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PHOTOS: Philip Seymour Hoffman (1967-2014)

By | Sunday February 2, 2014 @ 3:00pm PST

Philip Seymour Hoffman Dead

The late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was found dead at age 46 this morning in NYC, contributed countless indelible characters to the screen and stage in an Oscar-winning career that spanned over two decades. Take a look at some of Hoffman’s best-loved turns in our In Memoriam gallery: Read More »

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OSCARS: The Supporting Actor/Actress Races

Pete Hammond

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.


Alan Arkin | Argo

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 … Read More »

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Joaquin Phoenix Back With PTA In ‘Inherent Vice’

By | Thursday January 24, 2013 @ 12:34pm PST
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Joaquin Phoenix is in talks to reteam with The Master helmer Paul Thomas Anderson on Inherent Vice, an adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon detective novel. Annapurna Pictures’ Megan Ellison is backing the picture, as she did The Master. Phoenix is Oscar nominated in The Master, in one of his career best performances. He’s repped by WME and Sloane, Offer, Weber and Dern.

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OSCARS Q&A: Paul Thomas Anderson

By | Saturday December 22, 2012 @ 1:00pm PST
Pete Hammond

Paul Thomas Anderson is a genuine auteur, a writer/director who works when he wants, makes what he wants, and is considered now to be one of the film industry’s true talents. His list of films is small but significant: Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, and Magnolia to Punch Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, and now The Master, just six films in 16 years but all winning wide critical acclaim. He has five Oscar nominations, mostly for screenplay, but he did score his first directing nod for There Will Be Blood. He hopes to continue the trend with The Master, though the film has polarized audiences, something that surprised Anderson but doesn’t necessarily disappoint him. How that translates into awards is anyone’s guess, but don’t say Paul Thomas Anderson is making movies you can easily dismiss.

AwardsLine: There have wildly different reactions to the movie. Is that something that you wanted?
Paul Thomas Anderson: It’s really interesting; it’s not something I expected. The final stretch of finishing a film, you find yourself in a kind of hypnosis that you made something that you understand and therefore everyone else will understand. And it’s an insane assumption, but it happens. And it’s temporary. I’m always surprised by the reactions, but this one in particular seems to have a real interesting messiness about people’s responses. I suppose the worst thing in the world would be pure ambivalence, and to have any attention paid to you is nice. Even if it’s negative. Read More »

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‘Amour,’ ‘The Master’ Lead London Film Critics’ Circle Nominations

By | Tuesday December 18, 2012 @ 3:05am PST

Michael Haneke’s Amour and Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master each received seven nominations for the London Film Critics’ Circle Awards this morning. Amour was nominated in the best film, director, screenwriter, actor, actress and supporting actress categories along with a nod as best foreign language film. The Master also was mentioned in the best film, director, screenwriter, actor and supporting actress races as well as supporting actor. Skyfall is the most heavily nominated British film with five nods inlcuding two for Judi Dench as best supporting actress and British actress of the year; the latter shared with her role in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Life Of Pi, Argo, Lincoln, Les Misérables and UK indie Sightseers are all nominated four times each. The London Film Critics’ Circle will hold its 33rd awards ceremony on January 20. Below is a full list of the nominees: Read More »

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OSCARS Q&A: Philip Seymour Hoffman

By | Thursday December 13, 2012 @ 12:01am PST

Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is a theatrical director, a film producer, and a board member of the Labyrinth Theater Company. But above all, he’s an actor, and a relentlessly inquisitive one. Much like the cult leader Lancaster Dodd he plays in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, Hoffman is continually deconstructing flawed souls on stage and screen: An accused pedophile priest (Doubt), the suicidal Willy Loman (Broadway’s Death of a Salesman), and Truman Capote (Capote) are among the many. Meryl Streep once told the New York Times about her Doubt costar: “One of the most important keys to acting is curiosity. I am curious to the point of being nosy, and I think Philip is the same.” In The Master, Hoffman imbues the puzzling depths of his guru with a warm, paternal nuance while exposing Dodd’s violent, drunken underbelly. Of utmost importance for Hoffman was syncing with the dramatic rhythms of Joaquin Phoenix’s delinquent Freddie Quell, who is not only his protégé, but his doppelganger.

