By Leonard Maltin | Leonard Maltin January 16, 2010 at 1:35AM
The best part of being asked to serve on the jury for the AFI Awards is that I get to attend an elegant luncheon for the honorees. Once the doors of the Four Seasons Hotel banquet room close, there are no television cameras inside, no publicists, no press. It’s meant to be a celebration of outstanding work in film and television during the past year, and that’s just what it is. Part of the fun is the schmoozing—getting to meet people whose work I’ve admired—and a personal pastime of mine is...matching up interesting pairs of filmmakers for snapshots. Here are some of the results from today’s lunch.
Two generations of directors: Jason Reitman, whose Up in the Air was honored this year, poses with the AFI Motion Picture Jury chairman Norman Jewison, the most youthful-minded movie veteran I know. (If you don’t recall, his films include In the Heat of the Night, The Thomas Crown Affair, Fiddler on the Roof, A Soldier’s Story, and Moonstruck.)
It’s been a great year for animation, and here are two of the visionary directors who made that happen. Posing in animated fashion are Pete Docter, the Pixar veteran who directed Up, and Henry Selick, the stop-motion animation wizard responsible for Coraline.
The AFI honors outstanding television shows as well as movies. Here, Kathryn Bigelow, director of The Hurt Locker, poses with one of the TV panel’s jurors, the versatile actress CCH Pounder.
One of the things I like best about the AFI list is that it includes all kinds of American films—from indie productions like Sugar to mainstream successes like The Hangover, certainly the funniest film of 2009. Director Todd Phillips was happy to pose with one of his stars, Heather Graham.
As the creator and driving force of Mad Men, Matthew Weiner has been a “regular” at these events the past few years. AFI veteran Frank Pierson (the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Dog Day Afternoon) worked on the show this season, lending first-hand knowledge of the period it depicts so well.
No, I couldn’t resist taking some solo shots at the lunch. Here is Gabourey Sidibe, at the outset of a weekend packed with awards, some of which may go to her acclaimed film Precious.
Here is Oren Moverman, the screenwriter who made such an impressive directorial debut with The Messenger. He told me he wanted to make a film that would reach people on an emotional level—sincerely, without an ounce of irony. I’d say he succeeded.