No question the nominees lunch, which took place today at the Beverly Hilton, is the feel good event of a very long Oscar season — at least as far as the nominees who have made it this far are concerned. If the Governors Awards in November is a great networking opportunity for contenders, this luncheon has become a “must attend” for nominees, who get their certificates, a goodie bag and the chance to meet their fellow nominees in a collegial atmosphere where everyone’s a winner. At least until March 2. Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron made a point of telling them a billion people will be watching in more than 225 countries and that the time begins the moment they hit the microphone and they will have only 45 seconds. “But don’t be nervous,” smiled Zadan. “Just prepare”.
OSCARS: On The Scene As Nominees Lunch Brings Out Record Number And EVERYONE Is A Winner In This Room
Wild Critics’ Choice Movie Awards Brings Out Oscar Nomination Day’s Winners And Losers; Julia Roberts Compares It To “Some Strange Fellini Movie”
Last night’s Critics’ Choice Movie Awards pretty much mirrored the results of the Golden Globes handed out just a few days earlier. The winners – 12 Years A Slave for Picture, American Hustle for Comedy Picture, Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Cate Blanchett, Amy Adams, Leonardo DiCaprio, director Alfonso Cuaron, Spike Jonze for his Her screenplay, and animated film Frozen – were awarded similar honors from the Hollywood Foreign Press on Sunday. The only real variation was in Supporting Actress, where Slave’s Lupita Nyong’o was the choice of the Broadcast Critics (I am a member of the group) while Jennifer Lawrence grabbed the Globe. Lawrence did win a CCMA too, though, as part of the victorious ensemble of Hustle.
Related: Critics’ Choice Movie Awards Winners
So does this mean an Oscars consensus is finally forming as awards season begins to heat up? Not really. We are still talking awards from media groups here. The real contest starts this weekend when the first two big guild awards — SAG on Saturday and the Producers Guild on Sunday — declare their winners and the industry gets its say. These results will be significant and I am particularly looking towards the PGA (which has turned out to be a kingmaker in recent seasons, matching Oscar’s Best Picture the last six years in a row) to add some clarity to the season which at this point is wide open — although I would say, by virtue of a major Best Picture win at the Globes and CCMAs, 12 Years A Slave is having a good run this week. And remember, for whatever reason, the Broadcast Critics Association members often seem to reflect the sentiment of Academy voters. It has a good track record predicting eventual Oscar wins.
But where the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards really made its mark last night was that it came at the end of a long day where Oscar nominations were revealed. This is the second year in a row BFCA chose the same date as the Academy for a major awards season event. You might recall Ben Affleck’s “I’d like to thank the Academy…” speech last year when he won the CCMA after being snubbed by the Academy for a Best Director nomination earlier that morning. There weren’t quite the same dramatic moments last night, but the vibe in the room was electric. A whole group of brand new Oscar nominees were in a celebratory mood, and the networking and backslapping going on was every bit as fun as the crazy atmosphere that surrounds the Globes.
Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks with host David Bloom about today’s Oscar nominations, which produced a very strong field of competitors and inevitably left some worthy contenders on the outside looking in.
We’ll get Pete’s take on just about everything Oscar, from Best Picture to Best Boy, who got in and who didn’t and what it will all mean come March 2.
Among the most interesting tidbits: that Best Song nominee from a movie virtually no one had heard of; record-setters for Meryl Streep, David O. Russell and Jennifer Lawrence; disappointments for Inside Llewyn Davis and Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks, and what may still be a seven-way race for Best Picture.
Separately, Pete also talks about two of this week’s movie debuts, the reboot of a durable Tom Clancy franchise, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit with Chris Pine; and Ride Along, a cop comedy featuring rising star Kevin Hart trying to win over his grumpy future brother-in-law, played by Ice Cube.
The title will be The Senator’s Wife, the star, Oscar winner Meryl Streep and the producer, The Weinstein Co. The target: the NRA. The formidable chairman of The Weinstein Co., Harvey Weinstein, confirmed to Deadline today they will be taking on the NRA gun lobby head-on with a film entitled The Senator’s Wife which will star the just-Oscar-nominated Streep (August: Osage County) and other top talent in a movie he described as “the new Mr. Smith Goes To Washington” — the beloved Frank Capra film that starred Jimmy Stewart about one man’s fight against corrupt politicians in Washington. Weinstein announced on The Howard Stern Show that “they’re (the NRA is) going to wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them.” Weinstein, who has been one of the strongest supporters of President Barack Obama, in this film will expose the NRA for their behind-the-scenes machinations of what Obama himself called “intimidation” and “lies” that ended up defeating legislation that would have expanded background checks on gun sales. Shortly after, Obama, flanked by parents of murdered children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, held a press conference out in the Rose Garden, calling out the NRA, saying the organization led by Wayne LaPierre “willfuly lied” to the American people. “They claimed that it would create some sort of big brother gun registry even though the bill did the opposite,” said Obama of the NRA, and he added, “this pattern of spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose. Because those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators.” For the record, I took part in the We Are Better Than This campaign after my cousin’s daughter was murdered in the Aurora theater shooting, but my family members own guns and one is an NRA member.
