For many the grueling, six month awards season is a blessing and a curse. It’s great to be nominated but the marathon race takes its toll on the contenders who might be crawling to the finish line after being on the circuit for such a protracted period of time. But that’s not the case for Bradley Cooper. It seems like he just got off the awards whirlwind after being nominated for everything in sight including an Oscar for last season’s Silver Linings Playbook, but he’s back with a vengeance with American Hustle for which his role as the innocent and somewhat loopy FBI agent Richie DiMaso has already been nominated for a Golden Globe and Critics Choice Movie Award, as well as a SAG Cast award along with co-stars Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner among others. And there’s Oscar buzz again, this time in supporting rather than lead. So is he really happy to be going through all of this craziness again so soon? You bet. “If I am lucky enough to be a part of it, yes. I am excited. Last year was amazing. I loved it. Maybe it’s because I still have a sort of innocent love of movies but to be in these rooms with these actors who I admire, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time. I really love it,” he said when he called me from France this week. Cooper is having a little R and R as he says in Paris (“my favorite place for sure”) after wrapping Cameron Crowe’s untitled new film in Hawaii right before Christmas. He’ll be back in the States this weekend for the Palm Springs International Film Festival when the Hustle cast receives the award for outstanding ensemble. And then next week it’s the Globes, CCMAs , SAG and on and on.
EXCLUSIVE: Fox Searchlight has acquired screen rights to Sorta Like A Rock Star, the 2010 novel by Matthew Quick, who wrote Silver Linings Playbook. The film will be produced by Temple Hill’s Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen and Gotham Group’s Lee Stollman and Ellen Goldsmith-Vein.
None of Quick’s novels are easy adaptations (it took David O Russell’s understanding of bipolar subject matter to turn Silver Linings into an Oscar-nominated film), but just about all of his work is getting bought up. In Sorta Like A Rock Star, the protagonist is Amber Appleton, a high school senior who secretly lives in the back of a school bus, a situation that arose when her mother’s boyfriend kicked them out. The bus (they call it Hello Yellow) is the same one that her mother uses to drive kids to school, and despite the adversity, Amber is a self-proclaimed princess of hope and girl of unyielding optimism. A fatal tragedy puts her optimism to the test. The deal comes with a script that Laura Sandler and Amanda Harlib wrote on spec, but it’s likely the studio will seek out a director to guide how the project takes shape.
If your movie was released in March or April, and has Oscar aspirations, it requires every trick in an Academy consultant’s publicity handbook to try to keep it alive against the massive onslaught of competition unleashed in the back eight months of the year. Very few films released before May at the earliest make the cut these days, at least in the major categories. Oscar voters tend to have short memories. It’s an uphill climb that requires money for big campaigns, a tall order for independent films with limited budgets.
One way to do it is get your Blu-ray out there in August with some fresh television advertising, well before screener season begins, and hope that voters have a chance to check it out before the tsunami of movies start bombarding them in the Fall. For Roadside Attractions‘ Mud which was released in theatres April 26th and Focus Features‘ The Place Beyond The Pines which debuted March 29th, their dueling road to Oscar continues this week with the release of their Blu-ray and DVD. The films have the current distinction of being the two top grossing independent films of 2013, both in the $21 million range, with Mud this week just slightly overtaking Pines for the lead but it remains a dead heat.
The Weinstein Co.’s Silver Linings Playbook and leading duo Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper came up big at the 2013 MTV Movie Awards, nabbing Best Female Performance, Best Male Performance, and Best Kiss at the annual fan-driven ceremony. Marvel’s The Avengers took home three awards including Movie Of The Year, while host Rebel Wilson and her breakout summer pic Pitch Perfect also garnered kudos. Meanwhile, Taylor Lautner of Summit’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 snagged a win out of the film’s lone nomination: Best Shirtless Performance. Here’s the full list of winners, highlighted in bold:
The 28th Annual Film Independent Spirit Awards, being held Saturday afternoon as usual under a huge tent at Santa Monica beach, is always one of the most loose and laid-back award shows of the season. Coming as it does a day …
OSCARS: As Final Deadline Approaches Academy Urges Members To Vote; Studios Launch Last-Minute Ad Blitz
Okay Academy members, this is your last chance to vote.
And by all indications from my own admittedly unscientific survey over the weekend there are many who are choosing to wait, despite the Academy’s emails encouraging them to vote early in this final round. Part of the reason seems to be a desire to catch up on the Documentary Feature, Live Action and Animation Shorts which have been sent to the entire Academy membership for the first time, instead of requiring voters to attend special screenings. One voter told me he received his late and was trying to watch them all before submitting his ballot.
With today being a holiday, those voters who opted for paper ballots and still haven’t mailed them are out of luck if they hope to do that and still have it reach the downtown Los Angeles offices of the Academy’s accountants, PricewaterhouseCoopers, or the Academy lobby at its Beverly Hills headquarters in time before Tuesday’s 5 PM deadline. If you are a paper voter, not electronic, the best you can do at this point is have the ballot delivered in person to one of those locations before 5 PM tomorrow. And every year there are usually many that do just that. It has even numbered up into the hundreds in past years. But with the new, sometimes awkward, transition to online voting this year, that number will probably be significantly decreased.
Thomas J. McLean is an AwardsLine contributor
The film editing race is both diverse and expected. All five nominated films are also up for best picture, and the individual editors range from three-time Oscar winner Michael Kahn to several first-time nominees and one nominee, William Goldenberg, nominated for work on two separate films. We talked with the nominated editors and asked them to run through a key scene from their films—one that was crucial to making the picture work, either from a tone perspective or a more technical one. The results were as diverse as the nominated films themselves.
