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DreamWorks Picks Up Rights To New Teddy Roosevelt Book By ‘Team Of Rivals’ Author Doris Kearns Goodwin

By | Wednesday October 30, 2013 @ 12:26pm PDT

Looks like there is another Presidential movie in DreamWorks’ future. The Lincoln studio announced today that it has picked up the rights to The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism. Out on November 5 from Simon & Schuster, the book about the bitter rivalry between the two former friends and Presidents is the latest from Doris Kearns Goodwin. The bestselling and Pulitzer Prize winning historian’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln served partially as the basis for the studio’s Oscar winning 2012 film about the 16th President. “Doris has once again given us the best seats in the house where we can watch two dynamic American personalities in a battle for power and friendship,” said Steven Spielberg in a statement today. It is not yet determined if Spielberg will direct the film, insiders say. Doris Kearns Goodwin was repped in the deal by ICM Partners.

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Hammond On Cannes: Jury Takes Center Stage As Oscar Rivals Steven Spielberg And Ang Lee ”Worship” Each Other

Pete Hammond

Once rivals for Oscar in February and now fellow jurors in Cannes, Ang Lee called Steven Spielberg his “hero” as Spielberg praised Lee’s Life Of Pi, which won Best Director over Lincoln. This mutual lovefest took place as the jury for the 66th Cannes Film Festival was introduced to the world’s press this afternoon. Spielberg, who said he hasn’t served on any festival jury since 1974 (the beginning of his feature film career) is President and has been asked many times but said the timing was finally right. “I’ve been so consistently at work, especially in the spring months directing, that every time I’ve been approached to be on the jury I’ve been working so I suddenly found myself with an open year, and so that’s why this all came together this year. I am honored I was invited,” he said. Spielberg has been to Cannes many times before with films like E.T. and most recently, Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.

Asked about being on the Cannes panel with Spielberg after defeating him for the Oscar almost three months ago Lee said, “Steven and I are good friends. I worship him. I don’t know how he looks at me, but I worship him. I don’t think any result would change how I feel about him or even myself. He’s my hero.” Spielberg responding seemed at a loss for words. “I don’t know how to answer that, except to say Ang and I have been friends for a long time and we’ve never ever been competitors, we’ve always been colleagues and that will just contiinue. And certainly I worship Life Of Pi and therefore I worship Ang Lee as well.” Read More »

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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: The Adapted Screenplay Nominees

Chris Terrio | Argo

Chris Terrio had a trove of primary and secondary material to consult in writing the screenplay for Argo, most notably the memoir Master of Disguise, by former CIA agent Tony Mendez, and Joshuah Bearman’s 2007 article in Wired magazine based on declassified documents about the remarkable clandestine Iran hostage-rescue caper.

Ben Affleck and Chris TerrioBut this hardly gave Terrio a blueprint for a screenplay that deftly blends Hollywood satire with a historical international crisis. Terrio says his biggest fear was that the Hollywood scenes of the Argo screenplay would slide the movie too far into show-business farce.

RELATED: OSCARS Q&A: Alan Arkin

However, a passage in Mendez’s book gave him license to go there in one case. “In Tony’s book”, Terrio says, “there’s a passage in it where Tony’s describing being with (makeup artist) John Chambers and figuring out that they’re going to call the fake movie Argo. And then it describes how that title both comes from a joke—which literally was a joke that Chambers and Tony used to make, which is the ‘Ah, go fuck yourself’ joke—but also that it has these mythological connotations to it, which Chambers and Mendez were aware of and chose. I feel that somewhere in that passage is the root of the tone of the film, which in some sense was a harder thing to … Read More »

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OSCARS: Handicapping Best Score

By | Monday February 18, 2013 @ 6:00pm PST

David Mermelstein is an AwardsLine contributor

Leaving artistic issues aside, you could—at first glance—say that the competition for best original score isn’t a fair fight this year. Three of the nominees—Mychael Danna (Life Of Pi), Alexandre Desplat (Argo), and Thomas Newman (Skyfall)—have never won an Oscar, and one of them (Danna) is enjoying his first nomination. Dario Marianelli won once before, but his nom for Anna Karenina is only his third. So who’s the heavyweight in the ring? None other than John Williams (Lincoln), who has won five Oscars for original score, as well as one for adapted score.

Williams is basking in his 39th nomination for original score. His first was for The Reivers (1969), starring Steve McQueen. His closest competitor within this group is Newman, who is savoring his ninth nom since 1994, when he earned two—for Little Women and The Shawshank Redemption. Desplat is suiting up for his fifth round since 2006, when The Queen first brought him close to Oscar gold. Read More »

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OSCARS: As Final Deadline Approaches Academy Urges Members To Vote; Studios Launch Last-Minute Ad Blitz

Pete Hammond

Okay Academy members, this is your last chance to vote.

