EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 8:48 am PST: Coming into Sundance, many expected big things for upstart distribution company A24, and the label hasn’t …
Sundance: A24 Acquiring J.C. Chandor-Helmed ‘A Most Violent Year’ With Oscar Isaac And Jessica Chastain
The 56 member-strong National Society of Film Critics today helped CBS Films’ Inside Llewyn Davis bounce back from its PGA and WGA snubs, awarding the 1960s-set folk music drama Best Picture, Best Director for Joel and Ethan Coen, Best Actor for Oscar Isaac‘s turn as the eponymous singer-songwriter, and Best Cinematography. The boost came the same day CBS took out a full-page For Your Consideration ad in the New York Times pulling a select portion of this Dec. 30 Tweet by NYT critic A.O. Scott: “I’m gonna listen to the Llewyn Davis album again. Fare thee well, my honeys.” Whatever works? Scroll down for full NSFC awards:
Listen to (and share) episode 52 of our audio podcast “Deadline Awards Watch, with Pete Hammond.”
Deadline’s awards columnist talks with host David Bloom about the Independent Spirit Awards nominations, which feature plenty of Oscar contenders, and perhaps not enough truly spirited indie films; a Q&A with Oscar Isaac of Inside Llewyn Davis, which picked up several of those Spirit Award nods; and a splashy first public screening for David O. Russell’s latest awards season entry, American Hustle, featuring top-notch performances — particularly by Jennifer Lawrence.
They also talk about Oscar rules changes that could make a difference for better known films in the foreign-language and animation categories, and a Golden Globes rule decision that leaves one fantastic disembodied voice just plain dissed.
Finally, we’ll get Pete’s take on this week’s new movies, including old-school crime drama Homefront, with horror film Oldboy. They also discuss Black Nativity, a holiday musical with yet another fine ensemble cast of African-American actors led this time by Oscar winners Forrest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson, part of an unusually large spate of successful, often critically lauded films targeting black audiences over the past few months.
Since graduating from Juilliard in 2005, Guatamalan-born and Miami-bred Oscar Isaac has been on a steady rise. With noticeable roles in films such as Robin Hood, Drive and The Bourne Legacy, Isaac has been proving his worth as a film actor with something extra. That “something extra” has been fully realized with his breakthrough role as the title character in Joel and Ethan Coen’s tale of a struggling folk singer in the early 1960s, Inside Llewyn Davis. Since winning the Grand Prize at Cannes in May, the film has been building a high profile this season and promises to put Isaac, who does all of his own singing, right in the heart of the race.
AwardsLine: Recount how you got this role, because the audition process was drawn out for the film. The Coen brothers thought the movie wouldn’t get made if they didn’t find the right actor.
Oscar Isaac: I heard about the audition process early on, and I was like, “I have got to get into this thing because I love the Coen brothers, I play music and I can sing.” I went in (to the audition) knowing that it was loosely based on (folk musician) Dave Van Ronk’s memoirs, and I knew he was this huge 6-foot-5, 200-pound Swede. I knew (I would be) a stretch, if they were trying to do a biopic. So I came in and I had a beard and I saw a photograph of this well-known musician—dark hair, dark beard. Suddenly, I calmed down and said, “So is this a reference shot? You guys are looking for people like that?” (Someone in casting) says, “Oh, no. He came in; he killed it.” It was like all the blood being drained out of my veins. They had been looking at a lot of really great musicians for the part because they wanted to have full songs performed live in the film, which is very unusual. I learned three songs and did the audition, and about a week later, they called me in to meet with the Coens. They’re the best to audition for. They are incredibly generous, and they’re quick to laugh, even just in conversation. So it was impossible to tell how it went because, apparently, they’re like that for everybody. A month went by, and I was just begging the universe to give me this one shot. Then I got a call (from) Joel. I remember him talking for a while before saying it, but then he finally said, “We’d love for you to do (the film), if you’d want to be a part of it.” I couldn’t believe it.
