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:
Probably all that sweat actually attracted buyers for the clothes Jennifer Lawrence wore in her Oscar-winning role in Silver Linings Playbook — in which it seemed she spent most of the film dancing or jogging. Los Angeles auction house Nate D. Sanders tells Reuters the items, including the custom-tailored white pants Lawrence wore in the film’s perspiration-filled ballroom dance scene with her co-star Bradley Cooper, sold for $3,493. And a teal sports bra and blue long-sleeved shirt she wore during her dance rehearsals with Cooper went for $3,175. The wool, full-length winter coat worn by Lawrence in the pic was the top-selling item during the three-day online auction, selling for $4,652. A black tank top owned by Lawrence, but not worn in the film, grabbed $624. The final tally exceeded expectations — the auction house expected the items to bring in between $500-$1,500 each following Lawrence’s Best Actress Oscar win on Sunday, according to Reuters.
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 before the far more formal Oscars, it provides a chance for stars and filmmakers to relax and get together in a much more stress-free environment. And with independent film increasingly playing a much bigger part in Oscar nominations and wins over the years there is even a certain symmetry between the two shows.
Last year for instance The Artist won the top Picture prize, Best Actor for Jean Dujardin and Director at both shows as did Christopher Plummer for Supporting Actor in Beginners. It wasn’t always the case. In fact there was an infamous phrase that perfectly summed up the disparity between the Oscar weekend events: “Win on Saturday, lose on Sunday”. That hasn’t been true for a while and this year the two shows share several nominees in common including Best Film contenders Silver Linings Playbook and Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Foreign hopefuls Amour and War Witch, along with a handful of acting nominees including Jennifer Lawrence, Helen Hunt, Quvenzhane Wallis and Bradley Cooper. And it always draws an eclectic mix of presenters, nominees and industry players. One reason it has been so successful is that organizers keep the fun quotient …
Chris Terrio had a trove of primary and secondary material to consult in writing the screenplay for Argo, most notably the memoir Master of Disguise, by former CIA agent Tony Mendez, and Joshuah Bearman’s 2007 article in Wired magazine based on declassified documents about the remarkable clandestine Iran hostage-rescue caper.
But this hardly gave Terrio a blueprint for a screenplay that deftly blends Hollywood satire with a historical international crisis. Terrio says his biggest fear was that the Hollywood scenes of the Argo screenplay would slide the movie too far into show-business farce.
RELATED: OSCARS Q&A: Alan Arkin
However, a passage in Mendez’s book gave him license to go there in one case. “In Tony’s book”, Terrio says, “there’s a passage in it where Tony’s describing being with (makeup artist) John Chambers and figuring out that they’re going to call the fake movie Argo. And then it describes how that title both comes from a joke—which literally was a joke that Chambers and Tony used to make, which is the ‘Ah, go fuck yourself’ joke—but also that it has these mythological connotations to it, which Chambers and Mendez were aware of and chose. I feel that somewhere in that passage is the root of the tone of the film, which in some sense was a harder thing to …
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”.
EXCLUSIVE: Jennifer Lawrence has been tapped to star opposite Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner in the David O Russell pic formerly known as American Bullshit, the drama written by Eric Singer and Russell about the ’70s FBI sting operation Abscam that took down a bunch of U.S. congressmen. That puts Lawrence back in business with Russell and Cooper, her cohorts on The Weinstein Company’s Silver Linings Playbook that landed them all Oscar nominations; she already has won the SAG Award and a Golden Globe for the role. She will play Bale’s wife in the Abscam movie, which is being produced by Charles Roven and Richard Suckle through Atlas Entertainment, which developed the film at Sony Pictures. The ensemble is being fully financed by Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures. Ellison also is producing and has been developing the script.
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.
This season’s supporting actor and actress Oscar races can be summed up in one word: Winners! A remarkable seven of the 10 nominees actually already have at least one Oscar on their mantel, and all of them have been previously nominated. Unlike the marquee lead races, not a single newcomer has been invited to the supporting party. In fact, all five supporting actor nominees are past winners, a rare occurrence that proves Feb. 24 will indeed be veterans’ day at the Dolby Theater. And though there is a strong frontrunner emerging for the women, the male race is one of the most wide open in years, with no one taking the lead to date and the outcome a real question mark. So how did they all get here? Here’s the rundown.
