The slate of nominations for Best Animated Features this year are A Letter To Momo (GKIDS), Despicable Me 2 (Universal Pictures), Ernest & Celestine (GKIDS), Frozen (Walt Disney Animation Studios), Monsters University (Pixar Animation Studios), The Croods (DreamWorks Animations), and The Wind Rises (Studio Ghibli and The Walt Disney Studios). Winners will be announced during the 41st Annual Annie Awards ceremony February 1 at UCLA’s Royce Hall. The full list of nominees follows: READ MORE »
OSCARS Q&A: Matthew McConaughey On The Struggle To Get ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ Made & Diving Into Dramas
Over the last two years, Matthew McConaughey has transformed from simply being a bankable romantic-comedy lead to a gritty performer who doesn’t hesitate to roll up his sleeves and plumb emotional depths. In the same year he showed his flashy, exhibitionist side in Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike, McConaughey demonstrated exceptional range in a trio of smaller films with distinctive directors: Richard Linklater’s Bernie, William Friedkin’s Killer Joe and Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy. This year’s slate, which includes Dallas Buyers Club and Mud, shows that the actor isn’t finished taking risks. He lost 47 pounds to play AIDS activist Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club and was a major force in getting the film into production; he’s working with Martin Scorsese in The Wolf Of Wall Street; and he’s shooting a sci-fi film, Interstellar. All that, and he still finds time to helm his nonprofit JKL Foundation, which focuses on the health and wellness of high-school students.
AwardsLine: What compelled you to help get Dallas Buyers Club produced?
Matthew McConaughey: It was something that I had on my desk that I was trying to do for a while, but it wasn’t popular enough for anyone to come up with the money. So we were like, “Let’s find the right team.” The more pieces you put in place, the more you show somebody that you’ve got a full package, then it becomes a more viable situation to get the money. And (director) Jean-Marc (Vallee) and I were locked, and we’re like, “Let’s set a date and do this thing this year.” We had Jared (Leto) and Jennifer (Garner) cast, and we budgeted for a lot less than Jean-Marc thought he could make it for. A week before the shoot, Jean-Marc calls me and says, “This is just not enough money to make this. We don’t have it, and we shoot in a week. (But) I’ll be there if you’ll be there.” I was like, “Yeah.” I had been losing the weight, and then I kept hearing “This is not happening.” And I was like, “This is happening.” Then that last bit of money came like a wave.
AwardsLine: What kind of feedback did you get from financiers as to why they didn’t want to come onboard?
McConaughey: (Laughs.) Well, Hollywood’s not quick to really expound on the “why not?” Usually the message that gets to me is, it’s not for them. Period piece, AIDS drama? That one line hurt. I’m sure there were many desks where that one-liner was all they read.
The last shoe to drop in the 2013 awards race hit Saturday as Martin Scorsese‘s much-awaited The Wolf Of Wall Street was unveiled to SAG voters at a couple of screenings at the WGA theatre in Beverly Hills. I caught the film earlier at a small 10 AM screening for some of the cast members on the Paramount lot and then moderated the Q&A following the 6:30 PM screening of the 3 hour film. To say it was rapturously received would be an understatement. Leonardo DiCaprio received a standing ovation when I introduced him, and co-star Jonah Hill also won huge applause from the packed-to-the-rafters house who also enthusiastically cheered co-stars Rob Reiner (who plays DiCaprio’s dad and stole the show at the Q&A), Jon Favreau, P.J. Byrne, Ken Choi and Cristin Milioti. I heard the film also received the same kind of enthusiastic response at the earlier screening too. Paramount also threw a party to kick things off in style. Celebration was in order since Paramount at one time wasn’t even sure the film would be ready as Scorsese has been editing to make a 2013 date. Originally it was scheduled for a November 15 release but moved to Christmas bumping Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit into January to make room for Wolf‘s wide release awards run.
