‘Minari,’ Vince Gill help Oklahoma become part of Oscars, Grammys history

‘Minari,’ Vince Gill help Oklahoma become part of Oscars, Grammys history

Brandy McDonnell
 
| Oklahoman

The Oklahoma-made movie “Minari” continued its strong awards season run this morning as the 2021 Oscar nominations were announced this morning.

“Minari, which was filmed in Tulsa in 2019, has been nominated for six Academy Awards, including best picture, and a history-making best actor nod for Steven Yeun, who becomes the first Asian-American ever nominated for a best actor Oscar. 

Writer-director Lee Isaac Chung, who loosely based “Minari” on his own childhood, earned nods for best director and best original screenplay when Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas revealed the nominations this morning. Plus, Youn Yuh-jung is nominated for best supporting actress and Emile Mosseri for best original score. 

Chung’s powerful and poetic semi-autobiographical drama tells a story of the American dream not often seen in mainstream movies: “Minari” stars Yeun, who played fan-favorite Glenn Rhee on the hit series “The Walking Dad,” as the patriarch of a Korean immigrant family who relocates in the 1980s from Los Angeles to rural Arkansas to start a farm. He, his dubious wife Monica (Yeri Han), their two spirited children – Anne (Noel Kate Cho) and David (Alan Kim) – and his feisty mother-in-law Soonja (Yuh-jung Youn) weather tragedy and triumph in their quest to build a life in the Heartland.

“Of course, it feels good to receive a lot of accolades. I try not to look at it too much, just because that’s not why I made this – and I don’t think that’s the reason why any of us made this. I think it’s been kind of like a cherry on top,” “Minari” producer Christina Oh told me in a recent interview. “It’s just been actually really moving to see how this film has resonated with people. Anything else, the accolades and stuff, that’s just a little icing on our cake that we don’t mind. I’m incredibly grateful … and everyone involved really, really, really just worked so hard to try and make this a reality.”

Although the story is set in Arkansas, the Oklahoma skies, farmland and woods are superbly showcased in the moving but not maudlin “Minari.” From indie studio A24, the film lensed throughout Tulsa and the surrounding area, including Sand Springs, Skiatook, Broken Arrow and Rose, over five weeks. 

“I feel like we were telling a unique story in a unique way but that still felt like it would resonate with people. I think we couldn’t be more thrilled and more appreciative of the Oklahoma film community. They were really, really welcoming, and we’re ever grateful,” Oh said in our interview, which you can read here. 

“Minari” has been has steadily winning over moviegoers and earning acclaim over the past year, starting with earning both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award in the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. “Minari” is already a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award winner this season, with the BAFTAs, Independent Spirit Screen Actors Guild Awards and more still to come. 

Of course, the biggest awards show of them all is the Oscars, and the 93rd Academy Awards will be broadcast live on ABC April 25, after being pushed back from the show’s original Feb. 28 date due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

David Fincher’s black-and-white Hollywood story “Mank,” written by his father, former Tulsan the late Jack Fincher, received 10 Oscar nominations this morning, including best picture, best director for the younger Fincher, best actor for Gary Oldman and best actress for Amanda Seyfried. Unfortunately, it was not nominated in the screenwriting categories. 

See the full list of Oscar nominees here. 

Vince Gill adds to historic Grammys total 

Oklahoma native and Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill won his 22nd Grammy Award Sunday night for best country solo performance for “When My Amy Prays,” a tuneful tribute to his wife, contemporary Christian hitmaker Amy Grant, from his latest studio album, 2019’s “Okie.” 

“The whole record is really honest, it’s really truthful, it’s emotional. It’s a lot of hard subjects. It seems age appropriate: All these songs that are on this record, I couldn’t have written those songs 20 years ago, 40 years ago. I had to live enough life and have enough experience for those kinds of songs to show up. I’ve obviously been shown the door of hit records and country radio and all that many years ago, and so with that comes a freedom, that I can kind of choose to say whatever I would like to say in a song,” Gill told me in a recent interview.

“It’s not all geared so much toward trying to be a hit song — and this certainly wasn’t a hit song. It’s just an emotional, honest song that honors my bride in a way, but also, I think, the real power of the song is the vulnerability in it in the way I paint myself. … Being married to someone so publicly faith-based as Amy is, I think then (people) automatically assume I am, too, and that’s just not quite the case. … So, I kind of lean on Amy a lot for some of that kind of stuff, and that’s basically what the song is.”

Heading into Sunday night’s show, Gill, who was born in Norman and grew up in Oklahoma City, already was the male country artist with the most Grammy wins with 21, and he added to that record with his latest win, which came on his 47th career Grammy nod. 

“No matter where someone is in their career, they just want to be heard. So I am very honored to have been chosen for this Grammy, particularly for this song,” Gill said in a statement Sunday night. 

