Fairfield County film fans get ready for a case of Oscar fever

The Apartment

Above, American actor Jack Lemmon (1925 – 2001), as C.C. Baxter, and Shirley MacLaine as Fran Kubelik in ‘The Apartment’, directed by Billy Wilder, 1960. The movie kicks off a film series tonight in Milford, Conn. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images).

With nominations announced Thursday morning, the race begins this morning for the 86th Academy Awards celebration in Hollywood (you can see a trailer below). Not to be left out, however, are several Fairfield County organizations that will present Oscar-themed events in the days ahead.

The fun begins later today when the Milford Arts Council begins its “The Arts and Oscar” film series with a screening of Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment” at Milford’s Center for the Arts. It will be hosted by my colleague Joe Meyers. The 1960 film, which starred Shirley MacLaine and Jack Lemmon, earned six Academy Awards.

This is the first year of this Oscar-themed series, largely a response to the popularity of the last year’s first red-carpet gala that included a live telecast of the Academy Awards ceremony, prizes and some live comedy sketches.

“It was great,” said Tom Rushen, who as among last year’s planners. He reprises that role this year. “It went over very well.”

Following that success, Rushen said that after talking with the council’s executive director Paige Miglio they decided to have an event that would lead up to the Oscars. That event became the series, which includes films that have been nominated and won, along with those who have only a nomination to savor.

On Jan. 30, the series will pick up again with Walt Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” followed by the multi-nominated “Anatomy of a Murder” on Feb. 13. It ends with Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night” on Feb. 27. All movies start at 7:30 p.m., with a suggested donation of $8. Children are free.

“We wanted a good variety,” Rushen said of the schedule, adding that each one had been celebrated by the Academy on their merits. Critical and commercial successes, they also afforded for some family-friendly entertainment.

For more information, call 203-878-6647.

There are more events scheduled throughout the region that put the focus on the Oscars. Here are a few:

Tonight, the Avon Theatre in Stamford will host a screening of Jacques Demy’s “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” in conjunction with the Alliance Francaise of Greenwich. The night features the 50th anniversary digital restoration of the film, which was nominated for the Academy Award for best foreign language film at the 37th Academy Awards in 1965. On Feb. 1, the Avon Theatre will host its gala at the Delmar Greenwich Harbor, and through February and March host an Oscar-nominated film festival. The theater also will host Oscar night festivities, beginning at Bar Rosso at 6:30 p.m., followed by the live telecast and buffet dinner at the downtown theater. You can get all the details at the website.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus James GandolfiniIn Darien, the library will feature “Enough Said,” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Catherine Keener and James Gandolfini, (see a scene from the movie at right) during its Friday Night films series Jan. 17. The movie begins at 6:30 p.m. The film earned an early Oscar buzz and Louis-Dreyfus earned a Golden Globe nomination for her role.

In February, the Fairfield Theatre Company will host a series of film nights inspired by the Academy Awards, beginning on Feb. 3.

Christina Hennessy