The Coen brothers‘ Inside Llewyn Davis won Best Feature tonight at the fourth annual IFP Gotham Independent Film Awards but lost some of the spotlight to presenter Lee Daniels, who made some eyebrow-raising remarks. Kicking off awards season in NYC, the trophy show propelled the CBS period folk music drama and Fruitvale Station, Dallas Buyers Club, and docu The Act of Killing toward the Oscars. The raucous audience at Cipriani Wall Street chattered so loudly during Daniels’ tribute speech his The Butler star Forest Whitaker that he tried to shush them with a few f-bombs. “Forest would like to hear all you talking through my speech, so shut the f*ck up,” admonished Daniels. He wasn’t the only presenter to complain onstage about the Gothams crowd, as Julie Delpy threatened to set herself on fire to get their attention while presenting another tribute, to Before Midnight helmer Richard Linklater.
Big wins went to Fruitvale Station, which nabbed Best Breakthrough Director and Actor for Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan, respectively. Dallas Buyers Club star and Oscar hopeful Matthew McConaughey won the Gothams’ inaugural Best Actor award and accepted via iPhone through co-star Jared Leto with his signature “All right, all right, all right.” Short Term 12‘s Brie Larson nabbed Best Actress honors, boosting the SXSW winner’s awards profile. Presenting Best Documentary, Morgan Spurlock took a shot at public television (“PBS: We pay more money than IFC”) before presenting the Gotham to Joshua Oppenheimer’s Oscar hopeful The Act of Killing.
Related: OSCARS: An Early Look At The Best Picture Race – Frontrunners In A Crowded Field
Host Nick Kroll (Kroll Show, The League) struggled with the ambivalent room early on with a roast of the indie scene: “To the people from L.A. or abroad, I hope you’re enjoying your tiny hotel room you had to pay for out of pocket because Magnolia or IFC wouldn’t pony up.” Riffing on the night’s nominees, he quipped, “A common theme in this year’s movies are the horrors we inflict upon one another – slavery, war, folk music… .” Unfortunately for Kroll, he was upstaged by New York Mayor Bloomberg. “Independent filmmakers and New York have a lot in common… We both want Harvey Weinstein to be nice to us.” Boosting local filmmaking versus runaway production to neighboring Canada while presenting the tribute to his Media and Entertainment Commissioner Katherine Oliver, Bloomberg joked, “For the record: the mayor of Toronto and the mayor of New York do not have a lot in common.” READ MORE »
Writer/Director Ryan Coogler‘s Sundance Film Festival sensation Fruitvale Station is now, just ten months later, hitting the awards season with strong impact. He was nominated Tuesday for Best First Feature at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, but as … Read More »
A recent, and unsolicited, email from a producer friend of mine demonstrates what a lot of people are saying about this year’s best picture race: “Now this is a year for film! Tremendous. Going to be a fun one, my friend.” It is going to be a fun one. Nearly every Academy member to whom I have spoken seems excited about the level of quality in this year’s race, which is a strong indication that this could be the first year 10 films are nominated since the rules changed to allow a variable number. Just consider what’s already out there in theaters or on Blu-Ray: 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, Captain Phillips, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Dallas Buyers Club, Blue Jasmine, All Is Lost, Fruitvale Station, Prisoners, Rush, Blue Is The Warmest Color, Before Midnight, Mud and The Place Beyond The Pines.
The fact is, this is a year in which there could be room for 20 films. Consider those yet to open or just opening: Philomena, Saving Mr. Banks, Nebraska, Inside Llewyn Davis, August: Osage County, The Book Thief, Her, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Lone Survivor, Labor Day and The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty. All of those films have played the fest circuit, and most pundits—including this one—already have seen them and can say definitively that it’s a formidable list. Of those yet to be seen by just about anyone outside of rarefied circles are The Wolf Of Wall Street and American Hustle, both December releases expected to be major players in several races.
