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Deadline Awards Watch 62: The Talking To Cate And Julia Podcast

Deadline Awards Watch ep 62In this week’s podcast, Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks with host David Bloom about which films and performers got an Oscar bump out of the WGA, Annie and Cinematographers awards shows this past Saturday; check in on the Santa Barbara film festival’s celebration of Cate Blanchett and whether the controversy over her Blue Jasmine director in will spill over into the Oscar race; dissect the Academy’s defense of its de-nomination of “Alone Yet Not Alone” in the face of complaints by, particularly, religious and conservative critics; and discuss the highlights of Pete’s sit-down with Julia Roberts this week to discuss her supporting actress Oscar nomination for “August: Osage County.”

We’ll also get Pete’s take on the week’s notable movie debuts, including the true and likable WWII story The Monuments Men, directed by and starring George Clooney with a big-name cast, and The Lego Movie, a fast-moving and smart animated film that Pete suggests could be in the Oscar hunt a year from now.

You can listen to the podcast in your choice of formats here:
Deadline Awards Watch podcast 62 (.MP3 version)
Deadline Awards Watch podcast 62 (.M4A version)
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Julia Roberts Career Tribute After Fourth Oscar Nomination: Video

By | Thursday January 23, 2014 @ 1:08pm PST
Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE: With last week’s Supporting Actress nomination for August: Osage County, Julia Roberts earned her fourth Oscar nom. She’s been named once before in the category for Steel Magnolias (1989) and twice for lead actress — for 1990′s Pretty Woman and of course her Academy Award-winning performance in 2000′s Erin Brockovich.  But it has been 13 years between nominations. When she was honored with the Spotlight Award at this year’s Palm Springs International Film Festival, organizers put together an entertaining reel that spans the breadth of her career that bookends those supporting nominations for Magnolias and August. Looking at it you see what I would call the definition of a modern movie star.  Here it is:

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Execs React To Best Picture Noms: ‘Gravity’, ‘12 Years’ ‘Captain Phillips’ Add Theaters, ‘Philomena’ Following ‘King’s Speech’ Distribution Plan

By | Thursday January 16, 2014 @ 1:26pm PST

Oscar100__130208155647Studio chairmen and their marketing and distribution executives were meeting across town today talking about their future plans for their Best Picture Oscar films. And all have the same marching orders: Get the pictures nearing the end of their runs back into the nation’s theaters ASAP. To that end, Gravity, 12 Years A Slave, and Captain Phillips are adding theaters (some more than others), and those already in their runs — August: Osage County and Philomena are all getting big adds over the next two weeks (some more than others). Not all can take advantage of the noms as some films are way past their theatrical runs, but even a film like Blue Jasmine, which bowed this past summer and is headed to DVD next Tuesday, will add a tiny number of theaters.

Related: OSCARS: Academy Chooses Strong Field, But Who Will Take The Gold?

The addition to the box office after a nom can be significant. The Artist was at $12.3M going into the nominations, and before it won its Best Picture it did another $19.5M. After the win, it made another $13M. The King’s Speech was at $58M prior to the nomination but grossed another $56M before Oscar night and another $25M after it won the big prize. The same holds true for Million Dollar Baby, which was at $8.8M when Oscar noms hit, made another $56.3M during the window between Oscar night and walked away not only with the Best Picture Oscar but tucked away another $36M at the box office afterward.

Related: OSCARS: 86th Academy Award Nominations

Alfonso-Cuaron-Sandra-Bullock-George-Clooney-Gravity-setWarner Bros’ Gravity, which is at the end of its theatrical run having been released at the beginning of October, already has grossed a whopping $675M worldwide (thanks to former exec Jeff Robinov for pushing it through) and will be in 944 theaters this weekend. Its other Oscar-nominated picture Her is holding steady as she goes. “We’re thrilled that our pictures have gotten the recognition that they have,” said Warners head of distribution Dan Fellman. “We’re pleased that Her has gotten the recognition that we think it deserves. It’s great to see the film recognized.” Fellman said that they are not changing the strategy for the Spike Jonze picture. (That’s not surprising as it was a well-though-out distribution plan; WB guys are pros.)

