The premiere of CNN Original Series: Death Row Stories ranked No. 1 among cable news networks in the news demo last night in the 9 PM hour, averaging 255,000 demo viewers, besting MSNBC (117,000) and FNC (103,000). In overall audience, …
Maybe they should’ve just avoided the topic altogether. Failure took on a very real form today at the Sundance Film Festival’s Free Fail series. A video clip of financier and Open Society Foundations founder George Soros failed to appear onscreen about 15 minutes into the heavily attended panel at Park City’s Egyptian Theater. After the clip was set up by Open Society president Chris Stone, the panel — which included festival founder Robert Redford, director and Sundance alumni Jill Soloway, creativity researcher Charles Limb, and author Dave Eggers — all turned to look at the screen. Nothing showed up. After nearly 20 seconds, with the panelists looking off-stage and Sundance staff running up and down the side aisles, the lights went up and the discussion went on sans clip.
Day 4 of the Sundance Film Festival saw socially conscious documentaries getting a multi-million dollar boost. The George Soros-founded Open Society Foundations announced today that is handing over a $5 million grant to the Sundance Institute to help foster films …
Fleming On 2014 Sundance Forecast: Thriving Indie Biz Makes Appetite Strong; Un-Commercial Slate Could Limit Big Deals
The Sundance Film Festival market gets underway tonight, and it could start with a bidding bang for Whiplash, seen here first as a short and now a feature starring Miles Teller as a drummer trying to survive his ruthless school band conductor (J.K. Simmons). Then again, buyers could find it’s not the second coming of Precious, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, or last year’s gem Fruitvale Station. It will still sell if that happens, it will just take longer, with its prospect for a meaningful theatrical release dimming with each passing day.
More than any recent year in memory, this Sundance program might well have been programmed by Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid screenwriter William Goldman, because of how the fest follows his famous adage about Hollywood that “Nobody knows anything.” It’s harder than usual to predict this fest’s breakout films because nothing jumps off the page as a can’t-miss. How does that make buyers feel? One buyer likened himself and his competitors as being like a bunch of old men on a beach, with shorts, black socks, and metal detectors, combing the sand for that diamond ring someone dropped amidst the beer can pull tops and other debris. “You’ve got to cover the whole beach or you’ll miss something,” he said. “On paper, a lot of these films have good casts and potential until you see them, get disappointed and find something in the little movie which has no stars, and is much harder to market,” the distributor said. “There are so many buyers here and so much competition, you really have to be on your toes and see everything.”
There is a sense of deja vu here for the number of past Sundance directors returning with projects (they include Zach Braff, Mike Cahill, Richard Linklater, Lynne Shelton, Gregg Araki and Jake Paltrow), but also because of programming decisions which seem to increasingly bring the fest back to its origins of prizing smaller left-of-center fare.
Sundance: “I’m Fine” Robert Redford Says Of Oscar Snub, Claims “No Campaign” From Roadside Attractions
“Would it have been wonderful to be nominated? Of course,” Robert Redford said today kicking off the 30th anniversary of the Sundance Film Festival. Redford’s remarks during his annual state-of-the-fest news conference came just hours after the actor was snubbed as a Best Actor Academy Award nominee in the Oscars’ announcement early this morning. “But I’m not disturbed by it,” added the Sundance founder and president, who was nominate for a Golden Globe for his performance in JC Chandor’s All Is Lost. “I’m fine.”
Redford addressed the issue at the beginning of today’s presser. He said he thought one reason for the miss had to do with there being no real Academy campaign for the pic. “These films are reliant on campaigns. We suffered from little to no distribution. We had no campaign to help us cross over to the mainstream. It can get very political,” Redford said of the film, which Lionsgate-owned Roadside Attractions distributed domestically. “I don’t know what they were afraid of. They didn’t want to spend money or they were incapable,” he added. With those comments, Redford also was very practical about his chances for a film that has only made about $8 million at the box office. ”Hollywood is a business and a very good one, and I have nothing but respect for it,” the actor added.
