From a fact-based Danish period drama and a globe-trotting music documentary to a new adaptation of a literary classic and an animated pirate's tale, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art is getting film fans ready for the 85th Academy Awards.
During its annual Oscar Tune Up, the lineup at the museum's Noble Theater becomes devoted exclusively to Academy Award-nominated films, particularly contenders in often-overlooked categories like best foreign language film.
“They're ones that are consistently interesting,” said Brian Hearn, the museum's film curator.
“Certainly we like the feature documentaries ... and then the ones that just blow through town a little too fast.”
Through Feb. 24, when the Oscars will be handed out in Los Angeles, the museum will shift from screening films four days a week to showing movies six days a week. Plus, it will have two Sunday matinees instead of just one.
In conjunction with the Oscar Tune Up, the museum is launching this week its new full-beverage concession service offering wine, beer, cocktails, coffee, soft drinks and more that can be taken into the theater.
“The fact that there's going to be a beverage concession actually in the same place that the original Centre Theater concession stand was is not lost on me,” Hearn said. The museum was built up and around the remains of the Centre Theater, downtown's last standing movie house.
Over the next three weeks, the theater's slate will include three of the five nominees for best documentary feature, seven features competing in an array of categories and all 15 Oscar-nominated short films.
“We have the exclusive Oklahoma City engagement of all three Oscar short film categories. That really is what blows Oscar Tune Up out of the water for us, and we crammed in even more screenings of those than we've ever had just to give people more options,” Hearn said.
“This I think is really one of the best years in recent memory for shorts across the board. It's really strong.”
The documentary shorts showcase is set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.
The animated shorts will be shown at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 8-9, 12:30 p.m. Feb. 10, 5:30 p.m. Feb. 22-23 and 12:30 p.m. Feb. 24.
The live-action mini-movies also will be screened six times after the animated shorts: 8 p.m. Feb. 8-9; 3 p.m. Feb. 10; 8 p.m. Feb. 22-23 and 3 p.m. Feb. 24.
“It's so much better than a YouTube window ... and the audience response is one of the most fun things about it,” he said. “They're all so different — you know, some are horrific and some are hilarious — and you have all of that audience interaction going on.”
He admitted he has a favorite in the animated shorts category — “The Simpsons: The Longest Daycare.”
“I'm rooting for Maggie Simpson,” he said with a laugh. “She's going to the Oscars ... and it's also cool to see some of the independents.”
With the film program's dedication to indie film, Hearn is excited to feature “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which earned four nominations: best picture, best director for Benh Zeitlin, best actress for young star Quvenzhane Wallis, and best adapted screenplay for Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar.
“It's an indie film success story,” Hearn said. “It proves that independents have a chance and the Oscars aren't just about giant corporate studio films gobbling up all the box office and the awards.”
The lineup also includes the heralded music documentary “Searching for Sugar Man,” the stop-motion clay animated film “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” and director Joe Wright's adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's novel “Anna Karenina,” starring Keira Knightley. Hearn even programmed an Oscar-nominated date movie for Feb. 14.
“‘Moonrise Kingdom' on Valentine's Day, that just made sense,” he said. “That was definitely Wes Anderson's best film ever in my opinion, and I was glad he got some Oscar love.”
Although many of the nominated films are already available on DVD, Blu-ray or Video on Demand, Hearn said many cinephiles still want a theatrical experience.
“Since we moved downtown, this is by far the most popular annual thematic screenings that we do. And it's fun for me. I love doing it as a curator,” he said.
“And it's handy for scoring better on those Oscar ballots.”