Academy Invites Tyler Perry, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen to Join Oscar Ranks

What does the new membership mean for comedy at the Oscars?

Among the 134 actors, directors, producers, technicians, and executives invited to join the ranks of Hollywood's elite Academy of Motion Picture Art & Sciences today were actors Viola Davis, Melissa Leo, Emile Hirsch, Michelle Williams, and Casey Affleck, directors Rod Lurie and Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, and Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black -- filmmakers known largely for their dramatic contributions who had earned awards season kudos, nominations, or Oscar wins last year. (See the full list below.) So is it surprising that the Academy extended invites to comedy performers like Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Michael Cera, and Madea Goes to Jail actor/director Tyler Perry?

Considering the Academy's recent decision to expand the Best Picture category from five nominees to ten (ostensibly opening the race up to include not only drama but comedy and other genres), the list of invitees isn't wholly surprising. Although Cera, Rogen, and Rudd are best known for comedy films -- especially comedy films made by Judd Apatow, who joined the Academy in 2008 after being rejected the year prior -- they've all been in Oscar-nominated films (Cera in 2007's Juno, Rogen in 2008's Kung Fu Panda, Rudd in 1999's The Cider House Rules). What's more, all three have become, in the age of the schlubby/awkward/geeky protagonist, leading men.

That Apatow magic cannot be denied, at least if the Academy wants to broaden their gaze and lose its perceived reputation as a stuffy bunch who only honor serious dramatic films. As for Tyler Perry...there's no denying Perry has created a niche for himself, mostly with comedy films starring his stage-to-screen character, Madea. But without a single Fresh film in his career filmography (save his cameo in JJ Abrams' Star Trek), even we admit, we're stumped.

But I digress. In the very first year of the Academy Awards, there were two Best Director categories: one for drama, and one for comedy. Since then the division was scrapped, but comedy pictures could still vie for consideration; It Happened One Night won five Oscars including Best Picture in 1934. Woody Allen's Annie Hall won the top honor (along with Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay) in 1977. Apatow's upcoming comedy Funny People has earned the beginnings of pre-release Oscar buzz; could 2009 be the year the Hollywood comedy returns triumphantly to the Academy Awards?

Below, peruse the full list of Academy of Motion Picture Art & Sciences membership invitees.

Actors
Casey Affleck
Emily Blunt
Michael Cera
Viola Davis
James Franco
Brendan Gleeson
Anne Hathaway
Taraji P. Henson
Emile Hirsch
Hugh Jackman
Melissa Leo
Jane Lynch
Eddie Marsan
James McAvoy
Seth Rogen
Paul Rudd
Amy Ryan
Michael Shannon
Michelle Williams
Jeffrey Wright

Directors
Rachid Bouchareb
Danny Boyle
David Frankel
Rod Lurie
Thomas McCarthy
Tyler Perry
Henry Selick

Writers
John August
Dustin Lance Black
Courtney Hunt
Howard A. Rodman

Animators
J.J. Blumenkranz
Konstantin Bronzit
Kendal Cronkhite
Rodolphe Guenoden
Byron Howard
Kunio Kato
Doug Sweetland
Chris Williams

Art Directors
Andrew Ackland-Snow

At-Large
Matthew D. Loeb
Redmond Morris

Casting Directors
John Papsidera
Bernie Telsey

Cinematographers
Russ T. Alsobrook
Anthony Dod Mantle
Henner Hofmann
Claudio Miranda
Rodney Taylor
Mandy Walker

Costume Designers
Deborah Hopper
Louise Mingenbach
Michael O'Connor
Michael Wilkinson

Documentary
William Gazecki
Rachel Grady
Rory Kennedy
Scott Hamilton Kennedy
James Marsh
Megan Mylan
Doug Pray

Executives
Daniel D.A. Battsek
Steve Beeks
Graham W. Burke
Joe Drake
Erik Feig
Paul Hanneman
Donald P. Harris
Claudia Lewis

Film Editors
Roger Barton
Hank Corwin
Chris Dickens
Elliot Graham
Kathryn Himoff
Leo Trombetta
Brent White
Pam Wise

Live Action Short Films
Reto Caffi
Jochen Alexander Freydank
F. Carter Pilcher

Makeup and Hairstylists
Howard Berger
Mike Elizalde
Louis Lazzara
Gerald Quist
Music
Jeff Danna
Andrew Dorfman
Peter Gabriel
Clint Mansell
A.R. Rahman

