Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, the lawyer investigating possible litigation over Argo’s portrayal of Iran, tells me she is weighing options on how to proceed and is considering bringing suit in France, Switzerland or the U.S. The French attorney traveled to Tehran last week at the “urgent” request of the culture minister and speaking by phone today, she called Argo “the cherry on top” of a string of movies that Iranian officials consider an affront to their nation and people. Authorities, she said, are concerned historical facts and the way in which Iranians are depicted are distortions and want “to be able to give their point of view so that they are not seen as mad men.”
Argo is based on the story of how the CIA and Hollywood orchestrated the escape of six Americans from Iran in 1979, but when I asked if it was understood by officials that the Ben Affleck-directed film is a fictionalized account, Coutant-Peyre countered, “It claims to be a sort of documentary… In the beginning of the film it says it is taken from declassified documents.” She called it a “report” on an event “which is distorted in the film.” She further said it was part of what is considered a “strategy of strong pressure from the American government” which was made clear “via Mrs. Obama” when she announced Argo‘s Best Picture Oscar win on February 24. When I suggested that the names of Academy Award winners are kept secret until the envelopes are opened on Oscar night, Coutant-Peyre responded, “You think they didn’t know? That’s not true. The president knew.” READ MORE »
UPDATE, 3:51 AM: It turns out that French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, wife and defender of Carlos the Jackal, is not only angling to sue Hollywood over Ben Affleck‘s Oscar-winning Argo, she’s attempting to mount a case against a series of U.S. films that Iran believes have portrayed it in a distorted and unrealistic manner. Coutant-Peyre, according to local media, is looking to bring suit in international court against directors and producers who local officials believe have promoted “Iranophobia,” The Guardian reports today. The attorney is quoted by the semi-official ISNA news agency as saying, “I’ll be defending Iran against films that have been made by Hollywood to distort the country’s image, such as Argo.” Other films that have gotten under the skin of Iranians are understood to include 2006′s 300, 1991′s Sally Field-starrer Not Without My Daughter, and Darren Aronofsky’s Oscar-nominated The Wrestler. An attendee at Monday night’s “Hoax Of Hollywood” conference in Tehran, Mohammad Lesani, is reported to have said the gathering was intended to “unify all cultural communities in Iran against the attacks of the West, particularly Hollywood.” The real possibility of a lawsuit is thought dubious, but if brought, it would not be in the U.S., New York defense attorney Stuart Slotnick tells Deadline. “Perhaps those in power in Iran will decide to bring a lawsuit in another country where the movie received distribution”, he said. Iran and the U.S. severed diplomatic ties after the 1979 hostage crisis which is the focal point of Argo. Warner Bros. had no comment on the matter. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: UTA has signed Tony Mendez, the retired CIA operative played by Ben Affleck in Argo as he smuggled six diplomatic workers out of Iran. The agency has actually signed Mendez and his wife, Jonna, also … Read More »
Even as tonight’s Governor’s Ball was winding down, Ben Affleck was still off in a corner of the room celebrating his Argo‘s most unlikely Best Picture victory in becoming only the second film in 80 years to win the top prize without even a nomination for its director. Affleck’s roller coaster ride has been remarkable this season and as he told me earlier this weekend, and tonight after the Best Pic triumph, it has been filled with hills and valleys, but it all came together at the Dolby Theatre when First Lady Michelle Obama (from the White House) opened the envelope and announced his film as the winner.
Related: Nikki Finke’s Oscar Live-Snark
When he was left off the list of Directing nominees on January 10th he said he was really depressed, but that same night he won the Critics Choice Movie Award as Director and Best Picture, then the Golden Globe three days later, then the PGA, SAG, DGA, WGA and BAFTA honors to name a few. Suddenly Argo was the one to beat and it never wavered. Affleck’s emotional acceptance was heartfelt and perfectly described the personal journey of this actor turned first-rate director. And his acknowledgement of Steven Spielberg from the stage was a nice touch. He won, with Matt Damon, for Best Original Screenplay in 1997 for Good Will Hunting, but this was different as Affleck told me and he was going to savor this moment as long as he could before moving on into the night. It was the same for Argo’s winning screenwriter Chris Terrio who also was hanging late at the Govs Ball even though he had to catch a flight back to his New York home where he is currently writing a new script based on the Greengrass story. As he was just exiting the Ball at the Hollywood and Highland Grand Ballroom, he told me someone gave him advice that he should just try to enjoy this moment first. He seemed to have a hard time soaking it in, but he was going to give it at least this one night before getting back to work.
