I cannot remember a year where so many Best Picture Oscar candidates reverberated so much on Capitol Hill. First, there was the Lincoln screening for Congress, and we know how Zero Dark Thirty has shaken things up amidst its D.C. premiere. Now it’s Silver Linings Playbook‘s turn, for its message of hope toward those who’ve suffered silently with mental challenges.
Bradley Cooper, Oscar nominated for his role as the film’s bipolar protagonist, will join former Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy in a press conference Friday at the Center for American Progress to discuss how the film has helped make progress toward removing the stigma of mental illness. This comes after Cooper and Robert De Niro taped an appearance with Katie Couric to talk about the movie and its mental health message. In that appearance, I’m told that De Niro actually broke down when he discussed a personal connection to the subject matter. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Last Monday, after a trade report had him skipping Park City for the D.C. inauguration, Harvey Weinstein met me in Sundance for what has become an annual sit down lunch. He and his COO David Glasser looked as tired as I felt—they brokered and I covered an all-night negotiation for Fruitvale, a film that went on to win all the big festival prizes. A fixture at Sundance since turning the festival into a lucrative marketplace with Steven Soderbergh’s crossover success sex, lies & videotape, Weinstein is as busy right now as a one-armed wallpaper hanger.
Beyond his D.C. stature, Weinstein owns the last two Best Picture Oscars with The King’s Speech and The Artist, and he’s got Silver Linings Playbook and Django Unchainedin this year’s wide-open race. He’s making a fortune on a film he didn’t release–The Hobbit–because he made five points of first dollar gross the price for allowing Peter Jackson shop The Lord of the Rings and subsequent Tolkien films elsewhere when Michael Eisner refused to let Weinstein make them at Miramax. The Hobbit is closing in on $1 billion in worldwide gross. If all that isn’t enough, Harvey recently learned that he and his fashion designer wife, Georgina Chapman, are now expecting their second child together (that will make five children for the mogul). In between all that chaos, Weinstein took an hour to discuss politics, Sundance and of course the Oscars. … Read More »
The tight Oscar race for Best Actress between the presumed co-frontrunners, Silver Linings Playbook’s Jennifer Lawrence and Zero Dark Thirty’s Jessica Chastain, took a few twists and turns this weekend. But will any of it affect the outcome one way or another? Momentum is a fickle thing — you can win it or lose it in an instant.
Related: Jennifer Lawrence Monologue On ‘SNL’
Both young stars are coming off a stellar week where they won Golden Globe and Critics Choice Movie Awards for their performances. And now, just 2 1/2 weeks before Oscar voting begins and smack in the middle of SAG balloting, Chastain pulled off the neat trick of starring in the No. 1 and No. 2 films at the box office (#1 Mama and #2 Zero Dark Thirty). Before Mama opened, some pundits observed that starring in a standard horror film in the midst of Oscar crunch time could hurt Chastain the same way Norbit’s Oscar-time release was perceived to hurt Eddie Murphy when he lost for Dreamgirls. But in fact Mama received generally good reviews (62% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes) and way overperformed at the box office, helping to make the emerging Chastain an even bigger star. And the fact that she simultaneously continues in her Broadway run in The Heiress (a film based on the play won Olivia DeHavilland an Oscar) also helps as voters love actors who move between theatre and movies with ease.
Related: Golden Globes Movies: Does Winning Really Affect Oscar Chances? Read More »
Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.
The third full weekend of January is relatively quiet for newcomers in the specialty market. Two features are among the titles hitting a limited number of theaters including New Yorker Films’ Cannes 2011 title Hors Satan by French filmmaker Bruno Dumont. The distributor admitted that finding exhibitors was a challenge and illustrated how art house cinema has changed. Also headed to theaters is Sheldon Candis’ Luv via Indomina which is partnering with AMC Independent for its limited theatrical run.
Aside from those newcomers, the Weinstein Company is capitalizing on its eight Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Director for Silver Linings Playbook this weekend. TWC’s decision to open more slowly than originally planned for David O. Russell’s film appears to have paid off. Read More »
BREAKING: DreamWorks Studios has acquired the manuscript to Matthew Quick’s latest novel, The Good Luck Of Right Now. It’s his followup to the Best Picture nominee Silver Linings Playbook and was bought by production president Holly Bario.
The story follows the intertwined lives of four people, who are all outsiders in their own right. However, in the wake of grieving over pain and loss in their lives, they come together to form the most unlikely family. I wrote about this one when CAA slipped it to buyers a week ago. The characters are quirkier than those in Silver Linings Playbook, and there is also the Richard Gere factor. The protagonist is a guy who might not be bipolar, but is certainly “off.” He takes care of his mother, who suffers from dementia. She has been calling him Richard, and the caretaker tells the story of this broken circle of characters in letters written to Richard Gere. The film is once again set in Philadelphia, and the love interest is a librarian. She and her brother believe they were once abducted by aliens.