Related: OSCARS: Fest Circuit A Must For Majors Chasing Award Season Gold
With this kind of lineup, it is no wonder some movies once thought to have awards aspiration—such as Foxcatcher, Grace Of Monaco, The Immigrant and George Clooney’s The Monuments Men—have all opted out. And why not? Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Just over 12 hours after tonight’s screening with President Obama of Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom at the White House, Harvey Weinstein will be back at the Executive Mansion to talk film again. This time the Weinstein Company co-chairman will be with First Lady Michelle Obama at 10 AM PT for the Careers In Film symposium she is hosting Friday. Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler and One Chance director David Frankel will join Obama and Weinstein. Naomie Harris, who plays Winnie Mandela in Long Walk To Freedom, also will be participating. The filmmakers’ discussion will be moderated by Gayle King. Coogler also will be joining the Obamas, Harris, Weinstein and Mandela director Justin Chadwick and star Idris Elba at the screening tonight, I’ve learned. The Friday event is designed to teach high school students from Washington DC, NYC and Boston about the film industry. Read More »
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline.
Deadline’s 3rd annual The Contenders event kicked off this morning at the shimmering new Wallis Annenberg Center For the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, simultaneously launching the 2013 awards season precisely four months before the 86th Academy Awards. The spotlight fell on seven different studios/distributors and 22 films competing for awards consideration, with an overview of the Weinstein Company‘s impressive offerings getting things started in a highlight reel that felt like an Oscar contender in itself. An assortment of TWC writers, producers and directors were on hand to share anecdotes and tidbits with Deadline’s Pete Hammond, including Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler, Lee Daniels’ The Butler producer Pam Williams and writer Danny Strong, August: Osage County director John Wells, and the directors of the acclaimed documentaries 20 Feet From Stardom (Morgan Neville) and Salinger (Shane Salerno). Hammond quipped that TWC was so stocked with doc contenders this year that of the 151 eligible entries, “149 felt like they were from Weinstein.” Wells recalled how Osage County co-star Meryl Streep showed up to the first table read of ther script having memorized it and going off-book. “Everyone was like, ‘Wow’,” he recalled. “It was, ‘OK, game on’.”
Related: PHOTOS: Contenders 2013 Gallery
During a session promoting the Roadside/Lionsgate feature All is Lost starring Robert Redford in what the actor has called the most challenging role of his career, sound editors Richard Hymns and Steve Boeddeker marveled at how the film – with abundant action, a single star and minimal dialogue – was literally a sound editor’s dream. And during the following panel for the Focus Features hopefuls Dallas Buyers Club, The Place Beyond the Pines and We Steal Secrets, the morning theme of patience being a virtue came to the fore. Dallas Buyers Club producer Robbie Brenner calmly discussed how her film’s journey from script to screen spanned some 20 years – and nearly fell apart at the last minute when Canadian financing dried up. Read More »
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
The Weinstein Company has managed to hit the zeitgeist on plenty of occasions, but this is one has eerie timing. The same weekend that the Trayvon Martin verdict was read, the company also happened to release its Sundance Film Festival ’13 winner Fruitvale Station in 7 theaters, pulling in a broad reach of audiences even as the Twittersphere linked the film with last night’s George Zimmerman verdict. Director Ryan Coogler’s drama, which won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and was picked up by TWC at the festival, tells a story that draws parallels with the Martin case which has gripped the 24 news cycle the past couple weeks. Fruitvale Station grossed $377,285 for a stellar $53,898 average in its opening weekend.
Related: ‘Fruitvale Station’ Star Michael B. Jordan Almost Cancels Q&A After Zimmerman Verdict
TWC’s president Theatrical Distribution, Erik Lomis acknowledged the timing of the film’s release, though he chalked most of the film’s success to its quality rather than timing Sunday morning: “It’s a counter-programmer to the summer popcorn fare. It’s a movie that really makes you think and makes you look inside. It has a great message about a tragic situation and we’re proud of the film and the talent. These numbers speak for themselves.” Relating it to the Martin verdict he noted: “It’s a similar issue and in the public sphere — we didn’t plan that of course. I think our picture has a very important message and we want as many people to see it as possible.” Lomis noted that the film played across the spectrum with a 43% white and 29% African American audience over the weekend. Read More »
UPDATE: At a Q&A following a Saturday night screening of Fruitvale Station in LA, star Michael B. Jordan told the audience: “I want to hear your questions tonight and answer them. But if you could keep it away from Trayvon, I think my opinion on that is not going to help anybody right now.” Jordan was there to talk about the acclaimed Sundance and Cannes Film Festival award-winning film about Oscar Grant, the young black man who was killed by a white BART officer in a 2009 New Year’s Eve incident at the Fruitvale Station stop in Oakland. ”My heart hurts so bad right now. I wasn’t going to come after I found out about George Zimmerman getting acquitted. It broke me up. That’s why I think this film means so much, because it keeps happening again and again. [We must] learn how to treat each other better and stop judging one another just because we’re different. It’s not just a black and white thing, it’s a people thing. It’s the only way that things are going to take the necessary steps to move in the right direction so things can get better because I don’t think it’s ever gonna stop, but something’s gotta f*****g change.”