Producers
Mark Ciardi
Christian Colson
Gordon Gray
Broderick Johnson
Cathy Konrad
Andrew Kosove
James Lassiter
Russell Smith
Paula Wagner

Production Designers
Donald Graham Burt
Michael Carlin
Jane Ann Stewart
Kevin Thompson

Public Relations
Michael D. Camp
Marc Cohen
Megan Colligan
James C. Gallagher
David Kaminow
Sal Ladestro
Maria Pekurovskaya
Elizabeth Petit

Set Decorators
Rebecca Alleway
Peter Lando
Barbara Munch-Cameron
Scenic Artists
Robert Topol

Sound
Michael Barry
Derek Casari
Aaron Glascock
Ren Klyce
Peter F. Kurland
Karen Baker Landers
Hamilton Sterling
Deborah Wallach
Kim Waugh

Visual Effects
Christopher Bond
Matthew Butler
Chris Corbould
Rob Engle
Scott Gordon
Hal Hickel
Van Ling
Shane Mahan
Steve Preeg
Tim Webber
Edson Williams

[Which invitees were you most surprised to see, happy to see, or confused by? Create your own list in our Community beta section and link to it in a comment below.]

Comments

tomwaitsjrHAPPYICONOCLAST

Greg Guro

I was happy to see Rod Lurie. He's one of my facebook pals, and we both love the best anti-war film ever made, "COME AND SEE."

Brendan Gleeson is a top notch actor. I like Franco a lot as well.

I don't know why the hell Danny Boyle wasn't there a long time ago. . .

Jun 30 - 12:29 PM

Jen Yamato

Jen Yamato

I was a little surprised at Hugh Jackman. I wonder if hosting the Oscars sweetened the deal for him...or if they would have invited him anyway.

Happy to see Viola Davis' amazing 5-second appearance in Doubt recognized with an invite. Same for Michael Shannon. And Eddie Marsan. But my biggest question is, what about Sally Hawkins??

Jun 30 - 12:40 PM

RE4P3R

Alejandro Marquez

I lol'd at my recognizing EVERY one of the actors, but NOTHING from Art Directors to Visual Effects.

Jun 30 - 12:44 PM

jokerboy1991

jack giroux

I can't help myself from laughing and also feeling sadness that Tyler Perry is included a long with Henry Selick, Danny Boyle, and Thomas McCarthy... thats insane.

Jun 30 - 01:09 PM

Zaraki

Rick V

Insane is putting it mildly... oh so mildly.

Jun 30 - 01:17 PM

inactive user

Jared King

That's the craziest thing I've ever heard! And that's the understatement of the year!

Jun 30 - 02:06 PM

Zaraki

Rick V

Insane is putting it mildly... oh so mildly.

Jun 30 - 01:17 PM

Salty Gritts

Josh McCrohan

Tyler Perry being inducted smells like a PR move to me more than anything.

Jun 30 - 01:42 PM

JAKEofMIDWORLD

Jake Almond

Yes, I believe they are lowering their standards a bit. This dude may have started out clever but he stopped making anything close to being in the realm of award worthy cinema a while back.

Jul 1 - 08:44 AM

inactive user

Jared King

That's the craziest thing I've ever heard! And that's the understatement of the year!

Jun 30 - 02:06 PM

Bob S.

Bob Saccomano

Tyler Perry? Haha. Well, this is interesting stuff anyhow. Thanks for the article, Jen.

Jun 30 - 02:24 PM

Nine Oh Two

joe schmoe

I like the fact that the academy is showing more love to comedians, but I gotta say, how exactly is James Franco funny? Scratching my head on that one.

Jun 30 - 02:24 PM

Zybon

Jonathan Gonzales

Michael Cera is just terrible. I haven't watched anything from Tyler Perry but I guess he's respected.

Michael Cera doesn't even do anything funny, he's just a foil for others while he plays himself.

Jun 30 - 02:30 PM

Elisha

Elisha Benjamin

Tyler Perry?

Like, really? Tyler Perry?

Jun 30 - 02:36 PM

Jen Yamato

Jen Yamato

Franco did get a Golden Globe nomination for Pineapple Express, a comedy.

