Caesar (created from a motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis) in "Rise… (20th Century Fox )
It’s always fun to look at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences' annual list of invitees and wonder: Really, him?
But almost as enjoyable is looking at who’s been invited and asking why they weren't already in. And this year’s group of 176 offers some doozies.
Topping the list is Andy Serkis. The actor who’s considered the leading practitioner of what's known as digitized acting has been a fan (and critical) favorite for years. His work as performance-capture creatures in “The Lord of the Rings,” “King Kong” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” has prompted calls for the Oscars to widen the criteria for acting prizes. But Serkis isn’t in the academy. (Whether his invitation is evidence of a larger shift in thinking remains to be seen.)
The list this year also includes some veterans who would have seemed like the card-carrying academy members of long ago: the Dardenne brothers (five Cannes prizes), Terrence Malick (three Oscar nominations) and Woody Allen producing partner Letty Aronson (one Oscar nom).
Of course, it’s possible that over the years some or all have already been asked but turned down the academy -- that certainly wouldn’t surprise us with Malick or an Allen collaborator. (The academy only started releasing names of invitees eight years ago.) It’s also possible they’ll turn them down this year.
Almost as overdue is Stephen King. Though the author has never been nominated for an Oscar, his work has been turned into dozens of movies, and is one of the most popular entertainers we can think of who isn’t in the group.
Finally, this year's list included the producing partners for two of the biggest stars in town: George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Yet despite serving as these A-listers' right hands in the film industry, Grant Heslov and Dede Gardner (the former got two of his three Oscar nominations more than six years ago) aren't presently members.
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