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Majestic sweep

January 02, 2008|Lisa Rosen | Special to The Times

THERE is no question that Helen Mirren won last year's acting Oscar (and Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild and British academy awards, ad infinitum) on the strength of her immense talent. But if one were to track her appearances that fall and winter of 2006, it might appear as if there was a campaign strategy at work on par with any savvy political candidate's.

True, "The Queen" opened in September, so public appearances between then and award season could be considered standard tub-thumping for the film, but then again, it doesn't hurt one's Oscar chances to be seen gracing the right pages and visiting the right stages. In addition to dozens of guild screenings, talk shows and magazine and newspaper features, Mirren also showed up to collect about 30 pre-Oscar film awards.

So, was she working the system to draw the attention of Oscar voters? Or was she doing her part to make sure her remarkable film was seen by as wide an audience as possible? Here are a few highlights of her sojourns before the votes were in.


Sept. 11, 2006

The 63rd Venice Film Festival is the shot across the bow. Mirren wins best actress at the world's oldest film festival and is present to receive the award (unlike this year's winners, Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett).

Sept. 29, 2006

"The Queen" opens the 44th New York Film Festival to great huzzahs and goes into limited release the next day. Mirren attends the opening and is on hand again Oct. 15 for the festival's closing-night film, "Pan's Labyrinth."

Oct. 7, 2006

The 29th annual Mill Valley Film Festival makes big news in a small town when Mirren arrives for its screening of "The Queen." Her fabulous decolletage, framed by a low-cut purple dress, gets about as much local press as the movie.

Dec. 6, 2006

The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures announces its award winners, including Mirren for best actress. The first big award out of the gate, it sets the stage for the veritable sweep to come. Five days later, the New York Film Critics Assn. announces its winners, including Mirren for best actress.

Jan. 11

Mirren is a guest on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," her second such appearance there in three months.

Jan. 12

At the 2007 AFI awards luncheon in Beverly Hills, the HBO miniseries "Elizabeth I" is one of the television honorees. Mirren goes from that event to the Broadcast Film Critics Assn.'s 12th annual Critics' Choice Awards to receive its best actress award.

Jan. 13

The American Cinematheque holds "A Tribute to Helen Mirren"; Oscar nomination ballots are due the same day.

Jan. 14

At the 32nd Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. Awards, Mirren manages to come up with good, fresh lines after all those previous acceptance speeches. After winning this award, she thanks her husband, director Taylor Hackford, for still wanting to sleep with her.

Jan. 15

Mirren scoops up awards for both of her queen Elizabeths -- in "The Queen" and for her title role in the HBO miniseries "Elizabeth I" -- at the 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards.

Jan. 19

The February Oscar-centric issue of Los Angeles magazine hits the stands, flaunting a saucy Mirren on the cover.

Jan. 26

Three days after the Oscar nominations are announced, the 22nd Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival honors Mirren in person with its outstanding performance of the year award.

Jan. 28

At the 13th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, Mirren again takes home awards for both queens.

Jan. 29

Newsweek features a round table with Mirren, Blanchett, Pitt, Forest Whitaker, Penelope Cruz and Leonardo DiCaprio. Final Oscar ballots are mailed out two days later.

Feb. 2

Entertainment Weekly's special double issue "Oscar, The Ultimate Viewer's Guide," features Mirren along with other likely nominees, including Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson.

Feb. 5

Mirren is in Beverly Hills for the 79th Annual Academy Awards nominees luncheon.

Feb. 8

Mirren wins best actress for "The Queen" at the London Film Critics Circle Awards and sticks around for the Orange British Academy Film Awards a few days later, where she wins the best female actor award.

Feb. 25

Completed final Oscar ballots are due by 5 p.m. Five days later Mirren is crowned again.

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