Listen to (and share) episode 51 of our audio podcast “Deadline Awards Watch with Pete Hammond.”
Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about more highlights from Deadline’s recent The Contenders event, including Meryl Streep‘s all-business approach behind her sterling performance in August: Osage County; how screenwriter Kelly Marcel had to make the irascible author of Mary Poppins just a wee bit more cuddly to help save Saving Mr. Banks; and behind the scenes with the tech and design gurus who helped make Spike Jonze’s latest, Her, another unique cinematic experience.
We also talk about the looming voting deadline for the shortlist of Oscar documentary features, a publicists’ pre-Oscar frenzy at the glitzy and star-filled Academy Governors Awards and how recent festival fever among the major studios might help their entries scoop up more Oscar gold.
Finally, we’ll get Pete’s take on this week’s new movies, which should be dominated by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as the sequel goes for all kinds of box office records.
With the long Thanksgiving weekend just ahead, however, several other substantial entries will open in U.S. theaters this weekend, including Disney’s animated tale Frozen, which also features a marvelous Mickey Mouse short, Get A Horse, that Pete picks as a can’t-miss for the animated short Oscar; the big festival favorite Philomena, with Judi Dench and do-everything sidekick Steve Coogan; and the somewhat serious comedy remake Delivery Man, with Vince Vaughn in perhaps his most well-rounded performance ever.
Deadline Awards Watch 51: The Governors Hunger Games Episode (.MP3 version)
Deadline Awards Watch 51: The Governors Hunger Games Episode (.M4A version)
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The major studios have finally caught on to what the indies have known for years: There’s a definite trend brewing between success on the film-festival circuit and winning at the Oscars. In fact, the past seven Best Picture victories were born somewhere on the fest circuit — a place where buzz, particularly online, is becoming too loud to ignore. Since No Country For Old Men, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, every Best Picture winner has debuted at fests: Slumdog Millionaire (Telluride Film Festival, 2008), The Hurt Locker (Venice Film Festival, 2008), The King’s Speech (Telluride, 2010), The Artist (Cannes, 2011) and Argo (Toronto International Film Festival, 2012).
Related: Deadline Awards Watch 50: The Early Oscar Frenzy Edition
What really stands out is that the only film on that list that came from a major studio is Warner Bros’ Argo. That’s because early in this century, Hollywood was playing by the old rules, opening movies in the fall or Christmas, ignoring film festivals and still winning Best Picture statuettes at the Academy Awards. Between 2000 and 2006, only one Best Picture winner— 2005’s Toronto pickup Crash — had even played a festival. Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Chicago, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Million Dollar Baby and The Departed all used a different path to gold.
But things changed last year with Argo, whose festival debut created buzz that carried the story about the rescue of six diplomats amid the Iran hostage crisis all the way to an Oscar. Prior to that, Warner Bros had achieved its most recent Oscar success with off-the-circuit Best Picture winners like The Departed and Million Dollar Baby. The Argo strategy allowed the studio — which was dying to stop Harvey Weinstein from grabbing a third Best Picture trophy in a row — to grow the buzz from two important fall fests and build Argo as a legitimate contender.
Related: Oscar Contenders Flock To Telluride As Festival Season Arrives
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The Oscar winner and Gravity star will receive the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress, at the 25th edition of the Palm Springs International Film Festival. The award will be presented January 4 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. “Sandra Bullock is the epitome of cinematic talent and versatility,” festival Chairman Harold Matzner said. “As first-time astronaut Dr. Ryan Stone in Gravity, Bullock faces the primal nightmare of being stranded in space with no apparent way of returning. Throughout the entire film, her determination to survive is masterfully portrayed.” The festival announced last week that Matthew McConaughey will receive this year’s Desert Palm award for actors. The event runs January 3-13.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘Gravity’
Listen to (and share) episode 50 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond.
Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about more highlights from Deadline’s recent Oscar race preview event, The Contenders, including notable moments from and conversations about Tim’s Vermeer, Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave, and The Croods.
