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César Award Nominations: ‘Camille Redouble’ Leads With 13, ‘Amour’ Scores 10

By | Friday January 25, 2013 @ 1:10am PST

BREAKING…Refresh for latest: Nominations for the César Awards, France’s equivalent to the Oscar, were announced this morning in Paris and, much like last year, a surprise film beat out the perceived favorites to lead the pack. Multi-hyphenate Noémie Lvovsky scored 13 nominations this morning with Camille Redouble, outperforming Michael Haneke’s awards darling Amour. Last year, Poliss – interestingly, a film also directed by a woman – had 13 nominations to The Artist‘s ten. The Gaumont-backed Camille is a romantic comedy about a fortysomething mother of a 24-year-old girl who, on a boozy present-day New Year’s Eve, time travels back to high school circa 1985. This is Lvovsky’s fifth film as a director and here she’s nominated in that category along with Original Screenplay and Best Actress mentions. The film also has a further seven acting nods. Following Camille is the multi-Oscar-nominated Amour with ten nominations including Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actor and Actress (for the Oscar-nommed Emmanuelle Riva). Also with ten nods is Benoît Jacquot’s Farewell, My Queen which opened the Berlin Film Festival nearly a year ago. Other films turning up in several races include two Cannes titles: Jacques Audiard’s Rust & Bone and Leos Carax’s Holy Motors along with François Ozon’s In The House and Pathé’s box office hit What’s In A Name. Ben Affleck’s Argo also picked up a nod as Best Foreign Film. The César Awards will be handed out in Paris on February 22. The full list of nominees follows: Read More »

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‘Amour’ Takes Best Film, Actress, Screenplay At London Critics Awards

By | Sunday January 20, 2013 @ 12:12pm PST

Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage.

Michael Haneke’s Amour proved to be the favorite tonight at the London Film Critics Circle Awards, bagging wins for Best Film and Best Screenwriter for Haneke and earning Emmanuelle Riva a Best Actress prize. The org’s annual chance to fraternize with film stars may have been mildly hampered by snowy conditions in the capital, as none of team Amour made it to collect and there were no-shows also from The Master pair Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who won Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively. The staunch critics favorites had seven nominations apiece. Rafe Spall collected Ang Lee’s Best Director prize for Life of Pi, and Les Misérables producer Debra Hayward accepted Best Supporting Actress on behalf of Anne Hathaway. Toby Jones took home Best British Actor for Berberian Sound Studio, which also won Best British Film, and Olivia Colman was on hand to accept Andrea Riseborough’s Best British Actress prize for Shadow Dancer. Rectifying a key oversight in the BAFTA’s Rising Star nominations, tonight’s awards did honor The Impossible‘s Tom Holland for Young British Performer of the Year, and Alice Lowe and Steve Oram were named Breakthrough British Filmmakers for their script work on Sightseers, in which they also starred. A complete list of winners follows:  Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: Holdovers ‘Amour’, ‘Quartet’ Flourish In Expansions

By | Sunday January 20, 2013 @ 10:34am PST

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

The specialty universe was focused on Sundance this weekend, catching first glimpses of some of the newest content likely to make its way to theaters or other platforms this year, but newcomers in limited theatrical release were scarce. Friday-to-Sunday limited box office was dominated by expansions. The Weinstein Company‘s Quartet added 30 locations for a 579% jump in gross with a $10K average. Sony Pictures Classics’ multiple Oscar-nominee Amour moved into 21 additional theaters in its 5th frame, increasing its weekend take by just over 60% vs. the week prior. And TWC took its Oscar hopeful Silver Linings Playbook into wide release after spending two months-plus in relatively limited release. It added 1,713 locations, grossing more than $11.35 million.