It doesn’t even open until December 6th but this has been a very big week already for the Coen Brothers’ new film Inside Llewyn Davis, which is set in New York’s folk-singing world of the early 1960s. The soundtrack album …
Contenders 2013: ‘Wolf Of Wall Street,’ ‘Nebraska,’ ‘Dallas Buyers Club,’ ‘Inside Llewyn Davis,’ ‘Fruitvale Station,’ ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler,’ ‘August: Osage County,’ ‘All Is Lost,’ ‘Place Beyond The Pines,’ ‘12 Years A Slave,’ ‘Gravity’ & More Kick-Off Panels
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline.
Deadline’s 3rd annual The Contenders event kicked off this morning at the shimmering new Wallis Annenberg Center For the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, simultaneously launching the 2013 awards season precisely four months before the 86th Academy Awards. The spotlight fell on seven different studios/distributors and 22 films competing for awards consideration, with an overview of the Weinstein Company‘s impressive offerings getting things started in a highlight reel that felt like an Oscar contender in itself. An assortment of TWC writers, producers and directors were on hand to share anecdotes and tidbits with Deadline’s Pete Hammond, including Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler, Lee Daniels’ The Butler producer Pam Williams and writer Danny Strong, August: Osage County director John Wells, and the directors of the acclaimed documentaries 20 Feet From Stardom (Morgan Neville) and Salinger (Shane Salerno). Hammond quipped that TWC was so stocked with doc contenders this year that of the 151 eligible entries, “149 felt like they were from Weinstein.” Wells recalled how Osage County co-star Meryl Streep showed up to the first table read of ther script having memorized it and going off-book. “Everyone was like, ‘Wow’,” he recalled. “It was, ‘OK, game on’.”
Related: PHOTOS: Contenders 2013 Gallery
During a session promoting the Roadside/Lionsgate feature All is Lost starring Robert Redford in what the actor has called the most challenging role of his career, sound editors Richard Hymns and Steve Boeddeker marveled at how the film – with abundant action, a single star and minimal dialogue – was literally a sound editor’s dream. And during the following panel for the Focus Features hopefuls Dallas Buyers Club, The Place Beyond the Pines and We Steal Secrets, the morning theme of patience being a virtue came to the fore. Dallas Buyers Club producer Robbie Brenner calmly discussed how her film’s journey from script to screen spanned some 20 years – and nearly fell apart at the last minute when Canadian financing dried up.
Deadline’s sold-out award season kick-off The Contenders unspooled Saturday at the Wallis Annenberg Center For The Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. Take a look at our special guest panelists from this year’s crop of Oscar hopefuls from …
This weekend the New York Film Festival got rolling and if you mistook it for the Scott Rudin Film Festival you wouldn’t be far from wrong. Rudin’s October 11th Sony Pictures release Captain Phillips world premiered to a standing ovation on Opening Night Friday. On Saturday the much-awaited New York premiere of his December 6th CBS Films pic Inside Llewyn Davis made its local debut with stars Oscar Isaac, John Goodman and writer/directors Joel and Ethan Coen among those on hand. But if that wasn’t enough of a Rudin takeover of the Fest (which runs a longish 18 days) there is an unprecedented sold out concert going on tonight at the Town Hall engineered by Rudin, the Coens and T-Bone Burnett called Another Day, Another Time: Celebrating The Music Of Inside Llewyn Davis. The concert featuring numerous folk singers of the early 1960s period in which the New York-based film is set also scheduled appearances from some of the movie’s stars including Isaac and Goodman. It’s clear Rudin, using the festival that also launched his The Social Network two years ago, doesn’t have to leave his hometown to make a mark in Hollywood’s nascent awards season. Game on.
In the case of Inside Llewyn Davis, the strategy seems particularly smart. Unlike Phillips or other upcoming Oscar-hopefuls like NYFF World Premieres for 20th Century Fox‘s The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty starring and directed by Ben Stiller and playing next weekend, and the October 13th closer, Spike Jonze‘s Her from Warner Bros, Davis has already been making the fest rounds since beginning in May at Cannes where it won the Grand Prize (second place), and then in a North American launch at Telluride on Labor Day weekend that included a tribute to the musical movie collaboration between the Coens and T- Bone Burnett.
