Oscar Nominees React

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Dean DeBlois (writer-director) best animated feature, How to Train Your Dragon: "I'm looking at it as a promising sign," chuckled DeBlois, as Tuesday morning the Canadian was on his way to a U.S. immigration center for a step in becoming a U. S. citizen. "Maybe they'll let me stick around."

Going into the nominations, there was also some speculation of it being a dark horse best picture contender. "We see the animation category as one to be treasured," he said. "The fact that it was also mentioned in (best picture) circles is a huge compliment.

"It's getting harder to ignore animation," he said of animation in general. "In terms of box office and critical reviews, Toy Story and Dragon were right up there. Animation is earning in place in the zeitgeist of our American culture. I think there is a turn, and it is being driven by the fact that filmmaker are concentrating on adult audiences as well as child audiences, with broad appeal."

Alexandre Desplat, original score, The King's Speech: When I was growing up the Oscars weren’t on TV in France. Canal Plus started showing it in the mid-80s I think. From then on there were two American shows I would watch: The Oscars and the Super Bowl. So it was in my teens that I started to be aware of what the Oscar means to the cinema industry. I started watching Maurice Jarre’s career and Georges Delerue’s career and John Williams and I started become aware of just how important an Oscar can be to a composer.

Hans Zimmer, original score, Inception: After nine nominations Zimmer says this one is different thanks to the unconventional nature of Chris Nolan’s mind-bending blockbuster. “This feels special because this is a very special movie,” he says. “Everyone was firing on all cylinders. Working with Chris is such a pleasure. We were making this rather weird art house movie that was a huge commercial success. And I think that’s really important.” Zimmer admits to being “slightly miffed” that Nolan was left off the best director list, adding that it’s a “tremendous oversight. This is a true auteur movie. It’s like Fellini’s Amarcord without Fellini.” Still wrestling with the death of longtime publicist Ronni Chasen, Zimmer says he continues to miss her unique presence. “We always used to go on these journeys together, she was part of my life for such a long time,” he says. “Everybody knows that a great dame has left the building. I just loved having her around to tell me to tuck in my shirt.”

Ryan Kavanaugh (producer), best picture, The Fighter: The film is especially near and dear to Kavanaugh. When the project stalled out at Paramount, Kavanaugh's Relativity Media rescued it, produced and put up the financing. "It's awesome," Kavanaugh said from Los Angeles after the movie picked up seven top nominations, including best picture and best director for David O. Russell. "We want the film to be the underdog and come from nowhere with the hard punch," he said.

Paramount is distributing and marketing The Fighter, but Kavanaugh said Relativity has paid for most of the awards campaign. With Paramount's True Grit also receiving top noms, Kavanaugh said it will be Relativity's job to make sure The Fighter gets the standalone attention it needs. "I couldn't be happier for David O. Russell. He really delivered with this movie," said Kavanaugh, noting The Fighter resonates so much because it's an inspirational story. "People walk out and forget their daily struggle," Kavanaugh said.

Josh Fox (director), best documentary, Gasland: "I'm sitting here with a bottle of champagne. It's remarkable and amazing and my family is flipping out, and I haven't really processed it yet. I woke up at 3 a.m. and started pacing and by 5:30 my producer called me and was talking so much I didn't understand what the hell she was saying." As amazing as the nomination is, Fox was sure to note his campaign against natural gas drilling is far from over, "We are not out of the woods in any way. I am very much fighting for my home and we have enormous pressure form this industry who has been on the attack against the people in the film, against myself and we are in a daily battle.

He added the Academy's recognition validates the experience and fight of the families in the film, "I think they have been struggling in the dark for years. They are getting sicker and feeling like nobody was listening to them and that the Academy has acknowledged what they are going through is immense and actually makes me incredibly happy to see that. It's just been the greatest experience of my life to meet America this way." 

