George Clooney takes us behind the scenes of “Ides of March” – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell Most talents would be thrilled to have one viable Oscar contender in the mix as we head into the final quarter of 2011. George Clooney, however, has two legitimate awards contenders under his belt, and the general public gets their first peek at one this Friday.

Clooney’s fourth directorial effort, “The Ides of March,” does for political campaigns what his Oscar-nominated “Good Night, and Good Luck” did for broadcast journalism. Once again, Clooney (who also stars) assembles a top-notch ensemble and hands them a virtually air-tight script about an up-and-coming political analyst (Ryan Gosling) who finds himself backed into corners as he races to put out fires for his boss (Clooney), a Democratic governor with his eye on his party’s presidential nomination.

Everybody in the cast – from Philip Seymour Hoffman to Paul Giamatti – gets a chance to step up to the plate. And everybody rewards Clooney with a home run shot into the upper-deck bleachers. (Apologies for the multiple baseball analogies. They must be left over from all of my “Moneyball” raves.)

“Ides” has been performing well with critics. Currently, it has an 83% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and will be collecting reviews all week.

The next challenge will be box office, which can make or creak a campaign. Just ask “50/50.”

In the meantime, Yahoo Movies has a two-minute, behind-the-scenes clip on “Ides” that they’ve posted to their site in preparation for this Friday’s release. See it HERE. And we also have a separate featurette with some insight from Clooney and his co-screenwriter Grant Heslov. We’ll have plenty more coverage on “Ides” as we approach the film’s Friday release.

For complete Oscar and Film Festival coverage, visit our Awards Alley for the latest news items, reviews and interviews all season long.

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