Based on the autobiographical writings of journalist and poet Mark O'Brien, The Sessions - starring Helen Hunt and John Hawkes - hits cinemas in the UK today (January 18, 2013) - on the back of universal acclaim from critics. Boasting a score of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, Ben Lewin's drama is ahead of Django Unchained, Lincoln, Life of Pi, Les Miserables and pretty much every other Oscar contender bar Argo (96%) - so why didn't it feature prominently when the nominations were announced this month?
Its lead star Helen Hunt is up for Best Supporting Actress, though there was nothing for the movie itself, or for Hawkes. It was a frontrunner for Best Picture following the film festivals in 2012, though appeared to fall off the radar. Perhaps it's the subject matter that had the Academy looking elsewhere? The Sessions - originally titled The Surrogate - tells the story of a man confined to an iron lung who is determined to lose his virginity, despite being 38 years-old. With the help of his therapists and the guidance of his priest, he sets out to make his dream a reality. Writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert said, "This film rebukes and corrects countless brainless and cheap sex scenes in other movies. It's a reminder that we must be kind to one another." Alex Zane of The Sun said, "It's a brave performance from Hunt, who spends much of the film entirely naked. Both her and Hawkes are brilliant in a movie that is a massively uplifting experience," while CNN.com said, "A very different kind of love story, breaking taboos lightly, with sensitivity and humor." Our very own Rich Cline gave the movie 4 stars, writing, "The most remarkable thing about the film is that we can identify with everyone on screen."
The lack of Oscar recognition will be a bitter blow to Ben Lewin and his team, made no less palatable by the fact Helen Hunt has almost no chance of winning Best Supporting Actress. Anne Hathaway - at odds of 1/25 - will turn up and take the gong come February 26, 2013.