A big part of Hollywood woke up early this morning to Oscar dreams of getting an Academy Awards nomination. Some like 12 Years A Slave for Best Picture, Dallas Buyers Club’s Matthew McConaughey and Gravity‘s Sandra Bullock for Best Actress were a lock. Unfortunately, for some others, they’d barely wiped the sleep out of their eyes before there was nothing to do but go back to bed in disappointment at having not made the cut. Once again, the Academy proved there’s still a wild card factor to who will and won’t get a nomination. Having said that, after all the campaigning, all the encouraging words and all the hopes, even against the odds, it still sucks to be one of those left holding a losing hand. Here’s some of the deserving actors, directors and films who were overlooked in today’s nominations announcement by AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Thor himself Chris Hemsworth:
Oprah Winfrey – The former talk show queen returned to the big screen with Lee Daniels’ The Butler in a stellar performance after a 15-year absence and the Academy negates her? The SAG Awards, the BAFTAs and the Critics Choice Awards all gave Oprah a nomination for her role as boozy Gloria Gaines, the Butler’s wife, but not the Academy? What are they drinking over there?
Inside Llewyn Davis - The folksy Coen brothers’ film didn’t get a lot of love from the Guilds but the Grand Prix winner at last year’s Cannes Film Festival certainly did warrant one of the 10 possible Best Picture spots.
Robert Redford – He didn’t say a lot in All Is Lost but as an old man battling the sea and a lot more, the Sundance founder spoke volumes in the J.C. Chandor-helmed pic. He won a Gotham Award, a New York Film Critics Circle Award and got an Independent Spirit nomination in the process. However, 40 years after Redford last was nominated for Best Actor for The Sting, that all obviously fell on deaf ears with Academy members.
Fruitvale Station – Bursting out of last year’s Sundance Film Festival, this remarkable debut by director Ryan Coogler of the last day of Oscar Grant III on January 1, 2009 was picked up by the Weinstein Company and found fans everywhere – including the White House. Yet nothing for Coolger, nothing for star Michael B. Jordan and nothing for the film – that’s just a crime.
Tom Hanks – Maybe there is a limit to how many Oscars one man can have but the actor’s performance in Captain Phillips as the taken hostage merchant mariner was certainly more than sea worthy of a nom today.
Related: OSCARS: Nominations By Picture
Emma Thompson – Not even a spoon full of sugar will help this bitter pill go down. Saving Mr. Banks was Ms. Thompson’s film. Her turn as the difficult, to say the least, Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers should have seen her as one of the ladies getting that nomination today.
August: Osage County - Yes Meryl Streep got her 18th Oscar nomination for her role as the pill popping sharp tongued widow but there was no Best Picture nor Best Adapted Screenplay for August: Osage County. Some people might not like the truth telling, but those oversights are just plain wrong.
Daniel Brühl – The German actor’s performance as Formula 1 ace Niki Lauda in Ron Howard’s Rush picked up Golden Globes, BAFTA and SAG Awards nominations for Best Supporting Actor. Sure he lost out to Jared Leto at Sunday’s GG ceremony but the Academy didn’t even put him on the track today.
Lee Daniels’ The Butler – Coming out in the year of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the hit White House-based Civil Rights drama had a story for our times as well as strong performances from Forrest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey. Maybe the last film to be produced by Laura Ziskin was too epic, maybe it was too black or maybe the dust-up the Weinstein Company had with Warner Bros and the MPAA over the initial The Butler title rubbed some people the wrong way but the powerful pic deserved better.
Discovery Channel has ordered a new series, The West, from Robert Redford and Laura Michalchyshyn’s Sundance Productions. The West will focus on the wilderness, frontier lawlessness, and bloodshed of the 40 years between the end of the American Civil War until after the turn of the 20th Century.
From today’s announcement:
Discovery Channel announces today that it is in production of an all-new series, THE WEST, produced for Discovery by Robert Redford and Laura Michalchyshyn’s Sundance Productions, who recently produced Discovery Channel’s Emmy Award nominated documentary All the President’s Men Revisited, and Stephen David Entertainment, known for its two-time Emmy Award winning series, The Men Who Built America. THE WEST is set to premiere in 2014.