Related: OSCARS: Who Got Snubbed By Academy?
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Specialty Box Office: ‘Her’ Strong; ‘August: Osage County’ Holds; ‘Interior. Leather Bar.’ Rings In Quiet Start To 2014

Specialty Box OfficeLet’s hope the first weekend of 2014 is just a blip in the calendar. As newcomers are mostly hiding out, some holdovers have held steadfast in a freezing cold weekend for a huge chunk of the country. TWC’s August: Osage County held its base in five theaters as TV commercials touted the Golden Globes nominated pic. The Meryl Streep/Julia Roberts starrer grossed almost $141K, averaging $28,177. When it opened last weekend, the feature averaged $35,895 in the same number of reporting locations. It expands wide next week. Sony Classics added one theater for its Charles Dickens film The Invisible Woman, grossing over $30K in four theaters. It averaged $30,151 for a two week cume approaching $117K. Her Warner Bros.’ Her is playing very strong the weekend before it expands from 47 venues to 1,700 so the studio is well set for a wider release. Her opened initially on the 18th of last month in six theaters and on Christmas day expanded to its current 47 venues. The Spike Jonze pic is getting high accolades and positive word of mouth so is up 11% from last weekend and is the only one at the moment that did not fall weekend to weekend on the same number of screens. It’s per screen rose to an estimated $15,361 this weekend on a total take of .722. It’s cume to … Read More »

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Interior. Leather Bar.’, ‘Beyond Outrage’, ‘August: Osage County’, ‘The Invisible Woman’

Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.

boxoffice-specialty__111212022432-200x150 (1)The first weekend of 2014 will usher in some new specialty releases and see the expansion of some high-profile late-2013 rollouts. Interior. Leather Bar., Travis Mathews and James Franco’s interpretation of the lost 40 minutes of 1980 feature Cruising, will begin a limited run that will likely find a core though limited audience given its leather sex bar backdrop. Magnolia Pictures will open the follow-up to Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage with Beyond Outrage, which had an ultra-VOD run beginning in late November. Late-December titles August: Osage County and The Invisible Woman will have small expansions this weekend on their way to wider release in the coming weeks. Also opening this weekend are crime drama The Best Offer from IFC Films, In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons In Life With Saul Leiter from mTuckman Media and Tribeca Film’s thriller Open Grave.

interior1Interior. Leather Bar.
Directors: Travis Mathews, James Franco
Writer: Travis Mathews (screenplay)
Cast: Val Lauren, Christian Patrick, James Franco, Brenden Gregory, Brad Roberge, Robbie Acklen, Osbaldo Daniel Alvarez

Filmmaker Travis Mathews first feature I Want Your Love was playing festivals and caught the eye of James Franco, who asked to collaborate on a project an idea he had been considering. “James wanted to revisit (William Friedkin’s Cruising starring Al Pacino) in some capacity, and he wanted to explore sex as a storytelling tool,” said Mathews. Read More »

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‘August: Osage County’ Leads Awards At Capri, Hollywood Film Festival

Meryl_Streep_August_Osage_County.png.CROP.rectangle3-largeAhead of today’s WGA Award nom for its adapted screenplay, August: Osage County picked up Best Film of the Year and two other awards at the Italian event. The 18th annual Capri, Hollywood International Film Festival also honored the Weinstein Co pic’s Meryl Streep as Best Actress and gave its cast the Acting Ensemble of the Year nod. “I am thrilled by this news,” Streep said in a statement. capri-hollywood-logo“We all are very proud of this edgy and dark film and are grateful for the recognition and the honor of this award. … Thank you, mille grazie.” Osage co-star Chris Cooper also received the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom won three Capri, Hollywood awards, including Best Actor for Idris Elba, and American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave each picked up two.

Related: Meryl Streep, Margo Martindale & Abigail Breslin Talk ‘August: Osage County’: Video

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Specialty Box Office: ‘Lone Survivor’ & ‘August: Osage County’ Bow OK In Limited Release

Lone Survivor, August: Osage County limited box officeThe Specialty Box Office went up against an onslaught of studio hardware in what could shape up to be a record-breaking holiday weekend overall. With a number of new or almost new power-houses vying for moviegoer dollars, The Weinstein Company bowed its star-packed August: Osage County in 5 theaters in what will surely be the beginning of a sizable run after putting off its initial planned theatrical roll out in the fall.August: Osage County The film grossed almost $180K for a $35,895 screen average. That number easily gave the film starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch and others the highest specialty PSA of the weekend, but given its lauded cast and awards possibility, including its Golden Globes noms, its initial prowess at the box office suggests the title has room to dazzle. TWC will move the Toronto Film Fest title outside its exclusive New York and L.A. runs into two additional markets next weekend before going wide the following week.

