This year the Academy invited an accomplished roster of new members who represent the diverse and impressive talent both in front of and behind the camera across the globe. We’ll be taking a look at some of our new members over the coming weeks, starting off with three who deserve a warm welcome.
Now a part of the Writers Branch, Craig Brewer has forged a career as both writer and director—able to tap into the unique artistic magic where comedy, music and drama intersect.
A big surprise at Sundance and winner of the Audience Award after years of failed attempts to get off the ground, Hustle & Flow made Brewer a major name as both a writer and director. Thesaga about a pimp longing to escape the lifestyle to become a rapper went on to win an Oscar for Original Song with Three 6 Mafia’s “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp,” resulting in an acceptance speech for the ages.
Craig provided Samuel L. Jackson with an unforgettable role here as Lazarus, a blues performer in Mississippi who finds a beaten Christina Ricci by the road and, coming up with a highly unorthodox method of nursing her to health, makes a decision that blurs the boundaries of salvation and morality. Ultimately an ode to the power of human bonds and music, the film raises a number of questions about how people pass judgment on each other.
The true story of outsider filmmaker and unlikely box office success story Rudy Ray Moore, the Godfather of Rap, became the fuel for a lauded performance by Eddie Murphy and another change of direction for Craig, who here directed from a script by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski. An affectionate ode to the L.A. filmmaking scene in the ’70s far outside the studio system, it’s also a testament to the power of resilience even if it means financing and shooting a whole movie by the skin of your teeth.
This belated sequel to the smash 1988 Eddie Murphy comedy put Craig in the director’s chair for a fast-paced farce that catches up with Prince Akeem and his family, including a son who isn’t about to follow in his father’s royal footsteps. As with Dolemite, Craig got a scene-stealing supporting performance out of Wesley Snipes that had viewers howling.