We’ll also talk about a Friday full of craziness from the AFI Fest and events promoting the latest from David O. Russell and Saving Mr. Banks, and a lethally funny comedy bit by Sasha Baron Cohen as he picked up the Charlie Chaplin Award at this year’s Britannias. It’s also been a big week for the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis and for the many people who labor behind the camera and below the line at the Hamilton Awards.
Finally, we’ll get Pete’s take on this week’s new movie releases in a quiet week at the box office, including Nebraska and The Best Man Holiday.
Deadline Awards Watch episode 50 (M4A version)
Deadline Awards Watch episode 50 (MP3 version)
The M4A version of this podcast is designed to run on any device using Apple’s iTunes software, and includes enhanced graphics and links to stories and other resources. The MP3 version of this podcast is designed to play on virtually any device capable of playing digital audio.
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Any doubt that awards season has not kicked into full gear even though it’s only early November were firmly erased Friday night as I kept running into the same Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Academy members as we dashed from an AFI Fest pre-party for The Weinstein Co.‘s August Osage County premiere in Hollywood, to a Lionsgate holiday (!) celebration at Spago, to Disney‘s Mary Poppins sing-a-long for Saving Mr. Banks at the Beverly Hills Hotel. And that doesn’t even count Sony‘s tribute to their American Hustle David O. Russell for the AFI Fest at the Egyptian. When the picture isn’t ready to show why not just throw a tribute with clips instead? (they sneaked the first six minutes). Deadline’s Jen Yamato was there and reports Jane Fonda and his Oscar winning Silver Linings Playbook star Jennifer Lawrence showed up for the pre-reception. Just down the street at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Gravity star Sandra Bullock was holding court doing a Q&A for SAG nominating committee members after a screening of the film (Warner Bros. had a separate Gravity press cocktail reception Wednesday night in West Hollywood which drew director Alfonso Cuaron and son, co-writer Jonas, along with producer David Heyman).
At Hollywood and Highland’s The Grill, August Osage County co-producer George Clooney was clearly the star attraction taking photo after photo with excited (mostly female) members of the HFPA who swarmed around him at the intimate, but crowded event before the North American premiere of the film at the Chinese. If anyone knows how to work a room like this, it is Clooney. When I managed to catch his eye he told me the film has been reworked a bit since I saw it at its Toronto Fest debut in September and that, after the balancing act of getting the adaptation of a 3 1/2 hour play down to a tight – and funny – two hours (it’s entered in the Golden Globes as a comedy), both Harvey Weinstein and director John Wells are happy with it, as Wells also confirmed. The director said he worked on honing the script for over two years with Pulitzer Prize and Tony winner Tracy Letts (also at the reception). As Clooney explained they had to take a rather insular play and open it up a bit which wasn’t easy, but the film I saw played like gangbusters in Toronto and was well-received at AFI, I am told by some who saw it last night for the first time. Co-stars Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Dermot Mulroney and Chris Cooper who has a couple of scenes that stop the show were also at the reception before hitting the red carpet (stars Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep were absent). Read More »
Exactly four months from today on March 2nd the 86th Academy Awards will take place, but the 2013 awards season starts in earnest today as Deadline’s 3rd Annual THE CONTENDERS event kicks off this morning at the brand new Wallis Annenberg Center For The Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. It’s the meeting of a new venue and an early look at the race for Oscar that will bring members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and key guild voters to see what the studios and distributors are touting as their big contenders this year. In all 12 of those companies will each be given a half hour to showcase their wares and make their case for a slate of Oscar-worthy hopefuls that already is promising to be the strongest in years. Participating are The Weinstein Company, Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate, Focus, CBS Films, Paramount, Fox Searchlight, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics, Walt Disney Pictures, Universal and Dreamworks Animation. Numerous directors, writers, producers, actors and below the line artists will be participating in panels presided over by Deadline’s Pete Hammond, Mike Fleming Jr. and Dominic Patten. The day long event running from 9AM to 5pm will also feature a catered breakfast and buffet lunch. And it’s completely sold out. Camera crews will be capturing it all and highlights from each presentation will be featured on Deadline, ENTV and other outlets in the weeks to come. The event is being produced by Madelyn Hammond.
