Sexual abuse family drama tops Sundance Film Festival Awards
The top winner at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival was Grand Jury and Audience U.S. Dramatic pick Push: Based on a Novel by Sapphire*. Directed by Lee Daniels and adapted by Geoffrey Fletcher (using the pseudonym “Damien Paul”), the sexual abuse family drama follows an overweight, pregnant Harlem teenager struggling to keep afloat in a world ruled by her tyrannical mother.
Gabourey Sidibe stars as the psychologically and sexually abused teen while Special Jury Prize for Acting winner Mo’Nique plays the mother. Also in the Push cast: Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, and Lenny Kravitz.
To date, Sundance has had only two previous Grand Jury and Audience U.S. Dramatic double-whammy winners: Tony Bui’s Three Seasons (1999), and Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s Quinceañera (2006). (See also: 2006 Sundance Film Festival winners.)
* Push: Based on a Novel by Sapphire has been renamed Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, or more simply, Precious. The initial lengthy title was supposed to have helped avoid confusion between Lee Daniels’ sexual abuse family drama and Paul McGuigan’s sci-fi thriller Push, starring Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, and Camilla Belle.
More Sundance winners
Not every Sundance 2009 winner has as heavy a theme as Lee Daniels’ sexual abuse drama – though some sure do. Here are a few more titles:
- Directed by Sebastián Silva, World Cinema Grand Jury Prize Dramatic winner The Maid / La Nana (Chile / Mexico) tells the story of a highly territorial house servant who does her best to prevent her boss from hiring more help. As the righteously outraged title character, Catalina Saavedra received the World Cinema Special Jury Prize for Acting. Claudia Celedón plays the mistress of the household.
- Directed by Ondi Timoner, Grand Jury Prize U.S. Documentary winner We Live in Public tries to show the impact the Internet has had on human interactions by focusing on web artist Josh Harris’ experimental public art projects.
- Directed by Kim Longinotto, World Cinema Grand Jury Prize Documentary winner Rough Aunties (South Africa / U.K.) follows a group of women determined to protect abused and neglected children in Durban, South Africa.
- Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and written by Guy Hibbert, the Irish political/psychological drama Five Minutes of Heaven was the winner of Sundance’s World Cinema directing and screenwriting prizes. The Irish Troubles-themed story stars Liam Neeson as a former Ulster Volunteer Force member and James Nesbitt as the Catholic man whose brother the UVF terrorist had murdered three decades earlier.
Among the members of Sundance’s various juries were Academy Award-nominated Sideways actress Virginia Madsen, last year’s Sundance contender Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired director Marina Zenovich, European Film Award-winning Dancer in the Dark producer Vibeke Windeløv, Australian Film Institute Award-winning My Brilliant Career director Gillian Armstrong, and Berlin Film Festival-winning Thumbsucker actor Lou Taylor Pucci.
More award winners: Alzheimer’s & motherhood + greed & oil in California
From Sundance to Utah’s other early-year film festival: Directed by Mo Perkins from a screenplay by Perkins, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, and Cy Carter, A Quiet Little Marriage was the Grand Jury Award winner at the 2009 Slamdance Film Festival. Sundance’s smaller-scale rival was held between Jan. 15–23.
A Quiet Little Marriage revolves around a married woman (Ellis) who decides to have a baby while witnessing her father succumb to Alzheimer’s. Her husband (Carter), however, is none too eager to procreate. Lies and deception ensue. (It’s unclear whether the film deals with the issue of hereditary diseases.)
Now, from Utah to the Irish capital, where the Dublin Film Critics Circle announced Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood as the Best Film of 2008. Best Actor winner (and County Wicklow resident) Daniel Day-Lewis – last year’s Oscar winner – stars as a ruthless oil baron in early 20th-century California.
Below is a partial list of winners at the Sundance and Slamdance film festivals, in addition to the complete choices of the Dublin Film Critics Circle and the Online Film Critics Society. The latter group went for Andrew Stanton’s animated blockbuster WALL-E.
Sundance Film Festival winners (partial list)
Grand Jury Awards
Grand Jury Prize U.S. Dramatic: Precious / Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire.
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize Dramatic: The Maid.
Grand Jury Prize U.S. Documentary: We Live in Public.
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize Documentary: Rough Aunties.
Directing Award U.S. Dramatic: Cary Jôji Fukunaga, Sin Nombre.
World Cinema Directing Award Dramatic: Oliver Hirschbiegel, Five Minutes of Heaven.