TWC noted August: Osage County had an A- Cinemascore and said its exit polls were “through the roof.”

Lone Survivor Box officeAlso notable this weekend, Universal opened its Mark Wahlberg and Taylor Kitsch starrer Lone Survivor in limited release. Though not a straight “Specialty” title, the studio went for a two theater bow for the true-story drama adapted from Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell’s memoir of 2005′s failed Operation Red Wings, in which 19 soldiers died. Uni is hoping to gain awards traction for the pic, and it did start off solid at the box office grossing $92,468 in two runs for a $46,234 average. Read More »

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Deadline Awards Watch 55: The Critics Choose Podcast

Pete Hammond

Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks with host David Bloom about the just-announced nominees for the Critics Choice Movie Awards, as three films – American Hustle, 12 Years A Slave and Gravity - in particular look to be cementing their positions in the Oscar race going into the holidays.

They also will talk about this week’s insight-filled Q&A between Pete and three stars of August: Osage County, Meryl Streep, Margot Martindale and Abigail Breslin; and we’ll ponder Peter O’Toole’s half-century dance with Oscar, a dance that never resulted in a win despite all his extraordinary performances.

Pete also gives his take on the latest movie debuts heading into a premiere-filled Christmas week, including Spike Jonze’s quirky dramedy Her, featuring Joaquin Phoenix and the beguiling voice of Scarlett Johansson, comedy Anchorman 2, with Will Farrell, Steve Carrell and their crew reprising the roles they made famous in the 2004 original, and The Past, director Asghar Farhadi’s latest work, featuring the luminous Berenice Bejo in a much-admired lead role.

Deadline Awards Watch podcast 55 (.MP3 version)

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Meryl Streep, Margo Martindale & Abigail Breslin Talk ‘August: Osage County’: Video

By | Friday December 20, 2013 @ 12:10pm PST
Pete Hammond

After a screening of August: Osage County this week at the TV Academy’s theater in North Hollywood, I sat down with three augustosage45of the stars from the film’s cast –Meryl Streep, Margo Martindale and Abigail Breslin – to talk about making the film based on Tracy Letts‘ Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play of a deeply dysfunctional Midwestern family coming together, physically if not emotionally, after a tragedy. The three actresses talked about living and cooking together for two months in a group of condos behind a Toyota dealership in the Oklahoma town where the film was shot; what screenwriter-playwright Letts and director John Wells took out and put into the two-hour movie compared with the original three-hour play; the “real” secret behind the makeup that transformed Streep and the emotional challenges of playing a cancer-stricken, pill-popping matriarch who’s mad at just about everybody, including herself. The original conversation was videotaped by The Weinstein Company, the film’s distributor, and by the KCET Cinema Series, which I host. The movie opens in select cities December 27 and goes wide nationally January 10.

Related: Weinstein, Clooney And Letts On ‘August: Osage County’s Ending Change And Release Date Shift

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Harvey Weinstein, George Clooney And Tracy Letts On ‘August: Osage County’s Ending Change And Release Date Shift

Mike Fleming

auguEXCLUSIVE: After this week’s L.A. premiere of August: Osage County, Harvey Weinstein is prepared to make two proclamations as the film launches into a crowded Oscar season. “When it comes to Oscars, I’ll take bets on this movie, it’s going to be a surprise and a sleeper, but it’s gonna be there,” he said. His second proclamation: “I’m never again going to rush to play a movie festival anymore, until the movie is locked,” Weinstein said. “We rushed to get a version of August: Osage County because we wanted the heat of Toronto. It wasn’t finished and it has created a disconnect.”

Weinstein, George Clooney (a producer with Smokehouse Pictures partner Grant Heslov) and Tracy Letts (who adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning play into the John Wells-directed film) called me to dispel a misperception they hope will not become a problem: that because of slight changes between the Toronto version and the final cut, this was a problem picture. In this case, the early version of the Meryl Streep/Julia Roberts-starrer had a slightly different ending than it does now. The finished film is a bit longer and more polished and contains over its closing credits ”Last Mile Home”, a moving acoustic song that Kings Of Leon wrote for the film. “Our worst review has been three stars, but forevermore in the age of the Internet you read that reaction was mixed in Toronto and it colors people,” Weinstein said. “There’s something in the air and the way to take it out of the air is for the three of us to combat it.” I won’t give away the ending here, but it involves how things are left between a dysfunctional family matriarch (Streep) and the daughter (Roberts) in danger of following in her bitter footsteps. Besides Toronto, there were test screenings and the usual back and forth that resulted in what the three said is the best version of the film, the one they showed this week.