Argo, after vitually a clean sweep of awards season since the directing snub (which in retrospect could not have hurt), won a respectable three Oscars (also for Editing and Adapted Screenplay), tying Les Misérables for that number of Oscars. But the big winner of the night (if you can call it that) was 20th’s risky box office success Life Of Pi which nabbed four statuettes including a biggie, Best Director for Ang Lee. Had Affleck been nominated, he likely would have won since Best Picture and Director usually go hand in hand, but for whatever reason in a year with an embarrassment of riches it somehow seems totally appropiate that there was a split and Lee was given this award. If anything, Life Of Pi was a directorial achievement like no other and this Oscar was acknowledgement of that. In fact, right after Affleck was snubbed, I predicted Lee would take it, and in the last couple of weeks it was apparent a tide was building for him among Academy voters. It became one of the easiest calls of the night despite the fact that many pundits were calling it for Lincoln‘s Steven Spielberg. At the Govs Ball, Lee, who has won two previous Oscars (for Best Foreign Language Film for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Director for Brokeback Mountain), told me this one means as much or probably more because of the extreme challenges Pi provided. He was clearly thrilled with it and I told him he becomes the first director since George Stevens in the 50s with A Place In The Sun (1951) and Giant (1956) to win two Best Director Oscars for two films that did not win Best Picture, a rare occurence. Read More »
WINS BY PICTURE
Life Of Pi 4
Les Miserables 3
Django Unchained 2
Silver Linings Playbook 1
Searching For Sugar Man 1
Zero Dark Thirty 1
Anna Karenina … Read More »
Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor.
Ben Affleck’s historical thriller Argo is a favorite to win Best Picture tonight at the 85th Academy Awards. But with hours to go before the ceremony, former Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor still feels the … Read More »
Many have said 2012 has been the most remarkable year for movies in the Oscar race in a very long time. The dense list of quality contenders makes for quite a race, and it’s somewhat reminiscent of another legendary year … Read More »
When George Clooney received his eighth Oscar nomination as a producer of Argo – he shared producing credits on the Best Picture nominee with Ben Affleck and Grant Heslov — he marched into the Academy Award record books in a very unique way. It was the sixth different category in which he was nominated, an unprecedented feat for the 24 categories currently handed out each year. It’s also a nearly-unprecedented feat in all 85 years of the Oscars — but that’s with an asterisk and we’ll get to that.
Clooney knocked off three of those categories in 2005, the first year he was nominated for anything, with Directing and Original Screenplay (with Heslov) nominations for Good Night And Good Luck and winning Best Supporting Actor for Syriana. Then there were those Best Actor nominations he seems to get every other year: Michael Clayton (2007), Up In The Air (2009) and The Descendants (2011). That’s four different categories, to which he added a fifth in 2011, when he also was nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay race for The Ides Of March (with Heslov and Beau Willimon). This feat with five ties him with Warren Beatty, Stanley Kubrick, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen and Kenneth Branagh — however, only Clooney’s and Beatty’s noms all came in Oscar’s marquee top eight races (Picture, Writing, Acting, Directing). For the record, in addition to their writing, producing, directing and/or acting nods, Kubrick won in Special Effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); Branagh was nominated for a Live Action Short, Swan Song (1992); and the Coens have shared Film Editing nominations twice under their pseudonym Roderick Jaynes.
With Best Picture frontrunner Argo, the versatile Clooney has now passed them all in this particular — and particularly impressive — Oscar statistic. Although some could say acting, directing, writing and picture are just four categories, I would argue they are very specific disciplines which is why the Academy separates out lead and supporting acting as well as Adapted and Original Screenplays. I would also point out Beatty’s feat of earning Picture, Actor, Directing and Screenplay nominations in the same year — not once but twice (Heaven Can Wait, Reds) — is a Herculean feat in itself. He won the Directing Oscar for Reds as well as the Irving Thalberg Memorial Award and has 14 nominations in all, but none of them were in the Supporting Actor category and that’s where Clooney topped him. In fact, Beatty has yet to play a supporting role in any film.