At the Golden Globes nomination press conference at the Beverly Hilton this morning, a lot of the talk wasn’t so much about who got nominated but who didn’t. I’m talking about you, Oprah! The star of stars didn’t make the cut and won’t be walking that red carpet (at least as a supporting actress nominee). I thought she was powerful enough just to call in and order one of these things. But Winfrey, along with everyone else associated with Lee Daniels’ The Butler, was snubbed big time. Yesterday, the Weinstein Company’s late summer hit had scored big at the SAG awards with three nominations, including one for Winfrey, and appeared to be on the rebound after being left off the AFI top 10 list Monday. But the awards-season gods giveth and then they taketh away. Conversely, yesterday’s big snubee at SAG, The Wolf Of Wall Street, saw its fortunes improve with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association naming it a nominee for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical and one for Leonardo DiCaprio, a perennial Globe favorite gaining his 10th nomination (he won in 2004 for The Aviator).
Other than Oprah (unfairly in my opinion) missing out in supporting (Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts, Lupita Nyong’o, June Squibb and a surprise nod for Blue Jasmine’s Sally Hawkins made the grade there), there weren’t many jaw-dropping surprises in film (TV was another matter entirely – sorry Claire Danes). That is unless you think Ron Howard’s Rush getting a Best Motion Picture Drama slot over the likes of Butler and Saving Mr. Banks (which, as at SAG, received only one nod for star Emma Thompson) is a stunner. Hate to say I TOLDJA , but I predicted that in this column yesterday. I have spoken to several HFPA members over the past few weeks and nearly every one of them brought up that film’s name as a favorite. Although the independently-produced Universal release didn’t do well at the box office in the U.S., it has great international appeal being a European-set film about the 1970′s rivalry between Britain’s James Hunt and Austrian Niki Lauda (played by Daniel Bruhl who grabbed a supporting actor nod today). The HFPA is an organization made up of international journalists, and the film held a special appeal for them.
SAG Awards Film: Robert Redford Shocker Shakes Up Race As Actors Boost Chances For ‘Butler’, ‘August’ And ‘Dallas’
Without question the biggest surprise coming out of this morning’s all important announcement of the Screen Actors Guild Award nominations in film was the absence of Robert Redford‘s tour de force one-man show in All Is Lost in the Best Actor category. The New York Film Critics Circle Best Actor winner was shut out and that could have an effect on shaking up what is an extremely competitive category. Redford was widely expected to be a major factor here — he has only been Oscar-nominated as an actor once, for 1973′s The Sting, and never in the 20-year history of the SAG Awards — and since SAG is one of the most reliable precursors of Oscar noms, his omission is a troubling sign. Adding insult to injury SAG did nominate the “stunt ensemble” of All Is Lost (is that just one guy?) even though when I interviewed him Redford told me he did most of his own stunts in the movie. Go figure.Then again, last year SAG and Oscar disagreed at least once in every category and matched in just 14 of 20 main acting nominees, so although this is a setback for Redford, it’s not a knockout. In the last two decades it’s been highly unusual for an actor not at least nominated by SAG to go on and actually win at the Oscars. But it actually happened last year when Christoph Waltz took the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Django Unchained after being the only one of the field who was not also a SAG nominee.
Related: SAG Awards Nominations Announced
The Django factor could also be comforting to the Christmas Day release The Wolf Of Wall Street, another film completely shut out this morning. Like Django it came to the game extremely late with its first SAG screenings only 10 days ago, and Paramount sent out no DVD screeners to the SAG Nominating Committee of 2000 randomly chosen members from around the country. That is why its absence from the list of Outstanding Cast, as well as for its most talked-about performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, is not really surprising. It’s a good bet to say a great number of voters just didn’t see the film in time. That won’t be a factor with the Academy, which doesn’t even get its ballots until the end of the month.
Awards Roundup: NY Film Critics, Gothams, And Oscar Docu Shortlist Get Season Rolling – So Who’s On Top Now?