Goldenberg says Argo’s incongruous quality was epitomized in an often bizarre sequence that cuts from the elaborate table-read of the fake screenplay at the Beverly Hills Hotel to the houseguests trying to entertain themselves in their long isolation to Iranian forces frightening hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Iran with a mock execution.
“When I read the script, I thought this was a scene where if we can make this work tonally, the movie will work”, says Goldenberg. “Because it’s all these different tones colliding together, and if all these expositions can work as a scene, then I think what we’re trying to do with the movie will be successful”.
As the industry kicks into full awards mode, with one guild after another handing out trophies to whomever they consider the year’s best in any given field, it’s become increasingly clear this is a year like we have not seen in a while. Certainly every season we go through this ritual of watching the crème de la crème of the industry line up to get awards, but rarely have we seen as dense a field of top contenders, and especially deserving ones, as we have this year. The common denominator among most, if not all, of the contenders in Oscar’s 24 categories is how difficult it was in the first place to get any of these films made in a sequel-happy, franchise-loving, play-it-safe motion picture industry.
For example, Steven Spielberg began talking about Lincoln with Doris Kearns Goodwin before she started writing the book and struggled for well over a decade to bring it to the screen, getting turned down by three studios in the process. And first-time feature filmmaker Benh Zeitlin went against all industry norms to make the unique and hard-to-define Beasts Of The Southern Wild come to life. But no matter who the filmmaker is, the most often-heard mantra is stick to your core beliefs and vision and somehow an Oscar-worthy film can be willed into being. Even James Bond ran into trouble when MGM went bankrupt and a normal 2½-year process turned into twice that for Skyfall, which went on to win five Oscar nominations. It also got recognition as one of the year’s best pictures from the Producers Guild, as well it should, considering what its veteran producers went through to just to make it.
What Gift Do You Buy Robert De Niro? ‘Silver Linings’ Co-Star Anupam Kher Makes Short Film To Find Out
EXCLUSIVE: Anupam Kher is the Indian movie star who played Bradley Cooper’s therapist in Silver Linings Playbook (“Desean Jackson is the man!” was his killer line). Kher has used his experiences from that Oscar-nominated film to form the basis for I Went Shopping For Robert De Niro, a short film he has quietly directed about his quest to find the right gift to present to Kher’s idol after filming was completed on the Best Picture nominee.
Now, Kher has acted in over 450 movies of various languages in a long career that encompasses Bollywood, American and British productions. But he is absolutely starstruck when it comes to De Niro. He is so reverential that it almost made me feel bad that when I moderated a panel at the last Tribeca Film Festival with Judd Apatow and De Niro, Apatow pushed me to ask the iconic actor when he lost his virginity, this after I forced Apatow to recount his clumsy deflowering to stop him babbling on about The 40-Year Old Virgin. I don’t think De Niro answered — he’s too shy, classy and modest to say something like “I was 8 and both women walked away satisfied” (he is Bobby De, don’t forget), but I think had Kher been up there with us, he might have decked me and Judd. Clearly to Kher, De Niro is the Desean Jackson of actors.
“Mr. De Niro has been my icon and is a legend in global cinema and it was truly one of the greatest honors for me to share screen space with him in this film,” Kher gushed. “As a reflection and dedication to Mr. De Niro, I produced and directed this short film, which I dedicated to him.”
The effort turned into 29-minute film that Kher shot in Mumbai over four months. Kher describes it as “a journey of two girls who are at the crossroads in their lives, and are tasked by with one of life’s greatest challenges, to select a gift for Mr. Robert De Niro. This incredible endeavor impacts them beyond their expectations.” Rimal Arora and Yamini Kshirsagar play the leading roles in the film, and the latter wrote the script after they were tasked by Kher to buy a gift he actually gave to De Niro (I won’t say what it is because it will spoil the ending). But suffice to say their gifting plans go awry. De Niro doesn’t act in the short, but he is pictured with his gift at the film’s end, and he gave his permission for his name to be used in the short’s title.
The second in a three-part series in which AwardsLine breaks down all nine of the best picture contenders.
What the Academy says: 8 nominations (Picture: Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, Jonathan Gordon; Directing: David O. Russell; Lead Actor: Bradley Cooper; Lead Actress: Jennifer Lawrence; Supporting Actor: Robert De Niro; Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver; Film Editing: Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers; Adapted Screenplay: David O. Russell)
What the public says: $71.4M domestic boxoffice; $19.8M international (as of Feb. 1)
What Pete Hammond says: Because it is a comedy, albeit one laced with drama, Silver Linings Playbook is at a disadvantage right out of the starting gate because comedies don’t traditionally win best picture Oscars. But this critically acclaimed story about two broken people who are trying to get their lives back together benefits from a passionate base of admirers, and that’s key
With less than a month to go, the stage is set for one of the strangest Oscar showdowns in memory. Certainly the season started with some clear favorites emerging, like Argo at Telluride, Silver Linings Playbook at Toronto, then Lincoln just after the election, followed by Life Of Pi. I thought Paramount’s Flight also might emerge as a major best picture contender around this time, but when critics awards and early nominations for Globes and CCMAs started coming in, it was clear this was mainly just a play for Denzel Washington and John Gatins’ original screenplay. At Christmas time, we got Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, and the hotly anticipated Les Misérables to complete our seven-pack of best picture contenders. What many weren’t anticipating was that two small indie films that made a splash earlier in the year were also going to come in. Beasts Of The Southern Wild managed to hold on to all that momentum from its Sundance debut a year ago, and then