Related: Toronto: Huge Reaction For Oscar-Bait ‘August: Osage County’ – But Will It Divide Audiences? Read More »

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Meryl Streep Set To Receive Icon Award At Palm Springs Film Fest

By | Wednesday December 18, 2013 @ 12:49pm PST

streep__130806225645Another awards season, another trail of accolades for the 17-time Oscar nominee and three-time winner. The Palm Springs International Film Festival said today that Meryl Streep has been tapped for its Icon Award, which “honors a creative talent who, through the course of his or her career, has created a body of work palmsprings__131119151421-200x190which symbolizes the highest level of achievement in the motion picture art form”. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Streep is on the awards radar again this year for her role as the matriarch of a Midwestern family in August: Osage County, director John Wells’ adaptation of the Pulitzer-winning play by Tracy Letts. The 25th edition of PSIFF runs January 3-13 in the desert city.

Related: John Wells On Meryl Streep: “She Came To Play” (Video)

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SAG Awards Film: Robert Redford Shocker Shakes Up Race As Actors Boost Chances For ‘Butler’, ‘August’ And ‘Dallas’

Pete Hammond

Without question the biggest surprise coming out of this morning’s all important announcement of the Screenrobertredfordlost2 Actors Guild Award nominations in film was the absence of Robert Redford‘s tour de force one-man show in All Is Lost in the Best Actor category. The New York Film Critics Circle Best Actor winner was shut out and that could have an effect on shaking up what is an extremely competitive category. Redford was widely expected to be a major factor here — he has only been Oscar-nominated as an actor once, for 1973′s The Sting, and never in the 20-year history of the SAG Awards — and since SAG is one of the most reliable precursors of Oscar noms, his omission is a troubling sign. Adding insult to injury SAG did nominate the “stunt ensemble” of All Is Lost (is that just one guy?) even though when I interviewed him Redford told me he did most of his own stunts in the movie. Go figure.Then again, last year SAG and Oscar disagreed at least once in every category and matched in just 14 of 20 main acting nominees, so although this is a setback for Redford, it’s not a knockout. In the last two decades it’s been highly unusual for an actor not at least nominated by SAG to go on and actually win at the Oscars. But it actually happened last year when Christoph Waltz took the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Django Unchained after being the only one of the field who was not also a SAG nominee.

Related: SAG Awards Nominations Announced

12 Years A SlaveThe Django factor could also be comforting to the Christmas Day release The  Wolf Of Wall Street, another film completely shut out this morning. Like Django it came to the game extremely late with its first SAG screenings only 10 days ago, and Paramount sent out no DVD screeners to the SAG Nominating Committee of 2000 randomly chosen members from around the country. That is why its absence from the list of Outstanding Cast, as well as for its most talked-about performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, is not really surprising. It’s a good bet to say a great number of voters just didn’t see the film in time. That won’t be a factor with the Academy, which doesn’t even get its ballots until the end of the month. Read More »

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Julia Roberts On Palm Springs Fest Honor List

By | Friday November 22, 2013 @ 6:01am PST

Palm Springs, CA (November 22, 2013) – The 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present Academy Award® winning actress Julia Roberts with the Spotlight Award for August: Osage County at its annual Awards Gala. The Gala will also present awards to previously announced honorees Sandra Bullock, Bruce Dern, Matthew McConaughey and Steve McQueen. Presented by Cartier and hosted by Mary Hart, the Awards Gala will be held Saturday, January 4 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The Festival runs January 3-13, 2014.

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The Contenders 2013: ‘August: Osage County’s John Wells On Directing Meryl Streep: “She Came To Play” (Video)

By | Wednesday November 20, 2013 @ 11:50am PST
Pete Hammond

As one of television’s most prolific and successful writer/producers, John Wells has known great success with Emmy-winning series like E.R. and The West Wing and currently Showtime’s Shameless, but after getting his feet wet directing movies with The Company Men (2010) he’s really upped his game for his sophomore effort. August: Osage County opens Christmas Day and features  a major cast including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Margo Martindale, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor and many others. On the Weinstein Company panel at Deadline’s THE CONTENDERS event he talked about the intimidation factor of working on this level, especially with Streep.

