When movie stars go cold, the smart ones can find their way back. For Robert Downey Jr, that meant an Iron Man screen test so overwhelming that skeptical studio execs had no choice but to hire him. Ben Affleck scripted his own second act as writer and director and won the Best Picture Oscar for Argo. When we look back on how Matthew McConaughey sprang himself from rom-com prison by taking creative risks in small edgy films, his transformation won’t simply be pegged to the performance as AIDS activist Ron Woodroof that won him the Best Actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey’s second wind is a one-two punch capped off by his Emmy-caliber performance as the tightly coiled fatalistic cop Rustin “Rust” Cohle opposite Woody Harrelson in HBO‘s groundbreaking 8-episode drama series True Detective. Among other things, McConaughey explains here how patience was key to turning around a stalled career and how patience allowed him to let a complicated character percolate over a time span four times longer that he gets in feature films.
Related: Bart & Fleming: Are Features Losing Their Prestige Mojo To TV?
DEADLINE: True Detective is a high-water mark in this golden age where pay and cable TV series are as good or better than what we see on movie screens. Still, it’s chancy for a movie star to say yes to a TV … Read More »
Sara Vahabi, who worked on the Focus Features Oscar campaign for Dallas Buyers Club, has been promoted to VP at Los Angeles-based PR firm Karen Fried & Associates. Vahabi joined KFA in 2011 and has been part of the team that spearheaded campaigns that garnered a total of 18 Oscar noms. “With extensive experience both in Europe and the U.S., Sara brings the international strategic thinking necessary in an expanding global film market,” said Fried. “She speaks five languages and has worked and lived all over the globe which makes her even more valuable for clients’ specific needs today.” Vahabi has over 15 years of experience within special events and public relations and has collaborated on several international film campaigns. She moved to Los Angeles in 2001 to work for the Consulate General of Sweden, where she was in charge of promotional affairs with a focus on Swedish film. In 2008, she ran the Press Department at the Stockholm International Film Festival in her native Sweden. She also has handled publicity for films at Cannes, Palm Springs, Sundance and Toronto film festivals. Speaking five languages … wow.
The Oscar nominated best pictures still in the theaters are holding well the last weekend before the Academy Awards. Most are at the end or nearing the end of their runs. Those distributors who re-released their films or upped the number of theaters post-nomination did receive nice bumps to add to their overall cumes. This is the last weekend before the Academy Awards, so traditionally the Oscar-nominated films still in theaters usually see rock solid numbers as moviegoers venture out to see them before the show. Last year’s Oscars brought in 40.3M viewers. Here is how they all look to play out this weekend and their overall cumes based on Saturday morning estimates:
12). American Hustle (SONY), 903 theaters / 3-day cume: $1.8M / Total cume: $144M+ / Wk 11
14). The Wolf of Wall Street (PAR), 627 theaters / 3-day cume: $1.3M / Total cume: $112.8M / Wk 9
15). Philomena (TWC), theaters / 3-day cume: $1.2M / Total cume: $32.7M / Wk 14
17). Gravity (WB), 348 theaters / 3-day cume: $914K / Total cume: $269.3M / Wk 21
20). 12 Years a Slave (FSL), 349 theaters / 3-day cume: $493K / Total cume: $49M / Wk 19 Read More »
Randee Dawn is an AwardsLine contributor.
What makes a scene Oscar-worthy is difficult to define, but everyone knows it when they see it. It’s an end as foreboding as they come. Cate Blanchett, mesmerizing as the title character in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, sits in a disheveled mess on a park bench in San Francisco, muttering to herself. It’s the nadir of Jasmine’s fall from grace, her first step on the ladder to bag-lady land. “That scene” is how it’s known in the business, the one that crystallizes everything about a character or a story and through which the actor surrenders to the part with everything he or she’s got. It’s a scene that when a viewer sees it, they know: This is a nomination, or an Academy Award, waiting to happen. Having “that scene” guarantees neither award nor nomination, and many roles win big prizes without one. But when a good scene arises, it can become an iconic piece of cinema. Read More »
When it comes to predicting who will take home Oscars for adapted and original screenplay, don’t look to the recent Writers Guild Awards for any significant clues. Usually the guild will give some indication of which way the winds are blowing among the scribes of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, even though the 372-member writers branch has different criteria and eligibility rules than the more stringent 20,000-plus WGA membership. The WGAs differ from other guild awards in not nominating any movies not made under their basic agreement or within guild guidelines. That isn’t a huge factor this year, as the Academy matched the WGAs’ nominee list in original screenplay and chose three of the same adaptations (Oscar nominees 12 Years A Slave and Philomena were not allowed to compete in the WGAs). Lone Survivor and August: Osage County nabbed the other two nominations, although neither won. In fact, in a highly unusual result, the WGA winners, Her for original and Captain Phillips for adapted, have not been considered slam-dunks to pull off the same trick at the Oscars on March 2.
