Oscar buzz from years past

With the countdown to Oscar continuing, there’s something for everyone at the movies this weekend.

Thanks to broadcast and cable television stations, you can follow your favorite Oscar winners and nominees in a range of film favorites.

Take a look.

Rango (2011)

Many movie fans anticipated that Johnny Depp would be Oscar-nominated this year for his rich performance in Black Mass. But the Best Actor category proved to be more competitive than many anticipated. Of course, a few years ago, there was a push to consider Depp for Oscar attention for his voice performance in this animated hit. Depp is a hoot as an ultimate hero who displays more bravery than he expects. Or not. While the nomination didn’t happen, the film is a joy.

Friday, January 22, 5:30 pm; Saturday, January 23, 3 pm, FXM

Dear Heart (1964)

In the early 1960s, Henry Mancini dominated the Oscar races for music, including awards for such songs as Moon River (from Breakfast at Tiffanys) and Days of Wine and Roses. It seemed that, every year, all Mancini had to do was write a melody to be nominated. In 1964, his lovely title song for this romantic comedy landed in the top five. The film, a charming story of an unpredictable middle-aged romance, offers a snapshot of an earlier time. And Angela Lansbury, as always, steals every scene.

Friday, January 22, 6 pm, Turner Classic Movies (TCM)

How Green Was My Valley (1941)

Back in 1941, the Oscar buzz was dominated by a brash newcomer named Orson Welles and his controversial film Citizen Kane. While most observers anticipated it to sweep on Academy Awards night, Welles walked away with one award, for Best Original Screenplay. Instead the Academy chose a meticulous drama about the people in a small village in Wales as its Best Picture. Directed by John Ford, Valley is a wondrous example of Hollywood craftsmanship. And, at Oscar time, that can distract voters from the merits of a classic.

Saturday, January 23, 1 pm, FXM

Scent of a Woman (1991)

After years of losing Academy Awards many thought he deserved – for such iconic portrayals as in The Godfather (I and II), Dog Day Afternoon and Serpico – Al Pacino was finally named Best Actor for a movie that barely taps the depth of his talent. As a blind man trying to experience every dimension of life, Pacino certainly dominates the screen. But his performance – as entertaining as it may be – lacks the subtlety and tension of his best screen work. Still it was good to see Pacino get the award he long deserved.

Saturday, January 23, 1 pm, Sundance

Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991)

After someone wins an Oscar, movie fans study the next movie. And when Kevin Costner was named Best Director (and nominated for Best Actor) for Dances With Wolves in 1990, all eyes were on what he would do next. While this interpretation of the Robin Hood tale has its moments, Costner’s attempt at a British accent is painful at best. He simply can’t nail the rhythm. But the late, great Alan Rickman is on hand as the Sheriff of Nottingham. And he makes the movie fun to watch.

Saturday, January 23, 8 pm, BBC

Rear Window (1954)

Oscar teased with Alfred Hitchcock several times during the director’s magical career. When his film Rebecca was named the Best Picture of 1940, he lost the director’s award to John Ford. And, despite five nominations, he never won a competitive Academy Award, although he was honored with the Irving Thalberg citation in 1967. This classic film – my family’s favorite Hitchcock – brought the director his fourth nomination. Still, despite the perfection of the work, the director lost on Oscar night to Elia Kazan (for On the Waterfront).

Sunday, January 24, 10 am, BBC

Psycho (1960)

Several years later, Hitchcock would receive his final Oscar nomination for Best Director for this classic thriller. The director was secretive about the film during production. He shot it with the crew from his television show, protected the secrets of the script, and released the final product in small “neighborhood theaters” that primarily showed second-run films. And, for the first time, moviegoers got to see a toilet flush. Hitchcock created an instant sensation and was again in the Oscar race. But he lost to Billy Wilder.

Sunday, January 24, 6:30 pm, BBC

As the countdown to Oscar continues, look for more suggestions for family viewing next week! Until then, see you at the movies.