The actual “awards” part of awards season is finally off and running with first results out of the East Coast with today’s New York Film Critics Circle choices and last night’s Gotham Awards. And the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences even got into the act earlier today narrowing the intense Documentary Feature competition from 151 entries to a shortlist of 15 finalists. Stuff is happening.
The NYFCC went whole hog for David O. Russell’s American Hustle (Best Picture, Screenplay, Supporting Actress) today, while Gotham unexpectedly crowned The Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis over heavy favorite 12 Years A Slave. Those results are an early indication (or even confirmation) that this could turn out to be an extremely unpredictable year — one with no frontrunner. The fact that the powerful critical favorite 12 Years, an early favorite to sweep the critics awards and use that to begin its march to Oscar (it leads most pundit polls), was shut out at the Gothams and only took Best Director for Steve McQueen at the NYFCC perhaps means this year won’t turn into a repeat of 2010. That’s when The Social Network swept the numerous critics groups Best Picture honors (and even the Globes) only to be upended by The King’s Speech when the Producers Guild turned the race. The King’s Speech became the industry favorite all the way to the Best Picture Oscar. I think dominance among the critics is important for a picture like 12 Years. That kind of awards pedigree could force reluctant Academy voters (and I know of a few resisting it because they fear it’s too brutal) to see the film and give it a shot. A lack of that kind of consensus could just bust this race wide open and turn it into a free-for-all. Of course there are many, many more of these groups to go, and 12 Years could still dominate, but the initial picture is cloudy. It’s an extremely competitive year and likely to continue to be if today’s results are an indication.
As for American Hustle‘s triumph at the NYFCC, it’s a bit unexpected but completely deserving. Sony Pictures , which releases the film December 13, has had a very good run with the NY Critics Circle — winning Best Pic in 2010 with Social Network and again last year with Zero Dark Thirty only to be stopped cold at the Oscars. Will Hustle be able to ride farther this early wave for the studio? Time will tell. With more Academy friendly-type films like Saving Mr. Banks, Gravity, Nebraska, Philomena and others going unmentioned, there are plenty of places for Oscar voters to drift including the wild card of Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street, which was a last-minute screening for NYFCC.
New York Film Critics Circle Awards: ‘American Hustle’ Best Film; Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett Top Actor Honors
UPDATED WITH ALL WINNERS: The New York Film Critics Circle has voted David O Russell’s ensemble crime drama American Hustle as its film of the year, one of three awards bestowed today on the Sony/Columbia film by the critics group. The pic is set for a December 13 release. The NYFCC also picked Robert Redford as Best Actor for his stand-alone role in JC Chandor’s All Is Lost and Cate Blanchett as Best Actress for Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, while Steve McQueen was named Best Director for 12 Years A Slave. American Hustle, which stars Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremey Renner and Jennifer Lawrence, also won for Lawrence as Supporting Actress and for Russell and Eric Singer’s screenplay. Last year, the NYFCC tapped Zero Dark Thirty for Best Film and helmer Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director, starting that pic’s path to a Best Picture Oscar nomination.
The NYFCC is one of the earliest groups to vote on the year’s best performances in film, kicking off a slew of critics organizations whose results can serve as if not Oscar predictors then maybe Oscar leaners. Like last year, this year’s NYFCC vote from its membership of NY critics from daily and weekly newspapers, magazines and online publications comes one day before the National Board of Review makes its picks. Here are the final results of today’s voting:
Robert Redford, All Is Lost
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Steve McQueen, 12 Years A Slave
Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Best Foreign Language Film
Blue Is The Warmest Color
Best Supporting Actor
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Animated Film
The Wind Rises
For more than 50 years, Robert Redford has been at the top of his game, whether as an actor, Oscar-winning director (Ordinary People), producer or at Sundance, the festival and institute he founded. He won an honorary Oscar for his work with Sundance in promoting independent film, and that is where he met director J.C. Chandor, whose first film, Margin Call, premiered at the festival. But none of the many young directors whose films got big breaks at Sundance actually ever dared to ask Redford to be in a movie. That is, until Chandor brought him All Is Lost. The result is an extraordinary tour de force performance in which Redford is the only actor on screen, playing a man trying to survive after his sailboat springs a leak. Incredibly, Redford has only been nominated for an acting Oscar once in his career, 40 years ago for the lighthearted The Sting. Betting odds are that All Is Lost is going to bring him his second best actor nom.