And by all indications from my own admittedly unscientific survey over the weekend there are many who are choosing to wait, despite the Academy’s emails encouraging them to vote early in this final round. Part of the reason seems to be a desire to catch up on the Documentary Feature, Live Action and Animation Shorts which have been sent to the entire Academy membership for the first time, instead of requiring voters to attend special screenings. One voter told me he received his late and was trying to watch them all before submitting his ballot.

With today being a holiday, those voters who opted for paper ballots and still haven’t mailed them are out of luck if they hope to do that and still have it reach the downtown Los Angeles offices of the Academy’s accountants, PricewaterhouseCoopers, or the Academy lobby at its Beverly Hills headquarters in time before Tuesday’s 5 PM deadline. If you are a paper voter, not electronic, the best you can do at this point is have the ballot delivered in person to one of those locations before 5 PM tomorrow. And every year there are usually many that do just that. It has even numbered up into the hundreds in past years. But with the new, sometimes awkward, transition to online voting this year, that number will probably be significantly decreased.
Read More »

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OSCARS: Nominated Film Editors Break Down Key Scenes

By | Monday February 18, 2013 @ 5:00am PST

Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor

The film editing race is both diverse and expected. All five nominated films are also up for best picture, and the individual editors range from three-time Oscar winner Michael Kahn to several first-time nominees and one nominee, William Goldenberg, nominated for work on two separate films. We talked with the nominated editors and asked them to run through a key scene from their films—one that was crucial to making the picture work, either from a tone perspective or a more technical one. The results were as diverse as the nominated films themselves.

WILLIAM GOLDENBERG | ARGO

Goldenberg says Argo’s incongruous quality was epitomized in an often bizarre sequence that cuts from the elaborate table-read of the fake screenplay at the Beverly Hills Hotel to the houseguests trying to entertain themselves in their long isolation to Iranian forces frightening hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran with a mock execution.

“When I read the script, I thought this was a scene where if we can make this work tonally, the movie will work”, says Goldenberg. “Because it’s all these different tones colliding together, and if all these expositions can work as a scene, then I think what we’re trying to do with the movie will be successful”. Read More »

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OSCARS: ‘Lincoln’ Production Design

By | Saturday February 16, 2013 @ 1:54pm PST

Diane Haithman is an AwardsLine contributor

Veteran set decorator Jim Erickson, nominated with production designer Rick Carter for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, has a thing about authenticity. He once hunted down a collector of vintage candy wrappers to find just the right wrapper to reproduce for the movie Love Field (well, almost: He wanted a 1964 Butterfinger from Texas, but settled for a 1964 model found in Arkansas). Erickson took pleasure in creating authentic White House interiors because Lincoln was the first U.S. president whose life was well documented in photographs. Erickson talked to AwardsLine about the detailed work that went into re-creating Lincoln’s office. 1) Lincoln was shot in Virginia using many real-life historic sites, but the Lincoln office was re-created on a set using photos as the guide. “We scaled off the pattern of the wallpaper and had it all designed and silk-screened. We worked up a pattern that was as close as we could actually get without having a real piece of it in front of us”, Erickson says. Erickson was able to find Carter & Company, a Richmond business with a staff of four that provides wallpaper for museums and historic homes and could do reproductions at a reasonable price. “Silkscreen is how they did wallpaper back then. It can create metallics and glazes a computer can’t do. The computer can give you images, but not the texture”. Read More »

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OSCARS: Best Picture Nominees Had Uphill Production Battles

Pete Hammond

As the industry kicks into full awards mode, with one guild after another handing out trophies to whomever they consider the year’s best in any given field, it’s become increasingly clear this is a year like we have not seen in a while. Certainly every season we go through this ritual of watching the crème de la crème of the industry line up to get awards, but rarely have we seen as dense a field of top contenders, and especially deserving ones, as we have this year. The common denominator among most, if not all, of the contenders in Oscar’s 24 categories is how difficult it was in the first place to get any of these films made in a sequel-happy, franchise-loving, play-it-safe motion picture industry.

