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 (2010) he’s really upped his game for his sophomore effort. August: Osage County opens Christmas Day and features a major cast including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Margo Martindale, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor and many others. On the Weinstein Company panel at Deadline’s THE CONTENDERS event he talked about the intimidation factor of working on this level, especially with Streep.
The Contenders 2013: ‘August: Osage County’s John Wells On Directing Meryl Streep: “She Came To Play” (Video)
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.
Even as Oscar nomination polls were closing Friday afternoon, the awards season action was already shifting to the Southern California desert as the 10-day Palm Springs International Film Festival kicked off, not only with its highly publicized Saturday night gala where enormous statuettes are handed out to Oscar hopefuls looking for a boost in the race, but also as a genuinely impressive public showcase for world cinema.
42 of the 71 official Oscar foreign entries are on display at the Fest (which runs through January 13) including 8 of the 9 finalists which made the shortlist. Many of those filmmakers nervously awaiting results, of which of the 9 become the 5 nominees, were at the fest all weekend, even as a select group of about 30 high-profile Academy members (including Meryl Streep, who told me last year she had a great time on this uber committee) in New York and Los Angeles were viewing the finalists and making their choices (to be announced with other Oscar nominees on Thursday morning).
Today Sony Pictures is doing the unthinkable. It is breaking, on a wide release of 2500+ screens, a dialogue-driven adult comedy/drama about the sex life (or lack of it) of a long-married couple both in their 60′s. And in the middle of August no less!
Sure it stars Meryl Streep, a bona fide box office draw even at her age, but it’s highly unusual and somewhat risky business to go this wide with a movie that is clearly aimed at the much older audience who is slow to show up no matter what the attraction. The studio is opening on a Wednesday in order to build some good word of mouth and reviews for its first weekend where it must face more typical summer flicks like Universal’s The Bourne Legacy and Warner Bros. The Campaign. Currently it stands at a decent 77% fresh for reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, a good sign for a movie that would seem like it would be more indie-oriented fodder than summertime major studio fare.
With the August release though Sony is also getting a jump on awards season as this cast includes such Oscar favorites as 17- time nominee and 3- time winner Streep (most recently in February for The Iron Lady) as well as Supporting Actor winner Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive), along with a deadpan Steve Carell as their couples therapist who counsels them at a week-long retreat on how to put the sexual spark back into their marriage. Of course Streep tends to get Oscar noms for just showing up on the set, while Jones was last nominated for Best Actor for 2007′s In The Valley Of Elah, a bit of a surprise then since his film was a boxoffice non-starter that had largely been written off at that point indicating the Academy likes him, they really like him. Both stars are getting strong reviews so far. Whether the strategy works at the boxoffice for this very Academy-friendly fare (official Los Angeles Academy member screening is Sunday night at the Goldwyn) remains to be seen but producers Todd Black and Guymon Casady told me they are just hoping the audience turns out, and happy they decided to go the studio route even though that wasn’t initially the plan.
In introducing Screenwriting award winner Nora Ephron at a Hollywood Film Awards ceremony a couple of years ago her good friend and admirer Steven Spielberg said, “Nora knows how so easily to make us laugh and to make us …
More than 10 years in the making, an international treaty aimed at protecting actors’ rights is due to be signed in Beijing in the coming week. Backed by UN agency WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the treaty …
The 2012 Tribeca Film Festival revealed its panel series as well as six new titles that will world premiere at the upcoming event. Narrative films Freaky Deaky and Future Weather as well as documentaries Portrait Of Wally and Once In A Lullaby: The PS22 Chorus Story will screen as part of the “Tribeca Talks: After the Movie” series, the documentary Wagner’s Dream will premiere as part of the festival’s new “Beyond the Screens: Globalize Your Thinking” series, and the narrative Knife Fight will have a screening with an extended Q&A.
UPDATE, TUESDAY 10:39 PM: All 15 Academy Awards auctioned tonight by Nate D. Sanders sold for $3,060,089 (which the auctioneer calls a record-breaking amount), a total about $1 million less than some estimates for the entire lot but impressive nonetheless. Getting top dollar was Herman Mankiewicz’s 1941 Screenplay Oscar for Citizen Kane going for $588,455 (about $300,000 less than what Orson Welles scripting statue went for in December), How Green Was My Valley’s Best Picture Oscar went for $274,520 while another Fox Best Picture, 1933′s Cavalcade garnered $332,165. The oldest of the Oscars in the lot for 1931′s Skippy fetched $301,973 while the two acting Oscars being auctioned also did well. Ronald Colman’s 1947 Best Actor statuette for A Double Life went for $206,250 and Charles Coburn’s supporting award for 1943′s The More The Merrier took in $170,459.
PREVIOUS, TUESDAY PM: Now that all of those Academy Award nominees who didn’t win on Sunday night have had a full day to lick their wounds, there is good news: If you hurry you can get in on today’s record sale (by Nate D. Sanders Monthly Auctions) and buy an Oscar statuette. See, things are already looking up. Of course, the Academy totally frowns on this Oscar fire sale but they can’t do anything about it since the awards on the block are all pre-1950 — the year the Academy changed the rules and forged agreements with winners that they (or their estates) must first offer to sell the Oscar back to Academy for $1 before putting it on the market.
In today’s lineup of gold men — which instantly doubles the number of Oscars ever auctioned on the free market — there are some pretty historically significant awards. They include a screenwriting Oscar won by Herman Mankiewicz for co-writing Citizen Kane (its only win in 1941; the matching Orson Welles Screenplay Oscar fetched $861,000 in December) and Best Picture Oscars for the 20th Century Fox films How Green Was My Valley (1941) and Cavalcade (1933), the latter the first Best Pic Oscar for the studio. There is also director Norman Taurog’s Oscar for 1931′s Skippy, which he won at age 32, making him still the youngest to win in the category. You might want to purchase the first-ever Special Effects Academy Award for 1938′s Spawn Of The North or a Black and White Cinematography award for the 1939 classic Wuthering Heights and a color one for 1948′s The Yearling. Art Directors might like Paul Groesse’s Color Art Direction award for 1949′s Little Women. This year’s losing composers might want to consider purchasing Hugo Friedhofer’s 1946 Scoring of a Dramatic Picture Oscar or even the Film Editing award for the same movie. Actors can choose between 1947′s A Double Life Best Actor Oscar for Ronald Colman or (probably less expensive) Charles Coburn’s 1943 Supporting Actor statuette for The More The Merrier, a title that describes the spirit of this whole lot of Oscars on the block. The auction ends at 5 PM (PT) today, but there is extended bidding beginning at 5:15.