Let’s throw “conventional wisdom” out the window regarding this morning’s Oscar nominations. In a year when there are so many genuine contenders for the Oscars‘ Best Picture, the Academy has thrown a wrench into the proceedings, instantly cementing early frontrunner status for Lincoln and Life Of Pi along with the “little engine that could” Silver Linings Playbook while dampening prospects of winning the big prize for three other perceived major contenders Zero Dark Thirty (the controversial critical darling), Les Miserables and Argo. All three of those films’ directors were snubbed after winning DGA nominations earlier this week. Did these Best Picture nominees direct themselves?
The biggest shock waves at the Academy this morning were clearly over the omission of Ben Affleck‘s direction of Argo and Kathryn Bigelow‘s absence for Zero Dark Thirty. Both are still nominees as co-producers of their Best Picture-nominated films, but this has to sting. Instead, Silver Linings’ David O. Russell reversed his snub at DGA and BAFTA with a strong showing where it counts, and wildcard Michael Haneke of Amour (which did exceptionally well for a foreign-language film including a Best Picture and Foreign Language nod) got those spots along with the true shocker of the directing nominees, Beast Of The Southern Wild’s Benh Zeitlin. His tiny Sundance sensation and offbeat film defied expectations earning key Directing, Picture, Screenplay and Actress (for youngest nominee in the category ever, Quvenzhane Wallis). Some people were sure they were mistaken when they heard Zeitlin announced instead of Affleck after the first name Benh was called out. But the Oscars are always known for throwing surprises into the mix. Much like that Wizard of Oz, Oscar has spoken. As Academy COO Ric Robertson (who is also an Academy voter) told me, “I guess we really, really liked Beasts Of The Southern Wild’!” With Zeitlin’s directing nod, that’s an understatement. It is his first movie, by the way, so congratulations Benh, and sorry Ben.
Related: OSCARS: Who Got Snubbed By Academy?
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
MOTION PICTURE NOMINATIONS BY PICTURE – 85TH AWARDS
Lincoln - 12 nominations
DreamWorks Pictures/20th Century Fox Production (Walt Disney/20th Century Fox)
Daniel Day-Lewis – Performance by an actor in a leading role
Tommy Lee Jones – Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Sally Field – Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Life Of Pi - 11 nominations
Fox 2000 Pictures Production (20th Century Fox)
Original song – “Pi’s Lullaby”
Les Misérables - 8 nominations
Universal Pictures and Working Title Production (Universal)
Hugh Jackman – Performance by an actor in a leading role
Anne Hathaway – Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Makeup and hairstyling
Original song – “Suddenly”
Silver Linings Playbook - 8 nominations
Weinstein Company Production (The Weinstein Company)
Bradley Cooper – Performance by an actor in a leading role
Robert De Niro – Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Jennifer Lawrence – Performance by an actress in a leading role
Jacki Weaver – Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Argo – 7 nominations
Stage 16 Pictures Production (Warner Bros.)
Alan Arkin – Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Zero Dark Thirty - 5 nominations
Columbia Pictures Production (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Jessica Chastain – Performance by an actress in a leading role
Amour – 5 nominations
Les Films du Losange/X Filme Creative Pool/Wega Film Production (Sony Pictures Classics)
Emmanuelle Riva – Performance by an actress in a leading role
Best foreign language film (Austria)
Skyfall – 5 nominations
Eon Productions Ltd./Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures Production (Sony Pictures Releasing and MGM)
Original song – “Skyfall”
Django Unchained - 5 nominations
Weinstein Company and Columbia Pictures Production (The Weinstein Company)
Christoph Waltz – Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Anna Karenina – 4 nominations
Working Title Films Production (Focus Features)
Beasts of the Southern Wild - 4 nominations
Cinereach and Court 13 Production (Fox Searchlight)
Quvenzhané Wallis – Performance by an actress in a leading role
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - 3 nominations
New Line and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Production (Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
Makeup and hairstyling
The Master - 3 nominations
Ghoulardi Film Company/Annapurna Pictures Production (The Weinstein Company)
Joaquin Phoenix – Performance by an actor in a leading role
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Amy Adams – Performance by an actress in a supporting role
OSCARS: 85th Academy Award Nominations – Only 9 Best Pictures; ‘Lincoln’ Leads With 12 Nods, ‘Life Of Pi’ 11, ‘Les Misérables’ And ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ 8, ‘Argo’ 7, ‘Skyfall’ And ‘Amour’ And ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ And ‘Django Unchained’ 5
Nominations for the 85th Academy Awards were announced this morning by the show’s host, Seth MacFarlane, and actress Emma Stone on Thursday, January 10. This was the first time since 1972 that an Oscar show host has participated in the nominations announcement. DreamWorks’ Lincoln from Fox and Disney led with 12 nods, Fox’s Life Of Pi 11, Working Title/Universal’s Les Misérables and The Weinstein Company’s Silver Linings Playbook 8, Warner Bros’ Argo 7, MGM/Sony Pictures’ Skyfall and Sony Pictures Classics’ Amour and The Weinstein Company’s Django Unchained 5.
