Oscar-nominated American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook producer Jonathan Gordon has joined Megan Ellison‘s Annapurna Pictures as the shingle’s new President of Production. Gordon previously oversaw production during his 15-year run at Miramax Films, where he exec produced Good Will Hunting, Kevin Smith’s Dogma, and George Clooney’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. He also served as President of Production at Universal Pictures under Stacey Snider. Gordon’s history with director David O. Russell began with the filmmaker’s Flirting With Disaster and led to his new position at Annapurna, which arose after he worked with Ellison, Charles Roven, and Richard Suckle on Golden Globe winner and Best Picture Oscar nominee American Hustle.
A pair of flicks that were shut out at the Oscars on Sunday lead the field for the erstwhile music network’s film nods. American Hustle and The Wolf Of Wall Street snagged eight noms apiece for the 23rd MTV Movie Awards. Close behind are The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with seven and We’re The Millers with six, including a coveted Best Shirtless Performance nom for Jennifer Aniston. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Dallas Buyers Club, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, This Is The End and Best Picture champ 12 Years A Slave are next with four apiece. Conan O’Brien will serve as host of this year’s festivities, which air live on April 13 at the Nokia Theatre in L.A. The show — which last year switched from its longtime post-Memorial Day date to April — again relishes is such signature categories as Best Kiss, Best Scared-As-S**T Performance and #WTFMoment, The telecast is exec produced by Jesse Ignjatovic. Here are the nominees:
OSCARS: Pete Hammond’s Absolute FINAL Predictions In Every Category In One Of The Most Competitive Races Ever
This column originally ran Thursday.
With no real clarity from the usually reliable guild contests and critics awards, the best picture race is one of the most unpredictable in years. Considering the preferential Oscar voting system, it is not probable there will be a winner on the first ballot because it’s unlikely any film in this great year for films will be able to muster more than 50% of the first-place votes required. The second choice on those best picture ballots could end up being the most important. The top three contenders—12 Years A Slave, American Hustle and Gravity—are in a real dog fight, which means a dark horse like The Wolf Of Wall Street, Philomena, Dallas Buyers Club or Nebraska could sneak in if a true three-way split occurs, although I don’t think that scenario is too likely. Never say never though. In 1981 for example no one was expecting a small British film called Chariots Of Fire to sneak in and take Best Picture but indeed it did. The last huge upset in the Picture race was probably Crash over Brokeback Mountain in 2005 but judging from voter interviews that year I saw a tidal wave of last minute support. This year I don’t get that. There are lots of opinions out there and it looks like …
The best holds going into the Oscar weekend in the Top 20 at the box office are, as expected, those films nominated for Best Picture. There are two things that traditionally happen at the box office right before the Academy Awards. First, all the nominated films still playing receive a bump the weekend before and of the Awards show. And secondly, overall, movie going for the older female demographic drops slightly on Sunday (around 15%). The result for all grosses is negligible, however.
Of the titles still playing in the top 20, 12 Years a Slave has far and above the best hold weekend to weekend, up 70% for Fox Searchlight. Kudos to Frank Rodriguez at FSL and all of these distribution executives who we have watched week to week deftly handling these pictures. Sony/Annapurna’s American Hustle held strong with a 6% increase (thanks to Jeff Blake and Rory Bruer) and Philomena was up 3% (Erik Lomis at TWC). All added theaters. Of those that shed theaters, Warner Bros.’ Gravity (Dan Fellman and Jeff Goldstein) and Paramount/Red Granite’s The Wolf of Wall Street (distrib head Don Harris) had only slight declines of …
In advance of Sunday’s Oscars, CBS News has posted a 60 Minutes Overtime “Rewind” — Mike Wallace’s April 12, 1981 interview with real-life self-described swindler Mel Weinberg, who was portrayed by Christian Bale in American Hustle, which has a total of 10 Oscar noms, including one for Bale. The actor spent time with Weinberg to study the art of the hustle and Weinberg, who said he was paid $250,000 for story rights, told CBS News that Bale tried “to get into” his skin, but asked some “stupid questions.” The Abscam deconstruction, the cigar smoking at the bar — the comb-over — watch it here:
Last chance Academy members — and you know who you are.
