Queens natives grab Oscar nominations

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As anybody not living under a rock is aware, the 75th Annual Academy Awards will be held Sunday, March 23. And this year Queens has a few of its own that are up for the gold.

Christopher Walken was born and raised in Astoria and still resides in New York City in a brownstone on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Walken’s father, Paul, spent a long career as the owner and operator of Walken’s Bakery in Astoria.

After graduating from Children’s Professional School, Walken went on to Hofstra University and studied English Literature. He left college after only a year because he was offered a part in the 1963 Broadway Musical, “Best Foot Forward.”

“I got a part in ‘Best Foot Forward’ and I went to work. The job was more important than school. I just went to work” Walken said in a published interview. He continued to work mainly as a dancer in musicals for some time before hitting it big as a dramatic actor. He has been nominated for his work in the hit movie “Catch Me If You Can” as a supporting actor.

Also on the list is Woodhaven-born Adrien Brody. Brody said that he wanted to be a performer ever since he was a little boy. His first acting role was when he was 12 years old at a children's party, where he was a magician.

His mother quickly enrolled him in acting classes, attending both the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and the High School for Performing Arts. Brody found work in off-Broadway productions and made his television debut in the 1988 PBS movie “Home at Last.” The sky was the limit for Brody and is now nominated for his lead performance by an actor in “The Pianist.”

Harvey Weinstein, of Queens, is co-chairman (along with his younger brother) of Miramax Films Corporation. Their newly released musical “Chicago” is up for Best Picture, and cast members have garned nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress (There is also a Best Directing nod.).

Weinstein was born in Brooklyn but was raised in Queens. He attended the University of Buffalo. His family was so poor at one point that he had to hich hike up to Buffalo. But his production company has brought him so much success that Weinssten won’t be doing that anytime soon. In 1993 Disney purchased Miramax for $80 million.

Martin Scorsese is one of the most nationally renowned directors of all time with such credits as “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull,” and “Goodfellas.” He was born in Queens but then moved to Little Italy.

In his early years, Scorsese contemplated priesthood and even joined a seminary, but left after only a year. He soon studied at New York University and graduated as a film major in 1964. Scorsese has never won an Oscar but is up for one because of his direction in “Gangs of New York.”

Also, “Why Can’t We Be a Family Again?” a nominee for Best Documentary, Short Subject, focuses on a pair of teenagers from Queens. See more about the film in this week’s Sports pages.

Last year, a film documenting the life a of a street performer from Kew Gardens, “Thoth,” won the same award.

We wish the best of luck to all our nominees.

Best Director

Rob Marshall, “Chicago;” Martin Scorsese, “Gangs of New York;” Stephen Daldry, “The Hours;” Roman Polanski, “The Pianist;” Pedro Almodovar, “Talk to Her.”

Best Picture

“Chicago,” “Gangs of New York,” “The Hours,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” “The Pianist.”

Best Actor

Adrien Brody, “The Pianist;” Nicolas Cage, “Adaptation;” Michael Caine, “The Quiet American;” Daniel Day-Lewis, “Gangs of New York;” Jack Nicholson, “About Schmidt.”

Best Actress

Salma Hayek, “Frida;” Nicole Kidman, “The Hours;” Diane Lane, “Unfaithful;” Julianne Moore, “Far from Heaven;” Renee Zellweger, “Chicago.”

Best Supporting Actor

Chris Cooper, “Adaptation;” Ed Harris, “The Hours;” Paul Newman, “Road to Perdition;” John C. Reilly, “Chicago;” Christopher Walken, “Catch Me If You Can.”

Best Supporting Actress

Kathy Bates, “About Schmidt;” Julianne Moore, “The Hours;” Queen Latifah, “Chicago;” Meryl Streep, “Adaptation;” Catherine Zeta-Jones, “Chicago.”

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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