Related: ‘12 Years A Slave’ Writers Win 2014 USC Scripter Award: John Ridley, Solomon Northup
Phillips is listed as a 100-to-1 shot on betting website Gold Derby, … Read More »
After a ten-year hiatus, the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Awards are back and were awarded tonight in a black-tie ceremony with 500 in attendance at the Paramount Studios Theater. Fourteen categories were honored in film, television, commercials and live theater. Two of the films honored tonight — Jackass: Bad Grandpa and Dallas Buyers Club are also in contention for Best Achievement in Make-up and Hairstyling Oscars this year. Katherine Gordon won for hairstyling for American Hustle and although she is in London for the BAFTA Awards, she did send a friend to pick up the awards with a statement thanking Christian Bale “for having the courage of ten men and ten women for allowing that comb over.” Robin Mathews, who was honored for best make-up for Dallas Buyers Club noted that the entire movie was shot in 23 days and she only had a budget of only $250 which left many in the audience to gasp. Mathews actually used cornmeal and grits to give the illusion of dermatitis and had to make her actors look healthier and sick in the span of one day as the actors maintained their weight. Stephen Prouty and Tony Gardner (of Alterian) were on hand to receive the award for Jackass: Bad Grandpa and spoke about the three hours it took every day … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto have become the focus of Focus Features’ Academy campaign for Dallas Buyers Club with ads proclaiming “the year’s two most transformative performances are now its most honored”. Certainly it would be hard to argue with that as both won at SAG, the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Movie Awards, not to mention just about a clean sweep for Leto among the many critics groups who dole out these kinds of honors. The awards haul have made them front-runners according to pundits, but both have been acting like they are running from behind, appropriate for a movie that took 20 years to get to the screen, that no one wanted to make, that was shot on a tight 24-day schedule for under $5 million and used only available light. Neither is leaving any stone unturned in bringing attention to the ‘little-film-that-could’ in this year’s Oscar race. McConaughey, for example turned up during Jay Leno’s last week on The Tonight Show and he will be doing Jimmy Kimmel and Queen Latifah’s talk shows next week in addition to Inside The Actors Studio and personal appearances for the Actors Fund in LA and NY. In this featurette the pair talk about working together and the challenges of bringing these unique roles to life.
23 days. A $250 “budget” for makeup. That’s all Best Makeup Oscar nominee Robin Mathews had to transform her Dallas Buyers Club actors from healthy to sick. To make sure she didn’t bust the budget, at one point during the 4 1/2-week shoot Mathews had a PA drive over and gather up grits and cornmeal from her mom’s house to create the look of the dermatitis rash for the characters. Mathews is from New Orleans, where the film was shot. “As I was applying this mixture of grits and cornmeal to Matthew [McConaughey], I was thinking this could be the end of my career or it’s going to be OK, but I had no idea which way it was going to go.” When she saw it on camera, she could breathe again. “We tried it … and it worked. Had I had my choice, I would have used prosthetics, but we didn’t have the time, help or the money for that.”
Related: OSCARS: Who Were The Unsung Heroes Of 2014′s Academy Award Pics?
