Precious nominations put Colorado in Oscar spotlight

lee daniels and gary magness on the red carpet.JPG
Gary Magness and Lee Daniels share a "Precious" moment at the Denver Film Festival.
This year's Oscar nominations are out, and Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire earned six nods, including Best Actress (Gabourey Sidibe), Best Supporting Actress (Mo'Nique), Best Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Directing (Lee Daniels) and Best Picture. This last category recognizes a film's producers, and while Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry are listed as executive producers in Precious's credits, the people being rewarded for doing the heavy lifting are Daniels and two Coloradans, Sarah Siegel-Magness and Gary Magness.

This trio was together in Denver just a few short months ago, when Precious served as the opening night attraction at the Denver Film Festival. And what a night it was.

When introducing the picture, Daniels became openly emotional as he talked about the support he received from Siegel-Magness and her husband, portraying them as the real reasons the film was made in the first place. Likewise, he credited them with giving him the opportunity to put forward his vision in such an uncompromising fashion.

The bond between Siegel-Magness and Daniels became even more apparent when they returned to the stage after the screening for a Q&A session with Denver Post critic Lisa Kennedy. The affection they feel for each other seemed utterly genuine, not feigned in the usual Hollywood manner, and their easy camaraderie put the perfect cap on a movie experience that was somehow both harrowing and hopeful.

The chance that the Magnesses will walk away with the big prize on March 7 are slight; Avatar and The Hurt Locker are the early favorites. However, Mo'Nique is a virtual lock for the Best Supporting Actress bauble thanks to her jaw-dropping performance as the Mother From Hell, guaranteeing more attention for this little film, as well as for a pair of producers based a long way from L.A.

Oh yeah: There's two more noteworthy Colorado links in less glamorous categories. Among the nominees for documentary features is The Cove, whose director, Louie Psihoyos, is a Boulder resident and head of the Ocean Preservation Society, based in Boulder as well. The nomination will give Psihoyos the excuse to get much closer to one of the oceans he'd like to save in just a little over a month's time.

And Denver's Daniel Junge has been recognized for The Last Campaign of Booth Gardner, deemed one of the year's best documentary shorts. That's doing Colorado proud.


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