Formal reviews are embargoed but as an initial observation I would label the movie ”Scorsese’s Satyricon,” a wild ride full of contemporary debauchery to say the least (DiCaprio compared some of it to Caligula), with a fine ensemble and a frenetic pace that belies its three hour running time. Even at that length it never lags. It is the perfect companion piece to Goodfellas and puts Scorsese right back in the thick of the Oscar race, if Academy members, particularly older ones, can deal with the almost non-stop parade of sex, drugs, nudity and rock and roll. Violence, a Scorsese staple in this type of film, is missing but there are a number of remarkable set pieces including a storm-driven yacht voyage that has to be seen to be believed (Rob Legato supervised the special effects team). An NC-17 was avoided by some reported judicious cutting but it’s hard to imagine the stuff that didn’t make it in considering the edgy material that did.
Here’s a pair of just-released Top 10 lists that make Quentin Tarantino’s favorite films of 2013 look downright pedestrian. Over in the UK, Sight & Sound Magazine picks Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing the best picture of the year while cult filmmaker John Waters names Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers #1. With the onslaught of end-of-year Top 10s yet to come, could this year’s crop of critical picks be leaning arthouse just as Oscar trends toward indie? See how yours stack up:
For more than 50 years, Robert Redford has been at the top of his game, whether as an actor, Oscar-winning director (Ordinary People), producer or at Sundance, the festival and institute he founded. He won an honorary Oscar for his work with Sundance in promoting independent film, and that is where he met director J.C. Chandor, whose first film, Margin Call, premiered at the festival. But none of the many young directors whose films got big breaks at Sundance actually ever dared to ask Redford to be in a movie. That is, until Chandor brought him All Is Lost. The result is an extraordinary tour de force performance in which Redford is the only actor on screen, playing a man trying to survive after his sailboat springs a leak. Incredibly, Redford has only been nominated for an acting Oscar once in his career, 40 years ago for the lighthearted The Sting. Betting odds are that All Is Lost is going to bring him his second best actor nom.
AwardsLine: What attracted you to such a physically and mentally challenging role?
Robert Redford: It was an opportunity for me to go back to my roots as an actor. That was how I began in this business, and it brought me great joy. As you move through your life, you create opportunities, and if you see new opportunities, you take them. Directing and producing, or creating opportunities for other filmmakers, feels great, but you’re not aware of how it’s taking you further and further away from what your basic joy is—to act. This gave me that in a very big way because of the kind of role it was. Then there is that other thing that happens when you just go in—and it’s impulse—where you say, “I’m going to trust this.” That happened for me with J.C. We met, and very quickly, I thought, “Let’s just do it.”
This is a year with such quality acting that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences should seriously consider following the example set with the best picture category a few years back and expand to 10 potential nominees. It’s an embarrassment of riches with some history-making possibilities.
Consider the battle of the 77-year-olds: Robert Redford in All Is Lost and Bruce Dern in Nebraska. Neither has won an acting Oscar and both have only been nominated once before for their onscreen work. If either manages to take the gold, they would be the oldest ever to win in the best actor category. Or consider that on the 50th anniversary of Sidney Poitier’s groundbreaking best actor victory in 1963 for Lilies Of The Field, there’s such a diverse list of candidates this year, including African-Americans Forest Whitaker (Lee Daniels’ The Butler) and Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) and the UK-born Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) and Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom). You could even throw in another fine performance from April’s 42, in which Chadwick Boseman memorably starred as Jackie Robinson. We could also see two-time winner Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks) and never-been-nominated Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club, Mud) grabbing nominations in both lead and supporting.
The one thing that really matters in a successful Oscar run is momentum: Who has it and who lost it. It’s a tricky maneuver for movies to grab it, and more importantly, keep it going in a very long season that can start as early as May at the Cannes Film Festival. One studio head cornered me at a recent event and said, “Anyone who thinks they can go to Cannes and keep their film on ice for four months is kidding themselves.” This executive has turned down opportunities to take a major film to Cannes for that very reason. It is simply too hard to maintain the forward movement that long, he explained. In the case of movies that play the world’s most famous film festival in May but hold back their release until fall, it’s challenging to recapture the magic.
