Oscar watchers: Take a look at Aspen Academy Screenings
November 16, 2011
ASPEN – There are a handful of Academy Award perennials expected to be in this year’s chase for Oscar: Steven Spielberg, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Stephen Daldry, Judi Dench, Colin Firth. But none of those seem to be as much of a sure thing as Aspen Film’s Academy Screenings.
Each Christmastime for going on 20 years, the Academy Screenings series has presented Aspen viewers a gift-wrapped package of likely Oscar contenders, and the track is solid. Those in Aspen for the holidays in recent years have seen screenings of “The Hurt Locker,” “Crazy Heart,” “Precious,” “Milk” and “There Will Be Blood,” all of which went on to earn Oscars.
And last year was a clean sweep, as the Academy Screenings presented “The King’s Speech,” “The Fighter” and “Black Swan,” which collectively took all the major Academy Awards, as well as “Inside Job,” which would be voted best documentary.
So those film lovers who handicap the Oscar race should plan on being in Aspen from Dec. 21 through Jan. 1, when the Academy Screenings present some 19 awards hopefuls – including several that aren’t scheduled for release till after the New Year. And they should definitely study the Academy Screenings program, which is posted Wednesday at aspenfilm.org.
Among the titles included in the program are “War Horse,” a World War I epic directed by Stephen Spielberg; “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” a post-9/11 drama based on the book by Jonathan Safran Foer and featuring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock; “The Descendants,” a family comedic drama starring George Clooney and directed by Alexander Payne; and “The Iron Lady,” a Margaret Thatcher biopic starring Meryl Streep.
Other films in the series that are likely to get serious Oscar consideration are “Young Adult,” from the team of director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody that created “Juno,” and starring Charlize Theron; “The Artist,” a French black-and-white film with no dialogue, set in the silent-movie era; “Albert Nobbs,” starring Glenn Close as a woman disguised as a man in 19th-century Ireland; and “My Week with Marilyn,” a drama about the tense interaction on a movie set between Marilyn Monroe and Sir Laurence Olivier, starring Michelle Williams.
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Also on the program are “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” based on John Le Carre’s spy novel; the crime drama “Rampart,” starring Steve Buscemi, Woody Harrelson and Anne Heche; Danish director Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia,” a sci-fi drama with Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg; “Shame,” a sexual drama starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan; and “Pariah,” about a teenage girl in an African-American neighborhood in Brooklyn.
In addition to “The Artist,” three more films that showed at Aspen Filmfest earlier this fall return to Academy Screenings: “Like Crazy,” a romance starring Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones; “Coriolanus,” a Shakespeare adaptation which marks the directorial debut of Ralph Fiennes; and “Undefeated,” a documentary about an underdog football team.
The series also includes three foreign-language films, all in French: “Monsieur Lazhar,” a Canadian movie about a new teacher in an elementary school; “Le Havre,” a comedy by the Finnish-born director Aki Kaurismäki; and “The Kid with a Bike,” by the Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.
All films in the Academy Screenings series will be shown at Harris Hall, with two screenings most days. Tickets will go on sale Dec. 9 at the Wheeler Opera House. For complete details, go to aspenfilm.org.