Voting for the 86th Annual Academy Awards closes today at 5 PM PT, but because of the Academy’s 2-year-old venture into online voting, members who opted in for that option actually have the luxury of time today getting their ballots in. Of course, if you are one of those members who chose the old-fashioned paper ballot and still haven’t voted for this year’s Oscars, you have only one alternative: It must be hand-delivered to the LA offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers at 601 S. Figueroa Street by that 5 PM cutoff.
There are no hard figures on just how many voters wait until the last day, but they are probably the same people seen dropping off their taxes at 11:59 PM on April 15th. I do know of a number of members who waited until this weekend to vote, particularly since this is the first year all 24 categories are open to everyone and the Academy sent out an elaborate 13-disc set of DVDs of Documentary Features, Foreign Language Film nominees and the Shorts. That’s a lot to get through. One consultant told me they estimate that anywhere from 5%-10% of the voters waited until the last 24 hours, even surmising that Monday may have been the single biggest day based on anecdotal evidence and past history. “Several members I spoke with thanked me for reminding them. They had forgotten believe it or not,” this person said. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs and CEO Dawn Hudson have continued to work diligently to turn out the vote. “I voted. We’ve gotten voicemails, emails etc. They are doing a terrific job of making sure everyone does it by the deadline this week and I credit Cheryl for that, ” said one member in an email to me after they finally cast their ballot Sunday.
The Oscar nominated best pictures still in the theaters are holding well the last weekend before the Academy Awards. Most are at the end or nearing the end of their runs. Those distributors who re-released their films or upped the number of theaters post-nomination did receive nice bumps to add to their overall cumes. This is the last weekend before the Academy Awards, so traditionally the Oscar-nominated films still in theaters usually see rock solid numbers as moviegoers venture out to see them before the show. Last year’s Oscars brought in 40.3M viewers. Here is how they all look to play out this weekend and their overall cumes based on Saturday morning estimates:
12). American Hustle (SONY), 903 theaters / 3-day cume: $1.8M / Total cume: $144M+ / Wk 11
14). The Wolf of Wall Street (PAR), 627 theaters / 3-day cume: $1.3M / Total cume: $112.8M / Wk 9
15). Philomena (TWC), theaters / 3-day cume: $1.2M / Total cume: $32.7M / Wk 14
17). Gravity (WB), 348 theaters / 3-day cume: $914K / Total cume: $269.3M / Wk 21
20). 12 Years a Slave (FSL), 349 theaters / 3-day cume: $493K / Total cume: $49M / Wk 19
EXCLUSIVE: The chance that Jennifer Lawrence will repeat as an Oscar winner, this time for Best Supporting Actress for her work in American Hustle, has grown stronger since she won the Golden Globe and then surprisingly took the BAFTA award for Supporting Actress.
While Lawrence probably ate more salmon than an Alaskan grizzly bear during last year’s endless awards circuit banquet campaign leading up to winning the Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook, she has been relatively scarce in this race, mainly because she has been busy moving between her role as Katniss Everdeen in the final two installments of The Hunger Games shooting back-to-back, and playing Mystique in X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Lawrence was doing re-shoots on the latter when she won the BAFTA last week. It was David O Russell, who directed Lawrence in both Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, who accepted the award in her place. “I’d sat with her at last year’s BAFTAs, when she didn’t win, and me being loyal to her, I was upset and that became a screen grab for everybody and so this year, it was my pleasure to give what might have been the most heartfelt speech ever on her behalf after Leonardo DiCaprio gave me her award,” Russell told me.
Where was Lawrence during all this drama?
“Oh, it was a big surprise,” she told me when she took a few minutes away from shooting. “I didn’t remember that the BAFTAs were happening that day. I certainly did not think I was going to win one so I put it out of my mind,” she said. “So there I was, in the middle of being painted blue, and someone said, ‘You just won the BAFTA!’ And I said, ‘Oh, go f*ck yourself!’ And then it turned out they were serious.”
