People throw around terms like "Oscar bait" for a lot of wrong reasons. And the shame of that is that sometimes people dismiss a movie that will likely run up a high number of awards nominations without giving the film a chance. Every so often, the films that earn such accolades actually deserve it. Case in point: a beautiful little movie called THE SESSIONS, starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt and William H. Macy, which won the Audience Award and a Special Jury Prize for ensemble action at this year Sundance Film Festival.
Writer-director Ben Lewin tells the true story of journalist and poet Mark O'Brien, who got polio as a child and as a result was mostly paralyzed and confined to an iron lung for all but a couple of hours a day. (He was the subject of the 1997 Oscar-winning documentary BREATHING LESSONS: THE LIFE AND WORK OF MARK O'BRIEN.) THE SESSIONS covers a very specific part of Mark's life--the time when he decided he wanted to lose his virginity and hired a professional sex surrogate (Helen Hunt) to help him discover intimacy for the first time in his life. His situation is complicated further by his religious beliefs, which forbid sex before marriage. But his priest (Macy) give him a pass. It's a truly remarkable, moving, and funny movie that will undoubtedly be on everyone's mind come awards season, and for good reason.
More importantly, I've got about 100 seats to an advance Chicago screening of THE SESSION taking place Tuesday, October 2 at 7:30 at a theater in downtown Chicago (the exact location will only be given to the winners). As a special bonus, we'll also have on hand for a post-screening Q&A with writer-director Ben Lewin (GEORGIA) and lead actor John Hawkes ("Deadwood," ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW, MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, CONTAGION, "Eastbound & Down," the upcoming Steven Spielberg-directed LINCOLN, and his Oscar-nominated performance in WINTER'S BONE). Here's how to win seats…
To win, send me an email at SessionChicago@aintitcoolmail.com (please note the new email address) with the subject line "Shall We Get Undressed?" (exactly like that). In the body of the email, I need your full Name, whether or not you're bringing a Guest (each winner may bring ONE confirmed guest--if I think you gave your +1 to someone trolling for free tickets at the theater, you won't get in), and the answer to the following question: "What is your favorite film involving a character overcoming the physical obstacle of his/her own body, and why?" I need a film title and a detailed reason for your choice. Keep your responses BRIEF--no more than 75 words (no matter how tempted you are to go over the limit). And I'm taking MY LEFT FOOT off the table; it's too obvious, and I'm looking for some degree of creativity. Best answers win, and you'll hear from me sometime before Monday if you won, so check your email!
Although this is an exclusive Ain't It Cool News event, it is overbooked to guarantee a full house for our guests. Also, winners' seats will be held until 15 minutes before showtime (7:15pm), at which time any empty seats in our rows will be given away. So you should arrive early to make sure you get in and get a good seat. If you can't arrive early, don't enter this contest. If there's even the slightest chance you or your guest will have to back out of attending or arrive late if you do win, don't enter. If you have a job that might make you late or unable to attend, or an ill/pregnant relative, or a temperamental significant other, or a scratchy throat, do not enter. And the 24-hour-notice-to-cancel rule is done. If you win and don't show up, the Black List is your new best friend.
Good luck, everyone! And thanks to the Fox Searchlight Pictures for giving us this very cool screening and bringing these wonderful guests to Chicago.