EXCLUSIVE: Alexandre Desplat earned his sixth Academy Award nomination for his lilting score to Philomena, but is the sixth time the charm for this most in-demand of film composers? He’s never won even though his previous nominations generally all came with high profile films including two Best Picture …
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.
Welcome to the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Scientific & Technical Awards which were handed out last night during a surprisingly entertaining ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hotel. I have been to just about every different conceivable kind of Academy function over the three decades I have been covering Oscars but this was my first time at this event which the Academy has been doing in one form or another since they started handing them out in the Oscars‘ fourth year, 1930-31. I guess I always thought this might be a rather dull sort of thing to sit through. I barely understand how to get my emails so imagine a ceremony that is all about honoring the ILM Plume System, the Flux gas simulation system, the Zeno application framework, a thesis on the fundamental concepts of deep shadowing technology, the design of the Pneumatic Car Flipper or the Flying-Cam SARAH 3.0 system? And that’s just for starters in a show that handed out a LOT of Technical Achievement certificates, Scientific and Engineering Plaques and even a couple of real Oscar statuettes toward the end of the evening (Peter W. Anderson won one of those as recipient of the Gordon E. Sawyer award this year). But there was a lot of spirit in the room and judging from the whoops and hollers that went for five guys in tuxedos going up to accept for the development of the ASC Color Decision List technology you’d think they just won Best Picture. “When I was a kid nobody told me if I wanted to win an Academy Award I should study mathematics,” one winner said wryly. Like I said this was an entertaining evening, particularly considering the geek factor. And the clips were great too, going a long way to shedding light on just what these unheralded wizards do for the movie industry.
It’s a banner year for Oscar newcomers in the uber-competitive acting races. Outside of the veteran-heavy lead actress contest, 13 of the 20 nominees in lead and supporting are receiving either their first or second nominations. Considering how often the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences tends to play favorites, it is good to see new blood. As voters enter the final balloting period before the March 2 ceremony, the guilds and other precursor awards have provided two fairly solid lead-category frontrunners—one of whom is a first-time nominee.
With wins at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Movie Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Dallas Buyers Club’s Matthew McConaughey has leapt to the front of the pack in the incredibly tight best actor race, which has see-sawed all season. But storm warning ahead, Matthew: The all-important British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards are still to come on Sunday, and you didn’t even snag a nomination there, leaving an opening for your chief rivals: The Wolf Of Wall Street’s Leonardo DiCaprio, a four-time acting nominee looking for his first win; 12 Years A Slave’s Chiwetel Ejiofor (who is British and a first-time Oscar nominee); and Nebraska’s Bruce Dern, enjoying his second nom. American Hustle’s Christian Bale, who won a supporting Oscar in 2011 for The Fighter, rounds out the category.
Super Bowl? WHAT Super Bowl? More Awards, Controversy, & The Santa Barbara Film Festival Keeps Oscar Season Sizzling
If you think Hollywood’s awards season will come to a complete stop just because of a little thing called Super Bowl Weekend, think again! As already covered extensively on Deadline yesterday, the pre-Oscar madness was running full tilt Saturday with the WGA, ASC and Annie awards, the Santa Barbara Film Festival and lots of lingering controversies about nominees and “rescinded” nominees. Whew! You’d think they’d give it a rest to let football take over but NOTHING gets in the way of Hollywood’s own Super Bowl!
I am up at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival this weekend where I moderated the two-hour sold-out Performance Of The Year tribute to Oscar frontrunner Cate Blanchett at the 2000-seat dream palace known as the Arlington Theatre. At the end of it, Cate received a standing ovation when future co-star Rooney Mara (they start shooting Todd Haynes’ Carol in March) presented her with the latest trinket in a season in which she has so far run the table in terms of awards. She was a willing and warm subject onstage as we showed clips and I dissected her career, informing her at one point that, with The Aviator in which she played Katharine Hepburn, she became the only person to win an Oscar playing an Oscar winner. Always glad to pass on useless trivia to movie stars.