AwardsLine: What attracted you to such a physically and mentally challenging role?
Robert Redford: It was an opportunity for me to go back to my roots as an actor. That was how I began in this business, and it brought me great joy. As you move through your life, you create opportunities, and if you see new opportunities, you take them. Directing and producing, or creating opportunities for other filmmakers, feels great, but you’re not aware of how it’s taking you further and further away from what your basic joy is—to act. This gave me that in a very big way because of the kind of role it was. Then there is that other thing that happens when you just go in—and it’s impulse—where you say, “I’m going to trust this.” That happened for me with J.C. We met, and very quickly, I thought, “Let’s just do it.”
Nominations for Film Independent’s Spirit Awards were announced earlier today. As usual the Spirits were among the first groups to jump into the awards season fray, but also, other than the Oscars, the last to name winners (the ceremony is Saturday March 1, day before the Academy Awards). That means there can be a big momentum shift between now and then when the envelopes are opened. But it does give a boost to certain films that qualify as “indies” under their rules (generally a budget under or around $20 million) as they build toward Oscar nominations. Although the Spirits preclude many Oscar frontrunners such as Gravity, Captain Phillips, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, Philomena, August: Osage County, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Prisoners and Lee Daniels’ The Butler to name a few they can provide some comfort for those crossover films whose smaller budgets make them eligible for both including newly-minted Best Film nominees All Is Lost, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska and 12 Years A Slave which led all comers with 7 nods. Nebraska was a strong runner-up with 6 and would have tied, but inexplicably Phedon Papamichael’s exquisite black and white scope cinematography was somehow overlooked for the likes of Spring Breakers and Computer Chess. What’s up with that, indie people?
Nevertheless Oscar’s Best Picture list could include several of the Spirit choices and the same goes for the lead acting categories where Bruce Dern, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oscar Isaac, Robert Redford, Matthew McConaughey (a winner last year at the Spirits) and Michael B. Jordan all have reasonable chances to make the corresponding Oscar lineup as well as Blue Jasmine’s Cate Blanchett who likely will have a very good early March weekend at both the Spirits and the Oscars for lead actress.
OSCARS Q&A: ‘All Is Lost’ Producers Neal Dodson And Anna Gerb On Financing, Robert Redford And A 31-Page Script
Christy Grosz is Editor of AwardsLine.
A film with no dialogue about a man adrift at sea doesn’t sound like a slam dunk of a project, but All Is Lost producers Neal Dodson and Anna Gerb say J.C. Chandor’s pitch piqued their interest immediately. The project also had two key elements giving it momentum: First, Robert Redford agreed to play the lead. (“Bob was the only person J.C. wanted to try to make the film with,” Dodson explains.) And second, Chandor’s first feature, Margin Call, earned an original screenplay Oscar nom close to the time All Is Lost needed financing. Despite production challenges, Dodson and Gerb say intense preparation and storyboarding paid off in the end.
AwardsLine: You also worked with J.C. Chandor on Margin Call — how did All Is Lost come to you?
Neal Dodson: Basically, J.C. had been writing secretly — he’s not a big sharer of stuff until he knows what he wants to do. He had been writing before the Sundance Film Festival (in 2011) and then right after Sundance, once he had first come in contact with (Robert Redford). At (the) Berlin (International Film Festival), when we were there for Margin Call, he pitched the movie to me, (Before the Door Pictures producer) Zach Quinto and (FilmNation Entertainment CEO) Glen Basner. (He wanted Basner’s) perspective on if he thought this was an insane idea or if he thought there was a place in the international world to get something like this financed.
Anna Gerb: Not even a month later, (Chandor) handed each of us a 31-page document for us to read.
Dodson: It was one of those things where you go, “OK, this is a great outline for what you’re looking to do, but let us know when you’ve written the script,” and it turns out that was the script.
