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Digging Into New Academy Member Invites

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood June 26, 2014 at 5:29PM

The 271 new Academy member invites are revealing. For the second year in a row there are more of them. Twenty-two leaders of the field are now members of the new Casting Directors branch, long overdue.
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John Ridley
John Ridley
Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita Nyong'o

The 271 new Academy member invites are revealing. For the second year in a row there are more of them than usual. Twenty-two leaders of the field are now members of the new Casting Directors branch, long overdue. Of course we expect recent Oscar nominees like June Squib ("Nebraska"), production designer K.K. Barrett ("Her"), Hany Abu-Assad (“Omar,” “Paradise Now”) and "12 Years a Slave" participants Adam Stockhausen, John Ridley, Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong'o to join this elite club. 

Clearly, the Academy is still chasing diversity, trying to address its white male senior skew, from 38-year-old Cillian Murphy (“The Dark Knight Rises,” “Inception”) to director Gina Prince-Bythewaite ("The Secret Life of Bees," "Love and Basketball").

I am always amazed at who wasn't already a member of long standing. Japanese animator and Studio Ghibli chief Hayao Miyazaki? You've got to be kidding me. Also long overdue are Cinetic Media's John Sloss, Mads Mikkelsen, star of two Danish foreign nominees in a row ("The Hunt," "A Royal Affair"), and character stalwart David Straithairn (“Lincoln,” “Good Night, and Good Luck"), who's followed on the actor's list by global action star Jason Statham (“Parker,” “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”). Screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere wrote “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” and “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie," for Christ's sake. And Larry Gross delivered “We Don’t Live Here Anymore” and “48 Hrs.”

New indie members include Jay and Mark Duplass ("Cyrus"). Younger Academy voters include Annapurna Pictures' 28-year-old Megan Ellison, who has skyrocketed to the top of go-to A-list producers of quality films, and Paul Dano ("12 Years a Slave"), who is 30. 


This article is related to: Academy Awards, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Awards, Awards


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.