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OSCARS: Christoph Waltz Set To Present

By | Thursday February 20, 2014 @ 9:10am PST

UPDATE, 9:10 AM: Two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz is returning this year as a presenter, joining previously announced Daniel Day-Lewis, Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence. From today’s release:

Oscars 2014BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Two-time Oscar® winner Christoph Waltz will present at this year’s Oscars, show producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced today. The Oscars, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, will air on Sunday, March 2, live on ABC.

Last year Waltz won his second Oscar for his supporting performance in “Django Unchained.” He received his first in 2009 for his supporting role in “Inglourious Basterds.” Waltz’s other feature credits include “Carnage,” “The Green Hornet” and “Water for Elephants.” Waltz will next be seen in “Big Eyes“ and “Horrible Bosses 2.”

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Video: President Obama (As Daniel Day-Lewis) In Steven Spielberg’s Next Movie

At tonight’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, President Obama premiered the next Steven Spielberg movie about a U.S. President. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role. Kinda:

Related: President Slams Media But Conan Softballs Obama

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OSCARS: Analysis By Pete Hammond

By | Monday February 25, 2013 @ 3:04am PST
Pete Hammond

Oscars 2013 AnalysisEven as tonight’s Governor’s Ball was winding down, Ben Affleck was still off in a corner of the room celebrating his Argo‘s most unlikely Best Picture victory in becoming only the second film in 80 years to win the top prize without even a nomination for its director. Affleck’s roller coaster ride has been remarkable this season and as he told me earlier this weekend, and tonight after the Best Pic triumph, it has been filled with hills and valleys, but it all came together at the Dolby Theatre when First Lady Michelle Obama (from the White House) opened the envelope and announced his film as the winner.

Related: Nikki Finke’s Oscar Live-Snark

When he was left off the list of Directing nominees on January 10th he said he was really depressed, but that same night he won the Critics Choice Movie Award as Director and Best Picture, then the Golden Globe three days later, then the PGA, SAG, DGA, WGA and BAFTA honors to name a few. Suddenly Argo was the one to beat and it never wavered. Affleck’s emotional acceptance was heartfelt and perfectly described the personal journey of this actor turned first-rate director. And his acknowledgement of Steven Spielberg from the stage was a nice touch. He won, with Matt Damon, for Best Original Screenplay in 1997 for Good Will Hunting, but this was different as Affleck told me and he was going to savor this moment as long as he could before moving on into the night. It was the same for Argo’s winning screenwriter Chris Terrio who also was hanging late at the Govs Ball even though he had to catch a flight back to his New York home where he is currently writing a new script based on the Greengrass story. As he was just exiting the Ball at the Hollywood and Highland Grand Ballroom, he told me someone gave him advice that he should just try to enjoy this moment first. He seemed to have a hard time soaking it in, but he was going to give it at least this one night before getting back to work.

Argo, after vitually a clean sweep of awards season since the directing snub (which in retrospect could not have hurt), won a respectable three Oscars (also for Editing and Adapted Screenplay), tying Les Misérables for that number of Oscars. But the big winner of the night (if you can call it that) was 20th’s risky box office success Life Of Pi which nabbed four statuettes including a biggie, Best Director for Ang Lee. Had Affleck been nominated, he likely would have won since Best Picture and Director usually go hand in hand, but for whatever reason in a year with an embarrassment of riches it somehow seems totally appropiate that there was a split and Lee was given this award. If anything, Life Of Pi was a directorial achievement like no other and this Oscar was acknowledgement of that. In fact, right after Affleck was snubbed, I predicted Lee would take it, and in the last couple of weeks it was apparent a tide was building for him among Academy voters. It became one of the easiest calls of the night despite the fact that many pundits were calling it for Lincoln‘s Steven Spielberg. At the Govs Ball, Lee, who has won two previous Oscars (for Best Foreign Language Film for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Director for Brokeback Mountain), told me this one means as much or probably more because of the extreme challenges Pi provided. He was clearly thrilled with it and I told him he becomes the first director since George Stevens in the 50s with A Place In The Sun (1951) and Giant (1956) to win two Best Director Oscars for two films that did not win Best Picture, a rare occurence. Read More »

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Big BAFTA Best Film Win Sends ‘Argo’ Into Oscars With Huge Momentum

Pete Hammond

Actual betting on the Oscars is outlawed in the U.S.. But it is permissible in England – and afterBAFTA today’s British Academy Awards show which just wrapped in London, people would be wise to put some pounds on Argo‘s Best Picture Oscar chances. In what is becoming a familiar sight every weekend, Ben Affleck once again was in the winner’s circle at BAFTA, and along with Best Film he also took Best Director, a prize for which he is famously not nominated at the Oscars even though his movie has 7 nominations – just as it did at BAFTA. So add another strong precursor award to the Argo stockpile that now includes PGA, DGA, SAG, Golden Globes, Critics Choice Movie Awards. Last night, it also added an honor for Chris Terrio’s adaptation at the USC Scripter Awards. (Terrio wasn’t there to accept; instead he was in London for the BAFTAs where he lost to David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook – the only award that film picked up.)