Indomina’s LUV headlined the weekend’s sparse newcomers, although the niche distributor had a fairly ambitious opening for the feature that screened in competition at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Starring Common, Michael Rainey Jr., Dennis Haysbert and Danny Glover, the film grossed $90K in 45 theaters for a slim $2K average. The feature is being released theatrically in conjunction with AMC Independent and will remain exclusively in theaters in a narrow window before it debuts on BET as well as on DVD/VOD. Also reporting numbers in a single location is the independently released Greenwich Village: Music That Defined A Generation, which bowed with $6K. … Read More »

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Specialty B.O.: Dustin Hoffman’s ‘Quartet’ Bows Solidly, Oscar-Nom ‘Amour’ Strong

By | Sunday January 13, 2013 @ 10:50am PST

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

Quartet crooned atop the specialty newcomers for its opening in two theaters. Tribeca Film’s Struck By Lightning starring Glee‘s Chris Colfer and Phase Four Films’ The Baytown Outlaws with Billy Bob Thornton and Eva Longoria have yet to report their numbers, but if/when they do, they’ll have stiff competition from Quartet which also happens to be Dustin Hoffman’s official feature directing debut. In a pair of runs in NYC and LA, the film averaged a solid $25,017. Zeitgeist had a tougher time with its foreign-language release Let My People Go! The boutique distributor opened the film about a French-born Jewish man who ends up back with his zany family in Paris after a quarrel with his Finnish boyfriend at a single NYC venue that took in an estimated $2,299 for the weekend weekend.

Quartet had a short awards-qualifying run last month, but came into its theatrical own in the second weekend of the New Year at the Paris Theater in New York and the Landmark in Los Angeles. Quartet star Maggie Smith gave a little jab to the film establishment last year in the wake of one of her last big screen success, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, saying Hollywood treats cinema-goers like “5-year-olds.” TWC said its core audience would be “mature” for Quartet and the film had a good rollout. Downton Abbey‘s Dowager Countess knows best. Quartet‘s next expansion will be to 75 markets and about  350 locations January 25.

Sony Pictures Classics widened its Oscar Best Picture and Best Foreign-Langue Film nominee Amour to 15 theaters after three weeks with hefty runs in only three locations. The film, which was honored last night at the LA Film Crtitics Association event in Century City, held strong with an $18,038 average vs last weekend’s $21,199. Lionsgate moved The Impossible into 236 additional runs in its 4th weekend for a PTA of $3,156 across 808 cinemas. In 572 theaters last weekend the film averaged $4,852.
Read More »

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OSCARS: Parsing The Foreign Language Nominees

By | Thursday January 10, 2013 @ 11:21am PST

When the Oscars‘ Foreign Language shortlist was unveiled before Christmas, it contained few surprises. Today’s final selection of the five nominees has a bit more shock value — for France, especially. Expectations were high that The Weinstein Company’s feel-good box office smash The Intouchables would land an Oscar slot. But the Academy was evidently not in a laughing mood.

Related: OSCARS: 85th Academy Award Nominations

Many watchers even had Intouchables facing off with Austria’s perceived frontrunner Amour (Sony Pictures Classics) on February 24. Michael Haneke’s heartrending love story about an aging couple found a lot of love today with not only a Foreign Language nomination but also nods for lead actress Emmanuelle Riva – at 85 the oldest woman ever nominated – Haneke’s directing, his original screenplay and Best Picture. This week, Amour was nominated for four BAFTAS and last weekend, it won the National Society of Film Critics’ top honor. It had previously won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association’s best picture nod and of course began its career in Cannes where Haneke won his second Palme d’Or. But could so much love from the Academy today end up cancelling Amour out here? As producer Margaret Menegoz told me before the nominations, “We were almost certain for (2009 nominee) White Ribbon. You never know.”

Related: OSCARS: Despite Stunners, This Is Still A Wide-Open Race

While Haneke’s film is Austrian, it is in French and while that may have confused things, the lack of a French nominee today holds with an interesting statistic: Since 2000, France has had a film nominated in the category for two years in a row, then been absent for two years. If the trend holds, next year should produce a nominee. But a winner would be more elusive as one French exec tells me today, “The real issue is the way movies are selected to represent the country. It’s unbelievable that producing 200 movies a year France has not been able to win a single [Foreign Language Oscar] in 20 years.”

