With their 15th outing being the crystal anniversary, the Texas Film Awards winners' list gets ever more sparkling, with the announcement this morning at Austin Studios of the class of 2015.
Heading up the actors is San Saba native and Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones. However, the star of No Country for Old Men and the Men in Black franchise is becoming equally lauded for his work as a director on such films as the recently released The Homesman.
Staying behind the lens for a moment, producer Bonnie Curtis got an unbelievable big break in the film industry in 1990 as Steven Spielberg's assistant, before embarking on a production career of her own that included a run with Spielberg (starting with The Lost World: Jurassic Park and including snagging Producer of the Year from the Producer's Guild of America in 1998 for Saving Private Ryan). More recently, she has been responsible for such well-regarded works as Albert Nobbs, and her upcoming Biblical project, Last Days in the Desert, due later this year. Austin Film Society associate artistic director Holly Herrick called her a producer of "iconic, historically great films" and noted she will in Austin in February to present the world premiere of 5 to 7, the newest film under Curtis' Mockingbird Pictures shingle.
Not everyone being inducted is actually Texan, but like Quentin Tarantino before him Guillermo Del Toro gets a special nod for his undoubted influence on Lone Star filmmaking. A Mexico native and creator of such pioneering works as Pan's Labyrinth and Pacific Rim, Herrick noted that he became "an essential player in the local film community" when he was living in Austin, working on The Devil's Backbone. He has been a regular in Austin ever since, including debuting his new FX series The Strain at the ATX Festival last year.
There will also be a posthumous induction for L.M. Kit Carson, who died last year at the age of 73. The actor, film journalist, producer and screenwriter became synonymous with Texas because of two scripts he penned – his 1984 Palme d'Or-winning adaptation of Sam Shepard's Paris, Texas, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. However, he was also a pioneer of cinema, from his eponymous role 1968's innovative satire David Holzman's Diary (to be screened the night before the awards ceremony), to his series for shorts for the Sundance Channel, "Africa Diary," shot on a cellphone in 2007. His greatest legacy may be as an advocate for the works of others, including founding the USA Film Festival, serving as first director of the Texas Film Commission, and supporting both the SXSW and Sundance film festivals. "His effect on Texas film scene and Texas film history will never be forgotten," said Herrick.
The final inductee undoubtedly will pay his own tribute to Carson: After all, he produced Dallas native Luke Wilson's breakthrough role in Bottle Rocket. That was the beginning of a career for the actor that has included blockbuster comedies (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy), indie favorites (Rushmore, and of course Idiocracy)) and TV (That 70's Show, Enlightened, and the upcoming Cameron Crowe-directed Roadies). It's actually fifth time's a charm for Wilson: He emceed the awards in 2014, accepted the Star of Texas award for Rushmore in 2009, gave the AMD Soundtrack Live! Award to ZZ Top in 2008, and handed the Rising Star Award to his brother Owen back in 2003. At least this time he'll be the one taking home something new for the mantelpiece. Herrick noted his standout work in last year's The Skeleton Twins, "and his performance in Enlightened is very daring and bold."
The awards ceremony will be held Thursday, March 12 – the night before SXSW Film begins – on Stage 7 at Austin Studios. More announcements, including hosts and award givers, will be made later in January and February. Details and tickets at www.austinfilm.org/TFA
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