This veteran actor got his first lead actor Oscar nomination in 1966 for his film debut in The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming. And then a second just two years later for The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter. But it was a near-record 38 years before Arkin returned to Oscar’s inner circle, finally winning a supporting actor prize for Little Miss Sunshine. Now, six years later, he is back in contention as the Hollywood film producer in Argo, and the reason is simple: He not only gets the best lines, he’s playing …
Robert De Niro hit his stride in terms of movie recognition in 1973 when both Bang the Drum Slowly and Mean Streets put him on the map. The latter remains a special favorite because it marks the beginning of his long association with Martin Scorsese. Remarkably, De Niro didn’t come close to peaking after winning his first supporting actor Oscar for 1974’s The Godfather Part II — he’s still going strong nearly four decades later, thought by many to be our greatest living film actor. But effortlessly playing the young Don Corleone and doing it entirely in a Sicilian dialect should have signaled to anyone that this was a talent like no other. A look at the other roles that won him recognition from the Academy an impressive six times overall between 1975 and 1992 only confirms that early promise. There’s Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Awakenings, Cape Fear, and of course, Raging Bull, which brought him a second statuette for best actor in 1980. But consider some of the brilliant performances Oscar didn’t recognize, and you get an idea of the career we are talking about here: The King of Comedy, The Mission, Midnight Run, Awakenings, Once Upon a Time in America, Casino, Heat, and one especially close to his heart, Everybody’s Fine, to name just a few. As a producer, entrepreneur, and founder of the ever-growing …
Everyone knows that with all of the rampant campaigning going on, Hollywood’s Oscar season can get quite political, but this year it’s literally poliitics. And not as usual. An infusion of real politicians, and political issues, have been characterizing this Academy campaign season for several weeks and it seems to be ramping up to new heights just as ballots went out this week and voting is now going on in earnest through February 19. Of course real-world politics have often seeped into Oscar season but, whether it is the political nature of the films or some other reason, it’s careening out of control.
Starting with the October release of Warner Bros‘ Argo, several real-life Presidents have been used to either officially – or unofficially – make an endorsement of a contender or at least be used in ways we haven’t seen before. For Argo’s end credits former President Jimmy Carter turns up in an audio interview basically confirming the facts of the CIA mission he approved to get six American hostages out of the Canadian Embassy in Iran by creating a fake movie production. It was a very effective way of validating the events of the film set in 1979 and giving it added gravitas. It also didn’t hurt the film’s awards chances to have Tony Mendez, …
Vice-President Joe Biden’s office today tweeted this photo of him meeting with Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell and actor Bradley Cooper. The duo, whose Oscar nominated movie is about people dealing with mental health issues, were in Washington to help announce introduction of the Excellence in Mental Health Act to Congress. The bi-partisan bill was drafted in response to the shootings last year in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado. The legislation’s goal is to expand access to mental health services across the nation. Russell was scheduled to be in LA for a WGA panel Thursday night but dropped out for the meeting with the Veep.
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.
In a race as tight as the one this year for Best Actress and particularly Best Actor, there were many deserving performances that might have made the cut in any other year but were overlooked because of intense competition. As far as lead acting categories go, this year is one of the most fiercely fought in recent Oscar history. So what was it about the 10 nominated performances in the top two acting categories that sealed the deal with Academy voters? Here’s a look at why they made it to the golden circle.
Bradley Cooper | Silver Linings Playbook
Coming into the project just shortly before production began, Cooper proves a shrewd choice to play Pat Jr., a volatile man just released from an institution, in denial about his dead marriage, and just trying to put his life back together. Mark Wahlberg was cast in the part originally, but after he dropped out, Cooper got the role and ran with it. It’s a delicate balance of comedy and drama that Cooper must navigate, and he creates a wholly original and likable character, a neat trick considering Pat Jr. isn’t always sympathetic. Coming off popcorn movies like The Hangover and The A Team, Cooper finally shows his true acting chops, and his scenes opposite Robert De Niro and Jennifer Lawrence prove he is a talent to be reckoned with. Watching …
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