Related: OSCARS: Nine Films Make Foreign Language Shortlist Read More »

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HAMMOND ON OSCARS: Still A Wide Open Race Despite Stunners

By | Thursday January 10, 2013 @ 10:33am PST
Pete Hammond

Let’s throw “conventional wisdom” out the window regarding this morning’s Oscar nominations. In a year when there are so many genuine contenders for the Oscars‘ Best Picture, the Academy has thrown a wrench into the proceedings, instantly cementing early frontrunner status for Lincoln and Life Of Pi along with the “little engine that could” Silver Linings Playbook while dampening prospects of winning the big prize for three other perceived major contenders Zero Dark Thirty (the controversial critical darling), Les Miserables and Argo. All three of those films’ directors were snubbed after winning DGA nominations earlier this week. Did these Best Picture nominees direct themselves?

Related: OSCARS: 85th Academy Award Nominations

The biggest shock waves at the Academy this morning were clearly over the omission of Ben Affleck‘s direction of Argo and Kathryn Bigelow‘s absence for Zero Dark Thirty. Both are still nominees as co-producers of their Best Picture-nominated films, but this has to sting. Instead, Silver Linings’ David O. Russell reversed his snub at DGA and BAFTA with a strong showing where it counts, and wildcard Michael Haneke of Amour (which did exceptionally well for a foreign-language film including a Best Picture and Foreign Language nod) got those spots along with the true shocker of the directing nominees, Beast Of The Southern Wild’s Benh Zeitlin. His tiny Sundance sensation and offbeat film defied expectations earning key Directing, Picture, Screenplay and Actress (for youngest nominee in the category ever, Quvenzhane Wallis). Some people were sure they were mistaken when they heard Zeitlin announced instead of Affleck after the first name Benh was called out. But the Oscars are always known for throwing surprises into the mix. Much like that Wizard of Oz, Oscar has spoken. As Academy COO Ric Robertson (who is also an Academy voter) told me, “I guess we really, really liked Beasts Of The Southern Wild’!” With Zeitlin’s directing nod, that’s an understatement. It is his first movie, by the way, so congratulations Benh, and sorry Ben.

Related: OSCARS: Who Got Snubbed By Academy? Read More »

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Specialty B.O.: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, ‘Amour’ Stellar In 2nd Weekend; ‘West Of Memphis’ OK In Debut, ‘Promised Land’ Soft

By | Sunday December 30, 2012 @ 10:24am PST

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

Sony/Columbia Pictures’ limited-run engagement of Zero Dark Thirty showed impressive stamina, and the studio’s specialty market distributor Sony Pictures Classics also had great news for Amour but not so great news for newcommer West Of Memphis in three-day estimates for the pre-New Year’s weekend, while Focus Features debut Promised Land bowed modestly. Columbia Pictures’ Zero Dark Thirty averaged a muscular $65K per location in its sophomore weekend in 5 theaters compared with $82K per cinema last weekend. Sony Classics’ Palme d’Or winner and Oscar short-listed foreign-language hopeful Amour held steady in three theaters in its second weekend, averaging a very strong $20K vs. its $23,554 average debut. Specialty market newcomers Promised Land, starring Matt Damon, John Krasinski and Frances McDormand headed into 25 theaters, averaging $7,606, while Sony Classics’ doc West Of Memphis managed a slender $2,771 per run in 5 cinemas. SPC’s other non-fiction offering Searching For Sugar Man, now in its 23rd weekend of release, passed the $3 million milestone this weekend. An additional newcomer, Adopt Films’ Tabu, took in $5,300 in one theater. Read More »

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Specialty B.O.: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Scores Powerful $82K Per Theater’; ‘Amour’ Strong, ‘On The Road’, ‘The Impossible’ Soft

By | Sunday December 23, 2012 @ 9:52am PST

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty opened Wednesday with the highest-ever midweek per-theater debut at $24,969 and 5-theater opening-day total of $124,848 and it’s having a great pre-Christmas weekend. Sony’s decision to delay the movie’s release until after the presidential election and to go with a limited debut appears to have paid off. The controversial but critically praised heavyweight grossed a whopping $410K at only five locations and handily won the highest per screen average of any film in theatrical release with $82,000. That is just shy of Lincoln’s $85,846 average when it opened in 11 theaters in early November and it is well ahead of Bigelow’s Oscar winner The Hurt Locker‘s $36,338 average when it opened in 4 theaters in June of 2009. Named Best Picture by a slew of critics groups including The New York Film Critics Circle, Zero Dark Thirty will head to wide release January 11th, the day after Oscar nominations are announced.