The nominations were unveiled at a news conference at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, where hundreds of media representatives from around the world were gathered. Since the first nominations announcement in 1964, the Academy president has been joined by one or more co-announcers at the event. This year the Academy broke with tradition when MacFarlane, the Ted star and filmmaker who was named Oscar show host in October, joined Stone on Oscar nominations morning. (Charlton Heston in 1972 was the only other show host to participate in the nominations announcement.)
Related: OSCARS: Who Got Snubbed By Academy?
MacFarlane made a series of jokes that ripped Academy Awards personalities. ”Congratulations to the Best Actress nominees,” he said. “Now they can stop pretending to like Harvey Weinstein.”
Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2012 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, February 24th at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live on the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide. Academy members from each of the branches vote to determine the nominees in their respective categories –- actors nominate actors, film editors nominate film editors, etc. In the Animated Feature Film and Foreign Language Film categories, nominees are selected by vote of multi-branch screening committees. All voting members are eligible to select the Best Picture nominees.
Official screenings of all motion pictures with one or more nominations will begin for members on Saturday, January 19, at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Screenings will also be held at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood and in London, New York and the San Francisco Bay Area. Active members of the Academy are eligible to vote for the winners in all categories.
Nominations for the 85th Academy Awards
Best motion picture of the year
Nominees to be determined
Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers
- “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, Producers
- “Django Unchained”
Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, Producers
- “Les Misérables”
Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, Producers
- “Life of Pi”
Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers
Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
- “Silver Linings Playbook”
Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
- “Zero Dark Thirty”
Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, Producers
Performance by an actor in a leading role
- Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook
- Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln
- Hugh Jackman in Les Misérables
- Joaquin Phoenix in The Master
- Denzel Washington in Flight
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
- Alan Arkin in Argo
- Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook
- Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master
- Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln
- Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained
Achievement in directing
- “Amour” Michael Haneke
- “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Benh Zeitlin
- “Life of Pi” Ang Lee
- “Lincoln” Steven Spielberg
- “Silver Linings Playbook” David O. Russell
Performance by an actress in a leading role
- Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
- Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
- Emmanuelle Riva in Amour
- Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Naomi Watts in The Impossible
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
- Amy Adams in “The Master”
- Sally Field in “Lincoln”
- Anne Hathaway in “Les Misérables”
- Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
- Jacki Weaver in “Silver Linings Playbook”
Best animated feature film of the year
- “Brave” Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
- “Frankenweenie” Tim Burton
- “ParaNorman” Sam Fell and Chris Butler
- “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” Peter Lord
- “Wreck-It Ralph” Rich Moore
- “Argo” Screenplay by Chris Terrio
- “Beasts of the Southern Wild” Screenplay by Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin
- “Life of Pi” Screenplay by David Magee
- “Lincoln” Screenplay by Tony Kushner
- “Silver Linings Playbook” Screenplay by David O. Russell
- “Amour” Written by Michael Haneke
- “Django Unchained”Written by Quentin Tarantino
- “Flight” Written by John Gatins
- “Moonrise Kingdom” Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
- “Zero Dark Thirty” Written by Mark Boal