AwardsLine: How did Anderson prepare you for the role?
Philip Seymour Hoffman: It doesn’t work that way, where Paul prepares you. He’s a writer, so he’s writing all the time. The screenplay was an amalgamation of many things he was writing through the years and then eventually, he had a screenplay. He sent it to me four years out from shooting it. I was part of a development process with him of the story and the character. He had a plan and knew what he was going to do, but I was the guy he was bouncing it off of for a while because I was going to play Lancaster. So that’s how I prepared for the part, talking about and ruminating about it. It was a journey we both took together; it’s just that his job was a lot bigger than mine. Read More »

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SAG Awards Film: What’s Surprising About Who’s In And Who’s Out

By | Wednesday December 12, 2012 @ 8:21am PST
Pete Hammond

In terms of the horse race for Oscars, this morning’s SAG Awards nominations are important on a couple of fronts. It’s the first Guild awards nomination announcement of the year, and that’s significant because the way guilds are thinking (with their strong crossover membership with the Academy) is usually the way Oscar voters are thinking. It’s much more significant in that regard than critics awards. These SAG Awards nominations, the only guild announcing before the Academy gets their ballots this year (10 days earlier than normal), also can have a strong effect on influencing acting Oscar nominations even more than usual due to the time crunch and the fact that many Oscar voters still have a lot to see. In the last few years, the correlation between SAG and Oscar has been strong: In the past two years, the two orgs agreed on 17 of 20 acting noms. Three years ago it was 19 of 20. And although the 2000-strong nominating committee that votes on this film list changes by lottery every year, it’s remarkably in step with the tastes of the Academy’s Actors Branch.

Related: SAG Awards Nominations Announced

What this year’s list really reflects is the tightness of the lead actor race. In September when The Master was released, it was almost unthinkable that Joaquin Phoenix’s highly praised performance would not be among the Best Actor nominees — but he’s AWOL here. I think it probably has less to do with the fact that he didn’t campaign (he didn’t appear at a single SAG Q&A and has been vocal about his disdain for the awards-season process) than the fiercely competitive nature of this category. Who are you going to cut out among Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, John Hawkes, Hugh Jackman and Denzel Washington? There is a long list of others left at the altar by SAG this year including Hitchcock’s Anthony Hopkins, Arbitrage’s Richard Gere, Hyde Park On Hudson’s Bill Murray, Django Unchained’s Jamie Foxx, Bernie’s Jack Black and Amour’s Jean-Louis Trintignant among others, but there just doesn’t seem to be room at the inn and the Academy is likely to have the same problem.

Related: SAG Awards TV: ‘Modern Family’ Leads, ‘Homeland’ Lands First Noms Read More »

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Joaquin Phoenix To Interview Magazine: Awards Season Is “Bullshit”

By | Thursday October 18, 2012 @ 1:48pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Even though Joaquin Phoenix turned in a standout performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, looks like we shouldn’t expect him to be a fixture on the rubber chicken circuit. When Phoenix, who was Oscar-nominated for Walk The Line, was asked by Elvis Mitchell in Interview about the prospect of being put out on the awards circuit again, he responded thusly: “…I think it’s bullshit. I think it’s total, utter bullshit, and I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t believe in it. It’s a carrot, but it’s the worst-tasting carrot I’ve ever tasted in my whole life. I don’t want this carrot. It’s totally subjective. Pitting people against each other . . . It’s the stupidest thing in the whole world. It was one of the most uncomfortable periods of my life when Walk the Line was going through all the awards stuff and all that. I never want to have that experience again. I don’t know how to explain it — and it’s not like I’m in this place where I think I’m just above it — but I just don’t ever want to get comfortable with that part of things.”

Well, Joaquin, when your distributor is Harvey Weinstein, and he won the last two Best Picture Oscars, you will probably have to make the rounds no matter how you feel. You can take solace in the fact it can’t be more uncomfortable … Read More »

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IFP Gotham Award Noms: ‘Bernie,’ ‘Loneliest Planet,’ ‘The Master,’ ‘Middle Of Nowhere’ And ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ Up For Best Picture

By | Thursday October 18, 2012 @ 7:02am PDT
Mike Fleming

New York, NY (October 18, 2012) – The Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers announced today the nominees for the Gotham Independent Film Awards™. Signaling the kick-off to the film awards season, IFP’s Gotham Independent Film Awards™ nominations were given to a total of 26 films across six competitive categories for Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor, Best Ensemble Performance, and Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.

The Gotham Awards ceremony will be held on Monday, November 26th at Cipriani Wall Street. In addition to the competitive awards, actors Marion Cotillard and Matt Damon, director David O. Russell, and Participant Media founder Jeff Skoll will each be presented with a career tribute.