RELATED: OSCARS: Best Picture Contenders Part 1

For example, Steven Spielberg began talking about Lincoln with Doris Kearns Goodwin before she started writing the book and struggled for well over a decade to bring it to the screen, getting turned down by three studios in the process. And first-time feature filmmaker Benh Zeitlin went against all industry norms to make the unique and hard-to-define Beasts Of The Southern Wild come to life. But no matter who the filmmaker is, the most often-heard mantra is stick to your core beliefs and vision and somehow an Oscar-worthy film can be willed into being. Even James Bond ran into trouble when MGM went bankrupt and a normal 2½-year process turned into twice that for Skyfall, which went on to win five Oscar nominations. It also got recognition as one of the year’s best pictures from the Producers Guild, as well it should, considering what its veteran producers went through to just to make it. Read More »

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OSCARS: The Supporting Actor/Actress Races

Pete Hammond

This season’s supporting actor and actress Oscar races can be summed up in one word: Winners! A remarkable seven of the 10 nominees actually already have at least one Oscar on their mantel, and all of them have been previously nominated. Unlike the marquee lead races, not a single newcomer has been invited to the supporting party. In fact, all five supporting actor nominees are past winners, a rare occurrence that proves Feb. 24 will indeed be veterans’ day at the Dolby Theater. And though there is a strong frontrunner emerging for the women, the male race is one of the most wide open in years, with no one taking the lead to date and the outcome a real question mark. So how did they all get here? Here’s the rundown.

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Alan Arkin | Argo

This veteran actor got his first lead actor Oscar nomination in 1966 for his film debut in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. And then a second just two years later for The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter. But it was a near-record 38 years before Arkin returned to Oscar’s inner circle, finally winning a supporting actor prize for Little Miss Sunshine. Now, six years later, he is back in contention as the Hollywood film producer in Argo, and the reason is simple: He not only gets the best lines, he’s playing … Read More »

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OSCARS: Cinematographers On Creating The Right Imagery

By | Friday February 8, 2013 @ 8:00pm PST

Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor

In a year filled with remarkable imagery, the work of the Oscar-nominated cinematographers stands out as integral to the success of the movies they shot.

The nominees bring broad experience to their films. Seamus McGarvey, nominated for shooting Anna Karenina with director Joe Wright, came to the project off the summer blockbuster Avengers; Robert Richardson shot his fourth film with Quentin Tarantino with Django Unchained; Claudio Miranda went both digital and 3D to lens Life of Pi for Ang Lee; Janusz Kaminski made his 13th film with Steven Spielberg in shooting Lincoln; and Roger Deakins ventured into the world of James Bond with Skyfall.

AwardsLine asked the five nominees for Oscar’s Best Achievement in Cinematography to pick a key scene and break it down in detail. The choices, like the nominated films themselves, speak to the challenges inherent in the craft and its essential importance to making a movie.

Anna Karenina

Seamus McGarvey

The Scene: In a single sweeping, shot Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) leads Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) on the dance floor at a high-society ball, with their electricity igniting movement from the other dancers. They connect in a moment of silence, and, for a moment, the auditorium is empty before the dancers return, bringing the star-struck couple back to reality.

Behind the Scene: “(Director) Joe (Wright) worked very closely with Sidi Larbi … 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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OSCARS: Best Picture Contenders Part 1

By | Friday February 1, 2013 @ 9:00pm PST

The first in a three-part series in which AwardsLine breaks down all nine of the best picture contenders.

Lincoln

What the Academy says: 12 nominations (Picture: Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg; Directing: Steven Spielberg; Lead Actor: Daniel LincolnDay-Lewis; Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones; Supporting Actress: Sally Field; Adapted Screenplay: Tony Kushner; Cinematography: Janusz Kaminski; Original Score: John Williams; Film Editing: Michael Kahn; Production Design: Rick Carter, Jim Erickson; Costume Design: Joanna Johnston; Sound Mixing: Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, Ronald Judkins)

What the public says: $168.0M domestic boxoffice; $14.5M international (as of Feb. 1)

What Pete Hammond says: From the announcement that Steven Spielberg was going to direct Lincoln, this one had the hallmarks of a film that defines what the Oscars are all about. The fact that it was not an easy road for the iconic director and his screenwriter, Tony Kushner, only adds to the gravitas of the whole project. And with Daniel Day-Lewis scooping up best actor awards left and right—plus a sterling cast of supporting players led by nominees Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field—this one smells like a winner. With a leading Read More »

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OSCARS: Anything Goes In This Year’s Race

Pete Hammond

With less than a month to go, the stage is set for one of the strangest Oscar showdowns in memory. Certainly the season started with some clear favorites emerging, like Argo at Telluride, Silver Linings Playbook at Toronto, then Lincoln just after the election, followed by Life Of Pi. I thought Paramount’s Flight also might emerge as a major best picture contender around this time, but when critics awards and early nominations for Globes and CCMAs started coming in, it was clear this was mainly just a play for Denzel Washington and John Gatins’ original screenplay. At Christmas time, we got Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, and the hotly anticipated Les Misérables to complete our seven-pack of best picture contenders. What many weren’t anticipating was that two small indie films that made a splash earlier in the year were also going to come in. Beasts Of The Southern Wild managed to hold on to all that momentum from its Sundance debut a year ago, and then Read More »