So in terms of sheer numbers of categories nominated, is George Clooney now the King of the Oscars? Read More »
The 2002 documentary Argo: Inside Story explored the operation made famous by Ben Affleck’s Argo to rescue U.S. hostages from post-revolutionary Iran by disguising them as a Canadian film crew. The production featured interviews with several of the … Read More »
Chris Terrio | Argo
Chris Terrio had a trove of primary and secondary material to consult in writing the screenplay for Argo, most notably the memoir Master of Disguise, by former CIA agent Tony Mendez, and Joshuah Bearman’s 2007 … Read More »
David Mermelstein is an AwardsLine contributor
Leaving artistic issues aside, you could—at first glance—say that the competition for best original score isn’t a fair fight this year. Three of the nominees—Mychael Danna (Life Of Pi), Alexandre Desplat (Argo), and Thomas Newman (Skyfall)—have never won an Oscar, and one of them (Danna) is enjoying his first nomination. Dario Marianelli won once before, but his nom for Anna Karenina is only his third. So who’s the heavyweight in the ring? None other than John Williams (Lincoln), who has won five Oscars for original score, as well as one for adapted score.
Williams is basking in his 39th nomination for original score. His first was for The Reivers (1969), starring Steve McQueen. His closest competitor within this group is Newman, who is savoring his ninth nom since 1994, when he earned two—for Little Women and The Shawshank Redemption. Desplat is suiting up for his fifth round since 2006, when The Queen first brought him close to Oscar gold. Read More »
Okay Academy members, this is your last chance to vote.
And by all indications from my own admittedly unscientific survey over the weekend there are many who are choosing to wait, despite the Academy’s emails encouraging them to vote early in this final round. Part of the reason seems to be a desire to catch up on the Documentary Feature, Live Action and Animation Shorts which have been sent to the entire Academy membership for the first time, instead of requiring voters to attend special screenings. One voter told me he received his late and was trying to watch them all before submitting his ballot.
With today being a holiday, those voters who opted for paper ballots and still haven’t mailed them are out of luck if they hope to do that and still have it reach the downtown Los Angeles offices of the Academy’s accountants, PricewaterhouseCoopers, or the Academy lobby at its Beverly Hills headquarters in time before Tuesday’s 5 PM deadline. If you are a paper voter, not electronic, the best you can do at this point is have the ballot delivered in person to one of those locations before 5 PM tomorrow. And every year there are usually many that do just that. It has even numbered up into the hundreds in past years. But with the new, sometimes awkward, transition to online voting this year, that number will probably be significantly decreased.
Read More »
Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor
The film editing race is both diverse and expected. All five nominated films are also up for best picture, and the individual editors range from three-time Oscar winner Michael Kahn to several first-time nominees and one nominee, William Goldenberg, nominated for work on two separate films. We talked with the nominated editors and asked them to run through a key scene from their films—one that was crucial to making the picture work, either from a tone perspective or a more technical one. The results were as diverse as the nominated films themselves.
WILLIAM GOLDENBERG | ARGO
Goldenberg says Argo’s incongruous quality was epitomized in an often bizarre sequence that cuts from the elaborate table-read of the fake screenplay at the Beverly Hills Hotel to the houseguests trying to entertain themselves in their long isolation to Iranian forces frightening hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran with a mock execution.
“When I read the script, I thought this was a scene where if we can make this work tonally, the movie will work”, says Goldenberg. “Because it’s all these different tones colliding together, and if all these expositions can work as a scene, then I think what we’re trying to do with the movie will be successful”. Read More »
Tonight’s Writers Guild of America awards show brought further clarity to this year’s topsy turvy awards race but it also brought some embarrassment to the guild. Is there any reason the WGA can’t coordinate the so-called “simutaneous” ceremonies between east … Read More »
Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor.