This is the refreshing thing about watching this young actress grow up before our eyes. She is more fun to watch than a lot of veteran actresses who win, and act like it’s the first time even as you suspect they’ve already made room on the mantel for yet another trophy. With Lawrence, the coltish awkwardness and unpredictability seem genuine, and seem just right for a 23-year-old who has gotten her third Oscar nomination and who anchors one of Hollywood’s most lucrative film franchises in Hunger Games. In fact, these awards fill her with so much anxiety that she has found it refreshing to be working rather than going from one campaign stop to the next.
Randee Dawn is an AwardsLine contributor.
What makes a scene Oscar-worthy is difficult to define, but everyone knows it when they see it. It’s an end as foreboding as they come. Cate Blanchett, mesmerizing as the title character in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, sits in a disheveled mess on a park bench in San Francisco, muttering to herself. It’s the nadir of Jasmine’s fall from grace, her first step on the ladder to bag-lady land. “That scene” is how it’s known in the business, the one that crystallizes everything about a character or a story and through which the actor surrenders to the part with everything he or she’s got. It’s a scene that when a viewer sees it, they know: This is a nomination, or an Academy Award, waiting to happen. Having “that scene” guarantees neither award nor nomination, and many roles win big prizes without one. But when a good scene arises, it can become an iconic piece of cinema.
Columbia Pictures‘ EVP Production Sam Dickerman is moving to Disney, taking the same title and reporting to Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production president Sean Bailey. While at Sony, Dickerman worked most recently on current Oscar Best Picture nominee American Hustle as well as Salt and Battle: Los Angeles and comedies Click, Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Grown Ups. He joined Columbia in 2005 as SVP Production. At Disney his responsibilities will include development and production of Disney-branded live-action films; he called the job “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” “Sam is a talented executive with a history of creating dynamic and compelling films,” Bailey said in the release announcing the hire. “His passion for filmmaking, proven track record, and wealth of experience make him a great addition to our Disney live-action team.” Before Columbia, Dickerman was president of Wolfgang Petersen’s Radiant Productions where he worked on films like Troy and The Perfect Storm.
When it comes to predicting who will take home Oscars for adapted and original screenplay, don’t look to the recent Writers Guild Awards for any significant clues. Usually the guild will give some indication of which way the winds are blowing among the scribes of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, even though the 372-member writers branch has different criteria and eligibility rules than the more stringent 20,000-plus WGA membership. The WGAs differ from other guild awards in not nominating any movies not made under their basic agreement or within guild guidelines. That isn’t a huge factor this year, as the Academy matched the WGAs’ nominee list in original screenplay and chose three of the same adaptations (Oscar nominees 12 Years A Slave and Philomena were not allowed to compete in the WGAs). Lone Survivor and August: Osage County nabbed the other two nominations, although neither won. In fact, in a highly unusual result, the WGA winners, Her for original and Captain Phillips for adapted, have not been considered slam-dunks to pull off the same trick at the Oscars on March 2.
Michael Wilkinson, who is nominated for Best Costume Design Oscar for Sony/Annapurna’s American Hustle , began working with costumes on theater productions in Sydney when he was 17. After dabbling behind the scenes on several productions, his interest as a costume designer took hold and he eventually found himself working with director Jim Sharman (best known to American audiences for directing/co-writing The Rocky Horror Picture Show). Together they worked on such theater productions as Jean Genet’s Splendid and The Tempest at the Sydney Opera House. It was the opening night of The Tempest when the director gave him a book about Italian costume designer Piero Tosi, who had worked with such legendary directors as Federico Fellini and Franco Zeffirelli and was nominated for an Oscar in 1972 for his work on director Luchino Visconti’s Death In Venice. “He showed me that costume design is an art form,” said Wilkinson. The Italian master used texture, fabric and design to wrap the essence of the character around an audience, whether it be working-class people or those of the social elite. And Tosi’s artistry in that kind of diversity inspired Wilkinson.
