Matt Damon and Jodie Foster star in Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 follow-up, set in a future where humanity is divided into the very wealthy who live on a man-made space station and the poor who still live down below on a ruined Earth. Sony releases Elysium, from TriStar Pictures and Media Rights Capital, on August 9. Here’s the trailer:
David Mermelstein is an AwardsLine contributor
Few stars can rival Jodie Foster’s durability. One has to go back to Hollywood’s golden age—to the likes of Judy Garland—to find those who even approach her successful transition from childhood roles to adult parts. And what other child actor started directing after accomplishing that transition? None. Which is why it’s fitting that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is bestowing on Foster its highest honor, the Cecil B. DeMille Award.
Foster has been with us so long, it’s almost impossible to believe she’s just 50. Amazingly, it’s been 20 years since she won her second best-actress Oscar (for Silence Of The Lambs). Her first came three years earlier (for The Accused). But her first Academy Award nomination dates back to 1977, for Taxi Driver, in which she played a young teen prostitute, opposite Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel.
“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Foster says with typical understatement during a recent phone interview. “And it feels like a long time, but it also feels great. I don’t remember ever starting. My earliest memories are doing commercials and TV. And here comes this celebration of my whole life. So now what? Hopefully there’s more to come.”
There no doubt will be for Foster, who continues to eye both acting and directing projects with an eagerness tempered by discernment. Yet she acknowledges a certain ambivalence regarding her career. “I don’t know if I have the personality for it,” she says. “I’m not sure if I’d not fallen into it, it’s what I’d have done. I mean this mostly as an actor rather than as a director, but I’m one for entirely different reasons from most people. It’s become a psychological evolution. I chose movies based on what I had to learn about myself, not because I had to act. There’s lots of things I’m not interested in, and I don’t want to play parts in those movies.”
EXCLUSIVE: In her first major behind-the-camera foray into television, Jodie Foster is set to direct and executive produce Angie’s Body, a drama project set at Showtime and …
Luke Y. Thompson is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of Comic-Con.
The most-anticipated moment of the Sony panel was easily the presentation of Neil Blomkamp‘s Elysium, and it did not disappoint, looking like a 2001/District 9 hybrid, or maybe even Wall-E with humans. It’s another stylish sci-fi class-struggle parable with Matt Damon as a shaven-headed working-class guy on an overpopulated earth (downtown LA is shown covered with tent encampments, even atop the skyscrapers). He was inadvertently exposed to toxic radiation and given a mechanical exoskeleton to help him capture a rich bureaucrat played by William Fichtner and infiltrate Elysium, an off-world space station created for the richest 1%, where disease can be eradicated and everything is perfect. Sharlto Copley’s also in there as a crazy bearded dude with a personal force-field. Robotic cops look not unlike the District 9 bugs. It feels like a potential smash. The footage shown had rough, unfinished effects but it didn’t matter. Panelists were Blomkamp, Jodie Foster, producer Simon Kinberg, Copley (hugely cheered by this crowd) and Damon. Copley revealed that his character is a villain, which wasn’t evident in the clips. He also begged fans to ask Blomkamp for a District 9 sequel, joking that he’s still looking for work.
Robert Downey Jr. Asks Hollywood To ‘Forgive’ Mel Gibson While Accepting American Cinematheque Award
The American Cinematheque tribute to Robert Downey Jr last night held might have been unthinkable just a few years ago when the actor was hopelessly hooked on drugs, destroying his career and winding up in prison. But if there is anything Hollywood loves, it is redemption – and a second (or third or fourth) chance. That’s something Downey received and ran with largely thanks to his wife Susan who put him on the right course and hasn’t let him fall off since. With a hot career thanks to a second Oscar nomination for Tropic Thunder and blockbuster franchises like Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes, Downey not only turned around his career, he fixed his life and now he’s reaping the rewards as evidenced by the great turnout on Friday night at the Beverly Hilton. But the evening took a serious turn when Downey made an impassioned plea to Hollywood to “forgive” his friend Mel Gibson who was on hand to present him with the award. “Unless you are without sin – and if you are, you are in the wrong [expletive] industry, you should forgive him and let him work,” Downey said to much applause.
The undisputed highlight of the night came when previously unannounced guest Mel Gibson appeared. Gibson and Downey Jr co-starred in Air America and Gibson’s unwavering support of Downey during his darkest hours was well-documented at the time. Gibson brought up Downey to accept the award to a standing ovation and said, “He taught me many things and I will use the ‘C’ word, courage. There’s nothing so much wrong with him. Of course you have to worry about the guy making the judgement here. He’s a good dude with a good heart.”
“This is my fuckin’ time,” Downey said. “Mel and I have the same lawyer, same publicist and same shrink. I couldn’t get hired and he cast me. He said if I accepted responsibility – he called it hugging the cactus – long enough, my life would take meaning. And if he helped me, I would help the next guy. But it was not reasonable to assume the next guy would be him.” Downey then went to on to hug Gibson and urge people to let Mel continue his career without shame.
