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Sony Pictures Classics is putting together a nice push in the lead-up to Oscar nominations on behalf of "Before Midnight" by spotlighting the film's place in a trilogy of films that mark a true landmark progression for the medium. Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke seem like good bets for Best Adapted Screenplay recognition, but with the placement the film is receiving on year-end top 10 lists and superlatives announcements, it has a strong foothold to register in other categories, too, perhaps even Best Picture.
A few weeks back, the studio sent out DVD combos of the first two films in the series, "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset." Soon after it was announced by the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York that all three films would screen in a program called "Celine and Jesse Forever" in January.
"Each of the 'Before' movies is a window onto a stage of life, revealing the possibilities and disappointments of one’s 20s, 30s and 40s," said Film Society's Director of Cinematheque Programming, Dennis Lim, at the time. "Taken together, they have become something much larger and altogether more amazing: an ongoing collective experiment in embodying the passage of time."
The program will also feature screenings of Linklater's 2001 rotoscoped animated feature "Waking Life," which features a sequence with Celine and Jesse that kick-started the idea between the three collaborators to pursue a sequel to the 1994 original film.
Now comes news that the Santa Barbara International Film Festival will screen the trilogy at an all-afternoon event at the Lobero Theatre on the last day of the fest, Feb. 9, 2014. Linklater, Delpy and Hawke will be on hand for an in-depth conversation about the series.
"This trilogy creates one of the most authentic portrayals of love on the screen," SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling said, "and it's an undeniable gift to be able to experience all three movies in one day as well as to host its three talented creators."
Thus far on the critics circuit "Before Midnight" — my #4 film of the year — has managed a lot of screenplay wins and nominations, though perhaps not enough for other elements, particularly the performances. Delpy was nominated for Best Female Lead at the Independent Spirit Awards and the film received a screenplay notice, but nothing else. The film landed a Best Film nomination with the Gotham Awards (where Linklater was feted with a tribute), but Delpy was passed over. She was, however, nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes (dubious category placement but, let's face it, probably the only way to get the film any notice with that group). Hawke, meanwhile, remains in a thankless position with these films; I don't think he's been recognized anywhere so far.
So it's been quite the up and down season for what countless critics view as one of the year's best films. I'd like to think the Academy will see fit to honor it in more than just the adapted screenplay category, though. It deserves nominations for that, Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress, maybe even Best Actor. Perhaps these bicoastal events, along with continued top 10 presence, will help revive the May release. One can only hope.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for an interview with Linklater, Delpy and Hawke about the films in this truly unique series.
"Celine and Jesse Forever" will run at New York's Lincoln Center Jan. 3-9, 2014. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs Jan. 30 - Feb. 9, 2014.
"Before Midnight," meanwhile, is currently available on DVD/Blu-ray.
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