“We immediately sparked to Matthew Quick’s book and the heart and humor which is infused in his storytelling,” said Holly Bario. “All of us at DreamWorks are excited to begin developing this story and look to make it a priority at the studio.”
CAA repped Quick with Douglas Stewart of Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc., who simultaneously … Read More »
If anyone thought the Golden Globes results were going to add any clarity to the topsy-turvy atmosphere that has so far characterized this year’s Oscar race, forget it. In a week that has offered crushing disappointment and major highs to just about every serious contender, the Globes mixed it up Sunday but cleared up no questions about who is emerging as a frontrunner in one of the tightest and most interesting Academy Award contests in years. No one can figure this one out yet, and if they say they can, ask for proof because it just simply doesn’t exist. Yet.
On the other hand, one thing on which everyone seemed to agree was that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler knocked it out of the park as hosts and the show moved along in style. One former producer of an Academy Awards show sitting in the audience told me afterwards, “if I were an Oscars producer this year I would be worried. This was a very good show”.
Voting for Globes was in before the Academy Award nominations were announced on Thursday and before it was known the Acad’s directors branch had snubbed Argo director Ben Affleck while the rest of the Academy offered the film seven nominations. His directorial victory at Wednesday’s Critics Choice Movie Awards and subsequent Best Picture win along with the same two wins at Sunday’s Golden Globes … Read More »
Between the roller-coaster ride of Thursday’s 85th Academy Award Nominations and Critics Choice Awards and this weekend’s Golden Globes mania, Friday’s annual AFI Awards Luncheon was not only a breath of fresh air in this busy season. It was a much needed event to put everything in perspective and show not only the impressive group of creative heavyweights from the year’s best movies and TV programs, but also a strong turnout of studio power players, exactly what this should all be about. It’s a celebration of the year’s best work, not another televised awards show that simply tries to divide everything into groups of winners and losers, bad jokes and nervous nominees. “Our wish for today is that this room become a respite from the noise, for us to carry you away as you carry us away. Think of it as when the lights go down in a movie theatre or a story beginning on television. We want you to feel good about your work and feel good about the people you work with because together you have created something beautiful, and in the weeks to come and the years that will pass nothing can take that away from you,” said AFI President and CEO Bob Gazzale in his opening remarks that set just the right tone. With tables for each of AFI’s 10 movies of the year (Argo, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, The Dark Knight Rises, Django Unchained, … Read More »
Let’s throw “conventional wisdom” out the window regarding this morning’s Oscar nominations. In a year when there are so many genuine contenders for the Oscars‘ Best Picture, the Academy has thrown a wrench into the proceedings, instantly cementing early frontrunner status for Lincoln and Life Of Pi along with the “little engine that could” Silver Linings Playbook while dampening prospects of winning the big prize for three other perceived major contenders Zero Dark Thirty (the controversial critical darling), Les Miserables and Argo. All three of those films’ directors were snubbed after winning DGA nominations earlier this week. Did these Best Picture nominees direct themselves?
Related: OSCARS: 85th Academy Award Nominations
The biggest shock waves at the Academy this morning were clearly over the omission of Ben Affleck‘s direction of Argo and Kathryn Bigelow‘s absence for Zero Dark Thirty. Both are still nominees as co-producers of their Best Picture-nominated films, but this has to sting. Instead, Silver Linings’ David O. Russell reversed his snub at DGA and BAFTA with a strong showing where it counts, and wildcard Michael Haneke of Amour (which did exceptionally well for a foreign-language film including a Best Picture and Foreign Language nod) got those spots along with the true shocker of the directing nominees, Beast Of The Southern Wild’s Benh Zeitlin. His tiny Sundance sensation and offbeat film defied expectations earning key Directing, Picture, Screenplay and Actress (for youngest nominee in the category ever, Quvenzhane Wallis). Some people were sure they were mistaken when they heard Zeitlin announced instead of Affleck after the first name Benh was called out. But the Oscars are always known for throwing surprises into the mix. Much like that Wizard of Oz, Oscar has spoken. As Academy COO Ric Robertson (who is also an Academy voter) told me, “I guess we really, really liked Beasts Of The Southern Wild’!” With Zeitlin’s directing nod, that’s an understatement. It is his first movie, by the way, so congratulations Benh, and sorry Ben.
Related: OSCARS: Who Got Snubbed By Academy? Read More »
Even as Oscar nomination polls were closing Friday afternoon, the awards season action was already shifting to the Southern California desert as the 10-day Palm Springs International Film Festival kicked off, not only with its highly publicized Saturday night gala where enormous statuettes are handed out to Oscar hopefuls looking for a boost in the race, but also as a genuinely impressive public showcase for world cinema.
