A full slate of Aspen Film Academy Screenings for the holidays
December 23, 2009
ASPEN – So where should Oscar watchers focus their attention, now that various awards nominations are rolling in, critics are scribbling their best-of-2009 lists – and here in Aspen, Aspen Film’s Academy Screenings series is set to kick off?
One place local Oscar trackers should look is backward – back to early fall, when Aspen Film’s Filmfest featured three of the top awards contenders. The Filmfest program included the searing urban drama “Precious,” which is up for three Golden Globe Awards; the early ’60s British tale “An Education,” whose star, Carey Mulligan, took best actress honors from the National Board of Review; and “Up in the Air,” which is shaping up as the front-runner for the best picture Oscar.
Of those three, only “Precious” will be presented at the Academy Screenings. But the series – which opens Wednesday, takes a two-day Christmas break, then resumes Saturday, with events daily through Jan. 2 – offers plenty for fans to consider. (“Up in the Air” opens today in Aspen and El Jebel.)
Showing Wednesday is “Nine,” director Rob Marshall’s musical take on the cinema classic “8 1/2,” Federico Fellini’s 1961 meditation on the creative process. The film is up for four Golden Globes – including nominations for best musical, best actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), best actress (Marion Cotillard) and best supporting actress (Penelope Cruz) – and Marshall has a track record with musicals. His 2002 film “Chicago” took the best picture Oscar.
“The Messenger” (showing Saturday) features Golden Globe nominee Woody Harrelson as a no-nonsense soldier who specializes in notifying family members of the deaths of their loved ones. The film’s director, Oren Moverman, shared the National Board of Review’s Spotlight Award for best directorial debut.
“The Last Station” (Saturday), about the romantic life of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, has gotten love in the indie world, with a nomination for best feature from the Independent Spirit Awards.
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“The Lovely Bones” (Sunday), an adaptation of the best-selling novel about a girl narrating the story of her own murder, features Stanley Tucci in a supporting role up for a Golden Globe. Tucci was honored at Aspen Filmfest with the Independent by Nature Award.
“A Single Man” (Wednesday, Dec. 30) has earned acclaim for Colin Firth’s portrayal of a gay man grieving the death of his lover in 1962 Los Angeles. “Brothers” (Jan. 1) features a Golden Globe-nominated performance by Tobey Maguire as a soldier, presumed dead in Afghanistan, who makes a difficult return to family life in the U.S. “The Young Victoria” (Jan. 1) features Golden Globe nominee Emily Blunt as the teenage Queen Victoria.
“The Hurt Locker” (Jan. 2) is positioned as “Up in the Air’s main competition for best picture honors. Kathryn Bigelow’s story of bomb-squad technicians in Baghdad has earned honors for best film and best director from both the New York and Los Angeles critics.
“Crazy Heart” (Jan. 2), about a hard-living, hard-luck country singer, is notable mainly for the performance of lead actor Jeff Bridges, who is up for multiple awards, and the soundtrack, created by T-Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton.
Among the other films to be screened: “Bright Star” (Sunday), director Jane Campion’s acclaimed story told through the love letters of 19th century poet John Keats; “The Road” (Monday, Dec. 28), adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel and starring Viggo Mortensen; “The Art of the Steal” (Wednesday, Dec. 30), a documentary about the controversial fate of the Barnes Collection, one of the greatest collections of postimpressionist art; the Charles Darwin portrait “Creation” (Dec. 31); and “That Evening Sun” (Jan. 1), starring Hal Holbrook as an elderly farmer looking to take back his land.
All films are at Harris Hall. For a full schedule, go to aspenfilm.org.