Related: Acting CIA Chief: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Is “Not A Realistic Portrayal”

Sony Pictures Classics’ Palme d’Or and LA Film Critics winner Amour bowed solidly this weekend — the only new title among specialty films to fare so well. Amour averaged $23,554 in three theaters in its platform debut. Smaller audiences went along for the ride with IFC Films’ On The Road despite its star power. Road averaged $10,800 in 4 locations. Lionsgate-Summit’s The Impossible averaged a middling $9,250 from 15 theaters, while Paramount Vantage’s Not Fade Away took an average of $6,333 in three runs.

Amour’s arrival had momentum with its Cannes Film Festival win and other accolades, but its tough subject matter – a husband and wife confronting mortality – nevertheless made it a challenge. Its weekend average topped director Michael Haneke’s previous Palme d’Or winner The White Ribbon, which opened with a $19,949 average in three theaters in 2009 and far outpaced his $11,402 opening average for Cache in 2005. SPC co-president Michael Barker Read More »

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OSCARS: Nine Films Make Foreign Language Shortlist

By | Friday December 21, 2012 @ 7:29am PST

Last weekend, I profiled 15 films that were generating the most buzz ahead of the compilation of the Academy’s shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar category. All nine of the films shortlisted by the Academy today appeared on that list, so while not entirely predictable, the Phase I and Executive Committee’s choices were also not a complete surprise. There’s good news for Cristian Mungiu, the Romanian director whose exclusion from the shortlist in 2008 for his lauded 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days caused widespread consternation. He’s here with Beyond The Hills, the film that took a double best actress prize in Cannes as well as the screenplay honor. The Weinstein Company is facing off against itself, with Norway’s seafaring adventure Kon-Tiki and France’s box office blockbuster The Intouchables advancing to the next round. Sony Pictues Classics has the same issue with Chile’s Pinochet-era No and Michael Haneke’s love story Amour from Austria. Haneke is the only director among the bunch to be nominated in the category (with 2009’s White Ribbon).

Focus World has Baltasar Kormakur’s The Deep, based on the true story of the sole survivor of a 1984 fishing boat accident. Also based on a true story, A Royal Affair (Magnolia Pictures) chronicles the controversial reign of Denmark’s King Christian VII. That film started its career in Berlin as did Ursula Meier’s Sister, the Swiss entry about family and belonging that Adopt Films released in the U.S. Finally, Canada’s War Witch about a young girl in wartorn sub-Saharan Africa, was also a Berlin debut. Tribeca Film has it in the U.S.

The list will be shortened again to five nominees for the official Oscar nominations January 10. Here’s the Academy’s official release this morning: Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘On The Road,’ ‘Amour,’ ‘The Impossible,’ ‘Not Fade Away’

By | Thursday December 20, 2012 @ 4:12pm PST

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

Two Cannes titles finally make it to theaters this holiday weekend in the specialty arena. Palme d’Or winner Amour has picked up critical accolades although its tough subject matter may prove a challenge for audiences. IFC Films’ On The Road has some star wattage from Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams and Garrett Hedlund in the screen version of the 20th century American classic. Also taking on some tough subject matter is Toronto’s The Impossible starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor based on a true story of survival during the 2004 tsunami. And Not Fade Away will roll out under the Paramount Vantage label after an extensive run at festivals and word-of-mouth screenings.