Directing Award U.S. Documentary: Natalia Almada, El General.
World Cinema Directing Award Documentary: Havana Marking, Afghan Star.
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: Nicholas Jasenovec & Charlyne Yi, Paper Heart.
World Cinema Screenwriting Award: Guy Hibbert, Five Minutes of Heaven.
Excellence in Cinematography Award U.S. Dramatic: Adriano Goldman, Sin Nombre.
World Cinema Cinematography Award Dramatic: John De Borman, An Education.
U.S. Dramatic: Precious / Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire.
U.S. Documentary: The Cove, dir.: Louie Psihoyos.
World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic: An Education, dir.: Lone Scherfig.
World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary: Afghan Star.
Alfred E. Sloan Award: Adam, dir.: Max Mayer.
Slamdance winners (partial list)
Grand Jury Awards
Best Narrative Feature: A Quiet Little Marriage.
Best Documentary Feature: Strongman, dir.: Zachary Levy.
Special Jury Mention for Best Performance: Larry Fessenden, I Sell the Dead.
Best Narrative Feature: Punching the Clown, dir.: Gregory Viens.
Best Documentary Feature: Heart of Stone / It’s Hard to Be an Indian, dir.: Beth Toni Kruvant.
Dublin Film Critics Circle winners & runners-up
Best Film: There Will Be Blood.
Best Irish Film: Hunger.
Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood.
Best Actress: Kristin Scott Thomas, I’ve Loved You So Long / Il y a longtemps que je t’aime.
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood.
Breakthrough Award: Steve McQueen, Hunger.
Online Film Critics winners
Best Picture: WALL-E.
Best Foreign Language Film: Let the Right One In / Låt den rätte komma in.
Best Director: Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight.
Best Actress: Michelle Williams, Wendy and Lucy.
Best Supporting Actress: Marisa Tomei, The Wrestler.
Best Actor: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler.
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Let the Right One In, John Ajvide Lindqvist.
Best Original Screenplay: WALL-E, Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon.
Best Documentary: Man on Wire.
Best Animated Feature: WALL-E.
Best Cinematography: The Dark Knight, Wally Pfister.
Best Editing: Slumdog Millionaire, Chris Dickens.
Breakthrough Performance: Lina Leandersson, Let the Right One In.
Breakthrough Filmmaker: Tomas Alfredson, Let the Right One In.
Clark Gable’s Oscar in Chicago
In other awards season news, for the first time Chicago will host a “Meet the Oscars” exhibition, where fans will have the chance to hold an actual Oscar statuette.
“Meet the Oscars, Chicago” will open Friday, Feb. 13, at The Shops at North Bridge on Michigan Avenue, running through Sunday, Feb. 22. Hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.
Chicago, by the way, is the only city to host a “Meet the Oscars” exhibition this year.
As per the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ press release, “Meet the Oscars, Chicago” will feature “a display of Oscars in various stages of completion, as they undergo their intricate, weeks-long manufacturing process. Chicago’s own R.S. Owens & Company has manufactured the statuettes each year since 1982. Six of the Oscars on display will be presented at next year’s Academy Awards ceremony.”
Also on display will be the statuette that Best Actor Clark Gable won for Frank Capra’s 1934 comedy It Happened One Night, co-starring Best Actress winner Claudette Colbert. In 1996 an anonymous buyer purchased Gable’s Oscar at auction for $607,500 and later that year returned the statuette to the Academy. The buyer in question turned out to be Steven Spielberg.
See also: Last year’s “Meet the Oscars” in Los Angeles and New York City, featuring statuettes won by Judy Garland, Frank Borzage, Gary Cooper, and Thelma Schoonmaker; and the Los Angeles area-based 2007 edition of “Meet the Oscars,” featuring record-holder Katharine Hepburn’s four statuettes.
Oscar presenters to go unannounced
More Oscar season news: Academy spokesperson Leslie Unger has announced that this year’s Academy Award presenters will remain unannounced until the time of the Feb. 22 Oscar telecast at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center. “There will be fantastic movie stars that appeal to a whole range of movie lovers and fans of our show,” Unger asserted. “We’re just not going to tell you who they all are.”
In other words, watch the Oscarcast or you may end up missing out on … Seth Rogen?
Blame the suspense on Oscar 2009 producers Laurence Mark and Bill Condon.
