sunday

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