Over the years I have hosted several of these tributes, which are obviously well-timed as part of the Academy season. Festival executive director Roger Durling picks the honorees months in advance but always seems to have a good hunch who is going to be in the Oscar game. Among those SBIFF plays to are numerous Academy members who live in the area, so it’s always smart exposure on the part of awards consultants — just as is the early-January Palm Springs fest in the pre-nomination period. Durling himself moderated a rollicking free-form session with American Hustle writer-director and Oscar nominee David O. Russell at the same venue Friday night. And earlier Saturday at the Lobero, there was a producers panel mostly populated with Oscar nominees followed by the annual Women’s Panel (moderated in style as usual by Madelyn Hammond — yes, we’re related) which also sported several current contenders. Among those coming up in the next week are Bruce Dern, Robert Redford, Oprah Winfrey, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio and several others. Some landed nominations, some didn’t, but they are all showing up regardless. It’s that time of year.
Wonder why the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to take the unusual step on a Super Bowl Saturday to “clarify” its decision Wednesday to rescind the Best Song nomination of the controversial Alone Yet Not Alone from the yet-to-be-released (now they are saying early summer) faith-based movie of the same name? Since the decision was announced, there has been blowback regarding the true intent of the Academy’s decision — particularly in a letter to Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs from Oscar-winning producer Gerald Molen (Schindler’s List) who was also an executive producer of the controversial documentary 2016: Obama’s America, a high-grossing documentary that became a lightning rod in the last Presidential campaign and a darling of right-wing critics of President Obama.
In the letter, Molen accuses the Academy of bias: “Many will see this decision as faith-based bigotry pure and simple,” he wrote in defending songwriter Bruce Broughton‘s right to the kind of grass roots campaign he conducted in order to get the unknown film a nomination against stiff competition from the likes of Taylor Swift, Coldplay and Lana Del Rey — none of whom made the cut. In order to stem further bleeding — particularly in becoming a target of right-wing blogs — I believe the Academy decided to curb any further damage or controversy the decision seems to be causing. In today’s detailed statement (read it below) it even gets very specific and states that Broughton sent “at least 70″ emails to fellow Music Branch members (the entire branch numbers 240). AMPAS explains that coming from a former governor and current member of the Branch’s Executive Committee, he could be rightly suspected of taking advantage of his insider status in gaming the system (my term, not the Academy’s). The original statement Wednesday was much more polite in using the phrase “no matter how well intentioned” Broughton’s efforts might have been. This letter today is far more damning and much more specific in explaining Academy rules. There has been no indication the Academy plans to take any further action on the matter, but it certainly isn’t bowing down to critics who are saying it made a mistake in deep-sixing the song. Here’s today’s statement:
Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and host David Bloom talk about the Toronto Film Festival’s attempt to throw its considerable weight around on would-be premieres; remember the late former Academy president Tom Sherak, one of Hollywood’s biggest and most influential personalities; and ponder the potential Oscar impact of Alfonso Cuaron’s win at the DGA Awards for Gravity. David and Pete also survey the Oscar Best Song field after the Academy disqualified the surprise entry, Alone Yet Not Alone, for improper campaigning tactics.
Fans of the Oscars should be in hog heaven over TCM‘s terrific new 95-minute documentary chronicling the Academy Awards from their inception 86 years ago to the present. The film, And The Oscar Goes To…, premieres Saturday and is perhaps the most thorough and detailed look at the Oscars yet done — at least anything actually sanctioned on this scale by the Academy. To do something like this requires the complete cooperation of the Oscar gods, and filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (Common Threads: Stories From The Quill, The Celluloid Closet) got it. There is tons of rare footage, both onstage and back at most of the past Oscar ceremonies reaching all the way to the first when it was held in 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
According to Epstein, it was then-Academy President Tom Sherak who was their knight in shining armor in getting the docu project off the ground. As I was interviewing him on Tuesday, news broke that Sherak had died. Epstein, who also serves as an Academy Governor in the Documentary Branch, wanted to make sure Sherak got due credit. “I just want to say that for me personally there is no greater tribute to Tom than having worked on this film, because if it weren’t for him it wouldn’t be. I went to him with the idea and five minutes of footage and he said, ‘We are going to make this happen,’ and he did. That was three years ago. He got it right away, he embraced it, he said you’re the guy to do it. He said he was going to take it to the board, and he presented that trailer I showed him to the board, and everyone agreed that this was the kind of thing we should support,” he said.