Dana Brunetti (producer), best picture, The Social Network: It's fitting that Dana Brunetti, president of Kevin Spacey's Trigger Street Productions which helped produce The Social Network, would have his Facebook and Twitter pages overrun with congratulations after the movie's eight Academy Award nominations were announced this morning. "My phone blew up after the [Golden] Globes," he tells THR. "My phone blew up this morning. My Facebook, Twitter text messages and email go absolutely bonkers. It's amazing to see so many people be able to instantly connect with me."

Though, the direct access may be more of a curse than a blessing. After going through to 'like' every Facebook comment on his profile page, Brunetti then made sure to respond to every email he received during after the Golden Globes. "It was close to 500," he reveals. If history is any indicator, he's got a lot of typing in his future. Which may mean it's a good thing he isn't planning on attending any parties this evening while in Sundance to take meetings. "I doubt I'd get in."

Sebastian Junger (director), best documentary, Restrepo: This has been one of the few times in my life that I have been totally speechless. I was with my wife, Angela, and moments later Tim Hetherington walked in the door and we just had a big hug. Then the dog piled on as well because she knew something was up. It was really quite a collision of animals and people.

Junger said the soldiers in the war are the real heroes, "It's a tremendous honor to be the filmmaker and to be nominated, but most of all it's a testimony to the soldiers. Those are the guys we were with and that fought and some of them died defending this country in the Korengal Valley. For me, that's probably the most powerful feeling that this generates right now. He added that bringing the war into our homes has only begun, "Tim and I are heading straight back to Afghanistan to continue covering the war. We wanted to make a film that brought the war into people's living rooms so they didn't forget. We are going back there to keep reporting. We will be getting shot at by April at least."

Wally Pfister, cinematography, Inception: "I'm thrilled that people appreciated the visual interpretation of Chris' wonderful direction and screenplay," said the longtime Chris Nolan collaborator, who called THR from a noisy airport after receiving his forth Oscar nomination (others were The Dark Knight, The Prestige and Batman Begins), this time for his inventive cinematography on Inception, which mixed formats and techniques.

"I was surprised," Pfister admitted on Nolan not receiving a nomination for direction. "From my personal perspective, Inception is all about direction. My work was under his careful guidance and eye. Without him my work wouldn't have been was it was. I was pleased he was nominated for screenplay and as a producer, though there is something lacking without his name for direction." Another surprise was that editor Lee Smith didn't make the cut in the editing competition. "That was a shock. His work was phenomenal. It was such a huge part of the film."

Lucy Walker (director), best documentary, Waste Land: For Waste Land to bring us from the world's largest landfill to the biggest red carpet in the world through the redemptive magic of art with Vik Muniz and the catadores who pick recyclable materials every day with their bare hands is the most beautiful dream that could ever come true. This is the loveliest honor for our entire team. Thank you and muita obrigada to the Academy's documentary filmmakers who are our heroes, to the women filmmakers who are my inspiration, and to our entire team especially the catadores who recycle all of our spirits. We dedicate this nomination to the 1% of the developing world's urban population who live by informal recycling and who deserve fair wages, safer working conditions, and respect."

Sylvain Chomet (director), best animated feature, The Illusionist: "The Academy Award nominations this year for the best animated film category are all the more prestigious due to the fact there were only going to be three of them. I am obviously thrilled and proud that The Illusionist is among those nominated and can be considered alongside the best of the big budget studio films. It's a testament to the skill and the dedication devoted to this film by a very talented team of artists. And of course I sincerely hope that Jacques Tati would be proud of what we have achieved with his marvellous story."

Charles Ferguson (director), best documentary, Inside Job: "I am, of course, very honored and totally delighted that Inside Job has been nominated for the Academy Award for best documentary feature. It was an amazing experience to make the film, to work with such amazingly gifted and committed people, and to see the film's reception by the world. I hope that the nomination will enable the issues raised by the film to receive wider discussion, all the more so because the effects of the financial crisis are still with us, and I also hope that the great people who worked on the film are able to make more movies."

