June 29, 2012 1:09pm PT by Gregg Kilday
Jessica Chastain and Matthew McConaughey Among 176 Invited to Join the Academy
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has sent out invitations to 176 artists and executives to join the organization. The new invitees range from such actors as Jessica Chastain, Matthew McConaughey and Andy Serkis to Oscar-winning director Michel Hazanavicius, Terrence Malick and Wong Kar Wai.
The roster of prospective new members is an eclectic group, reflecting the determination of the Academy's current leadership to include more women and minorities.
A number of this year's Oscar winners received an invite: Among them, The Artist's best actor Jean Dujardin, its director Hazanavicius, its producer Thomas Llangmann and its composer Ludovic Bource.
While an Academy Award nomination doesn't automatically result in an invitation to join the Academy, the organization also extended welcomes to such recent acting nominees as Berenice Bejo (The Artist), Demian Bichir (A Better Life), Chastain (The Help), Jonah Hill (Moneyball), Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) and Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs). Octavia Spencer, the best supporting actress winner for The Help, also was asked to join the club.
While the Academy has yet to reward Serkis with a nomination for his performance-capture work in movies like The Lord of the Rings and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the British actor's contributions were recognized with an invitation of his own.
McConaughey, whose performance as the packmaster of a group of male strippers in Magic Mike is already stirring up talk of a best supporting actor nomination, made the cut, as did Bryan Cranston, better known for his work in TV's Breaking Bad than his film appearances in Contagion and Little Miss Sunshine.
Having received three Oscar nominations during the course of his career -- for writing and directing The Thin Red Line and for directing last year's The Tree of Life -- Malick finally received an invitation to join the directors' branch. The directors this year cast a very wide net, reaching out to some of the top directors from around the world. Besides Wong, the Hong Kong auteur known for films like In the Mood for Love, the invitees included the Belgium directing team of Jean-Pierre and his brother Luc Dardenne, Iran's Asghar Farhadi, Colombia's Rodrigo Garcia, Israel's Joseph Cedar and Belgium's Michael R. Roskam.
Kristen Wiig and her Bridesmaids writing partner Annie Mumolo, both nominated this year, were invited to join the writers branch. The branch also reached out to George Clooney's writing and producing partner Grant Heslov, who was also invited to join the producers branch, as well as directing invitees Hazanavicius and Farhadi. One surprise name on the list was that of King. Although his stories and novels have been the basis for as many as 145 TV shows and movies, he's written only a handful of screenplays himself.
The list also included such top agents as WME's Ariel Emaneul and CAA's Bryan Lourd, although agents are invited to join as associate members and do not have voting privileges.
Friday's announcement also included the news that the art directors branch, which includes production designers, art directors, set decorators and costume designers, has been redubbed the designers branch.
New members will be welcomed at an invitation-only reception at the Academy in September.
The 2012 invitees are:
Makeup Artists and Hairstylists
Short Films and Feature Animation
Additionally, the Academy invited Fritz Gabriel Bauer, Lee S. Berger, Ronald Bernstein, Ariel Emanuel, Jean-Marie Lavalou, Bryan Lourd, Dale Oliver, Jeremy Plager, John B. Quinn and Steve Weinstein to Associate membership. Associate members are not represented on the Board and do not have Academy Awards® voting privileges.