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Listen to (and share) episode 47 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about the fantastic spoonful of sugar and spice that is Saving Mr. Banks, which debuted strongly at the London Film Festival. They also assess the impact of the Oscar race departures by The Monuments Men and the possible re-insertion into the race by Wolf Of Wall Street; ponder the value of the heavily attended Hollywood Film Awards and look at whether James Schamus’ surprise departure from Focus Features will sell short Dallas Buyers Club.
Finally, we’ll get Pete’s take on this week’s new movie releases, including Ridley Scott’s The Counselor, which features a glittering cast and a problematic Cormac McCarthy script; the latest hijinks from the Jackass crew, Bad Grandpa; and Cannes conqueror Blue Is The Warmest Color.
Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 47 (MP3 format)
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The AFI Fest has rounded out its list of Centerpiece Galas and Special Screenings with an impressive list of awards contenders that will include one more big get: Universal’s world premiere November 12th of the gritty and gripping Afghanistan war film Lone Survivor directed by Peter Berg and starring Mark Walhberg in the true story. The film gets a qualifying run in December before going wide January 10th. Getting the prime Friday night slot that was originally announced for the world premiere of Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher before that film was pushed later into 2014, is the Los Angeles premiere of The Weinstein Company’s anticipated August: Osage County, which had a raucous World Premiere screening at the Toronto Film Festival. Finally, the 1987 Best Picture winner, Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor, gets unveiled as another Centerpiece Gala in its new 3D version (do we really need that, Bernardo? I liked it the way it was). Additionally refugees from other fall fests — including Spike Jonze’s Her, Ralph Fiennes’ The Invisible Woman, Jordorowsky’s Dune, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, The Past, Philomena and the Donald Rumsfeld docu from Errol Morris, The Unknown Known – will be presented as Special Screenings. The AFI Fest takes place mainly at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood and runs Nov 7-14 when it closes with Inside Llewyn Davis. Opening night should be special: Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks with its North American premiere in the same theatre where the subject of the film, Mary Poppins, debuted in 1964 and is featured prominently at the end of the movie. Here’s the official release about this morning’s additions: Read More »
Buried near the end of a lengthy Michael Fassbender profile in the November issue of GQ, writer Zach Baron gets the Oscar-buzzed actor to explain why he has no plans to do the campaign circuit this season for his supporting role as the vicious slave owner in 12 Years A Slave.
“I’m going to be busy working. I just don’t really have time. (Campaigning is) just not going to happen, because I’ll be in New Zealand. I’ll be on the other side of the world. You know, I get it. Everybody’s got to do their job. So you try and help and facilitate as best you can. But I won’t put myself through that kind of situation again. It’s just a grind. And I’m not a politician. I’m an actor,” Fassbender said of the whole Oscar process, which seems to grow every year and includes numerous Q&As, luncheons, meet-and-greets, private screenings, film festival tributes, presenting at endless awards shows, well-timed talk show appearances, etc etc. Many artists who suddenly find themselves the object of an all-out Oscar campaign find this part of the job even more grueling than making the actual film. And by the time the Oscars roll around they are spent.
Campaign or no campaign, in Fassbender’s case it may not matter. He’s very likely going to get nominated — and could win — for Best Supporting Actor and I think that’s a scenario whether he lifts a finger or not in doing the usual rounds. The film and the role are so strong it’s hard to imagine the actors branch ignoring him. Now after the nominations it could change, especially in a tight, competitive race where every vote counts. Read More »
The New York Film Festival closed Saturday night with the World Premiere of Spike Jonze‘s fourth feature, the irresistibly charming romantic fantasy Her, about a man who falls head over heels for his “operating system”. The studio held a simultaneous screening on the West Coast Saturday afternoon for L.A.-based critics and bloggers. Initial reaction was upbeat.