Mathews had worked on such films Oz The Great and Powerful and Django Unchained. But Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features) was only a $4.5M budget, shot with a handheld camera by director Jean-Marc Vallee and (every makeup person’s challenge) only ambient lighting so Mathews — depending on the scene — had to bring them from health to sickness and back again many times within hours. “Some days, I’d have to take them from their most skeletal, sickest look to the 25-pound-heavier, healthier look five times a day as quickly as possible with little time in between.” For research, she looked at photos provided by an infectious disease doctor, David Hardy, who explained three conditions that people with full-blown AIDS suffer from: muscle wasting, which causes the faces of those afflicted to become very skeletal (sunken eyes, protruding cheekbones and recessed temples); seborrheric dermatitis, which causes a rosacea rash on different parts of the face (red, flaky and dry with boils); and, finally, lesions that can develop anywhere on the body. “Our actors came to us at least 40 pounds lighter each, and they maintained that weight during the entire four-week shoot … so I don’t think people realize that a lot of what they look like is just makeup.”
Related: OSCARS: Matthew McConaughey’s Chances Rising As Season Intensifies: Video
Read More »
Tuesday night at the WGA West’s annual Beyond Words panel, ten WGA Awards-nominated scribes assembled to talk screenwriting and commiserate over the scripting challenges faced on eight very different films. A common theme of the night was distilling fiction from real life, as in Terence Winter‘s The Wolf of Wall Street, David O. Russell and Eric Warren Singer’s American Hustle, Billy Ray‘s Captain Phillips, and Melisa Wallack and Craig Borten’s Dallas Buyers Club. Nebraska writer Bob Nelson‘s advice seemed to ring true with more than a few: “The best thing to do as a screenwriter,” he declared, “is to pillage your family mercilessly.” Nelson modeled Bruce Dern‘s cranky Midwestern senior citizen Woody after his own father, and June Squibb‘s domineering character after his mother-in-law. “When my brother saw the movie he said, ‘That wasn’t writing – that was dictation.’”
Tracy Letts, who adapted his own Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County for the screen, echoed that sentiment. The contentious matriarch Violet, played by Meryl Streep in the film in an Oscar-nominated performance, sprung from Letts’ own memories of his grandmother. “She was a really monstrous figure in my mind,” he said. “When I started to write this I wasn’t looking to find a way to sympathize with her, necessarily, but I was trying to find a way to humanize her. .. what I found to my delight and surprise and horror was that she was your mother, too, and she’s everybody’s mother.”
“Jordan (Belfort) was very much based on my grandmother,” joked Winter, who recalled the task of filtering the real life Wall Street swindler into a protagonist that could win over the audience before revealing his true colors. “We have the most unreliable narrator in history and that’s basically license to tell the story in any manner that character sees fit. I wanted Jordan to sell us his story,” he said. Read More »
Gloria was dissed by Oscar, but she scored on the box office rebound. Chile’s entry for Foreign Language Oscar consideration opened in three theaters to a solid debut, grossing $58,775 for a $19,445 average.
Still, Oscar nominee The Great Beauty opened with a $23,442 average though that was in one theater (its 11 week cume is over $11.45M). Gloria trumped over Belgian nominee Broken Circle Breakdown, which opened with $7,100 also in a single location. Denmark’s The Hunt bowed in 4 runs, averaging $10,761 Stateside and the others have yet to show their pizzazz.
Cannes Un Certain Regard Director’s prize winner Stranger By The Lake opened at Film Society of Lincoln Center and IFC Center in New York with a good debut. Set on a beach (and the nearby woods) lakeside in rural France, the sexually upfront feature grossed $26,741 for a $13,370 average. It will next head to San Francisco, Seattle and Miami. And Visitors opened in one run. The Cinedigm release grossed $10,742.
Roadside also opened Gimme Shelter in a fairly large 385 theaters, continuing its strategy of skirting the traditional platform release when it has a title with named talent. High School Musical alum Vanessa Hudgens stars as a pregnant teen who runs away from her abusive addict mother (Rosario Dawson) to find her Wall Streeter dad (Brendan Fraser). The film grossed almost $721K for a $1,872 average. “The film went up a promising 23% from Friday to Saturday and we are finding terrific word of mouth for the film,” noted Roadside chief Howard Cohen Sunday. “We expect the audiences we are targeting to discover the film over the next few weeks.” Read More »
The Oscar nominations worked their magic with titles landing major nominations mostly reaping small box office rewards in the first three days of the Martin Luther King weekend, while newcomers were mostly flat. Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave received nine nominations Thursday morning and Fox Searchlight capitalized on the film’s strong showing with the Academy. The film, starring Oscar nominee Chiwetel, added 647 theaters and grossed $1.515M in 761 theaters, averaging a decent $1,991. Last weekend, the film grossed $267K, averaging $2,342. It has a total cume of over $40.6M. Dallas Buyers Club won big at last night’s SAG Awards and also scooped up six Oscar nominations, including Best Actor for Matthew McConaughey and Best Supporting Actor for Jared Leto. Focus added 294 runs for the film to gross around $917K for a $2,189 per screen average. Dallas‘ PSA is actually an uptick from last weekend’s $1,936 average in 125 theaters. It has cumed $17.972M to date. TWC added 1,146 runs for August: Osage County, holding solid with a nearly $7.6M gross in its fourth week. The film, which received actor nods for Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, averaged $3,702 in 2,051 theaters and has cumed over $18.18M. Read More »
Diane Haithman and Cari Lynn are contributing to Deadline’s Oscar coverage.
