"War Horse" impressed Academy voters. "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" left some in tears and others simply overwhelmed. "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" drew rare applause in the first five minutes, after its opening credits. According to reports from members in attendance, crowds were small at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Saturday and Sunday, where several of the year's big awards contenders screened for AMPAS members. The crucial screenings were Sunday's afternoon/evening double bill of Stephen Daldry's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close", followed by Steven Spielberg's "War Horse." The former film, after being tightly embargoed for a couple of weeks, is now beginning to be reviewed— and its early reviews have been mixed, with Todd McCarthy saying "emotional fluency and literary pretense go hand in hand" and Gabe Toro at the Playlist called it "effective in short spurts." But others have found themselves deeply touched and completely moved by the film, which deals with the aftermath of 9/11— and the reaction was through-the-roof positive at the early screening I had attended, at which the audience was actually rather liberally sprinkled with both guild and Academy members.
Adapted from the acclaimed bestseller by Jonathan Safran Foer, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is a story that unfolds from inside the young mind of Oskar Schell, an inventive eleven year-old New Yorker whose discovery of a key in his deceased father’s belongings sets him off on an urgent search across the city for the lock it will open. A year after his father died in the World Trade Center on what Oskar calls “The Worst Day,” he is determined to keep his vital connection to the man who playfully cajoled him into confronting his wildest fears. Now, as Oskar crosses the five New York boroughs in quest of the missing lock— encountering an eclectic assortment of people who are each survivors in their own way— he begins to uncover unseen links to the father he misses, to the mother who seems so far away from him and to the whole noisy, dangerous, discombobulating world around him.Three-time Academy Award® nominee Stephen Daldry (“Billy Elliot,” “The Reader,” “The Hours”) directed “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” from a screenplay by Academy Award® winner Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump,” “The Insider”), based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel.
The film stars Academy Award® winners Tom Hanks (“Forrest Gump,” “Philadelphia”) and Sandra Bullock (“The Blind Side”) along with newcomer Thomas Horn in the role of Oskar, and was produced by Scott Rudin (“No Country for Old Men,” “The Social Network,” “True Grit”). Celia Costas, Mark Roybal and Nora Skinner served as executive producers, with Eli Bush and Tarik Karam as co-producers.