Fruitvale Station opened this weekend on seven screens. The Weinstein Company‘s distribution head Erik Lomis said the movie is headed for what may be a stellar $50,000 per screen first weekend gross putting it the top tier of 2013 specialty openings. He says the company plans to expand it to another 6 markets next weekend and go nationally on July 26th. Read More »
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
The theatrical rollout of the Sundance Film Festival‘s Grand Jury Prize winner is an anticipated and likely nerve-racking occasion for insiders. This year, newcomer Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station holds the mantle. The film won the festival’s top jury prize in addition to the Audience Award. Last year’s big winner Beasts Of The Southern Wild – also from a newcomer, Benh Zeitlin – opened in the summer, going on to rack up critical awards as well as Oscar nominations and solid but not explosive numbers at the box office. Fruitvale‘s debut will hopefully add shine to what has been a mixed to blasé bag in the Specialty arena of late. Also this weekend, fellow Sundance winner Crystal Fairy (a World Cinema prize winner) is also hitting the big screen via IFC Films. The film was a spontaneous undertaking while filmmaker Sebastián Silva and star Michael Cera awaited financing for another project. Cannes 2012 award winner The Hunt from veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg also joins the newcomer list Friday. The dark but acclaimed film has been a hit at home and other territories, but how it will translate in the U.S. remains to be seen. The weekend’s largest Specialty rollout in terms of location count, though, comes from India. Reliance will open Bhaag Milkha Bhaag in over 100 theaters across the country. Comparatively more limited new arrivals this weekend come from Samuel Goldwyn Films (Still Mine) and Anchor Bay Films (Pawn Shop Chronicles).
Director-writer: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray, Ahna O’Reilly
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Fruitvale Station occupies a coveted place in the specialty/indie world, winning the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic Feature as well as the Audience Award in the same category. Its wins also naturally carry expectations. Last year’s jury prize winner, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, bowed with a $42,426 PSA in four theaters and went on to cume nearly $12.8 million domestically. It also managed to accumulate a slew of year-end awards as well as multiple Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress in a Leading Role, not bad for a film with no known actors. Fruitvale Station, however, boasts known talent including Oscar winner Octavia Spencer and Friday Night Lights actor Michael B. Jordan. “We’re excited and have high hopes for Fruitvale Station,” said TWC president of Theatrical Distribution Erik Lomis. “Beasts is not a model for this, but it did prove that you don’t have to open at the end of year to receive acknowledgment. There needs to be an alternative [to the summer blockbusters]. It’s a powerful film and we’re going to take it out nationally.” Read More »
Listen to (and share) episode 34 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about a very strong slate of African-American-themed films, led by the award-winning Fruitvale Station, which opens this week; Oscar plans to spotlight film music in a new concert; and last-minute buzz ahead of the Emmy nomination announcements next week. Pete also gives his take on the rest of the week’s movie debuts, including Guillermo del Toro’s fine monster movie Pacific Rim, Adam Sandler sequel Grown Ups 2 and the late-arriving DreamWorks Animation entry Turbo.
Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 34 (MP3 format)
Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 34 (MP4a format) Read More »
Last month the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences took great strides in order to bring more diversity to its membership. Now will that effort affect the actual Oscar race itself? Certainly this year distributors, particularly The Weinstein Company and Fox Searchlight, are going to be giving the Academy every opportunity to put some diversity into that race, especially in terms of a major African- American presence. Beginning with this Friday’s platformed Weinstein release of the widely acclaimed Sundance and Cannes award winner, Fruitvale Station there is a highly promising lineup of films that seriously depict the Black experience to be released in the second half of 2013. And I am not talking about Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas.
