Going 28 years strong, Aspen Film’s Academy Screenings have been a chance to see the biggest movies of the year on the big screen in Aspen. However, with some of the biggest movies of 2019, such as “The Irishman” from Netflix, going straight to streaming services, combined with the ease of movie access due to the internet, the 40-year-old organization is doing things a bit differently this year.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Susan Wrubel, the executive and artistic director for Aspen Film, about the decision to shift this year’s screenings from between Christmas and New Year’s to early January. “We’re a little nervous, but the community has been really supportive. We’re thrilled that the reception has been so great.”
This year’s screenings will take place Saturday through Tuesday, which is a major departure from the period between holidays they have traditionally filled. And instead of showing a collection of Oscar nominees from the year, the focus will instead be on the biggest movies that are capping off 2019.
Wrubel said that the screenings originally existed for members of the many film guilds who would be in Aspen during the holidays. Before the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is responsible for the Oscars, started sending out DVD mailers, the cinema was the only place to watch the movies again for many voting members. So Aspen Film made things easy for them by bringing screenings to their vacation spot over the holidays. But they were showing four movies a day, many of them earlier in the afternoon, and Wrubel said that “people don’t want to come off the mountain to go to the movies.”
So, in order to make the screenings more worthwhile, Wrubel said that they decided to shift the dates to a less hectic time in town and focus on a smaller set of movies all played after folks have come off the mountain. In addition, she said that instead of the confusion of splitting the screenings between two theaters, they have all four days at the Wheeler Opera House, with some additional screenings at the Isis Theatre just as a bonus.
The screenings also come right at the end of the voting period for the Academy Awards, but Wrubel said that the focus of the screenings hasn’t been on educating voters for a while and this change is just the next step of that.
Although the list of screenings is shorter this year, Wrubel said, “there’s not a clunker in the bunch.”
“Every one is phenomenal in their own right,” said Wrubel. “All of them I’m very excited about.”
Wrubel said that she wanted to stress the fact that they’ve painstakingly curated the program this year and that she thinks that some of them will be big up-and-comers and discoveries for people.
If you’re a member of Aspen Film, you likely already know about the screenings and have your tickets. But for the general public, tickets are available at Aspenshowtix.com and at the Wheeler Box Office. Be warned though: As of press time, some of these films were beginning to sell out.
The goal remains the same for Aspen Film: showing great films for local audiences, and the upcoming program fits the bill.
Here’s the lineup of films for this year’s Academy Screenings:
Bombshell (1 hr 48 min)
Sat., Jan. 4 | 5:30 PM | Wheeler Opera House
1917 (1 hr 59 min)
Sat., Jan. 4 | 8:15 PM | Wheeler Opera House
The Elephant Queen (1 hr 36 min)
Sun., Jan. 5 | 2:30 PM | Isis Theatre
The Truth (1 hr 46 min)
Sun., Jan. 5 | 5 PM | Wheeler Opera House
Uncut Gems (2 hrs 15 min)
Sun., Jan. 5 | 8 PM | Wheeler Opera House
The Kingmaker (1 hr 41 min)
Mon., Jan. 6 | 2:30 PM | Isis Theatre
The Apollo (1 hr 38 min)
Mon., Jan. 6 | 5 PM | Wheeler Opera House
Les Misérables (1 hr 42 min)
Mon., Jan. 6 | 8 PM | Wheeler Opera House
Incitement (2 hrs 3 min)
Tue., Jan. 7 | 2:30 PM | Isis Theatre
Citizen K (2 hrs 6 min)
Tue., Jan. 7 | 5 PM | Wheeler Opera House
Just Mercy (2 hrs 17 min)
Tue., Jan. 7 | 8 PM | Wheeler Opera House