Toronto Vs Telluride: Are These Top Festivals Already Preparing For Battle Over NEXT Season’s Oscar Contenders?
The old Toronto vs Telluride rivalry has reared its ugly head again after Indiewire’s Anne Thompson wrote yesterday (and others followed) that Festival Director Cameron Bailey told her last Fall that they would enforce an ironclad rule that any films playing the Toronto International Film Festival’s first four days would have to be World or North American premieres. And that means “premiere” in the purest sense of the word. The World Premieres must be the first time the films are seen publicly anywhere and North American means U.S., Canada and Mexico. Any others would not get slots until the first Monday (traditionally when the heat starts progressively diminishing). This is what TIFF is telling studios and distributors. It is clearly saber rattling towards Telluride which most recently debuted films like 12 Years A Slave, Gravity and Prisoners before Toronto’s “official” World and North American Premieres.
Telluride, unlike Toronto, doesn’t reveal its schedule until the start of the Labor Day weekend fest and does not label any of its films as “premieres”. Sometimes, as in the case of 12 Years and Prisoners they don’t even include them then, and try to serve them up as unannounced sneak previews during the course of the weekend. Gravity was coming from the Venice Film Festival opening night so that was not kept as a secret. Other Telluride pictures, first seen at the Cannes Film Festival in May, were Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska and All Is Lost. They all skipped Toronto entirely after Telluride and headed to the New York Film Festival later in the month.
Tom Sherak got a star today on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Actually it was dated February 14, 2014, the day the ceremony was planned. But knowing his condition was worsening by the hour, the installation was moved up and the plaque was sent over and presented to Tom. He may not have been fully aware, but I hope he was. It probably doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things. The fact is everyone in this town knew what tourists strolling down the Hollywood Walk Of Fame will soon find out. Tom Sherak was a star — and a champion. Deadline’s obituary states many of the reasons why. So let me make this personal.
Related: Hollywood Remembers Tom Sherak
DGA Awards Film: ‘Gravity’ Soars With DGA Win For Alfonso Cuaron But What Does It Mean For Its Best Picture Chances?
When they were walking into the 66th Annual Directors Guild Awards tonight people were talking about a possible split year for the Oscars with one film winning Director and another Best Picture. And after the DGA crowned Gravity‘s Alfonso Cuaron as the year’s top director people were walking out saying the same thing. Cuaron was widely expected to win this thing. Gravity is a stand-alone directorial achievement second to none. Any other result would have been regarded as a major upset. A DGA win almost always means a corresponding Directing Oscar and a Directing Oscar almost always means a Best Picture win. Normally we would be wrapping up the race and putting a ribbon on it for Gravity, especially with the DGA coming right after its Producers Guild win a week ago (albeit a tie, but it was still significant). But this is a strange year and such a tight race between the three front-runners, Gravity, 12 Years A Slave and American Hustle that a few votes either way could potentially swing this thing. It’s not even inconceivable that a dark horse could come in in this kind of year. The Guilds so far have not clarified a whole lot. Hustle won the big Cast prize at SAG, Gravity and Slave split the PGA and now Gravity has won at DGA. Next week comes the Writers Guild Awards before a two week lull before the BAFTAs and mailing of Oscar ballots on Presidents Day weekend. But Slave (due to guild-ruled ineligibility) and Gravity aren’t nominated there leaving a good opportunity for Hustle to take back some of the glory – that is unless Her pulls off a win for Original Screenplay and deals a major setback for David O. Russell’s major contender.
For six years in a row, the Producers Guild Awards have correctly forecast the eventual Oscar winner for Best Picture. So Sunday night we came to get some kind of clarity in this year’s ultra-competitive Oscar race. Instead we got chaos.
When I entered the Beverly Hilton Hotel lobby for the PGA Awards, I ran smack into 12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen and some Fox Searchlight publicists. ”This should be an interesting night,” I told them. That turned out to be the understatement of all time. At the pre-reception, producer and moderator of the PGA’s nominee confab Saturday morning, Gary Luchessi, said, “I think there is going to be a big surprise tonight. I think it’s going to be either Gravity or Captain Phillips.” Well, he got half of it right and he was definitely on the money about the surprise part.
