When I first received info about The Sundance Film Festival last year, there was a movie description that sounded like an Onion parody of the festival: a Bay Area man in an iron lung wants to lose his virginity before he dies and hires a sexual surrogate to make that happen. It was called “The Surrogate.” Then the buzz came: John Hawkes (“Winter’s Bone”) makes the movie in the lead role. Helen Hunt bares all as the surrogate. Crowds laughing and crying. Having seen the film, I can say that Hawkes is a shoe-in for a best actor Oscar nomination. No question. No money risked in betting. I am not a viewer that likes my emotions manipulated, so although the film, now retitled “The Sessions,” is a crowd-pleaser, i didn’t join in on the group weep at the end. Maybe I just wasn’t going to give the movie the satisfaction. So I’m not with those that say Hunt will get an Oscar nom, or that the movie is unquestionably bound for a best picture or best adapted screenplay nod (it’s based on a personal essay by poet and polio survivor Mark O’Brien), but Hawkes excels at the kind of role that earned Daniel Day Lewis an Oscar in “My Left Foot” in 1990.
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