Achievement in cinematography
- “Anna Karenina” Seamus McGarvey
- “Django Unchained” Robert Richardson
- “Life of Pi” Claudio Miranda
- “Lincoln” Janusz Kaminski
- “Skyfall” Roger Deakins
Best foreign language film of the year
- “Amour” Austria
- “Kon-Tiki” Norway
- “No” Chile
- “A Royal Affair” Denmark
- “War Witch” Canada
Best documentary feature
- “5 Broken Cameras”
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
- “The Gatekeepers”
Nominees to be determined
- “How to Survive a Plague”
Nominees to be determined
- “The Invisible War”
Nominees to be determined
- “Searching for Sugar Man”
Nominees to be determined
BAFTA Nominations Announced: ‘Lincoln’ Leads Followed By ‘Les Mis’ & ‘Life Of Pi’; Spielberg & Hooper Not Among Director Field
Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln leads the pack of nominees (see full list below) for the 65th EE BAFTA Awards, which were announced this morning in London by Alice Eve and Jeremy Irvine. Lincoln scored 10 nominations, though it did not pick up a directing mention. Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi and Tom Hooper’s Les Misérables each got nine nods, but Hooper (nominated here for The King’s Speech in 2010) failed to make the directing category. Working Title’s Tim Bevan, who has both Les Mis and Anna Karenina vying for prizes this year, told me he was surprised that Spielberg and Hooper missed out on directing slots but called it an “interesting year because [nominations] seem to be spread all over the place.” The takeaway, he said, is that Spielberg and Hooper are “swimming in a pool of extreme talent this year. Which is great for the movie business.”
Meanwhile, Skyfall, now the highest-grossing film in UK history, was nominated eight times, yet was noted in the Best British Film category and not the overall Best Film group. The only picture to cross over those two fields was Les Mis. The trio of Life Of Pi, Ben Affleck’s Argo and Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty have both Best Film and Best Director slots. The two Best Director candidates whose films were not mentioned in the Best Film group are Michael Haneke for Amour (although it did also land Foreign Language, Original Screenplay and Leading Actress nods) and Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained, which also picked up nominations for Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz and Editing.
Fleming Q&A’s Participant’s Jeff Skoll And Jim Berk On What The eBay Billionaire Wants Out Of Hollywood (It’s Not More $$$)
EXCLUSIVE: After Jeff Skoll made his fortune turning eBay into a juggernaut, he turned to Hollywood as the first financier/producer not looking to make more money and rub elbows with the stars. Skoll formed Participant Media — and hired former Hard Rock Cafe CEO Jim Berk to run it — as part of his mandate to use his fortune for good causes forged by his belief that movies can illuminate important issues more powerfully than any other medium. After eight years, Participant has done that — its films have won five Oscars and 22 nominations — and shown there’s a sound business in issue-oriented films. They are in the Oscar hunt this year with three films: Lincoln, Promised Land and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; and Middle Of Nowhere created buzz at Sundance on the indie film circuit.
DEADLINE: Jeff, before eBay made you a zillionaire, you wanted to be a writer. Will you write one of these issue-oriented films for Participant?
SKOLL: Funny you should ask. All these years, I’ve felt that for the amount of time it would take me to write something, we could have 10 projects going with really good writers. But I have an idea. It’s not fully fleshed out, but I want to write the screenplay. I’ve never done it before, and respect the people who can. Whether or not it turns out to be a great screenplay, I think making the effort will help me understand how hard it is to actually write and come up with something creative. I want to keep the issue close to my vest for now and let it unfold the way most creative efforts do.
DEADLINE: The decision to hold back Lincoln until after the election hasn’t worked against the film, judging by its $144 million domestic gross. Did you have a sway in not putting it out during the elections, when interest might have been higher?
SKOLL: Steven had a very strong opinion from the very start that the film should not be used as a political football. He was pretty firm that he wanted it to come out after the election, and given it is Steven…
DEADLINE: You were grateful he bothered to tell you?