Whatever the December Warner Bros. release’s many attributes, its awards potential is yet to be determined. But I would say if it catches on with the Academy crowd at all, it could be poised to make Oscar history in at least one category. Scarlett Johansson, who poignantly voices Samantha the computer system that organizes Joaquin Phoenix‘s life and strikes up an intense and heartbreaking personal relationship with him, could possibly become the first solely voice-over performance to win an acting nomination. It’s never happened in the past that an actor, unseen on screen and strictly doing voice work has been able to nail a nomination from the Academy’s actors branch. But if ever it was going to happen this is the year, and Johansson’s is the performance. Her work (she replaced Samantha Morton) is exemplary. She’s also great in the current Don Jon as well. I am told by a Warner Bros. source working on the campaign that they have checked and the role is eligible. They plan to run her seriously for Best Supporting Actress and, if successful, will make … Read More »
Listen to (and share) episode 45 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s awards columnist and host David Bloom wrap up the latest news out of the New York Film Festival, led by the premiere of Ben Stiller’s remake of The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty; a winning film adaptation of the best-selling WWII drama The Book Thief that may have some stealthy awards ambitions; whether possible radical changes can fix the perennially controversial Oscar foreign-language film-selection process; and the long, loving TV Academy tribute to one of its stalwarts, omnipresent comedy producer/director James Burrows. Finally, Pete gives his take on this week’s new movie releases, including Captain Phillips, the intense Paul Greengrass telling of the kidnapping by Somali pirates of a ship’s captain played in fine form by Tom Hanks; the action sequel Machete Kills, directed by Robert Rodriguez and featuring Danny Trejo; and a traditional take on Romeo And Juliet, with Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth.
Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 45 (MP3 format)
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EXCLUSIVE: Ever since its debut at the Telluride Film Festival over the Labor Day weekend, Fox Searchlight‘s 12 Years A Slave has been annointed, at least by some eager-to-call-the-race-early media members, as the movie that could take it all at the Oscars. Though it is far too early to say that with any conviction (it doesn’t open in theaters until next week and hasn’t even played its official Academy screening yet), it continues to register strongly on the Fest circuit. It hit the New York Film Festival Tuesday night where the cast led by Chiwetel Ejiofor, director Steve McQueen and other key creative players received a standing ovation, just as they did in Telluride and Toronto. Next week the film hits the BFI London Film Festival on October 18th, home turf for its British star and director, but telling a very American story. Searchlight clearly would be more comfortable not to be shackled with the front-runner label before the movie is able to catch its boxoffice wind. It’s always a perilous position as there is nowhere to go but down (just ask Social Network about that), but the film has drawn critical raves wherever it’s played and early audiences are clearly moved. The subject matter however is not easy, often gut-wrenching to watch, and needs to be carefully nurtured by Fox Searchlight which plans a slow rollout beginning next Friday. Read More »
IFC Films acquired U.S. rights to Lucky Them, the Megan Griffiths-directed pic that stars Toni Collette, Thomas Haden Church and Oliver Platt. Scripted by Emily Wachtel and Huck Botko, the pic premiered at Toronto last month. Collette plays an unconventional rock journalist who dates musicians and is assigned to explore her own pasts. It’s a cathartic assignment. IFC’s Arianna Bocco made the deal with Cinetic Media’s John Sloss.
Christopher Lee To Receive 2013 BFI Fellowship
Sir Christopher Lee will be this year’s recipient of the BFI Fellowship. The organization’s highest honor will be presented October 19during the awards ceremony for the BFI London Film Festival. The Fellowship is in recognition of outstanding contribution to film or television. Last year there was a double recipient in the form of Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter. Lee, who was knighted in 2009, has more than 250 acting credits — from his feature debut in 1948 with Corridor Of Mirrors to Hammer Films’ Dracula and The Lord Of The Rings‘ trilogy. The BFI will screen several of Lee’s most iconic performances during its upcoming Gothic season. The BFI today also announced juries for the London Film Festival. The nascent competitive section will be judged by film critic and journalist Phillip French, director Lone Scherfig, visual artist Stan Douglas, actress Miranda Richardson, author Deborah Moggach, and cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto.