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Tony Kushner To Receive WGAW’s Paul Selvin Award For ‘Lincoln’

By | Monday January 28, 2013 @ 12:34pm PST

Los Angeles – Writers Guild and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Tony Kushner has been chosen to receive the WGAW’s 2013 Paul Selvin Award for his adapted screenplay for Lincoln. Named after the late Selvin, who served as counsel to the Guild, the award is given to the WGA member whose script best embodies the spirit of the constitutional and civil rights and liberties, which are indispensable to the survival of free writers everywhere. Kushner will be recognized, along with other honorees, at the Writers Guild Awards ceremony on Sunday, February 17, at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE.

“Tony Kushner’s eloquent script for Lincoln reminds us that, though we like to think of ourselves as the land of the free, in practice, freedom and equality are never a given, and that they are won only through struggle, often by the narrowest of margins and the greatest of sacrifice. The Guild is honored to recognize it with this award,” said WGAW President Christopher Keyser.

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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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PGA Win: Is ‘Argo’ Now Oscar Frontrunner?

Pete Hammond

It’s starting to get serious. This wild ride of an awards season may not be predictable, according to conventional wisdom. But in the end the winner of the Producer Guild’s Best Picture award Saturday night was completely predictable in my opinion. After all, Warner Bros’ Argo features a key role for a Hollywood movie producer who rises to the occasion and helps make a difference in the world, winning the hearts and minds of a group of producers. Imagine that. This is the first guild to weigh in so we have a tentative frontrunner in Argo now for the Academy Awards’ Best Picture. Had producer/director/star Ben Affleck not been snubbed for a Best Director Oscar, the word “tentative” wouldn’t even be used. When I talked to Affleck  in the Beverly Hilton ballroom moments after his picture won, he still seemed to be reeling from the roller coaster ride he’s been on, but clearly happy. (Co-producer Grant Heslov suggested they should call their fellow producer George Clooney in Berlin and tell him the good news.) “When I didn’t get the Best Director nomination after everybody told me I would, I was depressed. But then that same day I won at Critics Choice which was really torturous because everyone kept asking me all night how I felt,” Affleck told me. “Then we win at the Globes.” Argo was also named the year’s Best Picture at the Critics … Read More »

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DreamWorks Puts ‘Lincoln’ Special On iTunes

By | Wednesday January 16, 2013 @ 12:03pm PST
Mike Fleming

DreamWorks, which rousted former President Bill Clinton to introduce the Steven Spielberg-directed Lincoln at Sunday’s Golden Globes, continues to pull out the stops to get the movie noticed in Oscar season. Today, they’ve released a behind-the-scenes special entitled Lincoln: An American Journey, and they are making it available on iTunes at noon West Coast time, before the special airs January 20 on KCBS. It highlights the painstaking 12 years of work that went into re-creating the period as the 16th president worked to abolish slavery before the end of the Civil War. The film has grossed more than $150 million since opening November 9 and it’s up for 12 Oscars. Here’s a peek and it just went live:

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Golden Globes Movies: Winning Films Enjoy The Taste Of Victory, But Does It Really Help Oscar Chances?

Pete Hammond

If anyone thought the Golden Globes results were going to add any clarity to the topsy-turvy atmosphere that has so far characterized this year’s Oscar race,  forget it. In a week that has offered crushing disappointment and major highs to just about every serious contender, the Globes mixed it up Sunday but cleared up no questions about who is emerging as a frontrunner in one of the tightest and most interesting Academy Award contests in years. No one can figure this one out yet, and if they say they can, ask for proof because it just simply doesn’t exist. Yet.

On the other hand, one thing on which everyone seemed to agree was that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler knocked it out of the park as hosts and the show moved along in style. One former producer of an Academy Awards show sitting in the audience told me afterwards, “if I were an Oscars producer this year I would be worried. This was a very good show”.

Voting for Globes was in before the Academy Award nominations were announced on Thursday and before it was known the Acad’s directors branch had snubbed Argo director Ben Affleck while the rest of the Academy offered the film seven nominations. His directorial victory at Wednesday’s  Critics Choice Movie Awards and subsequent Best Picture win along with the same two wins at Sunday’s Golden Globes … Read More »

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