42 of the 71 official Oscar foreign entries are on display at the Fest (which runs through January 13) including 8 of the 9 finalists which made the shortlist. Many of those filmmakers nervously awaiting results, of which of the 9 become the 5 nominees, were at the fest all weekend, even as a select group of about 30 high-profile Academy members (including Meryl Streep, who told me last year she had a great time on this uber committee) in New York and Los Angeles were viewing the finalists and making their choices (to be announced with other Oscar nominees on Thursday morning). Read More »
Wild Bunch Exec Protests High Costs Of French Filmmaking
An editorial written by Wild Bunch co-founder and sales chief Vincent Maraval has whipped up a mini-storm within the French film industry. The exec, who’s had a hand in such films as The Artist, The Wrestler, Pan’s Labyrinth, Fahrenheit 9/11, City Of God and March Of The Penguins, blasted the current state of French cinema, calling 2012 a “disaster”. France enjoys possibly the world’s most generous subsidy system which relies in part on investment by local TV networks, but Maraval says “even the biggest commercial successes lose money” with budgets inflated by above the line costs. Calling France “the world record holder for the average cost of production” after the U.S., Maraval says “French actors are rich from public funds and from a system that protects the cultural exception.” Maraval cites such talent as Vincent Cassel, Jean Reno, Marion Cotillard, Guillaume Canet and Audrey Tautou and asks why they would “be paid from €500,000 to €2M ($655K to $2.62M) for a French film limited to the French market but when they shoot an American film, whose market is worldwide, they’re happy with €50,000 to €200,000 ($65.5K to $262K)? Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Silver Linings Playbook continues on its awards roll this season with a Best Picture nomination from the Producers Guild to add to its many other laurels to date including 4 SAG award nominations, 4 Golden Globe nods, 5 Independent Spirit mentions and 10 Critics Choice Movie Award noms in addition to its spot on the AFI Ten Best list of 2012. The David O. Russell film is expected to be a major contender as well when Oscar nominations are announced on January 10th. Here’s an exclusive look at a new featurette on the making of the film.
PGA Awards Film: Best Picture List Offers No Surprises
Robert De Niro’s ‘Silver Lining’
Fleming Q&A’s David O. Russell On ‘Silver Linings Playbook’
Between 1974 when he won Best Supporting Actor for his turn as the young Don Corleone in The Godfather Part II and 1991 when he was contending for Best Actor in Cape Fear, Robert De Niro was nominated six times and won two Oscars (1980′s Raging Bull was the other one) in a span of 17 years. But remarkably it has now been 21 years since that last Academy Award shout-out in ’91, a long Oscar dry spell for the man many consider our greatest living film actor. With the release in November of David O. Russell’s critically acclaimed Silver Linings Playbook, De Niro is genuinely contending for his first Oscar nomination in over two decades as the obsessive compulsive, sports-betting Philadelphia Eagles fan, and father Pat Sr.
Related: OSCARS Q&A: David O. Russell
Already nominated for Critics Choice Movie Awards and SAG Best Supporting Actor honors, De Niro is favored to repeat the feat on January 10th when Oscar nominations are announced, and although he is pleased about the buzz for his performance, he isn’t getting his hopes up as he told me when we spoke over the weekend in a rare interview. “Of course I am happy about it all and the reception, but I don’t want to expect much because I don’t want to be disappointed. I have had a lot of experience over the years and then you expect and you think and it never happens. So all I try to do is be even-keeled about stuff,” he says. Read More »
Talk about a high degree of difficulty. David O. Russell, trying to find laughs in a love story where one of his Silver Linings Playbook protagonists is bipolar and fresh from a stint in a mental institution, and the other is freshly widowed with more than a few problems of her own. It was daunting enough that it held back a seasoned pro like Sydney Pollack, the late filmmaker who controlled the Matthew Quick novel along with his partner Anthony Minghella and Harvey Weinstein, Pollack couldn’t find a way to crack it, but he found the writer/director who was a perfect match for the material. Russell, who has had a number of well publicized fits of anger on movie sets himself and who raised a child with bipolar issues, connected with the subject matter in a way probably few writer/directors could. Here he explains how he pulled it off and how it would have been an inferior film if he gone 15 rounds in the Oscar-nominated The Fighter as a tune-up.
DEADLINE: Silver Linings Playbook started with Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella. How did they draft you?
RUSSELL: Well, I only spoke to Sydney. I never spoke to Anthony about it. Sydney just thought he wasn’t sure it could be pulled off. He had the obvious concerns. When you are dealing with delicate subject matter like this, and when you have moments that are so disturbing, can it be that emotionally intense and delightful? Can it be all of those things? That was the question. I kind of knew right away that I had a good shot because I had lived with some of their issues, which are inherently funny as much they are heartbreaking.