Jun 30 - 02:45 PM

Nine Oh Two

joe schmoe

Yeah, Pineapple Express kinda flabbergasted me, I geuss the golden globes people were impressed w/ Franco's method acting on that one...

On a sidenote, Paula Wagner is just now getting a membership!?

Oh, and just in case Michael Bay is reading this, don't worry Michael, I'm sure they'll come around someday and recognize Pearl Harbor for the modern day classic it is.

Jun 30 - 03:07 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Plus, he was actually pretty good in Flyboys. A bit of an uneven film, but there haven't been nearly enough WWI fighter pilot films post middle of the 20th century. The Blue Max is my favorite, but I still enjoyed Flyboys.

Jun 30 - 03:13 PM

Mike B.

Mike Bragg

Wow, backlash much? If you think Cera sucks, I'd like to see you on camera delivering lines and sounding like a robot or high school thespian. His line deliveries are incredible. I mean, he takes bad dialogue and at least makes it sound semi-plausible. Maybe you're upset because he doesn't underline his jokes with his delivery, essentially breaking character, like one might see done many times in Get Smart. And, you know, being a minimalist comic actor is not a schtick the way that getting kicked in the balls by kids and running around like an idiot (think Farley) is a schtick. Cera is not using a schtick. You could, however, argue that he has become typecast. And unfortunately, he has been in some films lately that weren't that great. Now, I'll grant you that he hasn't played a range of characters, but then in a sense neither has Bill Murray. Acting isn't necessarily about 'how different can you be from your normal self'. It's about delivering a plausible performance. And to me, his performances, that I've seen, have all been very grounded and believable. I wish you could be thrown into a Twilight Zone world to see Juno with Rob Schneider cast in Michael Cera's role, then you'd see that the performance wasn't just a gimme.

/rant

Jun 30 - 03:56 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Can I deliver lines on camera? No, but I'm not an actor making his living doing it either. Can Michael Cera perform open heart surgery? Probably not, but that doesn't excuse his doctor from medical malpractice either. My question is this, how do you know if he's acting? He doesn't only show minimal range, he shows no range. Outside of the various situations and costumes there is virtually no difference between his portrayals in Superbad, Juno or Year One. I understand minimalist acting, but when you do as little as Michael Cera does, for me anyway it's grounds for questioning if it's acting at all. I don't get the Bill Murray comparison either. Bill Murray has done fantastic deadpan dialog driven roles in Lost in Translation and Rushmore and wild zany roles in Caddyshack and Kingpin and fantastic blends of the two Stripes and Ghostbusters. To me, Bill Murray is extremely well rounded as a comedien and actor on a level almost unmatched except for maybe a Tom Hanks. Plus, even when Murray does similar types of roles you'd be hard pressed to say he's doing the same role. Also picking one of the worst comediens in the world to substitute for cera doesn't prove anything either. I agree the ability to be believable on screen isn't something anyone can do, but it should be the bare minimum one expects from any actor and is by itself not the mark of a good actor, especially a comedien. The ability to make me laugh is what I look for in a comedien and Michael Cera just doesn't do it for me.

Highdough, no he doesn't know him, do you? I don't, if I did I might be inclined to be more forgiving, but since I don't know him I can only judge him by what I see of him in movies and interviews. Interviews which by the way he almost has identical mannerisms to those he has on film only less clever in his dialog. Maybe he's just acting all the time, but then again maybe he's not.

I'm not saying I don't like things he's done. I like Superbad and Arrested Development and even to a one time viewing kind of way Juno, but I can't honestly say I've been terribly impressed with him in them and don't get why he's allegedly this comedic wunderkind.

Jun 30 - 05:26 PM

Chris B.

Chris Bellew

you "judge" him? you don't even know the guy? for all we know Cera could be some insane weirdo. I don't see where you should be JUDGING him at all.

Jun 30 - 09:01 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Chris B., are you a total tool? I admitted I didn't know him. Also, are you familiar with the concept of acting? Actors put themselves out there as all public figures do to be judged. That's where the whole concept of film critics comes from. I don't usually get fired up about these things, but you post is just blindingly stupid in my judgement.

Jul 1 - 07:22 AM

Hamboner

Brian Lorenzen

Black audiences really like Tyler Perry's films. The academy is trying to reconnect with people it has isolate, hence the 10 nominees.

