This month could be key to the chances of Modesto-born actor Jeremy Renner and his film "The Hurt Locker" at the Academy Awards.
Three major televised awards shows are coming up, starting tonight with the Critics' Choice Movie Awards. That show will be followed Sunday by the Golden Globes and Jan. 23 by the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
The 39-year-old Beyer High graduate is nominated for best actor in the Critics' Choice and SAG awards. His Iraq war drama, "The Hurt Locker," is nominated for best picture in the Critics' Choice and Golden Globes awards and for outstanding performance by a cast in the SAG Awards. Renner plans to attend all three events.
"This year, 'The Hurt Locker' came out earlier in the year at a time when a lot of the films were of the floppy variety and made a very significant impact," said John De Simio, executive vice president of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, which runs the Critics' Choice Movie Awards. "It really resonated with the critics and the filmgoers as well. It, in essence, planted the flag for the rest of the films saying, 'Beat this.' "
Released in June, the film and its lead, Renner, have garnered a slew of honors by critics associations including the National Society of Film Critics, New York Film Critics Circle, Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Boston Film Critics, San Francisco Film Critics, Alliance of Women Film Journalists and the Gotham Awards.
Renner plays an explosives disposal technician, a man who defuses bombs for a living.
De Simio said he isn't surprised by the critical acclaim Renner has garnered. "It's gratifying that a performance of that intensity was recognized and acknowledged by our group," he said. "It's like being present at the birth of a new star."
Those who have known Renner for years could see that talent back in his days at Modesto Junior College. The actor mentioned the school on a recent appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
Hanging on his office wall, MJC drama instructor Mi- chael Lynch has a photo of Renner performing in one of his plays in the early 1990s. "I said even then that this 18-year-old kid has got something," he said. "So I was never surprised to watch him progress from his McDonald's commercials to 'Dahmer' and now this."
"The Hurt Locker" is up for eight Critics' Choice Movie Awards: best picture, director, actor, screenplay, cinematography, sound, editing and action movie.
The Critics' Choice is the first major televised movie awards show of the season and a good early indicator of the Academy Award nominees. De Simio called it the "the New Hampshire primaries of award shows" and said it has "a very high rate of success in reflecting the same taste as the academy."
The Broadcast Film Critics Association is the largest one in the United States and Canada, representing 199 TV, radio and online critics.
Those awards will be followed Sunday night by the 67th annual Golden Globe Awards. While Renner is not individually nominated, "Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal are up for honors.
Then, on Jan. 23, the SAG Awards will air. The only televised awards show to exclusively honor performers, the event will present awards for acting in film and TV as voted on by the actors.
The three awards are the precursors to the biggest film honors of the year, the Academy Awards. Nominations for the Oscars will be announced Feb. 2 and the awards will be telecast March. 7.
"The Hurt Locker" and Renner have made several short lists for Oscar nominations. When Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert reviewed the film in July, he said Renner "immediately goes on the short list for an Oscar nomination."
Entertainment Weekly predicted that Renner will snag one of the five best actor slots. The actor was also in the Los Angeles Times "Contender Q&A" series, which features potential nominees.
MJC's Lynch, who has friends in Hollywood, said Renner is in definite contention. "He is hot right now. He is someone who is on the list." he said. "So whether he gets nominated for an Oscar or not, he's right there."
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2284.