As the first major awards ceremony of the film season, the Gotham Independent Film Awards™ provide critical early recognition and media attention to worthy independent films. Previous winners for Best Feature and Best Documentary include BEGINNERS (2011), THE TREE OF LIFE (2011), BETTER THIS WORLD (2011), WINTER’S BONE (2010), THE OATH (2010), THE HURT LOCKER (2009), and FOOD, INC. (2009). The awards are also unique for their ability to assist in catapulting award recipients prominently into national awards season attention, including recent winners and ultimate Oscar® contenders: feature winners BEGINNERS (2011), TREE OF LIFE (2011), WINTER’S BONE (2010) and THE HURT LOCKER (2009); Breakthrough Actors Melissa Leo (2008), Ellen Page (2007), Rinko Kikuchi (2006) and Amy Adams (2005).

The nominations for the 2012 Gotham Independent Film Awards are:

Best Feature

Bernie, Richard Linklater, director; Richard Linklater, Ginger Sledge, Celine Rattray, Martin Shafer, Liz Glotzer, Matt Williams, David McFadzean, Judd Payne, Dete Meserve, producers (Millennium Entertainment)

The Loneliest Planet, Julia Loktev, director; Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Helge Albers, Marie Therese Guirgis, producers (Sundance Selects)

The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson, director; Joanne Sellar, Daniel Lupi, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison, producers (The Weinstein Company)

Middle of Nowhere, Ava DuVernay, director; Howard Barish, Ava DuVernay, Paul Garnes, producers (AFFRM and Participant Media)

Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson, director; Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson, producers (Focus Features)

Read More »

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Paul Thomas Anderson On ‘The Master’ And Harvey Weinstein: Video

By | Friday October 12, 2012 @ 8:49am PDT

The director tells CBS This Morning that yes, his The Master is loosely based on L Ron Hubbard and Dianetics and “investigating what that movement was”. Paul Thomas Anderson also fielded a question about Harvey Weinstein, who will push the buttons on The Master‘s Oscar campaign as awards season warms up: “He’s a bull in a china shop — but he’s your bull, and it’s great to have him”.

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Specialty Box Office: ‘Perks Of Being A Wallflower’, ‘Diana Vreeland’ Shine, ‘The Master’ Shows Momentum

By | Sunday September 23, 2012 @ 10:31am PDT

Brian Brooks is managing editor of MovieLine.

The overall box office still has a case of the doldrums but a couple of new specialty movies this weekend had robust openings. Summit scored with its rollout of The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, averaging a stellar $61K. That’s the fourth best per-theater average of the year. Perks brought out young females in droves, with women making up 70% of audiences and 60% were under 25. Summit also boasted that Perks was also the company’s highest per-screen debut for any Summit title. Samuel Goldwyn Films’ doc Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel also showed gusto in its debut, averaging a stylish $21,413. IFC Films bravely took on How To Survive A Plague, a doc exploring the AIDS crisis from the standpoint of activist group ACT-UP. It averaged a softish $7K. Sundance Selects will open Survive in VOD on September 28th.

Among holdovers, last week’s record-breaking debut The Master held solid in its second weekend after a sizable expansion. The Weinstein Company added 783 theaters, grossing $5 million and a solid $6,345 average. Roadside Attractions took Arbitrage into 244 locations from 197 last weekend. The film averaged a solid $5,221. Noted a Roadside Attractions spokesperson: “The film held up very well and in particular went up 78% Friday to Saturday. ” IFC Films added 16 theaters for Liberal Arts in its second weekend. It grossed $40K in 20 theaters for a very soft $2K average. Read More »

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Lesson Of Toronto: Indie Filmmakers Better Keep Budgets Low As Distribs Grow Stingier

Mike Fleming

Ben AffleckHollywood runs on perception, and the vibe on the recently completed Toronto Film Festival is that the marketplace was a smashing success because of the high volume of acquisitions. The festival itself reported there were 29 major sales to U.S. distributors.

The MasterWhile the sales volume was certainly high, the numbers weren’t. It’s like reading about the record per screen average that Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master turned in last weekend on five theaters. All I keep thinking is, even though it grossed $729,745 in its opening weekend, the film needs serious legs if its going to recoup the $35 million that Annapurna’s Megan Ellison paid to finance it.

