Aspen Film Academy Screenings show off Oscar contenders | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Film Academy Screenings show off Oscar contenders

Stewart OksenhornThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

(L-r) Thao (BEE VANG) and Walt Kowalski (CLINT EASTWOOD) in Warner Bros. Picturesí and Village Roadshow Picturesí drama ìGran Torino,î distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

ASPEN Movie stars, with their sidewalk-blocking entourages, the trail of paparazzi, the special treatment they demand, the enviable good looks and showy fashions: Who needs them here in Aspen during the holidays, in the flesh? I say, Feh!Fortunately, there is Aspen Films Academy Screenings, a series which allows filmgoers to enjoy movie stars where they belong on the screen (and not demanding my favorite table at the Hickory House). The Academy Screenings takes several stockings-full of films considered contenders for Oscar nominations, and wraps them in an unparalleled package a film frenzy that lasts the two weeks spanning Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years Day, all at one theater, Harris Concert Hall, a three-minute limo ride from downtown Aspen.For the 18th annual series, set for Dec. 21-Jan. 3, with only Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off, we get Clint, Sean, Keira, Leo, Meryl, Brad, Angelina, Philip Seymour and plenty more without having to witness the inevitable police interventions. What, you really think Mickey Rourke could last the holidays in Aspen without a juicy TMZ moment?So instead of fisticuffs at the Double Dog between Cate and Kate over who spells the name right, we get the reason anyone gives a damn about blurry, naked photos of Frank Langella: the movies themselves. Twenty-two of them, over 14 days. And no need to endure the likes of Dakota Fanning in person.Heres the program:

Happy-Go-Lucky Dec. 21, 5:30 p.m. Sally Hawkins stars as a relentlessly upbeat London schoolteacher in British director Mike Leighs film.The Secret Life of Bees Dec. 22, 5:30 p.m. This adaptation of Sue Monk Kidds popular novel, set in 1964 South Carolina, has an ensemble cast featuring Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Hudson and Queen Latifah.Changeling Dec. 22, 8 p.m. The other Clint Eastwood movie, the one that doesnt have Eastwood on-screen. Here, he directs Angelina Jolie as a mother who has her kidnapped son returned to her not as happy a reunion as you might imagine.The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Dec. 23, 5:30 p.m. Brad Pitt stars in this tale of a man who ages backwards, adapted from an F. Scott Fitzgerald story. David Fincher earned best director honors from the National Board of Review.Everlasting Moments Dec. 26, 5:15 p.m. Denmarks official submission to the Academy.Milk Dec. 26, 8 p.m. Sean Penn plays real-life, 1970s San Francisco politician Harvey Milk, who was assassinated for his homosexuality. Gus Van Sant directs, in a return to high-profile projects.Revolutionary Road Dec. 27, 5:30 p.m. Sam Mendes, whose American Beauty earned a Best Picture Oscar, returns to the suburbs. This time, its mid-50s Connecticut, and the struggling suburbanites are played by Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.Defiance Dec. 27, 8:15 p.m. Three Jewish brothers (including Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber) create a village in the middle of the Belarussian woods to protect themselves from the Nazis.Ive Loved You So Long Dec. 28, 5:30 p.m. Kristin Scott Thomas has earned raves in this French drama about a released inmate trying to reconnect with her family, and herself.Waltz with Bashir Dec. 28, 8:15 p.m. A complex, ingeniously animated psychological toll that war has taken on a former Israeli soldier.The Class Dec. 29, 5:15 p.m. French director Laurent Cantet uses non-professional actors in this portrait of a racially mixed classroom in a rough Parisian neighborhood. More evidence that its good to avoid actual actors: Cantets film won the top prize at Cannes.Gran Turino Dec. 29, 8:15 p.m. Clint Eastwood directs himself as a crank Korean War vet, now waging battle with the ill-mannered Asian teenager next door. Eastwood, the actor, earned top honors from the National Board of Review, as did Nick Schenk for his original screenplay.Wendy and Lucy Dec. 30, 5:30 p.m. A heart-breaker, starring Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain) as a woman who was down-and-out even before she lost her best friend, a sweet old mutt.Gomorra Dec. 30, 8 p.m. The Italian version of a mob movie; this time, its Italian director Matteo Garrone taking a look at his countrys own, modern-day Mafia. The awards are piling up, even as Garrone takes some heat at home for breaking omerta, the Italian vow of silence.Frost/Nixon Dec. 31, 5:30 p.m. A drama about a television interview? In fact, it already won a Tony Award on Broadway (for Langellas portrayal of Richard Nixon). Langella and his stage foil, Michael Sheen, move to the big screen in Ron Howards film version of the series of interviews between British TV figure David Frost and the fallen president.Doubt Jan. 1, 3 p.m. Past Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman square off in this rapid-fire, 1964-set conflict between a nun, and a priest accused of abusive behavior.Last Chance Harvey Jan. 1, 5:30 p.m. Dustin Hoffman is a single, sad-sack stranded in London; Emma Thompson is the potential life-preserver.Che Jan. 1, 8 p.m. Steven Soderberghs marathon portrait stars Benicio del Toro as the Argentine-born revolutionary Che Guevara. Del Toro was named best actor at Cannes. The five-hour film will be screened in two parts: The Argentine and Guerilla. This is part 1.Che Jan. 2, 5:15 p.m. Steven Soderberghs marathon portrait stars Benicio del Toro as the Argentine-born revolutionary Che Guevara. Del Toro was named best actor at Cannes. The five-hour film will be screened in two parts: The Argentine and Guerilla. this is part 2.The Reader Jan. 2, 8:15 p.m. Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslet star in a romantic drama of two former lovers getting reacquainted, amidst very changed circumstances, in post-World War II Germany.The Duchess Jan. 3, 5:30 p.m. Keira Knightley stars in this period drama of an extravagant 18th century aristocrat.The Wrestler Jan. 3, 8 p.m. After numerous false starts, Mickey Rourke appears to make his full return in the story of a retired professional rassler making his comeback on the indie circuit. Marisa Tomei and Evan Rachel Wood co-star; Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream) directs, and won the Golden Lion at Venice for his work.stewart@aspentimes.com

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