On The Road
Director: Walter Salles
Writers: Jose Rivera (screenplay), Jack Kerouac (novel)
Cast: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Tom Sturridge, Amy Adams
Distributor: IFC Films

This one has been a long time coming. Francis Ford Coppola first picked up rights to the On The Road novel in 1979 and served as executive producer on the film after asking Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles to take on the project. Salles spent a good deal of time researching the period known popularly as the Beat Generation and even filmed a documentary about On The Road before undertaking the feature. Kirsten Dunst was the first to come on board a number of years ago and Kristen Stewart actually first joined before undertaking her first Twilight Saga installment. Into The Wild director Sean Penn suggested her. The feature screened this year at the Cannes Film Festival, but IFC Films picked up the title prior to its debut there.  Read More »

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‘Amour,’ ‘The Master’ Lead London Film Critics’ Circle Nominations

By | Tuesday December 18, 2012 @ 3:05am PST

Michael Haneke’s Amour and Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master each received seven nominations for the London Film Critics’ Circle Awards this morning. Amour was nominated in the best film, director, screenwriter, actor, actress and supporting actress categories along with a nod as best foreign language film. The Master also was mentioned in the best film, director, screenwriter, actor and supporting actress races as well as supporting actor. Skyfall is the most heavily nominated British film with five nods inlcuding two for Judi Dench as best supporting actress and British actress of the year; the latter shared with her role in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Life Of Pi, Argo, Lincoln, Les Misérables and UK indie Sightseers are all nominated four times each. The London Film Critics’ Circle will hold its 33rd awards ceremony on January 20. Below is a full list of the nominees: Read More »

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OSCARS: Foreign-Language Films

By | Monday December 17, 2012 @ 7:00pm PST

David Mermelstein is an AwardsLine contributor.

Fairly or not, European films are widely considered more serious than their American counterparts. Certainly the movies eligible for the best foreign film Oscar this year fit the mold. Several make struggle a central theme, doing so in varied but consistently engaging ways.

Pablo Larrain’s No, from Chile, examines the 1988 plebiscite forced on General Augusto Pinochet, the result of which marked the beginning of the end of his dictatorship. In the film, a gifted marketing executive, Rene (Gael Garcia Bernal), must choose between middle-class comforts and his conscience—a choice complicated by his family’s ties to leftist politics. His boss (Alfredo Castro), who is firmly in league with the pro-Pinochet forces, plays Mephistopheles in this situation, reminding Rene, in no uncertain terms, that the creature comforts he enjoys are by no means guaranteed. Complicating matters are Rene’s shaky relationship with his politically engaged wife, Veronica (Antonia Zegers), from whom he is already separated. All of which leads to the film’s central question: What price bravery? Read More »

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Foreign Language Oscar Preview: Shortlist To Be Unveiled Friday

The field of contenders for a slot on the Foreign Language Oscar shortlist is rich this year, filled with films hailing from confirmed directors and the work of names less familiar Stateside. There are a record 71 qualifiers in total. The Academy will announce its shortlist of 9 on Friday before whittling that down to 5 come nomination day January 10. Below (in alphabetical order by title) are profiles of 15 films that have made some of the biggest waves this year.

Amour (Austria)
U.S. distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Michael Haneke’s tale of an aging couple facing the end of life is a love story that has touched countless viewers, critics and awards bodies since it debuted in Cannes, winning the director his second Palme d’Or after 2009’s The White Ribbon. Amour was recently voted best picture by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association with star Emmanuelle Riva tying for best actress. Her partner in the film, Jean-Louis Trintignant, had renounced film acting 16 years ago, but Haneke’s longtime producer Margaret Menegoz tells me, “After Jean-Louis saw (Haneke’s) Caché, he told me if a director like someone who did that film ever asked him to take on a movie role, he would return.” And so he did. Haneke first spoke to Menegoz about the project years ago, “But we also had White Ribbon in mind which was planned as a TV miniseries. I really wanted to do a shorter version for the cinema… and I found it was better to do that first because it took a lot of physical stamina. Amour was a small film where all the actors would be in the same room, so I said, ‘Even when we’re 100 we can still do it’.” After White Ribbon, Haneke started and stopped on Amour, says Menegoz, before shooting in February and March of 2011. This year, Sony Pictures Classics acquired it ahead of its Cannes debut. Although it’s been suggested to her that Amour is the film to beat in the foreign race, Menegoz says, “We were almost certain for White Ribbon. You never know.”

