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Geoffrey Macnab: Venerable filmmakers show the benefits of experience in Oscar nominations

There is a back-to-the-future look about this year's Oscar nominations. Venerable nominees – like Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Max von Sydow and Terrence Malick – are names you could have found on an awards list from a quarter of a century ago. Teen audiences may dominate the multiplexes but certainly no one can accuse the Academy of ageism.

And this year's Oscar list is far more adventurous than might have been anticipated. The Oscar voters have demonstrated more of an appetite for "art" films than many of the critics. Malick's Tree Of Life, snubbed by the Golden Globes, is up for a Directing award. Albert Nobbs, the heartrending film directed by Rodrigo Garcia (son of Gabriel Garcia Marquez), in which Glenn Close plays a butler and passes herself off as a man, has three nominations. Demian Bichir has beaten out many more-heralded names to secure his Best Actor nomination for A Better Life.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has come in from the cold after the Globes' snub of the John Le Carré adaptation. Gary Oldman's inscrutable George Smiley clearly impressed the Academy.

The Brits may not have secured as many nominations as they had hoped (with Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton missing out) but the British influence is still felt. Colin Welland-like flagwavers can at least bask in the reflected glory of films from Scorsese's British-shot Hugo to The Iron Lady.