On every film there’s someone who doesn’t get as much credit as they deserve. People in the background who fight for the movie, whose insight or work is crucial to the film, whose efforts start the ball rolling. For instance, for Gravity, it was Alfonso Cuaron‘s son (and writing partner, Jonas), who inspired him by saying, “Your films are all right, but you’ve got to get more entertaining,” Cuaron remembered backstage at the Beverly Hilton Hotel after the Golden Globes last Sunday. “It could be more fun. And that was the point of departure to do this film.” Also, if it weren’t for former Warner Bros. president of the Motion Picture Group Jeff Robinov, the film would not have gotten made. It got shoved aside by Universal after Angelina Jolie dropped out and Warner Bros. couldn’t get its co-financiers to step up to the plate. Enter Robinov who was the behind the scenes champion on the film which now has a worldwide gross of $675M. For 12 Years a Slave, it was Steve McQueen‘s wife Bianca Stigter who found the book and alerted her husband who had been wanting to make a film about slavery. Today, we asked some of the nominees who, if anyone, also deserved special recognition. These are some of the responses.
Amy Adams, Best Actress nominee, American Hustle:
“The unsung hero? That’s our Steadicam operator Geoff [Haley] – I’m not even kidding. Because David [O. Russell] works in 360 and you can plan what the shot is but the shot is pretty much what David O. Russell is yelling at the moment. Geoff is running around all day with a Steadicam on and I would look at him and go I don’t know how you’re doing this if I’m barely standing at the end of the day. He was amazing. He’s our dance partner. Any place we moves he’s moving – and sometimes it’s without planning… It’s an amazing thing to watch.”
Matthew McConaughey, Best Actor nominee, Dallas Buyers Club:
The under the radar person that’s not really been brought up out in the light as much as I would have liked is Jean-Marc [Valée], the director. He came out, he’s only been on couple of panels. Mind you was off making another film, which is priority one. But this guy brought the right sensitivity to the anarchy of Ron Woodruff’s story. He saw what it was from the beginning. His ideas for how to approach different scenes were wild but always very human. We know when you read this script, this could be one movies that’s an independent, that’s very important – but is it going to be entertaining? We got away with importance and entertainment. That’s a big coup for a movie like this. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Matthew McConaughey has yet to be nominated for an Oscar in his career, but the way things are going that’s about to change thanks to his performance in Dallas Buyers Club and a little help from Mud and Wolf Of Wall Street, a couple of other 2013 movies in which he made a strong impression. But it is Dallas that seems to really have the heat. He has Best Actor nominations so far from the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Movie Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, 2 Sag nominations (including one as part of the ensemble cast) and Saturday night he lit up the Palm Springs Convention Center with his acceptance speech as the Palm Springs International Film Festival’s Actor of the Year. Now he’s back in New York where he won the Gotham award near the beginning of the season. Liza Minnelli hosted a luncheon for him today at NYC’s Monkey Bar and I’m told he received two standing ovations at a SAG NY screening before heading off for an Inside The Actor’s Studio taping (an obligatory stop in recent years for any serious Oscar contender). On top of all that he’s winning raves for his new HBO limited series, True Detective which premieres Sunday and co-stars Woody Harrelson. But before Emmy talk can commence for that he’s got to get through this season first. He famously lost 47 pounds to play the part of … Read More »
It continues to be a good week for American Hustle, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Her, Captain Phillips, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club and Nebraska. All followed up yesterday’s Producers Guild nominations with WGA noms this morning, making it 2-for-2 in the early guild contests of this new year. The WGA also gave a much-needed shot of adrenaline to August: Osage County, which was bypassed by the PGA but had three SAG nominations earlier and now an adapted screenplay bid for Tracy Letts that keeps it alive. But the news continues to be bad for the Coen brothers, who are usually awards darlings.