Related: OSCARS: Handicapping The Screenwriters

Barbara (Germany)
U.S. distributor: Adopt Films

Barbara won Christian Petzold the directing Silver Bear in Berlin this year. Producer Florian Koerner von Gustorf began working with the director in 1993 when he produced Petzold’s graduate film and laughs, “We started on small budgets that became bigger.” Barbara is set in 1980 East Berlin and stars Nina Hoss as a doctor banished to a small country hospital far from freedom in the west. “Christian wanted to show East Germany 10 years before the wall came down, but this is more of a love story than a political story… What he’s figured out as a director is it’s good to tell a different story than the one people focus on.” After its Berlin bow, Barbara won the top prize at the German Film Awards. It opens in the U.S. on December 21 via Adopt Films whose Jeff Lipsky tells me, “I always had an obsessive determination to open a movie on December 21 because in L.A. or N.Y., when Christmas or New Year’s land on a Tuesday, you’re dealing with two consecutive 5-day moviegoing periods and you have the potential for box office gold. Once we saw all four films (we acquired in Berlin) we felt strongly that the most obvious audience-friendly movie was Barbara.” Koerner von Gurstoff says, “I’m curious how this all will end. It would be so cool just to be nominated and give an incredible push to Christian’s career, but of course everyone who is nominated wants to win, so why should I think different?” Read More »

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Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour’ Sweeps European Film Awards

By | Saturday December 1, 2012 @ 1:39pm PST

The 25th European Film Awards were held this evening in Malta with Michael Haneke’s Amour taking the best picture, director, actor and actress honors. Going in, the Cannes Palme d’Or winner led the nominations with six nods. The categories it did not win were screenwriting, which went to Tobias Lindholm and Thomas Vinterberg for The Hunt, and cinematography which was scooped by Sean Bobbitt for Shame. Helen Mirren and Bernardo Bertolucci were also on hand to receive the European Achievement in World Cinema and the Lifetime Achievement awards, respectively. Apart from the prizes, the lively ceremony included a marriage proposal, a liberal use of the f-word and a video comparing Hollywood movies to junk food. The EFAs are the European equivalent of the Oscar, “Or, as they call them in America, ‘The What?’,” host Anke Engelke quipped. The awards are handed out by the European Film Academy and honor only films hailing from Europe. Below is a full list of winners:

Amour, dir Michael Haneke (Austria/France/Germany)

Michael Haneke for Amour

Emmanuelle Riva in Amour

Jean-Louis Trintignant in Amour

Tobias Lindholm & Thomas Vinterberg for The Hunt
Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Amour’

By | Friday November 9, 2012 @ 5:28pm PST

Michael Haneke’s Amour took the Palme d’Or this year at Cannes and went on to screen at Toronto, New York and Telluride. Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva play an elderly couple still very much in love who confront their declining health — particularly the wife’s. The European Film Awards nominee and potential Oscar contender opens December 19th via Sony Pictures Classics:

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‘Amour’ Dominates European Film Noms

By | Saturday November 3, 2012 @ 12:56pm PDT

Michael Haneke’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner Amour leads nominations for this year’s European Film Awards with six nods including best picture, director, actor, actress and screenplay. The story of an elderly couple confronting the wife’s declining health will vie for best film with the French blockbuster The Intouchables directed by Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano, Steve McQueen’s Shame, Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt, Christian Petzold’s Barbara and Paolo & Vittorio Taviani’s Caesar Must Die.  The Hunt and Shame had five nominations apiece. Nominations were announced today. The awards ceremony will take place December 1.

Complete list of nominees follows:

AMOUR, dir Michael Haneke (Austria/France/Germany)
BARBARA, dir Christian Petzold(Germany)
CAESAR MUST DIE, dirs. Paolo & Vittorio Taviani (Italy)
INTOUCHABLES, dirs. Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano 
THE HUNT dir Thomas Vinterberg (Denmark)
SHAME, dir Steve McQueen (UK)

Read More »

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Controversy, Record Entries, French Frontrunners As Oscar’s 2012 Foreign Language Race Kicks Off Tonight

By | Friday October 12, 2012 @ 12:58pm PDT
Pete Hammond

The Foreign Language Film race for the 85th Annual Academy Awards kicks into high gear tonight at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science’s Samuel Goldwyn Theatre with a double feature. Denmark’s  period costume drama, A Royal Affair will be followed by the Dominican Republic entry Jaque Mate, the first two of a record 71 entries (up from 63 in 2011) for this year’s competition. Is it good or bad to be first? Last year two films, Footnote and A Separation screened over the first weekend and both got nominated, with the latter actually winning.