Gerb: It was very detailed so you felt a feature-length, action-packed, adventure-filled film within it, even though it was a lot leaner than most of the scripts we traditionally see.
EXCLUSIVE: Borat and Bruno helmer Larry Charles is set to direct the film adaptation of Bill Bryson’s best-selling memoir A Walk In The Woods, with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte starring. The script was written by Little Miss Sunshine‘s Michael Arndt, and it is aiming for a March start. Wildwood Enterprises’ Redford and Bill Holderman are producing with Route One Films’ Chip Diggins. The film is a road-trip comedy about an aging travel writer who decides to hike the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail, accompanied by a long-estranged high school buddy he’s been avoiding for years. Along the way, the duo face off with each other, nature and an eccentric assortment of characters only to discover that some roads are better left untraveled.
The undisputed star so far of the 40th Telluride Film Festival, Robert Redford received his second packed-to-the-rafters tribute this morning on top of the mountain at the Chuck Jones Cinema (each tributee must do two of these here — the Coen brothers and T Bone Burnett are up next tonight and Saturday morning). Considering he just went through the two-hour program 14 hours earlier and this one started at 9 AM, Redford was in great form and perhaps more introspective about his life and career than I have heard him in this kind of setting. At Friday night’s version of the tribute he was presented with the festival’s Silver Medallion (by surprise guest Ralph Fiennes, who starred in his Quiz Show). Of course Redford is being talked about in a big way for the Best Actor Oscar for his tour-de-force one-man starring role in J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost, so a look back at his remarkable career can’t hurt. Although it wasn’t mentioned this morning, Redford incredibly has only been Oscar-nominated once as an actor, for the light-hearted The Sting (1973). He does have Oscars for his 1980 directorial debut, Ordinary People and an Honorary Oscar for his work with Sundance.
The first hour was devoted to a wide-ranging clip-by-clip look at his acting career beginning with the live TV production of The Iceman Cometh to such iconic film roles as Barefoot In The Park, The Candidate, Downhill Racer, Jeremiah Johnson, The Way We Were, The Sting, Three Days Of The Condor, All The President’s Men, The Electric Horseman, Brubaker, The Natural and Out Of Africa. Of his nine films as a director the only clip shown was for A River Runs Through It which starred a young Brad Pitt — the one actor along with George Clooney whose career trajectory seems closest to Redford’s consistently intelligent and high-wattage movie star course over the last half century.
It was the first full day of movies and events at the 40th Telluride Film Festival. Nebraska‘s Bruce Dern and another potential Best Actor contender this year, All Is Lost‘s Robert Redford met up at the picnic and sat together talking with another legend, Francis Coppola. Of course Redford and Dern co-starred in 1974′s The Great Gatsby, but Dern told me he hasn’t seen the new version. Redford is, the subject of a Telluride tribute and seemed to be having a great time catching up with old friends during his first visit to this festival. His late entrance to the picnic caused a stir with lots of cameras whirring. Coppola is returning to Telluride after several decades and supporting his granddaughter Gia Coppola’s feature film directorial debut, Palo Alto, which premiered Friday night and next heads to Toronto. The proud grandpa told me Gia represents the fourth generation of his family in the movie business - father Carmine (an Oscar winner for music), himself, kids Roman and Sofia. But back to Dern, who is here for screenings of his new film Nebraska and made very clear to me where he stands on the issue of being recognized this awards season.
The Internet recently offered Dern and the movie’s distributor Paramount unsolicited advice on which category – lead actor or supporting – he belongs in for his terrific performance in the Alexander Payne film releasing November 22nd. The thinking is that, because he is an older veteran actor, he could instantly become a frontrunner in the supporting category (like Christopher Plummer in Beginners or James Coburn in Affliction). Whereas the Lead Actor race is overcrowded and he could be squeezed out of even a nomination.Dern is aware of the Internet chatter but completely dismisses it. “I don’t know why they are saying that. I suppose they could take a stopwatch and say someone else has one minute and 45 seconds more screen time than I do so that makes me supporting. But I say ‘get the f**k out of here’,” he told me at Thursday’s opening picnic.