Breathing a sigh of relief once again Fox Searchlight’s 12 Years A Slave pulled out another squeaker at the BAFTA Awards just as it did at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards and the Producers Guild (where it tied Gravity). Going into the BAFTAs with ten nominations and favored status, as it was directed by Brit Steve McQueen and starred Brit Chiwetel Ejiofor, it looked like a total shutout losing award after award and going 0 for 7 (including surprising losses for Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor) but finally getting on the board with Ejiofor’s Best Actor win and then pulling off Best Film shortly after in a ceremony that reflected the kinds of splits we have seen all season. At the Globes you may recall it went 0 for 6 before nabbing Best Drama Picture at the end of the evening. Somehow McQueen winds up on stage at the end of all these shows making an acceptance speech and that’s what counts.
Related: BAFTA Awards: ‘12 Years A Slave’ Wins Best Film But ‘Gravity’ Carries Most Weight With Six Total Nods; Chiwetel Ejiofor & Cate Blanchett Take Actor Wins; ‘American Hustle’ Scores 3 Including For Jennifer Lawrence
This is an unusual year to say the least and the BAFTA win for 12 Years A Slave where it helps the most gives it bragging rights as Oscar voting is getting underway this weekend. But these kinds of narrow victories might be a little tension-headache inducing for Searchlight as it now heads to the Oscars in the tightest race in years. Slave was expected to do much better here than it did overall. The results indicate voting was all over the map. BAFTA is important as there may be as many as 500 members that it shares in common with the motion picture Academy. The outcome really did nothing to add more clarity or certainty in a see-sawing Best Picture Oscar race with Gravity’s six BAFTA wins including Best Director for Alfonso Cuaron and Outstanding British Film keeping it in strong contention. Perhaps BAFTA voters thought they could offer up their own PGA-style split by giving these two films their own producing prize? Who knows? Here’s the good news for Slave . The BAFTA Best Film winner has gone on to win the Oscar for Best Picture for the past five years a row. However in the four previous years before that streak it failed to match Oscar’s top winner, so into which camp will Slave fall? Again, who knows? Makes things exciting though.
EXCLUSIVE: As Oscar voting begins today a lot of campaigns are moving into their final phase. American Hustle, which is generally considered to be one of three front runners for Best Picture along with 12 Years A Slave and Gravity, has decided to take its message directly to television with a half-hour special on the Los Angeles CBS affiliate at 7:30 PM on Monday, President’s Day following Entertainment Tonight. That’s significant because these almost-primetime specials are a favorite in presidential politics too. Gravity is doing the same thing tonight on KCBS. This special, American Hustle: The Art And Soul Of Survival, takes a deeper look into the creative process of writer-director David O. Russell and the film, which earned 10 Oscar nominations and the same number at this weekend’s BAFTA awards. Here’s an exclusive look at the program which you can watch here so you don’t have to miss Wheel Of Fortune which airs opposite it.
Final voting for the 86th Annual Academy Awards has now officially opened as of 8 AM PT today. Consider it the Academy’s Valentine’s Day gift to members: the chance to determine Oscar winners in all 24 categories, open to ALL voters for the first time. Despite the Academy’s press release noting voting begins today — both online or, if requested, by paper ballot — some members have told me they were surprised to receive their paper ballot in the mail as early as Monday of this week. So actually voting may already be finished for some early birds who requested, got, and maybe mailed their ballots in already. It’s significant since studios are running some very expensive Phase 2 campaigns timed to peak with the beginning of voting.
My guess is most ballots will be coming in closer to the announced final deadline of February 25 at 5 PM PT. That’s because, as previously noted on Deadline , the Academy sent a 13-disc package to all members last week containing all nominees in the Foreign Language Film, Documentary Feature and Live Action, Animated and Documentary shorts categories. That’s a lot to get through even if you’ve already seen the major contenders in the tightest Best Picture race in years, as well as other categories. Also, the Academy is strongly encouraging members to vote online, which gives a voter more time to cast a ballot. The process, which was troubled in its first year, has been widely praised by members this time around. They made it a lot easier — plus it saves you a stamp.
