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Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke Oscar-bound for 'Before Midnight'

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, with co-writer of the film "Before Midnight", Director Richard Linklater, Academy Awards nominees' luncheon
Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, with co-writer of the film "Before Midnight", Director Richard Linklater, Academy Awards nominees' luncheon
Kevork Djansezian for Getty Images, Feb. 10, 2014

Each of us, even the most ordinary among us, enjoys seminal, life-affirming moments that become the scrapbook of our lives -- memories so rich we could eat them, embellished with time.

Such was the experience this Examiner had in 2004 when, upon the lovely debut of "Before Sunset" at the Director's Guild in Manhattan, actor/writer Ethan Hawke looked my way and smiled. It was clearly directed right at me (there were no other women directly near me), and it was a smile that could melt glass.

Now a decade later, after seeing the 2014 nominee for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay), "Before Midnight" -- the third installment of his, Julie Delpy's and Richard Linkater's romantic trifecta that began with "Before Sunrise" in 1995 -- I remembered that smile. It's the same one he uses in the film to humor and (spoiler alert) nearly seduce his angry wife Céline, played by Delpy.

As it wrestles with problems in a marriage, this film set on the Greek Peloponnese Peninsula, is nonetheless beautiful and probably more realistic and hence poignant than the previous two. For, while many of us have suffered relationship challenges -- including going through divorce and latch-key-kid syndrome (perhaps not set to a swell soundtrack by Graham Reynolds) -- few of us have had overnights in Vienna with our one true love, only to find him or her again a decade later in Paris.

Delpy and Hawke wrote the screenplay for "Before Midnight" with Director Richard Linklater, the first script in the trilogy penned without Kim Krizan as co-writer on the story. However, Krizan is still a part of this script since she co-created the characters of emotional French activist Céline and the more laid-back American rascal Jesse, a novelist.

On a recent "Jimmy Kimmel Live", Delpy and Hawke flirted and palled around like third cousins on holiday. Obviously having learned to finish each other's sentences years ago, Hawke even went so far as to rib Delpy for her father's (actor Albert Delpy) hippie-French vibe. This after she explained it was somewhat challenging to direct her dad in the unfairly harshly reviewed film "2 Days in New York".

Hawke remarked that the "adapted" category was somewhat of a misnomer given that the adaptation was from their own work. Nonetheless, they'll take it. The film's writing deserves to win for several reasons, but chiefly because when the actors - Delpy and Hawke - are talking, it feels unscripted.

The actors say they're often asked if they just cook this up on the fly, and the answer is no. As a professor at San Francisco State once told me, "the best writing is when we feel the writer is talking to us."

CELINE: If we were meeting today for the first time on the train, would you find me attractive?

JESSE: Of course.

CELINE: No but, really, right now as I am? Would you start talking to me, ask me to get off the train with you?

JESSE: (nervously laughing) Well, you're asking a theoretical question. I mean, what would my life situation be, technically? Would I be cheating on you?

The naturalness of the dialogue is also buttressed by the trilogy's trademark walk-and-talk schtick, but this time the characters aren't falling in love but rather, struggling to stay in love...

JESSE: You are the mayor of Crazytown. Do you know that?--you are.

Here's to another rousing Oscars show tonight.


To read more about the film, from Sundance, please click here. To see a trailer from the film, please click here. Watch the Academy Awards on ABC at 5:30 p.m. PST, 8:30 p.m. EST, but the program kicks off an hour and half before that. If you want to catch George Clooney and Sandra Bullock on the red carpet, better tune in early. Check your local listings for details.

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