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Oscar-nominated actors tell favorite movie moments

The Associated Press, Thursday, February 23, 2012, 7:07am (PST)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Many of this year's Oscar-nominated actors first experienced the magic of movies as children.

When asked on Oscar.com to reflect on their favorite movie moments, nominees such as Jessica Chastain, Kenneth Branagh, Gary Oldman and Octavia Spencer immediately went back in time.

"My favorite was perhaps the first time I saw `E.T.' as a kid," said Spencer, who is nominated for supporting actress for her turn as Minny Jackson in "The Help." "The first time I saw E.T., the actual image of an alien, and he was so sweet-looking. I wanted him. I wanted E.T."

Oldman, up for best actor for his role in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," said he remembers seeing "A Hard Day's Night" at age 5 with his teenage sisters at the Rialto Theater in South London "and my sister nudging me because I was singing too loud along with the songs."

Branagh was a young kid at a Belfast theater with his family when he experienced his first memorable movie moment: Seeing Dick Van Dyke "driving Chitty Chitty Bang Bang over a cliff at the end of the first half of that movie," said the supporting actor nominee for "My Week With Marilyn."

"All the audience gave a huge, "Aww," and then it said intermission and we didn't know what was going to happen until we came back with popcorn and ice cream 10 minutes later," Branagh recalled. "And it was a flying car! The car was going to fly, and that was just a wonderful moment of real sheer cinema magic."

Chastain, also nominated for "The Help," said she was dazzled as a little kid watching "The Wizard of Oz."

"That was the beginning, for me, of my love affair with movies and me wanting to be a part of that wonder," she said.

George Clooney and Viola Davis said they were both moved by the same film: 1976's "Network." Both cited Peter Finch's unraveling character as particularly inspiring.

"When he's breaking down for the first time and he's rambling and rambling and it's so honest but at the same time so completely out of control and he says, `I'm just mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore,'" recalled Davis, nominated for lead actress for her role in "The Help." "It was just a revelation of a man who could be insane but at the same time was just so absolutely lucid."

Melissa McCarthy, meanwhile, said Davis provided her most memorable movie moment.

"I always think of Viola Davis in `Doubt,'" the "Bridesmaids" star said. "That singular moment when she was talking, speaking in the park about her son, to me was one of the most impactful, little tiny moments. I remember it just blew my mind."

These and other nominated actors share their favorite film moments in a series of videos posted on Oscar.com. The 84th annual Academy Awards will be presented Sunday at the Hollywood & Highland Center and broadcast live on ABC.

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AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen is on Twitter: www.twitter.com/APSandy.

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Online:

www.oscar.com

www.oscars.org

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