FremantleMedia International Inks With China’s Youku
FremantleMedia International announced Monday a multiyear digital deal with the China-headquartered portal Youku. The agreement will see a variety of FremantleMedia’s premium entertainment and drama content available to online audiences averaging 14 million unique users a day. More than 200 hours of programming will be available on Youku in the first year including recent seasons of American Idol ,The X Factor USA, America’s Got Talent, Project Runway and The Celebrity Apprentice and season 13. Read More »
Image Entertainment has acquired the Toronto title Devil’s Knot and will release it in second-quarter 2014. The Atom Egoyan-directed film stars Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Amy Ryan, Mireille Enos, and Stephen Moyer. Image’s Chief Acquisition Officer Bill Bromiley made the deal with CAA and WME on behalf of financier Worldview Entertainment. The film is the story of three teenagers accused of the brutal 1993 murder of three 8-year-old boys in Memphis, Ark. — two of them sentenced to life imprisonment and one to death even though there was not a shred of physical evidence. The film explores the lives of deeply misunderstood outsiders, their families and communities, and the hysterics that drove the trial. The conviction of the West Memphis 3 — Damien Echols, Jesse Misskelley Jr, and Jason Baldwin — riled the American justice system, shocked a tightly knit religious town and outraged the nation. Pic is based on the Mara Leveritt book Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three. Paul Harris Boardman and Scott Derrickson wrote the script and Boardman produced with Elizabeth Fowler, Richard Saperstein, Clark Peterson and Christopher Woodrow of Worldview Entertainment.
Could The Book Thief come out of nowhere to pull off a heist in this year’s Oscar race? While distributor 20th Century Fox seems to be putting most of its marbles on this weekend’s New York Film Festival launch of its big Christmas Day release, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, the studio has concurrently picked another festival, the lower-profile but respected 36-year-old Mill Valley Film Fest, to World Premiere its stealth entry into awards season. The Book Thief played to a huge standing ovation at its Thursday night unveiling on the Northern California fest’s opening night. Tonight co-star Geoffrey Rush will be the subject of a tribute there. Based on Markus Zusak’s No. 1 best-selling novel, the story set in Nazi Germany during World War II finds a young girl seeking refuge in the world of books while her family hides a young Jewish man in the basement of their modest German home. As they did earlier today with Mitty, Fox has had simultaneous screenings on their lot for bloggers and critics, which is where I caught it yesterday. Read More »
With Gravity looking like it is soaring at the box office today and the Harry Potter 8-pack of films successfully behind him, producer David Heyman is riding high. Of course, director Alfonso Cuaron and stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are getting the lion’s share of attention for the space drama, but Heyman is happy to give credit where credit is due. He actually was the one who brought Cuaron aboard for Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban. “We had a great experience on Harry Potter“, he said in a recent interview at Chateau Marmont. ” I asked him to do it which was a big thing.” This time around it was Cuaron who asked Heyman to get involved on Gravity and produce it with him.
“When he asked me to do it I jumped — there was not a moment of hesitation” Heyman said. “One, it’s a lovely compliment that he asked, and as a producer it’s what we dream about. I knew it was going to be challenging. He’s always pushing, never settling. We finished the film early this year and we hadn’t done the mix. He looked at the film and he said ‘Damn’. He had an idea which was to take the spacecraft and flip it because it was coming in top-up. You’re in outer space, there’s not up and down, so if you flip it’s fine but it took 10 weeks. One shot, two minutes. But he’s always pushing and never settling. So I knew it was going to be extraordinary, but to actually now be here and feel the response is pretty great,” he said.
That’s an understatement. The film was rapturously received at all three big fall festivals — Venice, Telluride and Toronto — a decision Heyman said was easy to make considering Cuaron is the director of such films as Y Tu Mama Tambien, A Little Princess and Children Of Men. “I think Alfonso is a filmmaker where festivals are responsive because there’s real art to his direction. It’s beautiful, fluid motion and I think there was faith in that and I think Warners, to give them credit, took a big leap in making this film. You know a female-driven action movie, not inexpensive, with one character alone for most of the time. But they believe in the filmmaker. Then they poured money into it . For a year and a half we had nothing . We were trying to figure out how to do it, and then when Alfonso decided he wanted to change the shot around, that’s probably 100K , they said ‘sure, go ahead and do it’. And then putting it on the festival circuit, they just believed in it,” he said.
Related: Venice: ‘Gravity’ Exerts Strong Pull
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