This group of movies, which also includes the increasingly-controversial The Butler (8/16- Weinstein), 12 Years A Slave (10/18- Searchlight), Mandela: A Long Walk To Freedom (11/29 – Weinstein), Black Nativity (11/27 – Searchlight), Blue Caprice starring Isaiah Washington (IFC – 9/13), the recently -released documentary Twenty Feet From Stardom (Radius-TWC) and (far less likely) even the long-delayed Winnie Mandela (Image Entertainment) starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard now being released in September, provide a bountiful opportunity to let the Academy show off its new spirit of diversity, not that they have been completely dormant in that area in recent years. Of course 2012′s Beasts Of The Southern Wild made the most recent Best Picture cut and won its 9 year old star Quvenzhane Wallis a Best Actress nomination. And Quentin Tarantino’s Oscar winning Original Screenplay for another 2012 Best Pic nominee, Django Unchained had a unique take on slavery. Two years ago the box office success of The Help propelled it towards a Best Picture nomination and acting nods for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, the latter winning for Best Supporting Actress. And just four years ago Precious won a couple of key Oscars for Supporting Actress Monique and screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher as well as Best Picture and Directing (for Lee Daniels) nominations. Read More »
The 2013 Un Certain Regard prizes were handed out by Thomas Vinterberg’s jury this evening in Cannes. Cambodian director Rithy Panh won the top award for his first-person story The Missing Picture. The Jury Prize was given to the well-liked Omar by Oscar nominee Hany Abu-Assad. Alain Guiraudie won the Directing Prize for the controversial but acclaimed erotic thriller Stranger By The Lake which Strand Releasing picked up this week. The Un Certain Talent award was given to the ensemble of actors from Spanish director Diego Quemada-Diez’ The Golden Cage. And Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station was honored with the Prize of the Future. His film, which won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award in Sundance, held a berth in UCR that’s usually reserved for movies that made a name in Park City. Eventual Oscar nominee Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts Of The Southern Wild ran in UCR last year. Read More »
Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights) stars in Fruitvale Station as Oscar Grant, the 22-year-old Bay Area man whose fatal 2009 shooting by Oakland BART police sparked outrage and protests against police brutality. The Weinstein Co. nabbed Ryan Coogler’s directorial debut out … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Following in the footsteps of Beasts Of The Southern Wild or Fruitvale Station, the 13 projects selected today for this June’s Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs could end up as Oscar nominees or at Cannes too. The projects’ origins range from the U.S. and the U.K. to Mexico, Peru, Germany and Somalia with the filmmakers’ backgrounds in photography, advertising and documentary not to mention a couple of past BAFTA and Sundance winners. This round of Sundance fellows will work with established filmmakers such as Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow, On The Road director Walter Salles, author/screenwriter Walter Mosley, Oscar nominee Ed Harris and Sundance founder Robert Redford. The Directors Lab runs from May 27 to June 20 at the Sundance Resort in Utah while the Screenwriters Lab goes from June 22 to June 27. (see the full list of the June 2013 Sundance Institute’s Directors and Screenwriters Labs below)
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Anyone who predicts sleeper hits ahead of the summer is either very brave or very spun. But these are the pics expected to emerge through the cracks of tentpole action: All benefit from obvious counterprogramming, festival hype, and demo-targeted storytelling. In chronological order:
– IFC’s Frances Ha has high awareness among its targeted younger-skewing arthouse crowd and exhibitors. “It’s certainly getting talked about in the right places for the audience they’re going for,” one NATO member tells me. Star Greta Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach are indie darlings and scored a talked-about New Yorker piece last week that boosted their profile as a filmmaking couple. According to an IFC Films rep, it’s the sleeper they’re banking on when it releases May 17. “We think we’re going to get great word of mouth,” they tell me.
– CBS Films has two indie pickups budgeted at under $2M each that they’ve slotted into the summer. Sundance pickup Kings Of Summer (formerly Toy’s House) stars three youngsters and has TV stars Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, and Megan Mullally supporting. The studio’s hoping for its Stand By Me-esque story to build momentum with a May 31 limited release. “It’s a movie about discovering in general — which people who see arthouse films spark to,” a studio insider tells me. “And discovery is part of what makes a sleeper hit”. CBS Films is hoping it becomes this year’s Salmon Fishing In The Yemen which was a surprise success for the studio last year.
– Upstart distrib A24 is new to the summer game and has two more youth-skewing pics on tap after scoring a minor youthquake with the sexploitation Spring Breakers in March. The first is Sofia Coppola’s Bling Ring will get a NY-LA limited opening June 14 two weeks after its Cannes premiere.
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The Weinstein Company picked up Fruitvale, about the fatal 2009 shooting of 22-year-old Oscar Grant on San Francisco’s BART by security guards, during the Sundance Festival for north of $2 million. It was one of the biggest … Read More »