Will Maggie Smith win third Oscar for Dustin Hoffman’s ‘Quartet’?

Two-time Oscar champ Dustin Hoffman makes a strong directorial debut with “Quartet” which world premiered at the Toronto filmfest Sunday. 

Oscar winner Ronald Harwood (“The Pianist”) adapted his play about a group of retired opera singers who reunite for one final performance. The Weinstein Co. is rolling out this performance piece, which could appeal to the academy’s aging demographic, as a Christmas treat.

Hoffman handled helming duties with aplomb, helped along by the stellar cast. Two-time Oscar winner Maggie Smith (“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” 1969; “California Suite,” 1978) plays the diva at the center of the action. Oscar nominees Pauline Collins (“Shirley Valentine”) and Tom Courtenay (“The Dresser”) and Billy Connolly round out the foursome.

Smith, who has racked up six Oscar bids dating back to 1966, has not contended since her 2001 scene-stealing turn in “Gosford Park.” That role was written by Julian Fellowes who went on to create for her the part of the doubtable Duchess in “Downton Abbey.” 

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The third season of that show begins on PBS on Jan. 6, which will be just after nominations close for the Oscars. However, if Smith lands her third Best Actress bid, she will benefit from being seen every week during final voting, sparring with another Oscar champ, Shirley MacLaine (“Terms of Endearment”).

Smith won the Emmy last year when the first season contended as a miniseries and is the frontrunner to take home the supporting award on the drama side at next week’s awards. She won her first Emmy in 2003 for her leading performance in the telefilm “My House in Umbria.”

She is one of 17 actors missing only a Grammy to complete their EGOT. She claimed a Tony Award in 1991 for the play “Lettice and Lovage.”

Below, her delicious acceptance speeches for her 1978 Academy Award, where she edged out among others first-time nominee Meryl Streep (“The Deerhunter”) with her comedic turn as an Oscar nominee, and that Tony.  

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