Saturday night’s big SAG winner, American Hustle, could have built unbeatable momentum following it up with a PGA win – a one-two punch that influences the rest of the campaign and a knockout in awards-season terms. Instead, in an unprecedented result for either the PGA or the Oscars, there was a tie for Best Picture (or the Darryl F. Zanuck Award For Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures, as the PGA puts it) and it was between Hustle’s two key rivals, Gravity and 12 Years A Slave. That means each of Oscar’s presumed three frontrunners all could point to a key victory in this all-important weekend. Nothing was settled. The race goes on. In fact, put the whole thing on reset and start over. Hustle’s co-producer Chuck Roven looked a little shell-shocked when I ran into him moments after the show ended. “I guess this means it’s a horse race,” he said when I asked him his reaction to the night’s results. Earlier I had run into Hustle director David O. Russell who was clearly still on a high from the previous evening’s SAG victory for Outstanding Cast. No doubt the surprise outcome brought him down to Earth. You could feel the numbed reaction throughout the room when presenter Ben Affleck got to make the announcement of a tie. Once again, the PGA has upended the whole race.
SAG Awards Film: ‘American Hustle’ Gets A Big Boost, But Will These First Guild Results Impress Oscar?
More often than not the SAG Awards turn out to be a very good barometer of future Oscar success. If that continues to be the case this year then things are looking awfully good for Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto, Lupita Nyong’o and American Hustle, the latter winning the Outstanding Cast award which is sometimes a harbinger of Best Picture success — as it was last year when the cast of Argo won. Being the first major guild awards of the season, SAG is extremely significant in that it means we have turned the corner from critics awards and moved into peer voting. Guilds traditionally are the best indicators of where the Oscar winds may be blowing, so with the SAG results (on top of wins earlier in the week at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Movie Awards) there can be no doubt McConaughey and Blanchett are clear frontrunners to take those lead Actor and Actress Oscars. At this point it just doesn’t appear Blanchett can be beaten — and she still has BAFTA to go before the Academy opens its envelopes on March 2nd. She is a favorite there too. Could Judi Dench for Philomena sneak up and steal her thunder? It’s happened before at BAFTA (being held February 16). That’s where Marion Cotillard made a late-inning run all the way to Oscar after losing to Julie Christie earlier in the season. Can Sandra Bullock turn around the Blanchett steamroller? Could be very tough right now. It looks like Cate’s year, and SAG just added more heat. Plus she delivers a great acceptance speech (“You’re giving me only 29 seconds after Matthew McConaughey was just up here talking about Neptune???”)
As for McConaughey (whose speeches also have been terrific), his film Dallas Buyers Club has yet to open in England even though it was eligible for BAFTA nominations. It didn’t get any, and so after taking the Globe, CCMA and now the all-important SAG Award — all this week — he’s got to wait until the Oscars to see if the momentum can continue. I would say his biggest rival right now is Leonardo DiCaprio, who is nominated for lead actor at BAFTA opposite Bruce Dern, a sentimental favorite for Nebraska who has lost to McConaghey three times this week (as have two other BAFTA nominees, Tom Hanks and Chiwetel Ejiofor). But DiCaprio did win on the comedy side at the Globes and CCMAs and has been gaining his own momentum. A BAFTA win could really help throw some added heat his way for The Wolf Of Wall Street. He wasn’t nominated at SAG primarily because Wolf was barely seen by the SAG nominating committee since it was finished so late in the SAG voting process. It was the only film that also did not send screeners. Wolf and DiCaprio were clearly victims of the insanely early voting deadlines SAG imposes on its members for nominating the best of the year (c’mon SAG, can’t you wait a couple of weeks like the other guilds?). It should be a cautionary note that last year’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Christoph Waltz was not even nominated at SAG because his film Django Unchained just like Wolf this year was screened so late most on the SAG nom comm didn’t get a chance to see it. On the other hand, McConaughey is also helped by his brilliant cameo opposite DiCaprio near the beginning of Wolf, and there’s still residual fondness for his earlier 2013 release, Mud. It looks like it could be his year, but I am not ready to call this yet. Six weeks is an eternity in an Oscar race.