BERK: Actually we had never done a film with him before and he was very amazingly collaborative. I was like, “Why are you asking us? You’re Steven Spielberg.”
DEADLINE: How much input do you require? Do you consider yourselves creative producers?
SKOLL: It really depends on the film. In some cases, we develop. Contagion, Waiting For Superman, they started with an idea on the blackboard and then you bring in people. On Lincoln, you defer.
BERK: We were involved in The Help early days, and were part of that process all the way through. Where we played an active role in Lincoln was in positioning in the marketplace, enlisting ingenious folks that would put this film in certain conversations, getting it into the zeitgeist.
DEADLINE: Of all the places you could spend your money, Jeff, why Hollywood?
Like the Producers Guild earlier this week, the WGA did not produce a list of film nominees in the Original Screenplay and Adapted Screenplay categories that had any surprises. This in itself is not surprising since the WGA (I’m a member) — due to restrictive rules regarding eligibility of films only produced under the guild’s MBA or certain international affiliated collective bargaining agreements — had far less of a field from which to choose. The number of screenplays eligible overall is slightly more than a third of all scripts the Academy’s much smaller voting body is picking from (polls for Oscar nomination voting close today at 5 PM). As usual, we can look for several differences when the Academy reveals their writing nominations January 10th. Although nominees often vary between the two orgs, the final winners are usually much more in sync. Last year, both WGA Award-winning scripts — Midnight In Paris and The Descendants – went on to repeat at the Oscars. In 2010 though, only WGA Adapted Screenplay winner The Social Network repeated at Oscar time, while the Oscar winner for Original Screenplay, The King’s Speech, wasn’t even nominated at the WGA because it was ineligible.
Related: WGA Awards Nominations Announced
“We’ve never seen anything like this. We’re exhausted. We are out every night it seems and the invitations keep coming,” one Oscar-winning Academy member told me recently. He was referring to the glut of invites to parties, lunches, screenings with Q&As and everything else for which Oscar season campaigning has come to be known. He pointedly added that none of it has ever influenced his vote but he is not turning down the elaborate food spreads and the chance to mingle with contenders. “Just don’t tell anyone who invites me to these things, but it doesn’t really have much impact on the way I fill out my ballot,” he added with a smile.
That won’t stop Oscar strategists from trying and the campaign activity this season seems like it pushed into high gear much earlier than normal and hasn’t let up, even as the Christmas break quickly approaches and the town starts to shut down. Don’t tell that to the relentless Weinstein Company who will still have some of their contenders out on the stump even over this holiday weekend. Quentin Tarantino who, despite seeing his Los Angeles premiere for Django Unchained cancelled Tuesday night out of sensitivity to the Newtown tragedy, was out doing a Q&A and reception for a packed screening at the Academy last night and will be doing the same thing for BAFTA-LA Friday night.
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.
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
The Senate took a break this evening to watch a screening of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln in the Capitol Visitors Center. Spielberg and star Daniel Day-Lewis attended. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he hopes the message of the movie …
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 …
Whittling down the 56-year life of a landmark U.S. president to a feature-length screenplay is a daunting task, and playwright Tony Kushner initially turned down the offer to adapt Abraham Lincoln’s story for the big screen for Steven Spielberg, even after their Oscar-lauded collaboration on 2005’s Munich. But if there’s one writer who can effectively generate emotional drama against a political venue, it’s Kushner, whose Pulitzer Prize-winning seven-hour-long Angels in America play dramatized the AIDS crisis amidst the complex attitudes of the Reagan era. While length worked in Kushner’s favor during Angels, on Lincoln it was the rock that he pushed up a hill. But after conferring with Spielberg, Kushner soon found the cornerstone that would condense his first 500-page draft down to a 150-minute film: Lincoln’s political fight to get the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution pushed through Congress while the Civil War lingered.
AwardsLine: What was the biggest challenge you had in terms of focusing on a part of Lincoln’s life and keeping this feature length?