Related: BAFTA Winners: ‘Argo’, Ben Affleck, Daniel Day-Lewis, Emmanuelle Riva

So how reliable is BAFTA as an Oscar predictor? Pretty good in recent years, although spotty sometimes in acting categories. But the two organizations  have several hundred of the same members, and last year BAFTA and Oscar matched … Read More »

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OSCARS: Best Actor/Best Actress Race Handicap

Pete Hammond

In a race as tight as the one this year for Best Actress and particularly Best Actor, there were many deserving performances that might have made the cut in any other year but were overlooked because of intense competition. As far as lead acting categories go, this year is one of the most fiercely fought in recent Oscar history. So what was it about the 10 nominated performances in the top two acting categories that sealed the deal with Academy voters? Here’s a look at why they made it to the golden circle.

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper | Silver Linings Playbook

Coming into the project just shortly before production began, Cooper proves a shrewd choice to play Pat Jr., a volatile man just released from an institution, in denial about his dead marriage, and just trying to put his life back together. Mark Wahlberg was cast in the part originally, but after he dropped out, Cooper got the role and ran with it. It’s a delicate balance of comedy and drama that Cooper must navigate, and he creates a wholly original and likable character, a neat trick considering Pat Jr. isn’t always sympathetic. Coming off popcorn movies like The Hangover and The A Team, Cooper finally shows his true acting chops, and his scenes opposite Robert De Niro and Jennifer Lawrence prove he is a talent to be reckoned with. Watching … Read More »

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SAG Awards Film: ‘Argo’ On A Roll; Is It Unstoppable?

Pete Hammond

Though the media often refer to Outstanding Cast In A Motion Picture award as the Screen Actors  Guild’s version of Best Picture, SAG balks at the comparison. The actors say their winners don’t always match up and in fact are strictly an honor for a cast. But Argo‘s big win in SAG’s marquee film category tonight is a Best Picture award. And there can be no question now that Argo is on a roll. Voters just seem to like this picture, and sometimes that’s all it takes. Right now its key rivals are probably beginning to feel like Argo is holding their Best Picture hopes hostage.

Related: SAG Awards To ‘Argo’ Cast, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence

With the PGA win last night, and recent Critics Choice and Golden Globe wins for Picture and Director, Ben Affleck‘s 3rd outing as helmer is so far proving that three’s the charm. Those first two all-important  Guild contests have very good predictive track records when it comes to Oscar. As someone connected with Argo‘s campaign emailed me tonight, “We’re making progress.” That’s an understatement. This morning one Academy voter who was angry after the directors branch snubbed Ben Affleck emailed this to me: “I voted for Argo for a SAG award. And if it wins tonight the world will see the all-powerful wizard: the Academy is not so smart.” Not surprisingly that same voter plans to give a first-place Best Picture vote to Argo – and … Read More »

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AFI Awards: Hollywood Power Players Turn Out For A Moment Of Sanity During Oscar Season Madness

Pete Hammond

Between the roller-coaster ride of Thursday’s 85th Academy Award Nominations and Critics Choice Awards and this weekend’s Golden Globes mania, Friday’s annual AFI Awards Luncheon was not only a breath of fresh air in this busy season. It was a much needed event to put everything in perspective and show not only the impressive group of creative heavyweights from the year’s best movies and TV programs, but also a strong turnout of studio power players, exactly what this should all be about. It’s a celebration of the year’s best work, not another televised awards show that simply tries to divide everything into groups of winners and losers, bad jokes and nervous nominees. “Our wish for today is that this room become a respite from the noise, for us to carry you away as you carry us away. Think of it as when the lights go down in a movie theatre or a story beginning on television. We want you to feel good about your work and feel good about the people you work with because together you have created something beautiful, and in the weeks to come and the years that will pass nothing can take that away from you,” said AFI President and CEO Bob Gazzale in his opening remarks that set just the right tone. With tables for each of AFI’s 10 movies of the year (Argo, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, The Dark Knight Rises, Django Unchained, Read More »

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Critics’ Choice Movie Awards: ‘Argo’ Best Picture, Director; Daniel Day-Lewis, Jessica Chastain Take Acting Honors

Ben Affleck got some consolation tonight when his Argo was named Best Picture and he was honored as Best Director at the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. Affleck, who was overlooked in the director category at today’s Oscar Nominations, took things in stride tonight as he picked up his award for Argo: “I would like to thank the Academy. I’m kidding, this is the award that really counts”.