Fellow Oklahoma native Luke Dick, who was born in Oklahoma City and grew up in the tiny farming community of Cogar, received his first Grammy nominee this year, earning a nod along with Natalie Hemby and former Tishomingo resident Miranda Lambert for best country song as the co-writers of Lambert’s uplifting smash “Bluebird.” Although Lambert gave a stunning performance of the ballad on Sunday’s Grammys broadcast, it lost the best country song category to The Highwomen’s “Crowded Table,” which Hemby penned with Brandi Carlile and Lori McKenna. 

On the bright side, Lambert won best country album for “Wildcard,” which features five songs she co-wrote with Dick. 

See the full list of Grammy winners here.

OKC social media star Tim Tiller to get his own exhibit #HashtagtheCowboy

A year after he became a beloved internet sensation at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tim Tiller, director of security and operations services at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, is getting his own exhibition displaying examples of human warmth in times of crisis. 

The unique exhibition, titled “#HashtagtheCowboy,” will open Wednesday at the National Cowboy Museum. It will provide an opportunity for museum visitors and social media followers to physically interact with the online communities formed during the global pandemic and reflect on the challenges and unexpected joys of living through 2020. 

The exhibit will include displays of viral social media posts, fan gifts, art and letters, along with Tim’s famed security guard uniform, bolo tie and coffee mug, according to a news release.

“Tim and our marketing staff found a way to connect with our audience at a time when our doors were closed,” said Museum President and CEO Natalie Shirley in a statement. “People around the world have let us know how much Tim helped brighten their year, and this exhibition helps celebrate the anniversary of Tim’s very special social media debut.”

During the unprecedented coronavirus shutdown of March 2020, the National Cowboy Museum – like so much of the rest of the state – was forced to temporarily close its doors and staff was required to work from home. As one of the few employees allowed in the building, Tim took on the additional role of assisting with social media. His mix of dad jokes, positive attitude and unusual use of hashtags quickly resonated with hundreds of thousands of new followers. Even after the museum reopened last May, Tim has remained involved in creating social media content and sharing his passion for the history on display at the Museum.

“My thoughts when Seth proposed this to me is, ‘Of course I want to help the museum that I love.’ So, I was on board right away. None of us, of course, had any expectations it would be where it is right now,” Tiller told me in an interview last year, referring to the museum’s Chief Marketing Officer Seth Spillman, now known online as “Seth from Marketing.” 

“But I’m always happy to help this museum. This is a job that I actually look forward to getting up and coming to work every day – and I’ve never had that in my life before. It’s a very nice thing.”

The exhibit “#HashtagtheCowboy” will remain on view through Aug. 8. For more information, go to nationalcowboymuseum.org/exhibition/hashtagthecowboy.

Oklahoma Film + Music Office director to be featured in streaming SXSW panel

One of the world’s largest film, music and interactive events, Austin, Texas’ South by Southwest will take place virtually this year March 16-20, 2021, featuring a variety of exclusive festival screenings, music showcases, keynotes, conference sessions, panels, networking and more.

SXSW, as the sprawling festival and conference is known, last year became one of the first major U.S. events canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Oklahoma Film + Music Office will be represented by Director Tava Maloy Sofsky, who will be a featured guest on the official SXSW panel “How Film Commissions Shape Creative Industry Policy,” presented as part of the Creative Industries Exhibition portion of the conference. 

Sofsky will appear alongside Stephanie Whallon, director, Texas Film Commission; Bob Raines, executive director, Tennessee Entertainment Commission; and Kevin “Kj” Jennings, president, Association of Film Commissioners International. They will discuss the role state film commissions play in the growth of their local film industries and policy-making, including emergency management response during the COVID-19 pandemic and helping support the livelihoods of the creative communities they represent. 

The event is part of SXSW’s Panel Picker initiative, which earlier this year invited online audiences to vote to determine the most popular panels to be included in this year’s conference, according to a news release.

“During a time that has completely transformed the landscape of the entertainment industry, Oklahoma’s creative communities, including our local filmmakers and musicians, have been steadfast in their resolve to press forward with innovative, tenacious and pivotal work,” said Sofsky in a statement. “We’re eager to share more about our role and the support we’ve received from Oklahoma’s state and city leadership with the global audiences at this year’s SXSW, and we’re incredibly thankful to our colleagues at the Texas Film Commission for inviting us to participate in this event alongside such wonderful representation.”

Open to SXSW passholders only, the “How Film Commissions Shape Creative Industry Police” panel will stream at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday. 

The Oklahoma Film + Music Office director recently spoke with me about how the Oklahoma movie and television industry has grown over the past year despite the pandemic. 

For more information about SXSW and to register to virtually attend, go to online.sxsw.com/event/sxsw-online.

-BAM 


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