Another piece of the Oscar-season puzzle was unveiled Sunday night when Sony held the first major screening of David O. Russell‘s American Hustle at the Cary Grant Theatre on the Culver City lot. The packed crowd was largely made up of SAG and a few Academy members, plus select press. Since this and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street (which begins screening at the end of the month) have been the two remaining question marks before we have a clear view of the complete competitive landscape, the unveiling of this one was hotly anticipated. It was definitely the place to be. In fact, one New York-based consultant working on the film flew in Sunday afternoon specifically for the screening and flew back on the red-eye immediately afterwards.
If rivals were hoping it would be a bust, or at the very least a disappointment, I hate to bring them the bad news. Although formal reviews are verboten until early next month, I can say that from my vantage point, Russell — whose last two films Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and The Fighter (2010) were nominated for Best Picture and Director, as well as taking some acting Oscars — has another winner with a film that will have strong appeal particularly in the actors branch and at SAG. I also think, even in this fiercely contested year, Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Editing and Costume nods could be in the cards along with any number of possibilities for its superb ensemble including lead actor Christian Bale, lead actress Amy Adams, supporting actors Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner, and supporting actress Jennifer Lawrence. Especially Lawrence; she is simply dazzling as Bale’s wife, a total knockout scene-stealer throughout. If she hadn’t already won last year as Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook, there is no doubt she might be unbeatable here. At 23 years old and the star of this weekend’s all-time November record breaker, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, she may well become the frontrunner anyway to take back-to-back Academy Awards after this performance is seen. It’s prime Oscar bait. The actors, including voters I spoke to afterward, were clearly blown away. In fact the entire cast — which also includes a terrific unbilled one-scene cameo from Robert De Niro, who was nominated last year for Silver Linings — will certainly figure heavily for the SAG Outstanding Cast of a Motion Picture award. One person connected to the film to whom I spoke said early reaction had been on the mixed side, but I couldn’t detect that at this screening. It was all upbeat. Time will tell. READ MORE »
Anna Lisa Raya is Deputy Editor of AwardsLine.
If the pressures of Oscar season are getting to American Hustle producers Charles Roven and Richard Suckle of Atlas Entertainment and Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures, they don’t show it. While they’re working hard at finishing David O. Russell’s latest film, which is loosely based on events and people surrounding the 1970s Abscam FBI sting, the industry is busy prognosticating and predicting American Hustle’s chances in the race. And why wouldn’t there be Oscar talk, considering the film’s pedigree? Not only is Russell coming off two consecutive best picture noms, with The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, but the cast reads like any director’s wish list: Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Jeremy Renner. The film is set for a December 13 release, nestled firmly in the awards season sweet spot.
AwardsLine: How did each of you get involved with American Hustle?
Richard Suckle: It started (in 2009) with (screenwriter) Eric Singer. He pitched it to me, and then we pitched it to Chuck. We essentially got the (life) rights to Mel Weinberg, whose character is the inspiration behind Christian Bale’s character. (Weinberg) is the con man who worked for the FBI and created Abscam.
Charles Roven: Then we developed a really great script that was more procedural-based, in terms of the events that took place in and around Abscam. When David (O. Russell) got involved, he felt very strongly that rather than having the spine of the movie be Abscam, he wanted the spine to be character-based. So he rewrote the script and moved (it) in that direction, and it became more fictional as a result.
Megan Ellison: I stepped in when it was an Eric Singer draft, and David had just come on. I sat down with David, and he talked about how to shift it to be a more character-driven piece like most of his work. I don’t think any of us suspected the page-one rewrite that we ended up getting, which was really phenomenal. He took a lot of the work that Eric did and just fleshed out the characters.
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David O Russell‘s American Hustle opens in limited release on December 13th and goes wide on December 18th. Sony sneaked six minutes of the period drama about the FBI’s late-70s Abscam sting at an AFI Fest tribute to Russell over the weekend. … Read More »
Anna Lisa Raya is a Deadline contributor.
The second half of Deadline’s 3rd annual Contenders event at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills got off to an energized start after lunch on the outdoor terrace. Deadline Awards columnist Pete Hammond returned with Captain Phillips star Barkhad Abdi, who had one of the bigger moments of the day when he revealed he ad-libbed his momentous “I am the captain now” line in the Sony film, essentially stealing the scene from Tom Hanks. The film’s producers, Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti, were spotted in the audience joining in the roaring applause.
Related: Deadline’s Contenders 2013 – Morning Panels
Anyone who’s been waiting for David O. Russell’s follow-up to last year’s Oscar-nominated Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle (also for for Sony), will be happy to know the film was locked down today. This is per one of the film’s producers, Richard Suckle, who was on hand to discuss the genesis of the film which is loosely based on the ABSCAM scandals of the 1970s. One of his funnier reveals was that star Bradley Cooper — not wanting to perm his hair for the film — spent hours in hair and makeup every day getting it curled. Co-star Christian Bale, on the other hand, gained 40 lbs. for his role and shaved the crown of his head to perfect his character’s outlandish comb over.
Julie Delpy, co-writer and star of Sony Pictures Classics’ Before Midnight, had a lot to say about the intense writing and preparation that went into making the film appear as improvised and natural as it does. Acting the role was “extremely stressful,” she told Hammond. “There’s no plot. There’s nothing to hold onto but character and emotional arc.” Also for SPC is Tim’s Vermeer — a documentary about one man’s attempt to recreate a Johannes Vermeer painting — which was uncharacteristically directed by Teller (better known as the other half of Penn & Teller). He was thankful for his editor, Patrick Sheffield, who made sense of the over 2,400 hours of footage. Writer Kelly Marcel was on-hand to discuss Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, the only film ever allowed to feature Walt Disney as a character. She called the studio “unbelievably brave” in how hands-off they were with her and director John Lee Hancock.