Oscars: Ballots Due In Less Than 48 Hours As Contenders Keep The Campaigns Hot And Voters Try To Keep Pace
The clock is ticking, Academy members.
As the deadline looms for the close of Oscar nomination polls at 5 PM Wednesday, I have talked to a large number of potential voters who are still not even close to seeing the key movies, whether in theaters or making a dent in that pile of screeners at home. A more limited voting pool could lead to a surprising outcome, and this year it seems there are many members struggling to check out all the contenders. Last year then-Academy President Hawk Koch boasted to me on the day of nominations that with the help of the (then-controversial) new online voting system, turnout was the largest in recent Academy history. Hoping not to fall off the pace, new President Cheryl Boone Isaacs has been sending recorded messages urging voters who haven’t marked their ballots yet to get them in before the deadline.
Harvey Weinstein, George Clooney And Tracy Letts On ‘August: Osage County’s Ending Change And Release Date Shift
EXCLUSIVE: After this week’s L.A. premiere of August: Osage County, Harvey Weinstein is prepared to make two proclamations as the film launches into a crowded Oscar season. “When it comes to Oscars, I’ll take bets on this movie, it’s going to be a surprise and a sleeper, but it’s gonna be there,” he said. His second proclamation: “I’m never again going to rush to play a movie festival anymore, until the movie is locked,” Weinstein said. “We rushed to get a version of August: Osage County because we wanted the heat of Toronto. It wasn’t finished and it has created a disconnect.”
Weinstein, George Clooney (a producer with Smokehouse Pictures partner Grant Heslov) and Tracy Letts (who adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning play into the John Wells-directed film) called me to dispel a misperception they hope will not become a problem: that because of slight changes between the Toronto version and the final cut, this was a problem picture. In this case, the early version of the Meryl Streep/Julia Roberts-starrer had a slightly different ending than it does now. The finished film is a bit longer and more polished and contains over its closing credits ”Last Mile Home”, a moving acoustic song that Kings Of Leon wrote for the film. “Our worst review has been three stars, but forevermore in the age of the Internet you read that reaction was mixed in Toronto and it colors people,” Weinstein said. “There’s something in the air and the way to take it out of the air is for the three of us to combat it.” I won’t give away the ending here, but it involves how things are left between a dysfunctional family matriarch (Streep) and the daughter (Roberts) in danger of following in her bitter footsteps. Besides Toronto, there were test screenings and the usual back and forth that resulted in what the three said is the best version of the film, the one they showed this week.
The Contenders 2013: ‘August: Osage County’s John Wells On Directing Meryl Streep: “She Came To Play” (Video)
As one of television’s most prolific and successful writer/producers, John Wells has known great success with Emmy-winning series like E.R. and The West Wing and currently Showtime’s Shameless, but after getting his feet wet directing movies with The Company Men …
Buried near the end of a lengthy Michael Fassbender profile in the November issue of GQ, writer Zach Baron gets the Oscar-buzzed actor to explain why he has no plans to do the campaign circuit this season for his supporting role as the vicious slave owner in 12 Years A Slave.
“I’m going to be busy working. I just don’t really have time. (Campaigning is) just not going to happen, because I’ll be in New Zealand. I’ll be on the other side of the world. You know, I get it. Everybody’s got to do their job. So you try and help and facilitate as best you can. But I won’t put myself through that kind of situation again. It’s just a grind. And I’m not a politician. I’m an actor,” Fassbender said of the whole Oscar process, which seems to grow every year and includes numerous Q&As, luncheons, meet-and-greets, private screenings, film festival tributes, presenting at endless awards shows, well-timed talk show appearances, etc etc. Many artists who suddenly find themselves the object of an all-out Oscar campaign find this part of the job even more grueling than making the actual film. And by the time the Oscars roll around they are spent.
Campaign or no campaign, in Fassbender’s case it may not matter. He’s very likely going to get nominated — and could win — for Best Supporting Actor and I think that’s a scenario whether he lifts a finger or not in doing the usual rounds. The film and the role are so strong it’s hard to imagine the actors branch ignoring him. Now after the nominations it could change, especially in a tight, competitive race where every vote counts.
