I like to consider myself a fairly good follower of awards season, but there are organisations that I admit I have to plead ignorance over. The Gotham Independent Film Awards is one such example. I don't think, in the eight years (or so) that I've been following the Oscars, that I have ever actually figured out who these people are. And yet year after year they seem to throw up such a wonderful, varied and oft left-of-centre list of nominees for their annual awards. Misunderstood or just-not-loved-enough titles like Margot at the Wedding, Marie Antoinette, Frozen River, Me & You & Everyone We Know and others have had the Gotham's spotlight shined on them, so I'm all for them in this world where every organisation is seemingly in sync with every other one.
This year they have tipped their hat to several major players in the 2009/10 Oscar game with career tributes. The biggies - the ones that the more casual film observer will care about - are director Kathryn Bigelow and actors Stanley Tucci and Natalie Portman. While it may seem strange for someone as young as Portman to be receiving anything resembling a "career achievement" tribute, a quick scan of her filmography shows a nicely eclectic roster and one that puts many actresses of her generation to shame.
"What? ME?! Yeah, I'm down with that!"
While it has yet to be seen whether her performance in Jim Sheridan's Brothers will find itself of Oscar's radar, there's no doubt that Bigelow and Tucci will be putting on their finest threads more than a few times in the coming months. Bigelow, riding high on the success (critically, if not at the box office) of The Hurt Locker, is prime for the career achievement spin. Her resume may not be as long and strewn with award winners as some others, but it's very impressive. Say what you will, but movies like Near Dark, Strange Days, Point Break and Wild Palms are all fantastic pieces of work.
"Yeah, I'm amazing. You know it."
Tucci will surely pique the interest of Oscar voters with his turns in Julie & Julia as well as Pete Jackson's upcoming piece of awards bait, The Lovely Bones. I thought he should've been nominated for The Devil Wears Prada, but I think that's just me. Is anybody else disappointed that his directorial career never really went anywhere after the fantastic Big Night? I'm surely not alone on that thought.
"Finally, Meryl Streep hasn't upstaged me!"
Two other names on the press release from the Independent Film Project are Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner. You probably don't know their names (I sure didn't!) but consider this incredible list of films that they have produced or executive produced as the co-chairmen of Working Title Films: Atonement, Bridget Jones' Diary, Dead Man Walking, Elizabeth, Fargo, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Gettin' Square, Pride & Prejudice, Shaun of the Dead, Tales of the City (TV), thirteen and United 93. Plus they also have the big Coen Bros' contender this year in A Serious Man, and that's just scratching the surface.
And, hello! Drop Dead Fred! How could anybody forget that work of art?
Congratulations to all involved. It won't be the last time you hear from them though, that's for sure!