The Critics’ Choice Movie Awards took place at the Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport. This morning Lincoln dominated Oscar nominations with 12, and Steven Spielberg’s historic film portrait also dominated the broadcast critics contenders with 13. The CW is broadcasting the event from 8 PM to 10 PM Eastern time, tape delayed for the West Coast.

Daniel Day-Lewis, accepting his award for Best Actor, said that Lincoln was “One of the great unforeseen privileges of my life. Each and every day was filled with discovery and the joy of discovery.” Jessica Chastain was voted Best Actress for her work as a driven CIA analyst for Zero Dark Thirty. Jennifer Lawrence nabbed two prizes, one for Best Actress in an Action Movie for The Hunger Games and the other for Best Actress in a Comedy for Silver Linings Playbook.

A complete list of winners follows:
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OSCARS: Will Criticism Or Praise Affect Race?

Pete Hammond

It looks like the U.S. Senate, a body used to politics of every stripe, is now injecting itself into Hollywood’s Oscar politics by taking visible public stands on two major Oscar contenders, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty. Disney/Fox/Dreamworks’ Oscar contender Lincoln was the beneficiary of an almost unheard of bi-partisan screening for the U.S. Senate tonight. But that was almost overshadowed earlier today when Deadline broke news of a bi-partisan letter from three key U.S. Senators, Republican John McCain and Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin, to Sony Pictures. It complained about certain aspects of the depiction of torture in the hunt for Osama bin Laden as characterized in the studio’s major Oscar contender Zero Dark Thirty. (It opened today in limited release and goes wide on January 11th, the day after Oscar nominations are announced). The scenes in question were roundly denounced by the trio: “We write to express our deep disappointment with the movie Zero Dark Thirty. We believe the film is grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Osama bin Laden.” They said they have reviewed CIA records and know the film’s “implications”  are incorrect.

Whether this kind of ringing denouncement of the admittedly “fictional” film about the hunt for bin Laden is true or not, this is not the kind of publicity the studio wants for its Oscar campaign even though controversy is usually great for box office. With Oscar voting just starting this week any suggestion that the film’s credibility is lacking (particularly from the likes of such high ranking members of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence) is not generally on any Oscar strategist’s wish list.  But Zero Dark Thirty has been enveloped in controversy right from the beginning, and today Sony strongly suggested that the pic is being misunderstood in certain quarters. The Senators are asking the studio to put a disclaimer on the film regarding events depicted as “facts” in the movie. Whether that has any ultimate effect on the film’s awards prospects, particularly at the Oscars, remains to be seen. So far it has cleaned up with critics groups’ year-end honors and fared very well with Golden Globe and Critics Choice Movie Awards nominations. It was also named one of the AFI’s top 10 movies of the year.

Related: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Gives Sony Early Awards Heat

Controversies like this have made their mark in past Oscar races with mixed results. Attacks on the credibility of the 1999 biopic, The Hurricane, in which Denzel Washington played boxer Read More »

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Santa Barbara Film Festival To Honor Daniel Day-Lewis

By | Tuesday December 18, 2012 @ 8:19am PST

EXCLUSIVE: The Lincoln star will receive the festival’s Montecito Award for his performance in the Steven Spielberg movie and his overall career. The tribute, which includes a conversation with the actor, is set for January 26 at the Arlington Theatre. Previous recipients of the honor, created in recognition of a performer who has given a series of classic and standout performances, has gone to the likes of Geoffrey Rush, Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet, Javier Bardem, Naomi Watts and Annette Bening. “Daniel Day-Lewis continues to inspire the industry and the public by his approach to tackling the most complex of characters and delivering brilliant performances time after time,” Santa Barbara executive director Roger Durling said. “He is indicative of what the Montecito Award represents and we are thrilled to be presenting this to him this year.” The festival runs January 24-February 3.