Two recent examples are Paramount’s Nebraska, which played Cannes but didn’t open domestically until November 15, six months after its initial reviews came out; and the Coen brothers’ Cannes Grand Prize winner Inside Llewyn Davis, which doesn’t open in the U.S. until December 6. This same executive, who works for a rival studio, didn’t think either film could possibly keep the buzz on their side that long after Cannes.
After elevating his profile with the 2010 best picture nominee Inglourious Basterds, in which he played a loathsome Nazi soldier, Daniel Bruhl is back in the spotlight for portraying two real-life mavericks this year: Racing legend Niki Lauda in Ron Howard’s Rush, and former Julian Assange ally Daniel Domscheit-Berg in Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate. Though he says “there’s always an awkward moment when you meet the characters for the first time,” Bruhl is pleased that both of his living subjects were happy with the way he interpreted their lives. Next up for the trilingual, Berlin-based actor? Tending to the tapas bar he owns and starring opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Wright in Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man.
AwardsLine: You were able to spend some time with Niki Lauda to research your role in Rush. What was the most valuable information you learned about him in those meetings?
Daniel Bruhl: I was blown away by his bluntness—something that I still envy, and I love playing characters that I partly envy. To be so 100% honest and direct with certain people, and to be fearless when it comes to solving problems or facing conflict with people face to face, is striking. I don’t know anyone who is like that. And the nice thing about him is that underneath it all is that charm, that sense of humor. The more time I spent with him, and the more times he had seen the movie, the more emotional he got. So that surprised me a bit. I’m half-Spanish, so I love hugging people. I do that all the time with friends. And he didn’t like that at first, the contact with men, and he always kept his distance from me. The first few times I stood there like an idiot. Later on, he saw me, and he said, “Daniel! Come here!” And he had that smile on his face. It’s such a relief to know that he is proud of the movie.
Listen to (and share) episode 52 of our audio podcast “Deadline Awards Watch, with Pete Hammond.”
Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about the Independent Spirit Awards nominations, which feature plenty of Oscar contenders, and perhaps not enough truly spirited indie films; a Q&A with Oscar Isaac of Inside Llewyn Davis, which picked up several of those Spirit Award nods; and a splashy first public screening for David O. Russell’s latest awards season entry, American Hustle, featuring top-notch performances — particularly by Jennifer Lawrence.
They also talk about Oscar rules changes that could make a difference for better known films in the foreign-language and animation categories, and a Golden Globes rule decision that leaves one fantastic disembodied voice just plain dissed.
Finally, we’ll get Pete’s take on this week’s new movies, including old-school crime drama Homefront, with horror film Oldboy. They also discuss Black Nativity, a holiday musical with yet another fine ensemble cast of African-American actors led this time by Oscar winners Forrest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson, part of an unusually large spate of successful, often critically lauded films targeting black audiences over the past few months.
Anna Lisa Raya is Deputy Editor of AwardsLine.
Veteran stage, film and TV actor June Squibb shines as the tart-tongued matriarch Kate Grant in Alexander Payne’s Nebraska. At turns brash and tender—juggling frustrations with her delusional husband, Woody (played by Bruce Dern), even as she protects him from his money-grubbing family—Squibb’s portrayal garnered early praise when the film debuted at Cannes last May and has been building momentum since.
AwardsLine: You’ve collaborated with Alexander Payne before in About Schmidt but in a much smaller role. How did you get involved with Nebraska?
June Squibb: I don’t know when (Alexander) thought of me, but at some point he did. (His office) called and asked if I would tape some things for them if they sent a script. And I just felt, when I read the script, that I knew this woman. I felt really close to her. And so Alexander called me right after he got the tape and let me know that as far as he was concerned I was the frontrunner for it. We started shooting last October, and I was in New York the spring before, so that’s when he came to me.
In the first leading role of her career, Brie Larson has been getting rave reviews for playing a teacher working with troubled kids in writer-director Destin Cretton’s Short Term 12. Cinedigm picked up distribution at this year’s South by Southwest festival, where the film won the Grand Jury and Audience Awards, and Larson most recently earned a Gotham Award nomination for best actress. Although Larson also appears in two higher-profile films of the season—Don Jon and The Spectacular Now—it’s her performance in this tiny indie that has everyone talking.
