What to watch for at Aspen Film’s Academy Screenings
December 26, 2018
The Golden Globe and Screen Actors' Guild nominations are out, the national critics groups' winners are being announced almost daily and some of the Oscar shortlists have already been decided, which means it's the height of movie awards season and it's time for Aspen Film's annual Academy Screenings.
The 2018 edition of the local festival is a five-day, 15-film crash course in the best of the year, with an emphasis on the newest prestige releases. It opens tonight with the Aretha Franklin documentary "Amazing Grace," which is among the best-reviewed docs of the year but got snubbed on the Academy's shortlist for Best Documentary Film, and the much-anticipated Dick Cheney biopic "Vice," which was the Golden Globes' most-nominated movie.
Here's what's in the running in major categories among the films coming to the local series as Academy members — and the public — descend on Aspen Film's screenings:
Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma," screening Thursday night, has already been hailed as a masterpiece for the epic scale it brings to this autobiographical portrait of domestic worker and the tumult of Mexico City in the 1970s. An instant classic solidifying Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron's place among the greats, already won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and the top honor from the New York Film Critics Circle.
"Vice," from "Anchorman" and "The Big Short" director Adam McKay, nabbed a Golden Globe nod for Best Musical or Comedy but has been divisive among critics in early reviews. Its viability for Best Picture is sure to be a hot topic this week and through awards season.
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Yorgos Lanthimos' revolutionary palace intrigue drama "The Favourite," playing Thursday, has been on just about every best-of list this year and nabbed a Critic's Choice nomination for Best Ensemble. It looks like a lock for a nomination.
In his first film since making Best Picture winner "Moonlight," Barry Jenkins has made an acclaimed adaptation of the James Baldwin novel "If Beale Street Could Talk." It screens Saturday.
The gay conversion therapy drama "Boy Erased," screening Saturday, may also have an outside shot. The awards odds-making site Gold Derby has it at a 100-to-1 shot, but has it in the top 20 contenders.
Lada Gaga and Bradley Cooper's lead performances in the music melodrama "A Star is Born" are taking up most of the oxygen in these categories. But Academy Screenings offers a buffet of buzzed-about performances.
For Best Actress, keep an eye on Olivia Coleman's Queen Anne in "The Favourite," Julia Roberts as a mother tortured by her son's addiction in "Ben is Back" and first-time actor Yalitza Aparicio in her revelatory debut in "Roma."
On the Best Actor roster in Aspen, historical figures are the roles to watch for, like Christian Bale's transformation into Dick Cheney in "Vice," Willem Defoe's Vincent van Gogh for "At Eternity's Gate," screening Sunday, and John C. Reilly's take on Oliver Hardy in the Laurel and Hardy biopic "Stan & Ollie," playing Friday.
Regina King has been getting some of the best reviews of the year for "If Beale Street Could Talk," and may be a frontrunner, while both Emma Stone's and Rachel Weisz's wicked turns in "The Favourite" earned both Golden Globes and SAG nods. This crowded category also has Oscar winner Nicole Kidman in the running for "Boy Erased" and five-time nominee Amy Adams' take on Lynne Cheney in "Vice."
For Supporting Actor, campaigns are underway for last year's winner Sam Rockwell for his take on President George W. Bush in "Vice" and past nominee Steve Carrell for his Donald Rumsfeld.
Aspen Film's Academy Screenings include three titles on the Academy's shortlist of foreign titles: Mexico's "Roma," of course, along with the Lebanese saga of a boy suing his parents "Capernaum," screening Saturday, and the German thriller "Never Look Away," playing Friday.
The short-listed doc "Free Solo" is on the bill for Friday night at Paepcke Auditorium. Director Jimmy Chin's extraordinary film about Alex Honnold's historic ascent of El Capitan looks like a sure thing for a nomination. It may also signal a shift of mountaineering films — beloved around here on the 5Point and Mountainfilm circuit — into the Hollywood mainstream. Don't we all want to see Honnold, the self-described climbing dirtbag who until recently lived in his van, representing mountainfolk in a tuxedo on the red carpet?
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