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Mike Fleming’s Q&A With Steven Spielberg: Why It Took 12 Years To Find ‘Lincoln’

By | Thursday December 6, 2012 @ 3:12pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: It’s easy to imagine that when Steven Spielberg sets his sights on a movie, Hollywood’s most storied director doesn’t struggle like most others. That most certainly wasn’t the case with Lincoln. It took Spielberg a dozen years to find a handle on the 16th U.S. President’s sprawling political and personal story, three times as long as it took to fight the actual Civil War that defined Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. It took Spielberg half that many years to convince Daniel Day-Lewis, who looks so much like Lincoln that he could pose for the $5 bill if the image needs updating. Here, Spielberg explains to Deadline why it was worth the long years he and screenwriter Tony Kushner spent finding an under-told facet of the president’s life story that elevated Lincoln above a dusty history lesson.

DEADLINE: It seems unusual for the most successful director in Hollywood to wage an extended courtship as you did to get Daniel Day-Lewis to play Lincoln. Daniel once told me that he tries to find reasons not to do every movie offered him, and only says yes to the ones he can’t talk himself out of. This is because he pays such a high personal price to turn in these amazing performances. How did you court him and how did you finally convince him?

STEVEN SPIELBERG: Well, it took a long time. Daniel certainly had about six years to think about it. But there were really two things going on. The first time around, I offered him not this Lincoln, not the Tony Kushner-written Lincoln, and not the Lincoln written on Doris’ book Team Of Rivals. It was an original Lincoln script that I developed. And that was when he first turned me down to play the character based on what he freely admitted was an intimidation based on the size of the figure, of Lincoln himself. I don’t think he ever forgot our encounter, though. And I don’t think he ever forgot the challenge that was offered to him.

DEADLINE: What finally turned him around?

SPIELBERG: What really, really did the trick was when he read the Tony Kushner script and I was able to get a take two. My good buddy Leo DiCaprio simply called him up one day and said “you need to reconsider this. Steven really wants you for this and he’s not willing to make the movie without you.” Based on Leo’s phone call to him, Daniel offered to read the Tony Kushner script, which he had never read, and also the Doris Kearns Goodwin book, which he had never read. That’s when the courtship part was over. Once he read the script, then he really had to come to terms with that big decision he would eventually have to make. Can I, with honor, equip this character in a way that I’ll be able to live with this the rest of my life?

DEADLINE: What’s the closest in any of your films where you put as much time into convincing an actor to star in your movie? Has there been another instance like this?

SPIELBERG: Never. Never. I’ve never gone on a campaign before, I pretty much take no for an answer. It’s one of the few times in my entire life where I was not willing to accept that answer. Read More »

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Oprah Winfrey Comes Full Circle For OWN ‘Lincoln’ Special: Video

By | Thursday November 29, 2012 @ 1:01pm PST

It’s a reunion for Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg when she returns to the studio where she first auditioned for the director for a role in The Color Purple. Now 27 years later, she’s here to talk with Spielberg about his latest film Lincoln. The clip below offers a first look at her conversation with Spielberg and the film’s stars Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field. The interview airs on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network on Sunday, Dec. 2 at 9 PM.

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Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ Closes AFI Fest, Marches Into Oscar Season

Pete Hammond

“It has all been leading up to this night,”  AFI CEO and President Bob Gazzale told me at the Hollywood Roosevelt pre-screening reception for the AFI Fest closing film, the official World Premiere of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. It was actually first presented in “unfinished” form at the New York Film Festival, a fact that didn’t bother Gazzale. “We ask the studios ‘how can we help you with your movie? We were thrilled to get it as our closing’,”  he said and felt this was a very big deal. It made nice bookends for the festival that opened with Hitchcock and now was closing with Lincoln.

It was indeed a big deal with virtually the entire principal cast turning out. Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones as well as Spielberg, screenwriter Tony Kushner and most of the key crew were there. DreamWorks chief Stacey Snider, Participant’s Jim Berk and Jeff Skoll and Disney’s Bob Iger also attended, along with many others.

Spielberg was excited to see the long gestating project finally premiere at the Chinese Theatre. The film, which details Lincoln’s battle with Congress to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, is ironically relevant to today’s fractured Congressional fights and the director thinks the post-election timing is perfect, especially with looming debates about several hot button issues. “I didn’t want to see this released in front of the election or see it politicized”, Spielberg told me. “I think now it can almost be a kind of cleansing for the country”. Read More »

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Daniel Day-Lewis Channels Clint Eastwood At Britannia Awards: Video

By | Thursday November 8, 2012 @ 10:51am PST

The Lincoln star was among the honorees at last night’s BAFTA LA gala the Britannia Awards at the Beverly Hilton. The Brit couldn’t help but try another portrayal of a real-life figure with a help of a certain furniture prop made famous during the Republican National Convention. “This is nothing against Clint Eastwood …” Day-Lewis said during his acceptance speech. “But when I saw him talking to a chair in front of a roomful of strangers, I thought, ‘I’ve got to try that’”. The full awards ceremony airs Sunday night on BBC America. Check out the video:

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With One Race Almost Over, Is A New Presidential Race Gearing Up For Oscars?