Read More »
There’s exactly one week left to vote for Oscar nominations and there’s still ‘trouble in River City’.
After reporting on all the problems regarding the registration process for the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ initial foray into the perilous world of online voting for Oscars this year, and then breaking the story about paper ballots being sent automatically to any voter who didn’t register or didn’t want to attempt voting online, there still seems to be frustration on the part of a number of voters.
Since the voting period opened for nominations on December 17th (it runs thorugh January 3rd) , some disgruntled members have told me it just isn’t working very well. As my colleague Mike Fleming reported the site was even completely down early in the process. The system, which requires members to have a special password (this in addition to their regular password that gains them entrance into the Academy’s website) and a code supplied by a phone call to an appointed phone number only when they actually set out to vote, is designed specifically for the Academy by a company, Everyone Counts (the result of an 18-month search), that does the same thing for the U.S. government with clients including the Department of Defense. It’s so loaded with specific safeguards and military-level encryption methods to keep hackers and imposters out that it is causing extreme frustration for some who have tried to vote. As a result some … Read More »
Paul Brownfield is an AwardsLine contributor.
The least saleable aspect of David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook is also one of its central themes: obsession.
Pat Solitano, the lead character played by Bradley Cooper, is bipolar and manically fixated on getting his estranged wife back. Pat’s father, played by Robert De Niro, is a would-be bookmaker whose OCD behaviors (and his love) get projected onto his gambling and his diehard devotion to the hometown Philadelphia Eagles.
Related: OSCARS: The Directors
As the film begins, Pat is being released from a psychiatric hospital and moving back into a kind of halfway house — his childhood bedroom. De Niro spends much of the film in Eagles green, trying not to notice his son’s psychosis, which involves long runs through his neighborhood wearing sweats and a trash bag, while Pat’s mother, played by Jacki Weaver, tiptoes through the minefield created by her husband and son.
Related: OSCARS: The Supporting Actor Race Read More »
Joaquin Phoenix and Anthony Hopkins may not approve, but Oscar season campaigning on the party circuit has been at fever pitch.
“We’ve never seen anything like this. We’re exhausted. We are out every night it seems and the invitations keep coming,” one Oscar-winning Academy member told me recently. He was referring to the glut of invites to parties, lunches, screenings with Q&As and everything else for which Oscar season campaigning has come to be known. He pointedly added that none of it has ever influenced his vote but he is not turning down the elaborate food spreads and the chance to mingle with contenders. “Just don’t tell anyone who invites me to these things, but it doesn’t really have much impact on the way I fill out my ballot,” he added with a smile.
That won’t stop Oscar strategists from trying and the campaign activity this season seems like it pushed into high gear much earlier than normal and hasn’t let up, even as the Christmas break quickly approaches and the town starts to shut down. Don’t tell that to the relentless Weinstein Company who will still have some of their contenders out on the stump even over this holiday weekend. Quentin Tarantino who, despite seeing his Los Angeles premiere for Django Unchained cancelled Tuesday night out of sensitivity to the Newtown tragedy, was out doing a Q&A and reception for a packed screening at the Academy last night and will be doing the same thing for BAFTA-LA Friday night. Read More »
Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.
Numbers trickling in point to a soft weekend in the specialty arena. Music Box Films bowed in 16 theaters a brave story starring Alan Cumming about a gay couple fighting to retain custody of special needs child they reared. Any Day Now is a brave film and story that earned audience prizes at festivals throughout the year. Unfortunately it did not connect fully with paying audiences in its debut but hopefully its audience will build through word-of-mouth. It averaged only $2,563 per location. On December 21 it will expand to 6 additional markets and Music Box expects 50 by February. Cavu Pictures/Snag Films debuted Let Fury Have The Hour at New York’s Quad Cinema with an estimated $3,200. After the New Year it will expand to San Francisco January 18th and to Los Angeles on the 25th. IFC Films reported Save The Date opened in single cinemas in Los Angeles and New York for an average of $2,000.
Focus Features moved Bill Murray starrer Hyde Park On Hudson into 32 more theaters from its debut last week. The pic averaged a solid $8,261 versus its $20,820 opening average in 4 locations. Focus said it will continue adding markets on the 21st and with more to come in the New Year. Kudos to The Weinstein Company’s Oscar hopeful Silver Linings Playbook. It stayed in 371 theaters in its 5th weekend, averaging $5,617, a minimal drop from $6,032 last weekend. The feature from writer/director David O. Russell had a strong opening in mid-November and has held up fairly well in its steady rollout. Read More »