David O. Russell‘s American Hustle just crossed the $200M for Sony Pictures and Annapurna today. The film which has received 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and all four acting categories has a domestic gross of $138.7M domestic with another $64M internationally. The Atlas Entertainment production has opened to No. 1 internationally in six territories, including UK, Australia, and New Zealand and is expanding this weekend. It is currently in 25 markets and will open in Brazil this weekend. The film has already become David O. Russell’s highest grosser surpassing Silver Linings Playbook ($132.1M) domestically last weekend. American Hustle has also now become the highest-grossing film, both domestically and internationally, for Annapurna Pictures. Its Panorama Media, is the sales rep internationally. The production company has been having a good year with two Oscar nominated Best Picture (the other being Her). American Hustle is also nominated for 10 BAFTAs which will hand out their awards on Sunday. The ensemble picture stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence. Producer Charles Roven, who produced with Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison, and Jonathan Gordon, also received his first Oscar nom on the film. American Hustle was released limited on December 13 and went wide during Christmas.
“Every set had to be viewed in the context of the whole,” said Judy Becker, Oscar-nominated production designer for Sony/Annapurna’s American Hustle. “We had to look at the character from where they start and to where they go to … each of those sets has a place in the telling of the personal story.” David O. Russell’s homage to the 1970s tells the story of con men, political corruption and characters who try to negotiate through and rise above their circumstances. The film is nominated for 10 Academy Awards this year, including Best Picture. Becker and set decorator Heather Loeffler, worked together to bring a 1970s realism to the sets.
The film’s central character, Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale), begins as a low-level con man who has aspirations of greatness. When we first get to know him, he is in his office — a disheveled interior with peeling wallpaper. And, although he has a new desk and black leather couch, everything around it smacks of a certain lack of sophistication. “We know that he hasn’t reached the level of success of where he is going to get to, but we see from the office where he wants to be,” says Becker. “So we put in this modernesque desk that was a little too big for the space. We put things in that were kind of nice and were inspirational but not yet there.”
As Rosenfeld and his lover Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) start building “a business” based on scams and stolen artwork, the office space eventually becomes London and Associates, which flaunts beautiful sculptural and travertine walls. “Most eras have their own color palette. “We used a lot of yellow and blue for this film.” For the Adams’ character, who started as a stripper and then taught herself about design and sophistication from magazines, Becker used “a timeless, beautiful yellow. It wasn’t kitschy and felt very contemporary.” The bedroom is adorned with textured yellow walls that seem to cascade seamlessly down a perfectly matched headboard onto a yellow bedspread. It’s framed by a classic 1970s deep white shag carpet and offset by period-piece white nightstands. The room was built on a stage in Woodburn, MA.
‘Phillips’ IS The Captain Now As It Defies ‘Gravity’ At The ACE Eddie Awards To Win Second Guild Honor In A Row
Just when you think you have this whole awards season thing figured out, along comes another fork in the road. Tonight’s American Cinema Editors Awards crowned three favorites including American Hustle as Best Edited Feature Film (comedy or musical), Frozen for Animated Feature and 20 Feet From Stardom in the corresponding Feature Documentary category. But when it came to the final award of the evening, presenter Leonardo DiCaprio opened the envelope and announced Captain Phillips which was edited by past Eddie- and Oscar-winner Christopher Rouse. This is the second week in a row where Phillips has pulled off a mini-coup after surprising at the WGA Awards by taking Best Adapted Screenplay. In retrospect that win wasn’t that stunning since Oscar front-runner in the category 12 Years A Slave was ineligible as was another major contender, Philomena. But Friday night at the ACE Eddies Phillips pulled off a major win by besting favorites Slave, and especially Gravity which was co-edited by its DGA winning and Oscar-favored Director Alfonso Cuaron.
Gravity has been the favorite to win this award and several other crafts honors at the Oscars. This slowed a little of its momentum at least for the night. Will the surprise ambush at ACE mean Captain Phillips, another superbly edited nail-biting achievement, suddenly has turned the category into a real race and put a roadblock in the way of a possible Gravity sweep? We do have to remember that it is only editors themselves voting at ACE while the entire Academy membership votes in this category, and all others, for the final Oscar winner. I still think that gives Cuaron’s space drama the upper hand, but who knows? It was the Academy that bypassed both star Tom Hanks and director Paul Greengrass making it a bit of an underdog to the front-runners but it is on something of a roll right now.