We should note that by 2009 television-ratings standards, the 2009 Golden Globes, which boasted that it would feature more stars than there are in heaven, did quite well for its Sunday evening slot – even though it was the least watched Golden Globes ceremony since NBC began broadcasting the show in the mid-1990s.
Oscar organizers surely need all the help they can get to justify their show’s exorbitant ad fees, but will keeping the presenters nameless actually spark any extra interest?
We’ll find out on next Feb. 22.
BAFTA hires recently suspended BBC host
Meanwhile, across the North Atlantic, Jonathan Ross, known for the talk-show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross and reportedly the BBC’s highest-paid star, has declared that he will host the 2009 BAFTA Awards next month.
Several weeks ago, the BBC suspended Ross as a result of an infantile prank involving Ross and Forgetting Sarah Marshall actor Russell Brand, and targeting Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs and his granddaughter, Satanic Sluts member Georgina Baillie.
The 2009 BAFTA Awards ceremony will be held at the Royal Opera House on Sunday, Feb. 8. In the U.K., the show will be televised live by none other than the BBC.
Best Song longlist
Lastly, as previously reported on this site, Oscar 2009‘s Best Original Song nominees are Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman’s “Down to Earth,” from Andrew Stanton’s blockbuster WALL-E; and A.R. Rahman and Guizar’s “Jai Ho” and Rahman and M.I.A.’s “O Saya,” both from Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire.
Below is the list of the 49 songs that had been in contention in that category. As per new Academy rules, a maximum of two songs could be nominated per film.
Last year, Kevin Lima’s romantic comedy-fantasy Enchanted received a total of three Oscar nominations — all of them in the Best Original Song category. The eventual winner, however, turned out to be Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová’s “Falling Slowly,” from the Irish romantic musical Once.
So, here are the 2009 Oscars’ Best Original Song longlist, in alphabetical order by song title:
- “Another Way to Die,” Quantum of Solace.
- “Barking at the Moon,” Bolt.
- “The Boys Are Back,” High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
- “Broken and Bent,” Role Models.
- “By the Boab Tree,” Australia.
- “The Call,” The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
- “Can I Have This Dance,” High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
- “Chase the Morning,” Repo! The Genetic Opera.
- “Chromaggia,” Repo! The Genetic Opera.
- “The Code of Life,” My Dream.
- “Code of Silence,” Save Me.
- “Count on Me,” The Women.
- “Di Notte,” The Lodger.
- “Djoyigbe,” Pray the Devil Back to Hell.
- “Down to Earth,” WALL-E.
- “Dracula’s Lament,” Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
- “Drive,” Fuel.
- “Forever,” They Killed Sister Dorothy.
- “High School Musical,” High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
- “Gran Torino,” Gran Torino.
- “I Thought I Lost You,” Bolt.
- “I Want It All,” High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
- “In Rodanthe,” Nights in Rodanthe.
- “It Ain’t Right,” Dark Streets.
- “Jai Ho,” Slumdog Millionaire.
- “Just Getting Started,” High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
- “Just Wanna Be with You,” High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
- “Little Person,” Synecdoche, New York.
- “The Little Things,” Wanted.
- “A Night to Remember,” High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
- “Nothing But the Truth,” Nothing but the Truth.
- “Now or Never,” High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
- “O Saya,” Slumdog Millionaire.
- “Once in a Lifetime,” Cadillac Records.
- “Right Here Right Now,” High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
- “Right to Dream,” Tennesee.
- “Rock Me Sexy Jesus,” Hamlet 2.
- “Scream,” High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
- “The Story,” My Blueberry Nights.
- “Sweet Ballad,” Yes Man.
- “Too Much Juice,” Dark Streets.
- “The Traveling Song,” Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.
- “Trouble the Water,” Trouble the Water.
- “Up to Our Nex,” Rachel Getting Married.
- “Walk Away,” High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
- “Waterline,” Pride and Glory.
- “The Wrestler,” The Wrestler.
- “Yes Man,” Yes Man.
- “Zydrate Anatomy,” Repo! The Genetic Opera.
Screen Actors Guild website.
Sundance Film Festival website.
Image of Gabourey Sidibe in the sexual abuse family drama Precious: Lionsgate Pictures.
Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable It Happened One Night image: Columbia Pictures.
Zac Efron High School Musical 3: Senior Year image: Walt Disney Pictures.
“Sexual Abuse Family Drama Tops Sundance + Alzheimer’s & Motherhood + Clark Gable Oscar” last updated in October 2018.