On Friday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the names of the "135 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures" and have been invited to join this club that numbers just under 6,000 members. As always, there are some surprises about who made the cut and revelations about who did not already belong to AMPAS, including director Adam Shankman, who co-produced this year's Oscars.
As the news release notes: "Membership policies would have allowed a maximum of 180 new members in 2010, but as in other recent years, the several branch committees endorsed fewer candidates than were proposed to them." Among the 20 acting invitees is Adam Sandler, who co-wrote and stars in the critically dismissed "Grown Ups" which opens Friday. Though Sandler has suffered his share of bad reviews, another invitee, Tobin Bell, has the dubious distinction of starring in the "Saw" horror franchise.
Gone are the days when Oscar nominees automatically became academy members. The most recent supporting acting champs -- Monique ("Precious") and Christoph Waltz ("Inglorious Basterds") -- won without being able to vote for themselves but have now been asked to join the academy. Five of the other 2009 acting nominees were also invited -- Vera Farmiga ("Up in the Air"), Anna Kendrick ("Up in the Air"), Carey Mulligan ("An Education"), Jeremy Renner ("The Hurt Locker"), and Gabourey Sidibe ("Precious"). Also asked was previous nominee Saoirse Ronan ("Atonement").
Among the half a dozen directors invited were Oscar nominee Lee Daniels ("Precious") and Lone Scherfig, who helmed "An Education," another of the 2009 best picture nominees. Jon Landau -- who has an Oscar for producing 1997 champ "Titanic" -- rode the "Avatar" tidal wave to gain entry, as did that film's leading lady, Zoe Saldana. And eight years after penning an Oscar-nominated tune for "Gangs of New York" U2 band-mates Bono and The Edge have been asked to join the music branch.
Last year's acting invitees included onetime nominees Casey Affleck ("The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"), Viola Davis ("Doubt"), Anne Hathaway ("Rachel Getting Married"), Taraji P. Henson ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"), Melissa Leo ("Frozen River"), Amy Ryan ("Gone Baby Gone"), Michael Shannon ("Revolutionary Road") and Michelle Williams ("Brokeback Mountain").
2008 Oscar winners Danny Boyle ("Slumdog Millionaire"), Dustin Lance Black ("Milk") and A.R. Rahman ("Slumdog Millionaire") as well as Oscarcast host Hugh Jackman were also among the 2009 invitees. Although there were 166 openings last year, the various branches of the academy endorsed the admission of only 134 new members. Among the other bold-faced names who made that guest list were Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson, Emile Hirsch, James McAvoy, Tyler Perry and Jeffrey Wright.
This incoming roster of talent will be feted by the academy at a reception in September. For the full list of invitees, visit the academy website.
Photos: Christoph Waltz and Mo'Nique at the 2009 Academy Awards. Credit: AMPAS