Pete Hammond

If you think the Presidential election ends today, think again.

Although America will cast its vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney today, the other campaign that really matters is for the Oscar, and there’s a strong Presidential flavor brewing. That’s true particularly in the Best Actor race, where one of the early frontrunners, Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln (to be released Friday), could find himself squaring off against Bill Murray playing Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Hyde Park On Hudson (12/7). And yet another President, Jimmy Carter, could have a positive impact on the tight Best Picture race. Or in a less direct way, maybe even on Barack Obama himself.

Scores of actors have played Presidents over the course of cinema history, but few have scored at the Oscars with those portrayals. In fact, no one has managed to win an Oscar for actually playing a President — real or fictional. (This year, campaigners for Day-Lewis and Murray are determined to change that fact.) Even nominations for actors playing real Presidents have been hard to come by: Richard Nixon provided the best opportunity winning a Lead Actor nomination for Anthony Hopkins in Oliver Stone’s Nixon (1995), and for Frank Langella in 2008′s Frost/Nixon. Hopkins also got a supporting nomination in 1997 as John Quincy Adams in Amistad. Read More »

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Hot International Trailer: ‘Lincoln’

By | Monday November 5, 2012 @ 7:19pm PST

Here’s a new international trailer for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Robert Todd Lincoln. Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, Jared Harris, John Hawkes, Sally Field and David Strathairn also star. 20th Century Fox is handling international distribution for the DreamWorks film which opens November 9.

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‘Lincoln’ Premieres At New York FIlm Festival; Steven Spielberg Glad Film Comes Out Post-Election So It Isn’t Turned Into “Political Football”

By | Tuesday October 9, 2012 @ 6:49am PDT
Mike Fleming

2ND UPDATE: As Deadline revealed exclusively last week, the Steven Spielberg-directed Lincoln made a surprise world premiere at the New York Film Festival on Monday evening. It has been one of the wildcards in the Oscar conversation, with the nomination buzz for the picture and Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, and Tommy Lee Jones louder now than ever. Afterwards was a Q&A with screenwriter Tony Kushner and director Steven Spielberg (moderated by outgoing NYFF festival director Richard Pena).

Pena brought up a point that is glaringly obvious to those who watched the film and might have been surprised that it was the Republicans, and not the Democrats, leading the crusade to abolish slavery. Pena asked: “What were you thinking of, in terms of how this film would make an intervention in terms of what is going on right now”

Said Spielberg: “I just said, please don’t release this until the election is over. I didn’t want it to be this political football going back and forth. Because it’s kind of confusing. The parties traded political places over the last 150 years. That in itself is a great story, how the Republican Party went from a progressive party in 1865, and how the Democrats were represented in the picture, to the way it’s just the opposite today. But that’s a whole other story.”

Lincoln took over ten years to figure out, and Kushner, who helped Spielberg find the tone of the Best Picture … Read More »

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Surprise: Steven Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ To Premiere Monday At New York Film Festival

Lincoln Movie PremiereEXCLUSIVE: One of the fun parts of the New York Film Festival is the surprise films that show up unannounced. We are hearing that the festival will stage the World Premiere of Lincoln, the Steven Spielberg-directed film that stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the 16th President in the final months of his life and his struggle to end the Civil War, reunite the country and abolish slavery. Tony Kushner wrote the script.

The DreamWorks film made a splash last night with a two-minute trailer that was shown immediately following the first Presidential debate between Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney. NYFF last year surprised festgoers with a premiere of the in-progress Martin Scorsese-directed Hugo, a film that went on to garner a swarm of Oscar nominations including Best Picture. It’s a showy way to put a film in the Oscar conversation. DreamWorks would not confirm this is happening, but dress for it! Here’s the trailer that premiered last night:

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BAFTA To Honor Daniel Day-Lewis With Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award

By | Thursday October 4, 2012 @ 6:00am PDT

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles will present Daniel Day-Lewis with the Stanley Kubrick Britannia Award for Excellence in Film at the 2012 BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards on November 7 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

“We are thrilled to bestow Daniel with this prestigious award. His remarkable body of work ensures that this honor is more than well-deserved, and we are excited to include him among the other esteemed honorees of the evening,” said Britannia Chairman, Nigel Lythgoe. Read More »

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