Beasts of the Southern Wild, one of two top Oscar contenders that was filmed in Louisiana, was nominated for four prestigious Academy Awards. That includes the historic youngest-ever nominee for best actress for a 9-year-old from Houma, LA with the improbable name of Quvenzhané Wallis. Though the independent film ultimately took home none of the prizes, there were no signs of gloom at the after-party gathering at Monty on West 7th Street in Los Angeles, according to Mike Scott, reporting for the New Orleans-based Times-Picayune.
Josh Penn, one of the producers, told Scott that, “Sometimes the show has to follow the script.” Almost no one really believed that a 9-year-old would be voted an Oscar, and, as most people predicted, Silver Linings Playbook star Jennifer Lawrence got the nod for best actress. And when First Lady Michelle Obama presented the award for best picture, no one was surprised that Argo had won, only that she was the presenter.
First-time film director Benh Zeitlin has said that he thought Beasts of the Southern Wild would play in community theaters. The son of folklorists, he was heavily influenced by outsider art when he created the film on a $1.8 million budget — peanuts by Hollywood standards, according to Franz Lidz of the Smithsonian.
With a budget that tight, he had to improvise, using 16 millimeter cameras and an untrained cast.
According to Box Office Mojo statistics, best director winner Quentin Tarantino, who also filmed in Louisiana’s so-called Hollywood South, had a production budget of $100 million for Django Unchained.
Monty, the scene of the Los Angeles after-party and a place Scott describes as “funky” and “dingy,” was apparently deliberately chosen to acknowledge the filmmakers’ Louisiana roots. Beasts producer Michael Gottwald said that it’s owned by the same person who owns One-Eyed Jacks, a popular New Orleans watering hole.
Academy Award or no Academy Award, everyone involved in the making of Beasts of the Southern Wild is on the way up — most notably its youngest star. Quvenzhané Wallis has been cast in the upcoming remake of Annie, taking a role originally intended for Willow Smith, who outgrew it before the film could be made.