Related: Toronto, Venice, Telluride Fest Wrap-Up

Coming in to Toronto, two things were very clear. The most promising films came in with distributors that bought in early in the process, a trend which will continue to grow as agencies package more of these films, seeded by high net worth individuals and receptive to locking in distributors at script or sizzle reel stage.

AftershockThat took some of the best titles off the table, but it still felt like the abundance of new distributors and star-cast acquisition titles would result in some spirited auctions, the kind that make people overpay. … Read More »

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Toronto, Venice, Telluride Fest Wrap-Up: ‘Silver Linings’, ‘Argo’, ‘The Master’ Are Clearly Early Best Picture Contenders

Pete Hammond

With today’s wrap of the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, the Fall festival trifecta of Venice, Telluride and Toronto officially kicked off the six-month movie awards season. What does it say, if anything, about where the race for Oscar is at this early point? As it turns out, quite a bit. It is very early in the game. And we also have to remember there is one more key early Fall festival on the horizon when the New York Film Festival kicks off September 28th with Ang Lee’s much anticipated Life Of Pi and closes October 14th with Robert Zemeckis’ Flight starring Denzel Washington. These two Oscar-winning directors have much buzzed-about new films so obviously the race is still taking shape. But Toronto, for instance, has featured six of the last seven Oscar-winning Best Pictures in its lineup, an impressive feat.

The MasterComing out of Venice with media spotlight blazing was Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, a multi-award winner there (although in a bit of controversy not the top Golden Lion). The Weinstein Company film also played well in Toronto and has now opened this weekend to a record-breaking limited release gross, something that won’t harm its Oscar chances down the line. But only if it can sustain critical and box office momentum.

Roaring out of Telluride, and later Toronto, was … Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: ‘The Master’ Sets Per-Theater Record Of $146K; ‘Arbitrage’ Solid

By | Sunday September 16, 2012 @ 10:52am PDT

Brian Brooks is Managing Editor of MovieLine.

Indie Films Opening Week

It’s not every weekend that a specialty film can claim a record, but The Master opened with an incredible $145,949 per-theater average, the best limited release ever for a live-action film, topping another record-breaker from earlier this year, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, which bowed with with an average of $130,749 at four locations. The Master director Paul Thomas Anderson’s previous film, There Will Be Blood averaged $95,370 when it opened back in 2007 in two theaters.

“We’re thrilled with the numbers. It set the screen record and all the credit in the world goes to Paul Thomas Anderson with his guerrilla marketing strategy combined with moving the [release date] to this weekend,” said said TWC Head of Distribution Erik Lomis. “I’m expecting my phone to ring off the hook from exhibitors tomorrow.” The Weinstein Company had initially set an October rollout of The Master which picked up best director and actor awards at the recent Venice Film Festival where it was reportedly also the be jury’s pick for the top prize, the Golden Lion, until fest officials enforced a rule that limits the number of big awards per film. Read More »

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‘The Master’ Breaks Art House Records; ‘Resident Evil 5′ Tops ‘Finding Nemo 3D’

SUNDAY AM, 5TH UPDATE: It was a revived box office at the start of the domestic weekend with respectable grosses for both opening but non-original pics. That’s a relief for Hollywood after weeks of lackluster threatrical sales and the lowest-grossing weekend in at least four years. But  total moviegoing this weekend is only $86M, or -15% from last year when The Lion King in 3D made $30.1M. Then again, it had not been available on home entertainment since 1994 and was a ‘Disney Vault’ item much in demand in 3D. In contrast, Disney/Pixar’s 3D version of its 2003 blockbuster Finding Nemo (2,904 theaters) took in only $17.5M for the weekend despite the lack of fresh family fare in the cineplex. It also made $5.1M from 7 territories representing 22% of the international market. Which brings its global cume from all releases to $890.2M.

Sony/Screen Gems/Constantin Films’ 3D Resident Evil: Retribution (3,012 theaters) is the 5th installment in the sexy sci-fi/horror franchise and was an easy #1 against the clownfish. It opened with $8.8M Friday helped by $665K from midnight screenings. It topped out at $21.1M for the domestic weekend, which is less than the franchise’s 4th installment. No matter because it makes its real moolah overseas. Indeed, Resident Evil: Retribution grossed a big $50M overseas for a total $71.1M worldwide in just its first few days of release. That beats the last one overseas by about 28%. “This could be the biggest one yet,” a Sony exec gushed to me. Exit polls showed that 64% of the audience was male and 45% under age 25. About 48% experienced the film in 3D, 34% saw it in 2D, 14% viewed it in IMAX, and another 4% viewed it in other PLF theaters.