Related: SAG Awards Winners List
Producers Guild Leaders On Their Banner Year, The p.g.a. Mark, Sunday’s Big 25th Anniversary Awards, And Why Scorsese And DiCaprio Didn’t Make The Cut
When I ran into Ben Affleck at the Golden Globes on Sunday he told me he thinks this wide open Oscar race won’t really come into focus until the Producers Guild names its choice for Best Picture on January 19th at the Beverly Hilton. Of course Affleck (with George Clooney and Grant Heslov) won at the PGA last year for Argo and it went on to take the Oscar for Best Picture as well. Now about to celebrate their 25th anniversary the PGA awards have become one of the most reliable bellwethers of eventual Oscar glory. In fact the last six films in a row that have taken the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures has gone on to win the Academy’s Best Picture prize too, a list that in addition to Argo includes The Artist, The King’s Speech, The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire and No Country For Old Men. In fact it was the PGA that turned the race completely around for The Hurt Locker by unexpectedly choosing it over Avatar and picking King’s Speech over The Social Network, the favorite until that point. The PGA turned both races on a dime. In fact since handing out awards a quarter century ago the Guild has had a strong overall track record in matching Oscar’s sentiments. Perhaps one reason is they work very closely with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in vetting producers credits and determining which producers are eligible not only for the PGA award, but also the Oscar, although the final decision on the latter is up to the Academy’s producers branch.
Wild Critics’ Choice Movie Awards Brings Out Oscar Nomination Day’s Winners And Losers; Julia Roberts Compares It To “Some Strange Fellini Movie”
Last night’s Critics’ Choice Movie Awards pretty much mirrored the results of the Golden Globes handed out just a few days earlier. The winners – 12 Years A Slave for Picture, American Hustle for Comedy Picture, Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Cate Blanchett, Amy Adams, Leonardo DiCaprio, director Alfonso Cuaron, Spike Jonze for his Her screenplay, and animated film Frozen – were awarded similar honors from the Hollywood Foreign Press on Sunday. The only real variation was in Supporting Actress, where Slave’s Lupita Nyong’o was the choice of the Broadcast Critics (I am a member of the group) while Jennifer Lawrence grabbed the Globe. Lawrence did win a CCMA too, though, as part of the victorious ensemble of Hustle.
Related: Critics’ Choice Movie Awards Winners
So does this mean an Oscars consensus is finally forming as awards season begins to heat up? Not really. We are still talking awards from media groups here. The real contest starts this weekend when the first two big guild awards — SAG on Saturday and the Producers Guild on Sunday — declare their winners and the industry gets its say. These results will be significant and I am particularly looking towards the PGA (which has turned out to be a kingmaker in recent seasons, matching Oscar’s Best Picture the last six years in a row) to add some clarity to the season which at this point is wide open — although I would say, by virtue of a major Best Picture win at the Globes and CCMAs, 12 Years A Slave is having a good run this week. And remember, for whatever reason, the Broadcast Critics Association members often seem to reflect the sentiment of Academy voters. It has a good track record predicting eventual Oscar wins.
But where the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards really made its mark last night was that it came at the end of a long day where Oscar nominations were revealed. This is the second year in a row BFCA chose the same date as the Academy for a major awards season event. You might recall Ben Affleck’s “I’d like to thank the Academy…” speech last year when he won the CCMA after being snubbed by the Academy for a Best Director nomination earlier that morning. There weren’t quite the same dramatic moments last night, but the vibe in the room was electric. A whole group of brand new Oscar nominees were in a celebratory mood, and the networking and backslapping going on was every bit as fun as the crazy atmosphere that surrounds the Globes.
Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks with host David Bloom about today’s Oscar nominations, which produced a very strong field of competitors and inevitably left some worthy contenders on the outside looking in.
We’ll get Pete’s take on just about everything Oscar, from Best Picture to Best Boy, who got in and who didn’t and what it will all mean come March 2.
Among the most interesting tidbits: that Best Song nominee from a movie virtually no one had heard of; record-setters for Meryl Streep, David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence; disappointments for Inside Llewyn Davis and Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks, and what may still be a seven-way race for Best Picture.
Separately, Pete also talks about two of this week’s movie debuts, the reboot of a durable Tom Clancy franchise, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit with Chris Pine; and Ride Along, a cop comedy featuring rising star Kevin Hart trying to win over his grumpy future brother-in-law, played by Ice Cube.