Movie Lover’s Oscar® Preview at KCET Cinema Series and WGA Awards

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“Hurt Locker” director Kathryn Bigelow and Margie Barron.

If you wanted the very first preview of the acclaimed films and outstanding performances that will shine in the spotlight on Oscar® night, then you should have signed up for the KCET Cinema Series. This fall, movie lovers enjoyed the acclaimed films that have gone on to win various awards and get Academy Awards nominations. Plus, the cinema series offered informative chats with the filmmakers, giving better understanding of what it took to create the unforgettable moments on the big screen with “Up in the Air,” “Precious,” and “An Education” (all Best Picture nominees). Plus, they presented “Nine,” “The Last Station,” and “A Single Man,” films packed with Oscar®-nominated performances.
Film critic Pete Hammond, the host and moderator of the movie showcase, had a steady parade of directors, producers, and writers with some of the actors joining him for lively discussions after the screenings. Film fans are always invited to participate in the Q&As that follow to find out what the artist had in mind when he/she created a scene. It’s great for everyone who wants an insider’s view.
Now the KCET Cinema Series is returning for the spring, beginning on Tuesday, March 16 with Andy Garcia’s new film “City Island.” It’s a comedy that won the Tribeca Film Festival’s Audience Award, and Andy will be Pete’s special guest for the Q&A. The series offers eight evenings of new films (before their theatrical release!) on Tuesday nights at the Goldenson Theatre at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in North Hollywood. The Spring Cinema Series is a fundraiser for KCET and our local PBS station, and The Tolucan Times readers will get a 10% discount on their tickets—call (323) 953-5800 for information and reservations. Don’t miss the chance to preview some of the best films that may get Oscar® attention next year.
We caught up with Hammond at the recent Writers Guild of America awards which gave a glimpse of some future Oscar® winners. Hammond was happy to see Jason Reitman (and co-writer Sheldon Turner) honored by the WGA for “Up in the Air.” Reitman was Pete’s special guest at the screening this fall, and had two previous films, “Juno” and “Thank You for Smoking,” presented at the Cinema Series. It’s a lucky tradition now.
“Up In the Air,” the corporate downsizing movie starring George Clooney, received the WGA award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Reitman thanked his father, producer Ivan Reitman, who read his son’s first screenplay and praised him saying, “You really got the goods.” Jason also has Oscar® nominations for Best Director and Screenplay.
Another big winner at the WGA ceremony was Mark Boal’s original screenplay for “The Hurt Locker,” directed by Kathryn Bigelow, both front-runners in the Oscar® race.
Mark Boal was an amazing man to meet. He is a journalist who spent time with the U.S. military’s explosive disposal team in Baghdad, which inspired him to write his riveting screenplay about the men who defuse bombs. He told me they showed him “the tragedy, chaos, and hellishness they face day in and day out.” And Boal gave thanks to Kathryn Bigelow “for believing in an unpopular project.” The WGA win follows on the heels of Bigelow’s Directors Guild win. She is the first woman to get the DGA award.
Bigelow was on-hand at the WGA event to support Boal, and I found her to be equally as amazing as Boal. The first thing I mentioned was that I painted a little, and knew that she started as a painter, but now her canvas is the big screen. She liked the comparison. Surprisingly, she did not want to make a big deal about being “the first woman” to be honored in the directing category. Instead, Kathryn happily told me her creative process is about finding material that has strong characters facing extreme situations. “Those are the kinds of stories I find vibrant and full of passion. You have to be genuinely passionate about the material, and then hopefully you can infect others.” Boal said that he knew Bigelow was the right person to be at the helm of his story because “she’s a genius.” Not surprisingly, Boal and Bigelow will be working together on another film project after all the Oscar® hoopla is over.
The WGA’s Best Documentary Screenplay went to Mark Monroe’s “The Cove.” And honorary awards went to Barry Levinson, Larry David, Stan Berkowitz, Anthony Peckham, and Carl Gottlieb. Awards for Great Writing on Television went to the writing team for AMC’s drama “Mad Men,” NBC’s “30 Rock” won for best comedy series, and the ABC sitcom “Modern Family” won for best new series. Lifetime’s “Georgia O’Keefe” won for Longform Adaptation, and HBO’s “Taking Chance” for Longform Original. There was a tie for “Saturday Night Live” and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” both winning in the comedy-variety category. “Family Guy” creator-writer-producer Seth MacFarlane hosted the WGA West Coast ceremony at the Century Plaza Hotel.

This Sunday, March 7, the Academy Awards air on ABC for movie lovers to enjoy!

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