I think it's actually a pretty good step. Even if it's being done as a cold calculated way to nab more black viewership it's still acknowledging a demographic that they almost always ignore.

Therefore, I say "okay, nice first step."

But in terms of looking at this list of actors, I couldn't help but think "where the hell are the movie stars?"

Jun 30 - 04:05 PM

highdough

Richard Blascock

Lay off Zybon. He obviously knows Michael Cera personally, which is how he knows that he's just playing himself. It's easy to deliver lines, convey emotion and play off other actors as long as you're playing yourself.

Jun 30 - 04:38 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Can I deliver lines on camera? No, but I'm not an actor making his living doing it either. Can Michael Cera perform open heart surgery? Probably not, but that doesn't excuse his doctor from medical malpractice either. My question is this, how do you know if he's acting? He doesn't only show minimal range, he shows no range. Outside of the various situations and costumes there is virtually no difference between his portrayals in Superbad, Juno or Year One. I understand minimalist acting, but when you do as little as Michael Cera does, for me anyway it's grounds for questioning if it's acting at all. I don't get the Bill Murray comparison either. Bill Murray has done fantastic deadpan dialog driven roles in Lost in Translation and Rushmore and wild zany roles in Caddyshack and Kingpin and fantastic blends of the two Stripes and Ghostbusters. To me, Bill Murray is extremely well rounded as a comedien and actor on a level almost unmatched except for maybe a Tom Hanks. Plus, even when Murray does similar types of roles you'd be hard pressed to say he's doing the same role. Also picking one of the worst comediens in the world to substitute for cera doesn't prove anything either. I agree the ability to be believable on screen isn't something anyone can do, but it should be the bare minimum one expects from any actor and is by itself not the mark of a good actor, especially a comedien. The ability to make me laugh is what I look for in a comedien and Michael Cera just doesn't do it for me.

Highdough, no he doesn't know him, do you? I don't, if I did I might be inclined to be more forgiving, but since I don't know him I can only judge him by what I see of him in movies and interviews. Interviews which by the way he almost has identical mannerisms to those he has on film only less clever in his dialog. Maybe he's just acting all the time, but then again maybe he's not.

I'm not saying I don't like things he's done. I like Superbad and Arrested Development and even to a one time viewing kind of way Juno, but I can't honestly say I've been terribly impressed with him in them and don't get why he's allegedly this comedic wunderkind.

Jun 30 - 05:26 PM

Chris B.

Chris Bellew

you "judge" him? you don't even know the guy? for all we know Cera could be some insane weirdo. I don't see where you should be JUDGING him at all.

Jun 30 - 09:01 PM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Chris B., are you a total tool? I admitted I didn't know him. Also, are you familiar with the concept of acting? Actors put themselves out there as all public figures do to be judged. That's where the whole concept of film critics comes from. I don't usually get fired up about these things, but you post is just blindingly stupid in my judgement.

Jul 1 - 07:22 AM

Bigbrother

Big Brother

To me Cera is the comedic equivalent of vanilla. He doesn't hurt anything, but he doesn't really add to my enjoyment either.

Jun 30 - 05:32 PM

JRW1980

Jeremy W.

It seems the Oscars just let anyone in nowadays.....They might as well have included Uwe Boll in this list. Only a handful of the actors/actresses on the list deserve some recognition......In Tyler Perry's defense, he did make one film worth a look; The Family that Preys. It's actually a decent drama. I think his other films are crap though.......Isn't there already a "Best Comedy" category? If not, there should be one at least but as far as comedies taking best picture; that is laughable. Comedies generally don't have very high production values or polish to them and the acting is subpar at best. Most also only target a small audience in comparison to other films. For this article to even suggest that Funny People has potential to be best picture is the funniest thing I have heard in a long time. Of the two comedies they mentioned that did win, neither deserved to win best picture at all. It Happened One Night was a decent film but against films like Imitation of Life, Cleopatra, The Thin Man (all considered classics) it just can't compare and should not have won. Annie Hall is so overrated and did not deserve best picture either. It was up against the likes of Julia and Star Wars (a modern classic). Name a better, more ground-breaking movie that came out in '77 than Star Wars.

Jun 30 - 06:30 PM

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