Three committees divided into sections of Red, White and Blue (appropriate for an election year doncha think?) will each view a third of the entries with the White group seeing 23 and the other two each viewing 24 films. Other opening round entries are Norway’s Kon-Tiki and Slovak Republic’s Made In Ash showing Saturday morning and China’s Caught In The Web and Slovenia’s A Trip screening Monday night. In previous years there was a fourth Green committee but because of a time crunch the films are now being spread among just the three groups viewing more films. Committee members (which can number into the hundreds) must see a set minimum of their group’s titles in order to have votes count. Their six highest scoring movies move on to the semi-finals together with three others chosen by the small Foreign Language Executive Committee (usually “saves” of higher profile or more controversial entries the larger, generally … Read More »

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TELLURIDE: Sony Pictures Classics Goes Where Others Don’t With Strong Oscar Slate

Pete Hammond

With 5 new movies screening just on Saturday alone with many of their stars and filmmakers in tow, co-presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard of Sony Pictures Classics are dominating much of the conversation and eyeballs at the 39th Telluride Film Festival. Playing today were SPC’s Cannes sensations Rust & Bone accompanied by star Marion Cotillard, and Palme d’Or winner Amour, whose filmmakers aren’t here. Plus 2013 planned releases No (winner of the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes) and its star Gael Garcia Bernal, and the father/son drama At Any Price whose Dennis Quaid and writer/director Ramin Bahrani are here without Zac Efron. Plus, the remarkable Israeli documentary The Gatekeepers. Barker and Bernard have been coming to Telluride for decades and strongly believe in the value of the festival. “I think anywhere from three to five movies is a good number” to bring here, he told me. And when they aren’t showing their own product, they have been seen at screenings checking out acquisition titles. They also held SPC’s annual filmmakers dinner Saturday night at La Marmotte restaurant.

Related: Toronto Film Fest: What Looks Good For Oscar?

But other top indie divisions of the majors are virtually sitting out this year’s fest. Telluride regular Fox Searchlight doesn’t have a single film on display here this year, though not for lack of trying. Searchlight has launched movies like Slumdog Millionaire, Juno and last year’s The Descendants among many others at Telluride – and this time wanted to bring their big awards hopeful, The Sessions starring John Hawkes and Helen Hunt. But Telluride generally frowns on movies that first debuted at Sundance. So the only Searchlight presence are reps checking out films for sale.

The Weinstein Company normally shows off their top titles, but only brought the undated musical The Sapphires (first seen at Cannes in May). It’s playing well at screenings here. No The Master. No Silver Linings Playbook. Both those movies will be in Toronto. However Weinstein in years past launched Best Picture winners The King’s Speech and The Artist at Telluride.

True, Universal’s arthouse division Focus Features this year is front and center with Hyde Park On Hudson. Its star Bill Murray hit town today and co-star Laura Linney lives here and is attending the fest. But Focus is saving another awards title, Anna Karenina, for a Toronto debut. Paramount, which has been here in the past, skipped Telluride and will miss Toronto in favor of debuting their awards players Flight and Not Fade Away at the New York Film Festival. Read More »

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Pete Hammond’s Cannes Wrap-Up: Video

By | Tuesday May 29, 2012 @ 7:28pm PDT

Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond hopped off his flight from France and immediately (well, after a coffee) sat down with ENTV to break down the just-completed Cannes Film Festival. Pete was in the crowd Sunday when Michael Haneke’s drama Amour was awarded the coveted Palme d’Or and says the film’s reception was among the most heartfelt he can remember at any festival.

Related: Cannes: The Jury Talks And Hammond’s Analysis Of The Winners

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