Scott Franklin (producer), best picture, Black Swan: Franklin, who is Darren Aronofsky's producing partner at Protoza, said the Oscar nominations were a "shot in the arm for all of us," especially since Aronofsky has never received a best director nom before. "Knowing how difficult the film was to make, and how hard everybody worked on such a small budget, it's really rewarding for everybody," Franklin says. "And Natalie Portman owned that role. I've never worked with an actor or seen an actor bring so much to the set everyday," he said. Franklin spoke from Brooklyn, where Protozoa is based. "It's a good day."

A.R. Rahman, original score and original song, 127 Hours: Though he won two Oscars for original score and song in 2009 with Slumdog Millionaire, Rahman was still taken aback to receive two nominations (in the same categories) for his work on 127 Hours. "We were expecting maybe one, but I was surprised to see two nominations," he tells THR. He was disappointed about Danny Boyle's best director omission, however, "I miss Danny's direction nomination, but I'm grateful that he got so many nominations for the movie." And though he's Indian born and bred, the composer says he had no trouble connecting to the tale of an American hero. "American culture is multi-cultural. So I've been living with Hollywood movies for almost 20-30 years. I have Indian culture and I have this culture too." Rahman, who spoke to THR after landing in Geneva, Switzerland to receive the World Economic Forum's crystal award, said he's most looking forward to sleep later today, adding, "I'm terribly jetlagged."

Tom Douglas, original song, "Coming Home" from Country Strong (music and Lyrics by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey): "We are thrilled by the news of our nomination this morning. Troy Verges, Hillary Lindsey and I met with director Shana Feste in the early script stages of Country Strong and she really gave us an inside look into the motivation behind the ark of the characters in the film. We instantly fell in love with the story and were taken with how respectful the filmmakers were of Nashville and country music. This entire process has been quite a creative ride, and the nomination is a real honor." 

Denis Villeneuve (director), best foreign-language film, Incendies: "I never want to have the night I just experienced twice," a relieved Villeneuve told journalists in a conference call from Sundance about the pressured build-up to Tuesday's Oscar nominations. "I really can't believe that I'm even talking to you about this. For me the prize is the nomination. Just to be among those other people is a huge honor."

Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, original screenplay, The Fighter"We'd like to thank the Academy for this recognition. It's truly an honor to be in the company of so many talented artists. We're thrilled for everyone involved in The Fighter, but are especially happy for the Ward/Eklund family who were gracious enough to open up their lives to all of us."

Celine Rattray (producer), best picture, The Kids Are All Right: "It took 7 years, 13 financiers, and a 23-day shoot to make our film a reality. By recognizing Kids, the Academy has not only honored us but has given hope and inspiration to the independent film community."

Guy Hendrix Dyas, art direction, Inception (Production Design: Guy Hendrix Dyas, Set Decoration: Larry Dias and Doug Mowat): "I thought it was great," he said of Inception's eight nominations, though admitted his was probably repeating others in adding, "I think it was a little sad not to see Chris Nolan nominated for his amazing directorial work and also the editorial slot seemed a little empty without Inception. The others I thought were very well represented. Chris provided us with such an original story and canvas to work with, it was quite frankly our duty to do a really nice design job on this film. The main protagonists are architects. The architecture had to become an additional character."

He talked about the collaboration of the creative team, and joked that nominated director of photography Wally Pfister is "the guy who does the guitar solos in the band. I was very happy to see Wally nominated, he is a true talent."

Dyas and his wife are expecting a baby in May. "(The nomination) makes it a doubly special year." His next project is Robopocalypse.

Brian Oliver (producer), best picture, Black Swan: Oliver certainly picked right in deciding to co-finance Black Swan with Fox Searchlight. It's the first film from his newly formed Cross Creek Partners. He said scoring an Oscar nomination "feels great. It's one of those things you never expect." At the same time, he isn't so surprised. "We always had faith in the movie, and in Darren [Aronofsky]," Oliver said.
 