Tony Kushner: It very easily could have been a miniseries. There were a lot of challenges in that regard. It was just an astonishing amount of really incredibly dramatic historical material. By the time I finished doing my research, I could pretty much make a miniseries out of any weekend Lincoln was in the White House. And I know that is not in any way an exaggeration. More than any other moment in American history, (the Civil War) is a gathering of all our country’s central themes. My goal from the beginning was to not make a bare-bones outline of life in his administration. I wanted it to be a drama dictated by the working out of contradictions and conflict rather than a faithful recounting of all the high points in Lincoln’s life. It was very important that we not try to cover too much terrain, rather dramatize it in a small moment. The expanse of time itself defuses a certain amount of dramatic tension.
Listen to the fourth episode of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline Awards Columnist Hammond and host David Bloom discuss what Pete calls a “barnburner of a race” for Oscar as award nominations are announced by the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Critics Choice Movie Awards and American Film Institute. Films such as Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables, Argo and Amour did very well most of the week. There were plenty of surprises too, from chilly receptions for some early contenders to unexpected support for some smaller films from earlier in the year. Pete puts it all in perspective just days before the start of voting for Oscar nominees.
Golden Globes Film: Tightest Awards Race In Years
Golden Globe Award Noms: Scorecard
70th Golden Globe Awards Nominations
SAG Awards Film: Who’s In And Who’s Out
SAG Awards Nominations Announced
‘Lincoln’, ‘Les Miserables’, ‘Silver Linings’ Top Critics Choice Nominees
Christmas came early for Hollywood this year, as it usually does, with the announcement this morning of the Golden Globe nominations. Ever quirky but dependable in its ability to spread the wealth by way of splitting major contenders into Drama or Comedy/Musical, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has further clarified the race. The group gave multiple key nominations to Oscar frontrunners like Argo, Life Of Pi, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables and Silver Linings Playbook as well as major impetus to the late-breaking hopes of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, which grabbed five key nominations including Picture-Drama, Director and Screenplay for Tarantino and two supporting actor nods for Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz, shaking up the supporting actor race in the process. So other than The Weinstein Company with a leading 15 nominations (Harvey really knows how to work the HFPA), who really came out on top here?
Related: Golden Globe Award Noms: Scorecard
As has been the case since Monday’s announcement of the AFI top 10 films of the year, Tuesday’s Critics Choice Movie Awards, where it led with 13 nominations, yesterday’s SAG noms, where it grabbed everything it could, and now today’s leading 7 nominations, Lincoln is now certified at the top of the pack going into Oscar balloting, which begins Monday. Steven Spielberg’s historical drama nabbed a nomination in every single Globes category it was eligible (with 7 nods, the most ever for a Spielberg film at the Globes) and made perhaps the most impressive showing of all the nominees. To put the cherry on top for Disney/Dreamworks, the film will hit $100 million domestically today. But in a race that remains as tight as ever, Argo also almost ran the board, missing out as expected for producer-director Ben Affleck’s lead performance but named in 5 other categories. Zero Dark Thirty also did what it had to do, grabbing the four key nominations (Picture-Drama, Director for Kathryn Bigelow, Screenplay for Mark Boal, Actress-Drama for Jessica Chastain) it was targeting. Add the aforementioned impressive showing of Django and you have the BIG winners of the morning as the HFPA handed out lots of gifts to each. Correlation to actual Oscar nominations and wins is sometimes spotty with the Globes, but because this has become such a high-profile awards show on NBC, one of the year’s biggest, the town pays attention and, if nothing else, the HFPA has confirmed the closeness of this race.
David Mermelstein is an AwardsLine contributor.
No actress has matured before our eyes the way Sally Field has. Appearing on the scene first as a perky ingénue in two 1960s TV series—Gidget and The Flying Nun—she made an unexpected dramatic breakthrough in Sybil (1976), a made-for-TV movie that brought the genre newfound respect. From there it was a relatively short hop to her first Oscar, as an unlikely union leader in Norma Rae (1979). Then—for a good decade and a half—Field appeared in consistently solid material, including playing a single-minded reporter opposite Paul Newman in Absence Of Malice (1981) and Tom Hanks’ redoubtable mama in Forrest Gump (1994). Then, after a period out of the limelight, she reemerged on TV in 2006 to lead the Walker clan for five seasons on Brothers & Sisters. Earlier this year she played Aunt May in The Amazing Spider-Man, Sony’s reboot of its lucrative franchise. And now she claims her biggest—and most important—role in at least 20 years, as the mentally unstable wife of our 16th president in Steven Spielberg’s epic Lincoln, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the great man.