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George Clooney, ‘Hunger Games’, ‘Mary Poppins’ And More On A Dizzying Awards Season Friday Night

Pete Hammond

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 »

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AFI Fest Announces New Galas And Screenings Including ‘Lone Survivor’ World Premiere

By | Thursday October 17, 2013 @ 6:00am PDT
Pete Hammond

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 »

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Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond, Episode 41

By | Thursday September 12, 2013 @ 4:51pm PDT
Pete Hammond

Listen to (and share) episode 41 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about several terrific films coming out of the Toronto International Film Festival with strong awards momentum, including Rush, August: Osage County, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, The Fifth Estate, Dallas Buyers Club, Philomena and Parkland. Pete says a couple of smaller films debuting at Toronto may have a chance for Golden Globe recognition, including One Chance and Enough Said, where, at its Toronto screening, Julia Louis-Dreyfus took to the stage to remember her late co-star James Gandolfini. Just a couple of days ahead of this weekend’s Creative Emmys ceremony, Pete looks at the ultimate no-win situation for durable TV stars who can’t quite snag a statue, including Bill Maher, Bob Newhart and Angela Lansbury.

Pete also looks at the weekend’s film debuts, including likely box-office winner Insidious: Chapter 2 from horror auteur James Wan, and The Family, a fish-out-of-water comedy featuring a prominent cast, and Wadjda, an excellent specialty release from Saudi Arabia’s first female director.

Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 41 (MP3 format)
Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 41 (MP4a format)
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Hot Trailer: ‘August: Osage County’

By | Thursday September 12, 2013 @ 4:22am PDT

August: Osage County bowed in Toronto to a “prolonged” and “enthusiastic” standing ovation, Deadline’s Pete Hammond reported on Tuesday. The John Wells-directed drama is the adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Tony-winning play about a dysfunctional Midwest family. The who’s who cast includes Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dermot Mulroney, Chris Cooper, Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson and Abigail Breslin. The Weinstein Co releases it on December 25. Here’s a new trailer:

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Toronto: Weinstein’s Premiere Marathon Delivers Huge Reaction For Oscar-Bait ‘August: Osage County’ – But Will It Divide Audiences?

Pete Hammond

Just call it Weinstein Premiere-O-Rama. The company launched four movies with splashy galas at the Toronto International Film Festival in the span of 48 hours (is this some sort of weird record?). That included Saturday night’s Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom World Premiere, Sunday’s North American launch of Philomena and last night’s World Premieres of August: Osage County  and One Chance directly against each other. When I saw Harvey Weinstein at the combined Soho House after-party for the Monday films I told him he obviously loves Toronto. He was moving fast between his movies showing up everywhere, including on stage for August before it began. ”Everything came together and we just thought this would be the perfect way to get these films out there,” he said clearly beaming at the reaction.

Related: Toronto: TWC’s Epic ‘Mandela’ Debuts To Standing Ovation

All the films won standing ovations, not uncommon in movie-friendly Toronto (people like getting up on their feet here) but even by those standards the raucous, prolonged standing O for August: Osage County was definitely the most enthusiastic I have encountered at this year’s fest. And the John Wells-directed movie adaptation of actor/writer Tracy Letts’ Tony-winning Midwestern-set Broadway play about a dysfunctional family to end all dysfunctional families played like gangbusters with much audible reaction throughout. Star Meryl Streep was a last-minute cancellation due to illness and co-producer George Clooney (with Grant Heslov) didn’t make the trek to Canada for this film or Gravity in which he co-stars with Sandra Bullock since he was back in L.A. still working on posting his latest directorial gig, Monuments Men as well as shooting Disney’s Tomorrowland. But most of the cast was there including Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper, Julianne Nicholson, Abigail Breslin, Dermot Mulroney and Julia Roberts, clearly the belle of this ball. When I spoke with her afterwards she was definitely on cloud nine over the reaction the film received and obviously excited to be working with this cast and opposite Streep who manages to do the impossible and tops Streep as the bitterly funny, bitingly caustic  mother who lets it rip, particularly in the film’s (and the play’s ) signature dinner scene. Roberts is also at her best and both should be major Oscar contenders in the impossibly crowded lead actress category. This would make nomination #18 for Streep. Could anyone ever top her own record?
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