The Cannes Film Festival is over for me, and when I come to a place like this, I find myself asking, where are the next stars coming from? Between Fruitvale Station’s Michael B. Jordan and writer-director Ryan Coogler, and Inside Llewyn Davis’ Oscar Isaac, I feel like I got three answers to that question over the course of a weekend.
I come to Cannes primarily to chase deal stories, as I do in Toronto and Sundance. At those other two, the threat of transactions leaves me confined to a hotel room waiting for action. The sporadic action here allowed me see movies and stroll down a rain-soaked Croisette. The drivers here are entirely dangerous in their tiny cars; one driver trying to turn came so close to plowing into my leg that I had to pound his hood with my fist (luckily I didn’t damage my typing finger, which would have cut my output in half). I also made time to see movies including Fruitvale Station, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Behind The Candelabra. While Steven Soderbergh ends the movie-making part of his movie career 24 years after it began here when he won Palme d’Or in 1989 for sex lies & videotape, the road is just beginning for Jordan, Coogler and Isaac. Based on the films I saw here, each has a long drive ahead.
I spoke briefly with Isaac following the Inside Llewyn Davis premiere and jokingly asked him how they possibly could have overlooked him for Les Miserables, given his remarkable singing chops. He seemed jolted for a moment and then smiled as I did, because we both knew this was much, much better. Joel and Ethan Coen created a tour de force folk-singer role for him that any actor with pipes could only dream about. “This might sound cliché, but I feel like I’ve been training 33 years just for this movie,” said the 33-year-old actor. Judging by the talk I overheard between CBS Films and Isaac’s reps about keeping room in his late-year schedule for Oscar-season stumping, Isaac wasn’t overstating the case.
Coogler, meanwhile, is a 27 year old who hails from Oakland, and who got a football scholarship and then went to study film at USC. He found his feature debut in the story of Oscar Grant, the young man whose accidental shooting by roughshod cops atop a train platform created national outrage. Jordan plays Grant and to watch him, Coogler and their cohorts staring wide-eyed at the Cannes premiere crowd at the Palais was charming. A standing ovation must have lasted 10 minutes, and I can’t recall a movie where I saw so many audience members in tears, a remarkable accomplishment since so many absorbed the dialogue through subtitles. Much of the movie’s power is Jordan’s engagingly accessible screen persona, but a lot of credit goes to Coogler. As I and other journos milled around him, I could see Coogler bristle when they put him in the “black filmmaker” category, and it doesn’t surprise me that one reason Harvey Weinstein won Fruitvale Station over other bidders is that he was the only mogul who, when speaking to Coogler, drew parallels to films like The Bicycle Thief, classics Coogler studied in school. Coogler made more right decisions in this movie than is usual for a first-time feature director. His best one: making this a family story and not an angry urban polemic. It makes Oscar’s tragedy relatable to anyone who has abruptly lost a loved one (it hit me like a sledgehammer). As for the Cannes adulation, Coogler was overwhelmed, but applied a lesson learned on the football field when he was a wide receiver. “You constantly remind yourself over and over to concentrate on catching the ball and securing it first, before you try to run with it.” It is all about attention to technique and detail, he said, and he’ll take his time figuring out the next film. It will be something he can make personal, the way he did Fruitvale Station.
Fresh from the Coen brothers-directed Inside Llewyn Davis, Oscar Isaac has signed to star in Partisan, an indie film that marks the directing debut of Ariel Kleiman, who wrote the script. The film is described as a confronting fable about a vengeful man raising his children to attack the world that wronged him. Kleiman’s short Deeper Than Yesterday won the Jury Prize for Best International Short film at 2011 Sundance. The project is backed by Warp Films Australia, whose Anna McLeish and Sarah Shawn just produced The Snowtown Murders.