The Oscars used to hide their membership roster like they hide the final vote tallies. But for the past few years they've been letting us know who they've invited into their 6000 wide flock. They're trying to keep their numbers stable so we figure they're only passing out as many invites as people who die. It's too much to hope that they're jettisoning members who voted for A Beautiful Mind or Driving Miss Daisy. Of course even knowing who they've invited doesn't tell enough of the story since we don't know who is already in... and thus who is still snubbed. You can see the full list here but I'm sharing my choices for their most interesting choices.
10 David Benioff (Writer) -Mr. Amanda Peet is a perfect example to me of how hard it is to judge talent in Hollywood, film being a collaborative enterprise. Answer me this: How do you write something as nuanced, intelligent and amazing as 25th Hour and then churn out something like his desecration of The Iliad with the über dumb Troy and then do The Kite Runner? I can't figure him out. Is everyone in Hollywood this hot and cold? And if so is that why the Oscars are so uneven in their discernment capabilities?
09 Allison Janney (Actor) Everyone loves Janney and I assume this invitation is at least partially due to the afterglow of Juno (Ellen Page, curiously, was not invited though Janney, Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman all were) but she's more of a TV star than anything. I include her because I think this choice is probably representative of how incestuous the film and TV academies have really become.
08 Kimberly Peirce (Director) This was a wise choice since she'll have plenty of time to watch all the movies each year since she never makes any. I kid, I kid... But seriously the Boys Don't Cry / Stop-Loss auteur has only two film credits. How ever does she pay her rent? Untitled 3rd Kimberly Peirce Project: coming to theaters near you in 2016!
07 Jet Li (Actor) I like Jet Li well enough but this made me scratch my head a bit. That said I applaud their obvious desire to get more international and racially diverse these past few years.
06 Barry Alexander Brown (Editor) He was Oscar-nominated once nearly 30 years ago in the documentary category. Inbetween then and now he's done great editing work on films as diverse as Salaam Bombay!, Madonna's Truth or Dare and several Spike Lee films including his three best films (Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X and 25th Hour) . So why invite him now... and not many moons ago? Could this be a precursor to more Oscar attention for Spike Lee joints?
05 Peyton Reed (Director) I've been pulling for him ever since falling in love with Bring it On, his first picture. He hasn't made a picture as good since but I still hope he will. It's an interesting choice since he works almost exclusively in very mainstream comedies which is the last place Oscar looks for people worth nominating.
04 Dylan Tichenor (Editor) I just love him is all. You should too. He's only been the lead editor on nine films but most of them have amazing rhythms and play just ever so smoothly: Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood, Brokeback Mountain and The Royal Tenenbaums... What a filmography.
03 Ray Winstone (Actor) Most cinephiles will be enthused about this choice. He's made valuable contributions to ensemble films (The Departed) solid popcorn fun (Beowulf... all CGI slimmed-down) and memorable indies (Sexy Beast). Good choice Academy.
02 Jack Fisk (Art Director) Color me astonished that Mr. Sissy Spacek and favored production designer of both David Lynch and Terence Malick and the Art Director nominee that should have won last year (for There Will Be Blood) is not already a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
01 Michael Haneke (Director) I have a new obsession: trying to figure out what they were thinking when they decided to invite Michael f***ing Haneke (Caché, The Piano Teacher, Funny Games). He's a genius BUT I can't think of a working auteur more anti-Oscar than he. Can you? He likes to punish audiences rather than coddle them (a big Oscar no-no) and that's just for starters. After I get bored of this new obsession of wondering why they invited him, my next obsession will be enduring. I know myself well enough to know that I will spend hours each and every year moving forward, imagining what his Oscar ballot could possibly look like. My brain will hurt. Give 'em hell, Haneke.