Frankly, the blogosphere has not always been kind to this series or the writing/directing/producing team of Paul W.S. Anderson and Jeremy Bolt (Impact Pictures). But I can’t argue with RE‘s amazing success. To give you an idea, the previous 4 films have an aggregate worldwide gross of $675M. The last film made $296M. If this 5th film could get to $325M worldwide, then the franchise hits $1B in worldwide box office. And I haven’t even mentioned the big DVD numbers. All on an aggregate budget of a mere $250M. How many filmmakers have created that return on investment? Also, Anderson has now shot his last 3 films in 3D, using the Vince Pace rigs, and is one of the few Hollywood directors comfortable with it. As a major player I respect emailed me this weekend, “Paul should get his due. He’s one of the most under-appreciated directors out there.”

Related: ‘Ted’ To Pass ‘The Hangover’ Internationally

And fresh from the Venice and Toronto International Film Festival circuit, The Weinstein Company’s much ballyhooed anti-Scientology movie The Master began its platform run and Oscar campaign by breaking art house records. Director Paul Thomas Anderson and talents Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman got off to a great start in limited release in 5 art houses (3 in NY and 2 in LA) grossing $729,745. Weinstein picked up the film from Annapurna for worldwide distribution. The indie studio was hoping to beat the art house record of $130K per screen set by Focus Features’ Moonrise Kingdom this year – and did just that with $145K.

Also of note, the same distribution company Rocky Mountain Pictures that released the hit political documentary 2016: Obama’s America on Friday opened Last Ounce of Courage. Both pics were in the Top 10 on Friday but fell out by Sunday. The newest pic aimed at “freedom-loving faith-based” audiences should have received a slow rollout. Instead, it debuted in 1,407 theaters with a marketing push including TV buys. Once again, this kind of movie produces strong pre-sales then grosses dwindle. It opened with a $1.7 weekend. Not sure if this pic has legs.

Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention Roadside Attractions’ and Lionsgate’s Arbitrage for the biggest U.S. opening ever for a film debuting in both movie theaters and On Demand — and by a wide margin.  Because it made $2M this weekend on only 197 screens for a per screen average of $10.5K. The Richard Gere starrer written and directed by Nicholas Jarecki had Roadside boss Howard Cohen kvelling to me. Amd the film also is #2 on iTunes overall and #1 in both Drama and Thriller categories.

A fantastic weekend for the indies… Don’t miss Deadline’s specialty box office report later today.

Here’s the Top Ten movies based on weekend estimates:

1. Resident Evil 5 (Screen Gems/Sony) NEW [3,012 Runs]
Friday $8.4M, Saturday $7.6M, Weekend $21.1M

2. Finding Nemo (Pixar/Disney) NEW [2,904 Runs]
Friday $5.0M, Saturday $7.0M, Weekend $17.5M
Read More »

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‘The Master’, ‘Arbitrage’, ‘Francine’, ‘Liberal Arts’, ‘Step Up To The Plate’: Specialty Box Office Preview

By | Friday September 14, 2012 @ 3:20pm PDT

Brian Brooks is managing editor of MovieLine.

After making a splash in both Toronto and Venice (where it picked up awards, but not without controversy), The Weinstein Company’s The Master takes to screens amidst festival Oscar buzz this weekend. Joining the anticipated title are Sundance Film Festival heavyweights Arbitrage starring Richard Gere and Josh Radnor’s Liberal Arts, in which he stars opposite Elizabeth Olsen. Also rolling out in select theaters are Francine, starring Melissa Leo and French-centered documentary, Step Up To The Plate.

The Master
Director-writer: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Price Carson
Distributor: The Weinstein Company

Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest movie heads to theaters following awards controversy at the Venice Film Festival and a lauded North American debut at the Toronto International Film Festival last weekend where it generated a good dose of Oscar buzz. Writer-director Anderson dismissed – at least verbally – any association with Scientology at a press conference in Toronto and expressed gratitude for the film’s Venice wins for Best Actor (shared by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix) and his Silver Lion for Best Director. The story follows a naval vet who arrives home to an uncertain future but finds solace from a charismatic leader. “Over the years, Paul has become a freer director [and] more organic,” producer JoAnne Sellar said in Toronto. “For … Read More »

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Toronto: The Deals Are Slow, But This Festival Is A Rocking Good Time

By | Monday September 10, 2012 @ 7:14am PDT
Mike Fleming

Last night, as I was talking with director Juan Antonio Bayona and producer Ghislain Barrois at a Soho House afterparty, they asked me how the Toronto Film Festival crowd reacted at the end of their tsunami survival tale The Impossible. I had to be honest: Once a picture of the actual family that survived the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 230,000 people was shown onscreen (the parents are played by Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts) and then the actual Belon family stood up to embrace Bayona, the crowd rushed to their feet for a standing ovation so fast and it lasted so long it was hard to tell if they were rooting for the harrowing film, the family that survived it, or both.