Argo continued its winning streak tonight at the 63rd annual ACE Eddie Awards nabbing Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic, with the nod going to editor William Goldenberg. Silver Linings Playbook took Best Edited Feature – Comedy or Musical and Brave won Best Edited Animated Feature. Brave editors Nick Smith and Robert Grahamjones spent five years working on the Pixar pic, which is also up for the Academy Award for Best Animated Film. “Some people think we’re censors and a lot of people think films are shot in the camera but they’re not”, Smith told Deadline before the awards ceremony, “so it means a lot to be honored by people who actually know what we’re doing”. Goldenberg nabbed the BAFTA on Sunday and was nominated tonight for Argo and Zero Dark Thirty (with Dylan Tichenor). He is Oscar-nominated for both films as well. Goldenberg spoke with Deadline shortly after his win. “I spend most of my life in a dark room, so I’m not used to [awards shows]“, he quipped, “so I was only moderately terrified and not completely terrified like I was at the BAFTAs”. Other winners included Searching For Sugar Man – Best Edited Documentary Feature, and HBO’s Hemingway & Gellhorn - Best Edited Miniseries or Motion Picture For Television. Breaking Bad: Dead Freight won Best Edited One-Hour Series for Commercial Television and The Newsroom: “We Just Decided To (Pilot) took the Non-Commercial TV nod.
The American Cinema Editors event honored the best in film, television, and documentary editing in nine categories. Actor and comedian David Cross emceed the evening, cracking jokes about everything from Breaking Bad spoilers to Sofia Vergara to his own bad movies: “I was in three Alvin And The Chipmunks movies!” (“You’re killing it”, Spielberg was overheard backstage saying to Cross.) Four time Oscar- and ACE-nominated Richard Marks, A.C.E. (Broadcast News, As Good As It Gets) and Emmy-nominated Larry Silk, A.C.E. (Pumping Iron, American Dream) were honored with lifetime career achievement awards for their work, while Steven Spielberg was presented with the ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year award. In his acceptance speech, Spielberg said “editing and directing are almost interchangeable” to explain the impact on his development. “I’ve always looked at the editing room as the safe haven of second chances… Editors, everybody here: You are my heroes”. The complete list of winners follows: Read More »
Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor
Few categories offer as much confusion in Oscar pools as best sound editing and best sound mixing. Unlike the more esoteric categories where few have seen the nominated films, most of the nominees … Read More »
As the industry kicks into full awards mode, with one guild after another handing out trophies to whomever they consider the year’s best in any given field, it’s become increasingly clear this is a year like we have not seen in a while. Certainly every season we go through this ritual of watching the crème de la crème of the industry line up to get awards, but rarely have we seen as dense a field of top contenders, and especially deserving ones, as we have this year. The common denominator among most, if not all, of the contenders in Oscar’s 24 categories is how difficult it was in the first place to get any of these films made in a sequel-happy, franchise-loving, play-it-safe motion picture industry.
RELATED: OSCARS: Best Picture Contenders Part 1
For example, Steven Spielberg began talking about Lincoln with Doris Kearns Goodwin before she started writing the book and struggled for well over a decade to bring it to the screen, getting turned down by three studios in the process. And first-time feature filmmaker Benh Zeitlin went against all industry norms to make the unique and hard-to-define Beasts Of The Southern Wild come to life. But no matter who the filmmaker is, the most often-heard mantra is stick to your core beliefs and vision and somehow an Oscar-worthy film can be willed into being. Even James Bond ran into trouble when MGM went bankrupt and a normal 2½-year process turned into twice that for Skyfall, which went on to win five Oscar nominations. It also got recognition as one of the year’s best pictures from the Producers Guild, as well it should, considering what its veteran producers went through to just to make it. Read More »
This season’s supporting actor and actress Oscar races can be summed up in one word: Winners! A remarkable seven of the 10 nominees actually already have at least one Oscar on their mantel, and all of them have been previously … Read More »
Actual betting on the Oscars is outlawed in the U.S.. But it is permissible in England – and after today’s British Academy Awards show which just wrapped in London, people would be wise to put some pounds on … Read More »