Toronto: Weinstein’s Premiere Marathon Delivers Huge Reaction For Oscar-Bait ‘August: Osage County’ – But Will It Divide Audiences?
Just call it Weinstein Premiere-O-Rama. The company launched four movies with splashy galas at the Toronto International Film Festival in the span of 48 hours (is this some sort of weird record?). That included Saturday night’s Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom World Premiere, Sunday’s North American launch of Philomena and last night’s World Premieres of August: Osage County and One Chance directly against each other. When I saw Harvey Weinstein at the combined Soho House after-party for the Monday films I told him he obviously loves Toronto. He was moving fast between his movies showing up everywhere, including on stage for August before it began. ”Everything came together and we just thought this would be the perfect way to get these films out there,” he said clearly beaming at the reaction.
All the films won standing ovations, not uncommon in movie-friendly Toronto (people like getting up on their feet here) but even by those standards the raucous, prolonged standing O for August: Osage County was definitely the most enthusiastic I have encountered at this year’s fest. And the John Wells-directed movie adaptation of actor/writer Tracy Letts’ Tony-winning Midwestern-set Broadway play about a dysfunctional family to end all dysfunctional families played like gangbusters with much audible reaction throughout. Star Meryl Streep was a last-minute cancellation due to illness and co-producer George Clooney (with Grant Heslov) didn’t make the trek to Canada for this film or Gravity in which he co-stars with Sandra Bullock since he was back in L.A. still working on posting his latest directorial gig, Monuments Men as well as shooting Disney’s Tomorrowland. But most of the cast was there including Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper, Julianne Nicholson, Abigail Breslin, Dermot Mulroney and Julia Roberts, clearly the belle of this ball. When I spoke with her afterwards she was definitely on cloud nine over the reaction the film received and obviously excited to be working with this cast and opposite Streep who manages to do the impossible and tops Streep as the bitterly funny, bitingly caustic mother who lets it rip, particularly in the film’s (and the play’s ) signature dinner scene. Roberts is also at her best and both should be major Oscar contenders in the impossibly crowded lead actress category. This would make nomination #18 for Streep. Could anyone ever top her own record?
The 2013 Toronto Film Festival gets underway in full force later tonight with the world premiere of DreamWorks’ awards hopeful The Fifth Estate from director Bill Condon. The fest will show off approximately 300 films by the time it wraps September 15 with the closing-night film, Life Of Crime. That movie, up for acquisition, stars Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes and Tim Robbins and has added heat since its selection as the closer. It represents the last movie in which the late author Elmore Leonard, an executive producer, was involved.
Among the true world premieres here — films that haven’t already been world premieres in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Sundance or Telluride — the most anticipated outside of the acquisition titles are those mostly sight-unseen movies expected to become major players in the awards race. They include August: Osage Country, which will be unveiled at a starry gala Monday that will include Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts; Ron Howard’s terrific car racing drama Rush, launching Sunday; Dallas Buyers Club with a buzzed-about turn from Matthew McConaughey on Saturday night; Nicole Holofcener’s romantic comedy Enough Said starring Emmy-winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus and repping one of the final films of James Gandolfini, on Saturday afternoon; Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, the story of the young Nelson Mandela with Idris Elba in the lead, early Saturday evening; and David Frankel’s One Chance, a crowd-pleaser about the Britain’s Got Talent winning opera singer Paul Potts that could be a big player in the Golden Globe Musical or Comedy race (see the trailer for that one here). One of its producers is Simon Cowell, and it screens Monday night. And although Spike Jonze’s December entry Her won’t be debuting until it closes the New York Film Festival on October 13, key press will be given a preview of clips along with a conversation with Jonze on Sunday afternoon as Warner Bros tries to put the Amy Adams-Joaquin Phoenix picture into the awards conversation coming out of Toronto.
As previously noted, several contenders that played Telluride, Venice or Cannes such as All Is Lost, Inside Llewyn Davis and Nebraska are skipping Toronto altogether in favor of turning up next at NYFF later this month. By the way, Nebraska really popped at Telluride, a consensus favorite there doing even better than it did in Cannes competition. Director Alexander Payne told me he “tinkered” with the film for some time after its Cannes debut to get it to the place he wanted. Obviously he made the right choice. This one looks like it could be a major player at the Oscars — you can just feel it. “People just want a comedy right now, ” explained a modest Payne about the reception it received in the Rockies last week.
Toronto organizers shouldn’t be crying in their soup over pictures they didn’t get. This fest, once known as the Festival of Festivals, is already impossibly overcrowded. It’s like Cannes on steroids with way too much for any one person to see. You have to make Solomon-like choices if you want to cover Toronto in all its glory. I say thank god for Cannes and Telluride as it gives me a head start.