That’s what makes Toronto so great. There are so many surprises and this one reminded me of the way I felt when I attended the 127 Hours premiere, a movie that blew me away even though I didn’t really want to see it. And then hiker Aron Ralston took the stage with Danny Boyle and James Franco to explain how they pulled it off. Last night, Enrique Belon told me that he, his wife Maria and sons Lucas, Tomas and Simon actually enjoyed watching the film, though they admit it helped having watched production and an earlier screening to prepare themselves to relive a nightmare. And no, they don’t relive the nightmare in dreams each night, at least not anymore.

That is why, even though I come here to chronicle the dealmaking, I have never had a bad experience at Toronto — not even that year when the only film that sold here was Tom Ford’s A Single Man. Even though acquisition activity has been slow so far, Toronto has been nothing but fun. Festivals like Sundance and Cannes I mostly spend in a hotel room dogging deal stories. So far, I’ve been able to attend the premieres of three films to beat in the Oscar race: Ben Affleck’s Argo, David O Russell’s The Silver Linings Playbook (Affleck and Russell should hold a master class on how to lighten the mood on serious subjects like hostage-taking and mental illness with the perfect mix of cracklingly good and funny dialogue that doesn’t undermine the sober subject matter), and Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. Read More »

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Toronto: Weinstein Finds ‘Silver Linings’ At World Premiere For Another Oscar Race

Pete Hammond

As the Toronto International Film Festival maintains its intense pace, the race for Oscar is clearly heating up. And after last night’s rousing world premiere for David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, you can chalk up yet another major Best Picture contender. The tweets about its inevitable awards potential began almost immediately. The response to this strikingly original and human film was ecstatic, not only during the screening and standing ovation but from everyone I cornered at the Soho House after-party - including several awards pundits who are supposed to be jaded about such things.

Harvey’s Silver Linings almost certainly puts stars Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro in contention for acting nominations. Lawrence and Cooper play two very broken people trying to put their lives back together by helping each other. It reminded me of Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine  in The Apartment (1960), deftly navigating the tricky terrain of a film that can change tone from comedy to drama on a dime without ever seeming forced. Both simply inhabit these characters and make a great screen team. And just like Lemmon and MacLaine did after The Apartment when they reteamed on Irma La Douce, Cooper told me they have already completed a second film together, Serena.

Lawrence leaps to the front of the pack with a revelatory performance that seemed to knock most observers out. Cooper also was terrific in a challenging role in The Place Beyond The Pines (acquired today by Focus Features). He had nothing but praise for his co-star who at just 22 years old takes on a part that would challenge much older stars. Writer-director David O. Russell told me  at the after-party she was actually a last-minute casting. “We were seeing just about every major actress for the role but thought she was just too young. Then when she ‘Skyped’ in her audition from her home, there was no question. Lawrence was nominated for Best Actress for Winter’s Bone (2009) and should start preparing now to go through it all over again. So should Russell who was in the Oscar race with The Fighter two years ago for the first time and should be right back in there this year. Read More »

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Harvey Weinstein Reacts To Venice Jury

By | Sunday September 9, 2012 @ 8:10am PDT
Pete Hammond

I spoke to Harvey Weinstein in Toronto after The Weinstein Company’s  The Master won 3 big awards at the Venice Film Festival and about the latest jury scandal there. Weinstein explained that the panel wanted to give The Master the top Golden Lion prize and also acting awards. But when the jury found out they couldn’t do both, they awarded Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman thesp prizes and Paul Thomas Anderson the Silver Lion for Best Director. (Plus it won a critics prize). “Do you think, given the choice of having the Golden Lion or seeing his actors rewarded, that Paul Thomas Anderson would want it any other way?” Weinstein told me. “We are totally fine with all of this and thrilled about what we got in Venice.”

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