Los Angeles, CA – The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts announced the winners of its newly launched AACTA International Awards recognizing International Achievements in Film tonight by AACTA President, Geoffrey Rush, at an intimate awards Ceremony at Soho House. The Artist was awarded Best Film for producer Thomas Langmann, and Best Direction for French director Michel Hazanavicius. The film’s lead actor, Jean Dujardin, was awarded Best Actor. Meryl Streep was awarded the AACTA International Award for Best Actress for her role in The Iron Lady. The award for Best Screenplay had two joint winners after jury voting was tied in this category: the adapted screenplay from The Ides of March for George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, and the original screenplay from Margin Call for first time writer and director J.C. Chandor.
Harvey Weinstein’s films received a remarkable 16 Oscar nominations this morning. That beats his 13 noms last year but not Sony Pictures’ 21 or paramount’s 18 this year. Then again The Weinstein Company is a helluva lot smaller. Ten of its noms were for the French black-and-white silent film The Artist, which is clearly the one to beat for Best Picture. In his first statement about the Oscar nomination haul, Weinstein said: “The art of performing in a silent movie is a lost process, and I have to thank the director and brilliant ensemble of actors in The Artist. We wouldn’t be here today without their talent. The Artist is a love letter to classic American cinema, and today the Academy gave us a love letter back.
“Special congratulations also goes to Meryl Streep from The Iron Lady, Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh from My Week With Marilyn, and to all of our other film nominees including best documentary Undefeated. Today is a great day for celebrating creative courage, visionary talent, and the power of independent cinema to inspire, to entertain, and to move people in all kinds of new and exciting ways.”
All photos by Getty Images
After being nominated and falling short in three categories — screenplay, drama and directing for The Ides Of March — on Sunday at the Golden Globe Awards — George Clooney finally came up a winner in best actor/drama for The Descendants. The Alexander Payne-directed film also nabbed the best motion picture-drama award. The first question lobbed at Clooney concerned Republican president candidate Mitt Romney and his anti-gay stand. “I don’t consider him a contender until he’s an actual nominee, but he’s on the wrong side of history.” Clooney was soon joined on stage by his fellow Descendants best motion picture/drama winners, director Payne and producers Jim Taylor and Jim Burke. “You have to look at Alexander and all five of his films are wonderfully made, he knows how to tell a story and how to turn it around,” Clooney said. “I think this film, which is a coming of age film for a 50-year old, touches people.”
Reflecting on The Ides Of March and The Descendants, Clooney acknowledged genuine satisfaction for this evening’s win. “This is three years of hard work and they’re years of what matters to me. It feels nice to have this acknowledgment. … I’m a big fan of film, it’s what I do and love.” The predicted Oscar race between Clooney and Brad Pitt ended the onstage conversation, with Clooney laughing off any kind of rivalry. “We’re friends. There are no wagers or trash talk. We just slap each other on the back and wish each other well.” …
Payne was asked how he chooses his stories. The helmer said he and he producing partners are attracted to story-driven film. “We are interested in making all films — comedies, human stories,” Payne said. “As far as me as a human director … maybe [this] is a bit more serious than our previous comedies, but it’s still in our wheelhouse. And I think George is a like-minded fellow.” When asked whether he chooses material or if material chooses him, Payne said he was relieved someone else might suggest a story might find him. “I think I sound pretentious whenever I say that. Material does present itself to me. … You can tell from the films we make are human stories, [with a] sense of melancholy and laughs.” Payne said he’ll start shooting in May on a father/son road trip film via Fox Searchlight, noting he’s still trying to get the cast together. “They’ll travel from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska. …
Meryl Streep started winning at the Golden Globes in 1980 for her role in Kramer Vs. Kramer, and The Iron Lady was her eighth trophy. With Michelle Williams taking the top acting honor in the comedy/musical category with My Week With Marilyn, The Weinstein Co will have a Sophie’s Choice to contend with should both actresses land Oscar nominations.
With regard to her latest character, Britain’s first woman prime minister and long-serving leader, Streep said she doesn’t only look to famous or powerful women to play. “I don’t think about things that way. I think about every individual story. And if it’s a waitress, I’m fine with that. I’m not discriminating in that way.” Streep turned to Europe when speculating what she might say to Lady Thatcher if she were able to speak with the former PM. “I’d be interested in what she thinks about Europe right now — I know this sounds esoteric — and the debt crisis and whether her views on that have evolved.”
Streep described her evolving view on Thatcher. “I think coming into this I had a reductive view of Margaret Thatcher. We do what we usually do to political leaders we don’t agree with. We turn them in to more than human and less than human and the same time. So I looked at a person behind the headlines and to see the human behind those headlines in the winter of her life and find compassion. …”
Turning to Streep’s numerous Oscar nominations, comparisons to Susan Lucci and that actress’ evasive Emmy for All My Children emerged during the Q&A. ”You know, I’m sure Susan Lucci is happy with her career and the longevity and fulfillment it has given her and that’s sort of how I feel,” Streep said. Elaborating on what inspires her to take on specific roles, she noted, “I’ve never really gotten to the bottom of me and the contradictions and conundrum I find in my own personality. I find some understanding of being alive through the characters I play. I gravitate toward the characters I think I feel something of me inside.”