Christian Colson (producer). best picture, 127 Hours: Colson, Danny Boyle's producing partner, was home in London when he learned the film received six Oscar nominations, including for best picture and best director. "Six is a pretty good spread. We got above the line and we got below the line. It implies there's a kind of breadth of support within the Academy for the film," Colson said. He said he was especially pleased that the adapted screenplay was recognized. "Because 127 Hours is based on a true story, it's very easy for people to forge how beautifully written it is."

Chris Sanders (director), best animated feature, How to Train Your Dragon: "It's amazing. Dean (DeBlois) and I came into the film late," he said, noting that as is the case with many animated films, there was rewriting involved. "We started with a children book that had the seeds of the story, written for younger readers. We wanted to make sure anyone (including adults viewers) would be taken on an incredible ride. "I don't think any studio except Dreamworks would have let it go as far as it did. We took risks--Hiccup was cleverly injured by the end of the movie. It feels more real in that our film had a believable ending; he didn't come out of it unscathed."

On a personal note, Sanders recalled that growing up, "my grandmother was a huge fan and watched every Oscars--I think about her. I hope she is watching."

Adrien Morot, makeup, Barney's Version: "It was one of those dream projects you get where all of the stars aligned themselves for a make-up artist," Morot tells THR. The Canadian makeup artist, who heard the news of his nomination after his son left for school in Montreal, says aging the film's characters over a 35-year time period was challenging. "You don't want your makeup to be the showcase and take away from the actor's performances. So it needs to be subtle enough not to distract the audience, but effective enough to convey the story," he says. It was that subtlety that made his nod so surprising. "I'm really excited that the voting members of the Academy kept a keen eye and remembered what was going on with the progression," says Morot, who is hoping the recognition will generate jobs. "If the producers out there see the movie and enjoy the work, I hope that's gonna lead to a few more phone calls.

Gary A. Rizzo, sound mixing, Inception, (nominated with Lora Hirschberg and Ed Novick): "Everyone at Skywalker Sound is ecstatic," Rizzo said, noting that various members of the Skywalker team were also nominated for films including Toy Story 3, Tron and The Social Network. "It is breathtaking to be on a nomination list with so many other talented people--I have heroes and friends on this list."

He echoed his fellow Inception nominees in admitting surprise that the film was passed over in the direction and editing categories. "Chris is an incredibly talented director. I fall into the group that was hoping that he would get nominated (for direction). Lee Smith is an exceptional editor and the editing was incredibly complex with all of the layers of the dream, that made it a real challenge."

Andrew Weisblum, editing, Black Swan: "When we were driving around looking a dailies on a laptop, I didn't think the movie would be received the way it did," Weisblum said. "You never know if something is going to connect with audiences. Darren is a unique storyteller with a unique vision. And with this he did it. The movie is entertaining, scary, and has great performances. There is so much. Darren brings out the best in all his collaborators. It is excited to be a part of it with Darren and see him get the attention."

Eve Stewart, art direction, The King's Speech (production design Eve Stewart, set decoration Judy Farr): "I am elated that all the hard work by my department put in on The King's Speech has resulted in such a treat," says Stewart. "Working with director Tom Hooper is challenging, exacting and inspiring. He is a real friend. He pushes everybody to do their best work. My fellow nominees are brilliant. I'm just so honored to be considered among them. This seems so unreal when I'm over here on a rainy English day in my Wellington boots. It's hard to believe this is happening."

Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, editing, The Social Network: "Wow. We are honored and blessed to have had the opportunity to work on a film with this level of creativity and collaboration. David's (Fincher) direction, Aaron's (Sorkin) script, and performances by an amazing group of actors created the perfect storm for making a great film. Thanks to the producing team, everyone at Sony, and to the Academy for the gracious nomination. We are incredibly excited and honored!"

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