AwardsLine: Did you initially read the script for Short Term 12 with the idea that you would play Grace?
Brie Larson: I didn’t know what the role was or what the movie was about. I just couldn’t believe that what I was reading was a script. I kept thinking that I was reading some sort of transcript. It felt so honest and natural. I had never read dialogue that was so revealing and simple and complicated with no manipulation. I was totally intimidated by the material. It’s never been easy for me to book any job so I couldn’t imagine that something this rich would be easy for me. I tried to apply for a bunch of volunteer jobs before and learn as much as possible so I could have an in-depth, intelligent conversation with Destin about (the role). I wanted to be viewed as a collaborator and someone who was interested in the subject. I didn’t tell him that I had been rejected by all the volunteer jobs. At the end of a very short conversation—20 minutes or something—he asked if I would do it. I was totally and completely shocked. I hadn’t booked a job before where I haven’t had to audition multiple times. I knew at some point that he had seen my reel, but I don’t even know what’s on that thing. But I know there were certain scenes where he thought, “Why did she put this on her reel? She’s not even in this.” Then he’d rewind it and watch it again and see that it was me. The fact that I blend into whatever character I’m playing was interesting to him, that there wasn’t some sort of set thing that I do every single time.
Noticing a significant trend that defines a large part of this awards season and movie-going year, the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) announced Tuesday that they have partnered with L.A.’s House Of Blues to produce an evening devoted to …
Listen to (and share) episode 16 of Deadline’s audio podcast Global Showbiz Watch, With Nancy Tartaglione. Deadline’s international editor talks from London with host David Bloom about a series of UK-based stories the past several days, including the very big audiences that turned out for Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary celebration on the BBC, BBC America and in dozens of other countries; what the BBC has planned at Christmas time for the newest doctor in Doctor Who, and the much-awaited third season of Sherlock; Oscar winner Emma Thompson’s long look back with BAFTA at her career so far, even as her latest film, Saving Mr. Banks, builds its own awards buzz; and Pinewood Shepperton, busy counting its cash after a strong quarter, presses for approval of a major expansion of its London facilities amid a serious studio capacity crunch that’s turning away work in the city.
It looks like Woody Allen will be staying true to his principles of shunning awards shows (and Los Angeles). I hear that the Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning filmmaker is not expected to attend the Golden Globes in January, where he will be the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award. I hear the Hollywood Foreign Press Association made the decision to honor Allen without securing a commitment from him that he would attend. “There is no one more worthy of this award than Woody Allen,” the HFPA said in September when making the announcement. “His contributions to filmmaking have been phenomenal, and he truly is an international treasure.”
Nominations for Film Independent’s Spirit Awards were announced earlier today. As usual the Spirits were among the first groups to jump into the awards season fray, but also, other than the Oscars, the last to name winners (the ceremony is Saturday March 1, day before the Academy Awards). That means there can be a big momentum shift between now and then when the envelopes are opened. But it does give a boost to certain films that qualify as “indies” under their rules (generally a budget under or around $20 million) as they build toward Oscar nominations. Although the Spirits preclude many Oscar frontrunners such as Gravity, Captain Phillips, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, Philomena, August: Osage County, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Prisoners and Lee Daniels’ The Butler to name a few they can provide some comfort for those crossover films whose smaller budgets make them eligible for both including newly-minted Best Film nominees All Is Lost, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska and 12 Years A Slave which led all comers with 7 nods. Nebraska was a strong runner-up with 6 and would have tied, but inexplicably Phedon Papamichael’s exquisite black and white scope cinematography was somehow overlooked for the likes of Spring Breakers and Computer Chess. What’s up with that, indie people?
Nevertheless Oscar’s Best Picture list could include several of the Spirit choices and the same goes for the lead acting categories where Bruce Dern, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oscar Isaac, Robert Redford, Matthew McConaughey (a winner last year at the Spirits) and Michael B. Jordan all have reasonable chances to make the corresponding Oscar lineup as well as Blue Jasmine’s Cate Blanchett who likely will have a very good early March weekend at both the Spirits and the Oscars for lead actress.