About her onstage verbal slip, Streep laughed, “I can’t believe I said ‘shit’ on TV. I had such a good speech and here it is (pointing to her piece of paper), and I just can’t see it at all” — she forgot to bring her glasses onstage. Streep then turned serious talking about a group she’s involved with aiming to open a women’s history museum in the nation’s capital. “I’m very interested in the stories of women, especially the unwritten story of women. I’m involved with a group to purchase land on the national mall to have the first women’s history museum. So many stories I could go on for hours.” She noted the organization’s website: www.nwhm.org. …
Golden Globes Winners List: ‘The Descendants,’ George Clooney, ‘The Artist’, Meryl Streep, Jean Dujardin, ‘Modern Family’, ‘Homeland’, Michelle Williams
ACTOR-MOTION PICTURE DRAMA
George Clooney, The Descendants
MOTION PICTURE-COMEDY OR MUSICAL
A La Petite Reine – Studio 37 – La Classe Americaine – JD Prod- France3 Cinema – Jouror Production-uFilms co-production; The Weinstein Company
ACTRESS-MOTION PICTURE DRAMA
Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady
ACTOR-MOTION PICTURE COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Jean Dujardin for The Artist
Martin Scorsese for Hugo
ACTRESS-MOTION PICTURE COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Michelle Williams for My Week With Marylin
SUPPORTING ACTRESS-MOTION PICTURE
Octavia Spencer for The Help
SUPPORTING ACTOR-MOTION PICTURE
Christopher Plummer for Beginners
Woody Allen for Midnight In Paris
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Country of Iran
(Jodaeiye Nader az Simin) Asghar Farhadi; Sony Pictures Classics
The Adventures Of Tintin
Paramount Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Hemisphere Capital/Amblin Entertainment/Wingnut Films Production/Kennedy/Marshall Production A Steven Spielberg Film; Paramount Pictures and Columbia Pictures
ORIGINAL SCORE-MOTION PICTURE
Ludovic Bource for The Artist
ORIGINAL SONG-MOTION PICTURE
“Masterpiece” from W.E.
Music & Lyrics by Madonna, Julie Frost and Jimmy Harry
TELEVISION SERIES-COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Modern Family (ABC)
Twentieth Century Fox Television
ACTOR IN A TELEVISION SERIES-COMEDY OR MUSICAL
Matt LeBlanc for Episodes
ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION SERIES-DRAMA
Claire Danes for Homeland
The Best Actress race is hot this year.
New York Film Critics Online added its ranks to Sunday’s parade of honors. From the group’s website:
Film – The Artist
Actor – Michael Shannon (Take Shelter)
Actress – Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Director - Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Supporting Actor – Albert Brooks (Drive)
Supporting Actress – Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
Breakthrough Performer – Jessica Chastain (The Tree Of Life, The Debt, The Help, Take Shelter, Coriolanus, Texas Killing Fields)
Debut Director – Joe Cornish (Attack the Block)
Ensemble Cast – Bridesmaids
Screenplay – Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash (The Descendants)
Documentary – Cave Of Forgotten Dreams
Foreign Language – A Separation
Animated – The Adventures of Tintin
Cinematography – Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life)
Use of Music - Ludovic Bource (The Artist)
Another trailer has gone up for The Weinstein Company release The Iron Lady. Meryl Streep plays Margaret Thatcher who was prime minister of the UK from 1979 to 1990. Jim Broadbent plays her husband Denis Thatcher and Richard E. Grant is Conservative Party challenger Michael Heseltine. Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, screenplay …
Based on the mixed bag out of the New York Film Critics, National Board of Review and Gotham Awards winners along with the announced nominees for Independent Spirit Awards, this year is completely, completely wide open. But then you knew that already.
The New York Critics so wanted to be first and “influence” the Oscars that they advanced their voting date up two weeks and prematurely presented a list of winners Tuesday that seemed downright conservative and very “Academy friendly.” After honoring harder edged films in the past, they went for a delightful black and white silent film as their Best Picture (The Artist) and Director (Michel Hazanavicius) plus big stars Meryl Streep (in another biopic — as Margaret Thatcher this time) and Brad Pitt (Moneyball) both playing real-life characters, something Academy voters have tended to favor in many of their recent acting winners. It was Streep’s fifth acting honor from the NYFCC. The group moved their voting up in order to beat everyone else, particularly the National Board of Review which is normally first, and in effect forced Sony to show them David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by agreeing to move their voting date back a day (and then ignored the film). They also miscalculated Warner Bros’ willingness to show Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close before it was completely finished and ready to be seen by some of the nation’s most “important” (at least in their own minds) critics. So that one wasn’t part of their deliberations. The Broadcast Film Critics Association (I am a member) and the Los Angeles Film Critics among others will be able to see Dragon Tattoo starting Friday. Neither has changed its voting schedules (about 10 days out) in order to jump the gun and will be able to see everything before weighing in on the year’s best. That seems like the right course for critics groups instead of trying to force the hands of filmmakers in order to pursue their own delusional quixotic quest for influence.
The UK trailer for the Weinstein Co’s The Iron Lady hit the web today. It’s the best glimpse yet of Meryl Streep as Margret Thatcher, a performance that has positioned her as the Oscar Best Actress frontrunner. The biopic, directed by Phyllida Lloyd and co-starring Jim Broadbent, hits U.S. theaters …
EXCLUSIVE: Meryl Streep is waiting until almost the last possible minute to jump into this year’s Oscar race. Although many places list her Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady as a December 16 release, The Weinstein Company has decided it is best to keep us waiting a little longer. So …
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.