Tyler Perry won bigtime in the movie and TV categories, while Prince was a surprise guest to give Halle Berry the Best Actress award for Frankie & Alice as the 42nd NAACP Image Awards were announced tonight during the live broadcast from …
This Sunday, director Werner Herzog will conduct a Q&A with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu after a screening at the Directors Guild headquarters on Sunset Blvd at 7:30 PM. Herzog rarely does such things, but was moved to take part in the DGA members-only-event after seeing the film last month. ”I respect Werner and his films so much, because he takes risks and doesn’t compromise,” Inarritu told me. “This was a surprise and an honor, and it helps in the battle to get this film noticed.” Directors are now rallying behind the prestige film and helping it build slow momentum. Biutiful is Mexico’s submission for Best Foreign Language film, and the picture opened its all-categories Oscar campaign with an event last Saturday, hosted by Guillermo del Toro for Inarritu and his below-the-line collaborators Rodrigo Prieto, Gustavo Santaolalla, and Stephen Mirrione. Julian Schnabel showed his support at a Soho House screening in New York last Tuesday, and Robert Benton quizzed the director at DGA headquarters in New York the following day. Among the upcoming events will be a big screening in December that will be followed by a Q&A with Inarritu and Bardem, who’ll be grilled by Sean Penn.
The pace of the 2010 awards season seems at this early November juncture to be faster than any I can remember. (I feel like the title of the late and great Jill Clayburgh’s star turn, I’m Dancing As Fast As I Can.) Hopefuls are getting out there earlier, and more forcefully, in order to gain a foothold in the race any way they can. Examples from just two days’ worth of campaigning: Michelle Williams called me from the London set of My Week With Marilyn. Yes, she’s playing the iconic Monroe but couldn’t yet articulate what that means to her and instead wanted to talk about her awards contender, Blue Valentine. So we did before I had to run off to the Four Seasons Hotel to chat with Robert Duvall about his contender, Get Low. It was a summer release he’s now trying to keep in the conversation by doing an exhaustive series of interviews and Q&A sessions. For a guy who is about to turn 80, he could not have been more energized even with the daunting prospect of facing months of the “season” still to go. Javier Bardem called on his cell from a street corner in Madrid to recount for me the intense experience of making Biutiful. Then I had to again race to the Four Seasons for back to back bar chats with two other Best Actor wannabes, Kevin Spacey who talked Casino Jack before Aaron Eckhart arrived 10 minutes later to discuss Rabbit Hole.
With the exception of Get Low, all of the above were spotlighting work in independently made movies that are mid to late December releases. But their stars cannot afford to wait if they are to get on the map in this ultra-crowded season. The ever-busy Spacey was at the Britannias and an MPTVF event on Thursday night and also turned up Sunday evening at the Pacific Design Center for an actor-centric post-screening Q&A for SAG nominating committee members. Like an episode of Inside The Actors Studio, the packed house gave him a standing ovation. Reliable eyewitness sources tell me even more impressive standing O happened to Halle Berry two nights in a row at the same place where she Q&A’d her December stealth entry, Frankie & Alice for the NAACP Image Award voters Friday and SAG Nom Comm Saturday. They marked her indie’s first screenings but Berry wasn’t watching. She was out in the lobby doing TV interviews about what the project meant to her as an actress. Meanwhile publicists were frantically cutting film clips for the late-breaking entrant and hoping to have their DVD screeners out well before Thanksgiving. As part of her campaign, Berry will also be “in conversation” with a career retrospective Tuesday night at the AFI Fest.
Speaking of that, the AFI Film Festival opened with Twentieth Century Fox’s Love And Other Drugs. The glut of AFI galas is because it’s an inexpensive way for distribs to do LA premieres this time of year and still get maximum exposure. They included The Weinstein Co’s Blue Valentine with co-star Ryan Gosling and director Derek Cianfrance on the carpet at the Chinese. While down the street at the Egyptian, Sony Pictures Classics unveiled their comedy Barney’s Version with superlative performances from stars Paul Giamatti, Minnie Driver, and Dustin and Jake Hoffman who were all on hand for the stroll down that red carpet. The film, based on the Mordecai Richler story and previously seen in Venice and Toronto, was a hit at AFI with special praise for absent co-star Rosamund Pike who could find her way into the supporting actress race.
Roadside Attractions is out with the first trailer for Biutiful, the drama by Amores Perros helmer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. The film premiered at Cannes, where Javier Bardem won the Best Actor prize for his portrayal of a father facing his own mortality. The film opens December 29 in the U.S.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and I both happened to be waiting for our luggage at LAX after arriving on the charter from the Telluride Film Festival Monday night. He turned to me and said he had been thinking about the interview we did the day before. His powerful film, Biutiful, was playing all weekend at the fest and we had sat down to talk Sunday about the film, about the sad state of the movie industry, and about why it took so long for a U.S. distributor to pick it up after its Cannes premiere. He told me that because of this conversation, which he said was like “therapy”, he now thinks of Biutiful as an “act of resistance” against everything that is wrong with the movie industry today. The film dealing with a father’s descent into the abyss and journey towards redemption won Best Actor for star Javier Bardem. and now continues on the fest circuit with its official North American premiere tonight in Toronto. Only recently did it finally score a U.S. distribution deal (after several rejections) with Roadside Attractions and will open just in the nick of time for Oscar consideration on December 29th. Some American press in particular have complained that the film was too dark and depressing to find an audience. Others have raved.
Whatever the reaction, Inarritu thinks the festival and awards circuit is crucial for Biutiful’s ultimate success. “For this film literally it’s a matter of life or death,” he said pointing to the lack of choices he had in even getting the film released this year. “There are very few independent distributors. Very few. It’s getting tough. This film is very fragile, it’s very delicate. One wrong message when we are competing with such big films and… I’m talking about the fact that it was this close to the film not even being distributed at all. Thanks to Roadside, I think they were very brave. The entire world was sold immediately but not the U.S. That was very shocking. Normally it was the U.S. leading the way and the other ones were the followers. Now you open it everywhere and then the U.S. watches what happens. This country is importing fewer foreign films or films that are interested in our society.”
Although it will be eligible in all categories for Oscar, the director is hoping it will also be the official foreign language film nominee from Mexico, even though it was shot in Spain.
While Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance, Venice and Cannes sets film schedules well in advance, Telluride always springs its fest lineup at the last moment. Here it is:
37th TELLURIDE FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES 2010 FESTIVAL LINEUP
Telluride, CO – Telluride Film Festival (September 3-6, 2010), presented by the National Film Preserve