It was a star-studded event, to be sure. Jack Black called Downey a “stone cold stud muffin” while Michael Douglas (looking great) said working with Robert Downey Jr on The Wonder Boys was “something special.
Previously in Pete Hammond’s 3-part series:
Woody Allen, Brad Pitt, ‘The Help’ Among Early 2011 Oscar Contenders
Clooney, Clint, And Spielberg Put Major Studios Back Into Oscar Race
After looking last week at the potential awards landscape for the first eight months of 2011, and then at what Oscar-pedigreed films the major studios have in store for fall and holiday slots, it’s time to turn to the independent world, which has become such a key force in the season. For the majors, Oscars are nice but not vital. For the indies, award strategies are key and could mean the difference between a hit film or a miss. With little-pictures-that-could Best Picture triumphs in recent years like Crash, The Hurt Locker and last year’s The King’s Speech, indies have proven that with less money to spend, a savvy campaign and a little luck, the right film at the right time can grab the gold. Ever since the advent of screeners evened the playing field to some extent, it’s been a different ballgame. And the indies use the fall festival circuit (starting next week at Venice, followed by Telluride and Toronto) to start up the awards buzz. Already this year, indies like Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and Terrence Malick’s Cannes Film Festival winner The Tree of Life are seriously in the hunt for those prized Best Picture slots and, as detailed by the soon-to-be-released contenders from the companies below, they might not be alone among upstart pictures this year.
Here’s a look at what possible award contenders from the indie sector will be coming our way in the last four — and most crucial — months of the year.
The Weinstein Company
With The King’s Speech last year, the Weinsteins scored their first Best Picture triumph since the heady days of Miramax. Can they do it two years in a row with another British bio, The Iron Lady? Just about everyone agrees Meryl Streep’s still-unseen portrait of Margaret Thatcher in this Dec. 16 release will put her in strong contention to finally win that third Oscar, but can the movie score, too? Time will tell, although it would seem to be a better shot in the Actress category.
Harvey Weinstein had a big Cannes triumph with the crowd-pleasing black-and-white French-produced silent picture The Artist (Nov. 23), and it could have the same effect on the Academy audience that it did with the French, thereby leading to one of those Best Picture slots, even though the movie might not have enough “gravitas” to sneak in. The Weinsteins will get a good idea when the film launches in the English-speaking world next week on the fest circuit. Certainly Cannes Best Actor Jean Dujardin is a great bet for a nomination no matter what.
With a busy fall, the company is hoping Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh — who play Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn (Nov. 4) — will land acting kudos along with Ralph Fiennes (who also directed) in the title role of the contemporary Shakespeare adaptation Coriolanus (Dec. 2). As his mother, Vanessa Redgrave is extraordinary in a beefy supporting turn. She should start getting the gowns for the awards circuit ready now.
Awards prospects are anybody’s guess for Madonna’s latest directorial stab, W.E. (Dec. 9), which with its storyline involving Wallis Simpson is certainly different for the pop star. And I hear there is the possibility of a late-season qualifying run for the Jennifer Garner film Butter that has been described as a Capra-esque comedy/drama set in the cutthroat world of competitive butter carving. Fest auds will see this first, and their reaction will probably weigh heavily in Weinstein’s decision to enter that other cutthroat competition.
The Roman Polanski-directed Carnage is up with a new trailer. The drama, an adaptation of the hit Broadway play God of Carnage, stars Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz. The film opens the New York Film Festival and, obviously, Polanski won’t be there to take the …
EXCLUSIVE: Media Rights Capital has made a pre-emptive acquisition of the Jonathan Lethem novel As She Climbed Across the Table, in a package that has David Cronenberg directing, Bruce Wagner writing and Film Rites’ Steve Zaillian and Garrett Basch producing. Lethem is the author of Motherless Brooklyn.
The novel is a love triangle among an academic, his particle-physicist girlfriend, and the black hole that comes as the result of her lab experiments to replicate the origins of the universe. The physicist dumps her boyfriend to spend all her time with the black hole — which she calls Lack — and the university professor will do anything to win her back, even confronting his rival for her affections and risking a trip down a cosmic rabbit hole. The premise has comedic and thriller elements, and Film Rites brought it first to Cronenberg, who has covered dangerous and creepy obsessions in films ranging from The Fly to Crash and Dead Ringers. The film reteams Cronenberg with Wagner. Cronenberg was exec producer on Wagner’s adaptation of his own novel, I’m Losing You.
Exclusive: Mel Gibson Finally Talks
The Cannes Film Festival premiere of the Jodie Foster-directed The Beaver just ended, and I’m told that there was a 10-minute standing ovation for the film and its star, Mel Gibson. Gibson missed the press …