Related: PHOTOS: Contenders 2013 Gallery
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David O. Russell‘s dream team cast of Russell vets Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro (plus Jeremy Renner) have eyes on awards season with the period drama American Hustle, about the FBI’s late-’70s Abscam sting. Sony has just … Read More »
Considering the pedigree of director and cast and its December 25 release date through Sony, the David O Russell-directed American Hustle figures to be a big Oscar contender. The studio has been quiet until now, but released a teaser trailer that was part of an interview that … Read More »
Twenty-seven writers including John Gatins, Quentin Tarantino and David O. Russell were named finalists in nine categories for the 39th annual Humanitas Prize. The writers will compete for $95,000 in prize money to be handed out at the annual luncheon September 20 at the Montage Beverly Hills. The Humanitas Prize was created to honor TV and film writers for telling stories, which “truly and deeply explore the human experience in a way that both entertains and enlightens,” the org says. Of the finalists, executive director Cathleen Young said, “These gifted storytellers made us laugh and cry and ultimately, brought us closer together as a family by deeply exploring what it means to be human!” Click over for the full list of nominees: Read More »
Filming on David O Russell‘s American Hustle was suspended Friday amid the Boston manhunt. But the ’70s-set corruption pic is going back into production on Monday, a Sony spokesperson … Read More »
David O Russell will also receive the Spirit of Independence Award at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival, which is set for June 13-23 and opens with Pedro Almodovar’s comedy I’m So Excited!” … Read More »
David O. Russell‘s upcoming corruption drama, formerly known as American Bullshit, has a new name. It’s now titled American Hustle. The pic has been getting a lot of buzz because of its killer cast … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Michael Pena is the latest name to join David O Russell‘s next film, which already stars Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence. The Sony Pictures drama, formerly known as American Bullshit, is inspired by a true story of a notorious financial con artist and his mistress/partner in crime, who were forced to work with an overly ambitious federal agent to turn the tables on other con artists, mobsters and politicians. Russell is working with original scribe Eric Warren Singer on a rewrite, and Sony has set a December 13 release. Pena, whose recent credits include co-starring in David Ayer’s End Of Watch and Gangster Squad, recently completed voice work on DreamWorks Animation’s Turbo due out in July and also just wrapped the Diego Luna-directed Chavez. He is repped by CAA, Management 360 and Rick Genow. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Boardwalk Empire‘s Jack Huston has just joined the cast of David O. Russell‘s untitled corruption drama, the one that has been known as American Bullshit and more recently the ABSCAM project. Huston joins Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence. Huston, who plays the scarred WWI vet Richard Harrow who continues to be one of the most riveting characters in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, will next be seen starring opposite Daniel Radcliffe, Elizabeth Olsen and Dane DeHaan in Kill Your Darlings, which Sony Pictures Classics acquired at Sundance. He also stars in the Bille August-directed Night Train To Lisbon, which screened at Berlin, and Posthumous opposite Brit Marling. Huston was last seen onscreen in the David Chase-directed Not Fade Away. He’s repped by UTA, Untitled and Ken Mcreddie Associates. Read More »
BREAKING: Sony will open the David O Russell-directed drama formerly known as American Bullshit in limited released December 13, with a wide opening planned for Xmas Day. The film stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Alessandro Nivola is negotiating to join Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence in the David O Russell-directed drama on the ABSCAM scandal. Nivola will play Reggio, the federal prosecutor who tried the case in court. The Eric Singer-scripted drama is about the ’70s FBI sting operation Abscam that took down a bunch of U.S. congressmen.
Nivola recently wrapped the Atom Egoyan-directed Devil’s Knot, the drama that stars Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth. He plays Terry Hobbs, a stepfather of one of the three murdered children, who later became a focus of suspicion though he has denied any part in the triple murder and has not been brought up on charges. Nivola will next be seen as Elle Fanning’s anarchist father in the Sally Potter-directed Ginger And Rosa, which opens March 15. Nivola is also booked to star with Cooper in the Scott Rudin-produced Broadway revival of The Elephant Man. He’s repped by CAA and Management 360. Read More »
BREAKING: The Weinstein Company acquired worldwide rights to David O. Russell’s upcoming project The Ends Of The Earth. Jennifer Lawrence, who is up for for an Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook, will star. Scripted by Oscar-nominated Argo scribe Chris Terrio, the film is produced by Todd Black, Steve Tisch and Jason Blumenthal of Escape Artists. Russell signed his deal last night, and Harvey Weinstein expects this to be close to Django Unchained in terms of the epic size and budget.
Lawrence just enlisted in Russell’s next film, the untitled Abscam film that also stars Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.
Black and Tisch said “Jennifer Lawrence is one of the most versatile actresses we have ever seen. Her performance in Silver Linings was transcendent and was truly the heart and soul of the film. Jennifer was basically asked to play 4 personalities — depressed, sexy, romantic and a wild dancer — and did them all brilliantly. After seeing that performance we knew we had our anchor for Ends Of The Earth. Her dedication to the craft and all those who work with her is inspiring and if she is the future of our business we are certainly in good hands.” Read More »
Michael Haneke | Amour
Oscar pedigree: He has two nominations this year for screenwriting and direction. Previously, 2009’s The White Ribbon received two noms for best foreign language film and cinematography.
Birds … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Whatever happens in the Best Picture Oscar race, where Argo has emerged as a strong frontrunner thanks to an unbroken string of victories in all the key precursor awards, the race for the Best Director Oscar is … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Jennifer Lawrence has been tapped to star opposite Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner in the David O Russell pic formerly known as American Bullshit, the drama written by Eric … Read More »