AwardsLine: What appealed to you about playing Mrs. Lincoln?
Sally Field: What doesn’t? I’d been looking out for her for a long time. She is one of the most underexamined, misunderstood, maligned, yet important women in American history. Had there not been a Mary Todd, there would not have been an Abraham Lincoln. She found him early on, and she was ambitious. She always said she was going to marry the president. She recognized his genius and said, “He’s the one. I will marry him, and he will be president.” She honed him. She was always his closet confidant—until they got to the White House. She was highly complicated but a very necessary and important part of his life. So, yes, she was someone I wanted to play.
Related: OSCARS: The Supporting Actress Race
This year’s most anticipated Tommy Lee Jones performance was expected to be in his long-awaited return to the Men In Black franchise, but that actually turned out to be his least interesting part. The reliable veteran star, who won his one and only Oscar nearly two decades ago for chasing Harrison Ford in The Fugitive, has enjoyed a year full of unexpected acting pleasures. After MIB3, he starred in a rare summer adult comedy opposite Meryl Streep and won praise in Hope Springs as a long-married man whose wife wants to add sexual sparks to their relationship. He could earn a Golden Globe nom for best actor in a comedy or musical for that film, plus a second supporting actor nom for his sensationally entertaining turn as Senator Thaddeus Stevens in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. That one has also brought him back as a frontrunner in the Oscar race, too. These are good times for Jones, who as usual is focused on the work and rather blasé about all the awards buzz.
Related: OSCARS: The Supporting Actor Race
AwardsLine: What appealed to you about playing Thaddeus Stevens?
Tommy Lee Jones: Steven (Spielberg) sent me the screenplay, asked if I would read it and consider the part of Thaddeus Stevens. I read the screenplay, loved it, and was fascinated with Stevens. I called him back and said, “This is a very fine undertaking, and it would be my good luck if I had a chance to work on it.”
Related: OSCARS: The Supporting Actress Race
In terms of the horse race for Oscars, this morning’s SAG Awards nominations are important on a couple of fronts. It’s the first Guild awards nomination announcement of the year, and that’s significant because the way guilds are thinking (with their strong crossover membership with the Academy) is usually the way Oscar voters are thinking. It’s much more significant in that regard than critics awards. These SAG Awards nominations, the only guild announcing before the Academy gets their ballots this year (10 days earlier than normal), also can have a strong effect on influencing acting Oscar nominations even more than usual due to the time crunch and the fact that many Oscar voters still have a lot to see. In the last few years, the correlation between SAG and Oscar has been strong: In the past two years, the two orgs agreed on 17 of 20 acting noms. Three years ago it was 19 of 20. And although the 2000-strong nominating committee that votes on this film list changes by lottery every year, it’s remarkably in step with the tastes of the Academy’s Actors Branch.
Related: SAG Awards Nominations Announced
What this year’s list really reflects is the tightness of the lead actor race. In September when The Master was released, it was almost unthinkable that Joaquin Phoenix’s highly praised performance would not be among the Best Actor nominees — but he’s AWOL here. I think it probably has less to do with the fact that he didn’t campaign (he didn’t appear at a single SAG Q&A and has been vocal about his disdain for the awards-season process) than the fiercely competitive nature of this category. Who are you going to cut out among Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, John Hawkes, Hugh Jackman and Denzel Washington? There is a long list of others left at the altar by SAG this year including Hitchcock’s Anthony Hopkins, Arbitrage’s Richard Gere, Hyde Park On Hudson’s Bill Murray, Django Unchained’s Jamie Foxx, Bernie’s Jack Black and Amour’s Jean-Louis Trintignant among others, but there just doesn’t seem to be room at the inn and the Academy is likely to have the same problem.