Related: An Early Look At A Crowded Best Picture Oscar Race
After being snubbed by SAG and yesterday’s PGA announcement, the Coens’ Inside Llewyn Davis also was bypassed by the WGA, even though it was eligible to be nominated for Original Screenplay. That’s the biggest surprise of the day. (Read the full list of WGA Awards nominees below.) Writers have loved their work in the past. Since the guilds often closely parallel Oscar nominations and have many of the same members, it does not bode well for the chances of the CBS Films release, which started the season by winning the Grand Prize (2nd) at Cannes but has not gotten much traction since. One source close to the film’s campaign told me this morning they think Inside Llewyn Davis will fare better under the more specialized Academy preferential voting system as opposed to the popularity contests of the guilds. Passionate fans of the film will have a better chance to be heard by giving it first-place votes.
Related: Will Critics & Precursor Awards Carry More Weight In A Jam-Packed Year?
Among other films eligible under WGA rules but omitted from the list: Nicole Holofcener’s most acclaimed film to date, Enough Said, was overlooked for Original Screenplay — a surprise given that the WGA nominated her previous film, Please Give, in 2010. Danny Strong’s ambitious script for Lee Daniels’ The Butler also missed the cut as it the film itself did at PGA and the Golden Globes. It is nominated for three SAG awards. And Alfonso and Jonas Cuaron’s original script for one of Oscar’s front-runners, Gravity, failed to impress the writers, who perhaps saw it as more of a technical achievement. Warner Bros has been trying to change that perception and has widely circulated the intricate and complex script but to no avail, at least as far as the WGA is concerned.
Related: Year-End: How A Growing Global Mandate And Franchise Fever Led To Movie Studio Tsuris
Read More »
Anna Lisa Raya is deputy editor of AwardsLine.
After a six-year break—during which he wrote and directed a documentary (2012’s Artifact) and toured the world with his band (30 Seconds to Mars)—Jared Leto dug deep to portray Rayon, a transgendered woman battling AIDS and drug addiction, in Dallas Buyers Club. The film’s star, Matthew McConaughey, wasn’t the only one to completely transform himself for his role. From his first audition, Leto became Rayon, dropping to 116 pounds, spending weeks perfecting her voice, and never coming out of character throughout filming. His heart-wrenching performance has won over critics and generated some long-overdue Oscar buzz.
AwardsLine: How did you initially get involved with this film?
Jared Leto: I hadn’t made a film in five or six years and came across this script—or maybe I should say this script was put in front of me. I kind of blew it off a few times, and then someone convinced me to take a look. I thought the character (of Rayon) was amazing. And what a great team of people—I wanted to be a part of it.
Related: OSCARS Q&A: Matthew McConaughey On ‘Dallas Buyers Club’
Read More »
Without question the biggest surprise coming out of this morning’s all important announcement of the Screen 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
The 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 »
UPDATED, 2:35 PM: The LA Film Critics Association held its annual end-of year awards vote today, handing Best Picture to WB pics Gravity and Her in one of multiple ties. The big surprise of the day went down as Best Supporting Actor award resulted in a tie between Oscar contender Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club) and James Franco (Spring Breakers). Also tying for LAFCA honors were Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine and Adèle Exarchopoulos for Blue Is the Warmest Color, while Nebraska‘s Bruce Dern was named Best Actor and Alfonso Cuaron beat Spike Jonze for Best Director.
Scroll down for full winners.
BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM: Blue Is the Warmest Color
Runner-up: The Great Beauty
BEST PICTURE (tie): Gravity and Her
BEST ACTRESS (tie): Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine and Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue Is the Warmest Color
BEST SCREENPLAY: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
Runner-up: Spike Jonze, Her
BEST ACTOR: Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Runner-up: Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
BEST DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Runner-up: Spike Jonze, Her Read More »