OSCARS Q&A: Brad Pitt On ‘Moneyball’, His Status As A Multiple Nominee And Being A “Director Whore”

By | Friday February 10, 2012 @ 11:31am PST

Brad Pitt is on a roll, even for Brad Pitt. Arguably the world’s No. 1 male movie star, he is at the top of his game, enjoying widespread critical acclaim for his 2011 output Moneyball and The Tree Of Life — which he both starred in and produced through his Plan B production company. Both scored Best Picture Oscar nominations but were troubled projects that likely would not have seen the light of a camera if not for Pitt’s determination and ability to make them happen. He has already won New York Film Critics Circle and National Society of Film Critics awards for best actor in Moneyball, and now he’s up for an Oscar for that role as Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane. He has smartly created a lasting career by working with some of the best directors around — he calls himself a “director whore” — and has become a first-class producer in the process. He sat for a wide-ranging conversation with Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond that took place a few days after he learned of his multiple Oscar nominations.

AWARDSLINE: What was it about Moneyball that you knew, you just had to make this movie?
PITT: These guys (the Oakland A’s) are trying to survive in an unfair game, going up against conventional wisdom, starting from scratch and asking the questions “Why do we do what we do? Does it still make sense to us? Because we thought it made sense 100 years ago.” It’s a story of value, our own self-worth and this individual’s (Billy Beane) search for his own value in the process. It was such a relevant story for our time. I really hooked into it. Unconventional, difficult and unique and yet at the same time it had these undertones of what I loved in ’70s films. I put two years into this project and it went away and then put another year into it and it went away and I just couldn’t stand to see that happen on this one again. And Amy (Pascal, co-chairmen of Sony Pictures Entertainment) stuck with this: She is our patron saint at the end of the day. ’Cause she doubled down at a big risk. Read More »

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OSCARS Q&A: Mike Fleming Interviews Fox Searchlight’s Steve Gilula And Nancy Utley

By | Friday February 10, 2012 @ 7:17am PST
Mike Fleming

Even though Fox Searchlight co-presidents Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley have turned “challenging films” like Slumdog Millionaire, Black Swan, Crazy Heart, Once, Juno, and 127 Hours into awards-season successes, they are the lowest-profile indie moguls you will find. At a time when they are steering two Best Picture nominees — the Alexander Payne-directed The Descendants and the Terrence Malick-directed The Tree Of Life – they tell Deadline about the struggles, glory and disappointment that is part and parcel of the indie distributor’s mission of finding audiences for prestige films. When it works, it’s wondrous. Slumdog Millionaire, a $15 million film that was nearly relegated to a direct-to-video fate by Warner Bros, won eight Oscars including Best Picture, and grossed $141 million domestic and $378 million worldwide; Black Swan, a $13 million film that flatlined several times during the 10 years it took to get made, grossed $107 million domestic and $329 million worldwide and won Best Actress for Natalie Portman; Once, an obscure Irish film that cost $150,000 to make, won Best Song and grossed $9.4 million stateside and $20.7 million worldwide; Crazy Heart, a $9 million film about a drunk singer, won Best Actor for Jeff Bridges and grossed $39 million domestic and $47 million worldwide; the $7.5 million Juno won Best Screenplay for Diablo Cody, and grossed $143 million domestic and $231 million worldwide. Here, they lay out how it’s done and why voters should consider The Descendants and The Tree Of Life for Best Picture and other honors. 

DEADLINE: Fox Searchlight has eight nominations, with two Best Picture candidates. Make a case why Alexander Payne’s The Descendants is a worthy best picture winner.
UTLEY: The Descendants is a remarkably beautiful and accomplished film that is in the vein of Oscar movies from a little bit further back, like Kramer Vs. Kramer, Ordinary People, Terms Of Endearment, even On Golden Pond or To Kill A Mockingbird. It is in the sort of subtle character-based, humanistic, realistic story-telling tradition. Sometimes it’s a little frustrating because our movie isn’t flashy, it doesn’t have a lot of showy or bling kind of elements in it. It’s highly naturalistic. But I think those kind of movies are important to moviegoers because they reflect their lives and issues. This is a movie that is going to stand the test of time. People will be watching this movie in 10 years, 20 years, in 30 years. That’s an important part of what should be considered in Best Picture.
GILULA: It’s also a film that has really resonated all the way from the rarefied world of the film critics and journalists out to the mainstream: the public. The major studios are making almost none of those kinds of films anymore and it’s not easy for us either. But the fact is that the material is so good, and you have one of the very best directors and some of the best actors telling what on paper is a very simple story but achieves the highest level of the art. Read More »

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OSCARS: ‘Tree Of Life’ Producer Credits Finally Determined For Best Picture Contender

By | Friday January 27, 2012 @ 4:01pm PST

Beverly Hills, CA – Producer credits for 84th Academy Awards® Best Picture nominee “The Tree of Life” have been determined by the Producers Branch Executive Committee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The official nominees for

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Australian Academy Of Cinema Names First International Awards Nominees

Mike Fleming

The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television, which previously honored Aussie productions, has launched five new award categories that will recognize international product in Best Film, Best Direction, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress. In other words, the Aussies are going Hollywood. The nominees were announced tonight by Jacki Weaver, the Aussie actress who was Oscar nominated for Animal Kingdom. I am not sure how these will factor into the Oscar conversation, but here are the nominees:

INAUGURAL AACTA INTERNATIONAL AWARDS NOMINEES

BEST FILM

The Artist – Thomas Langmann (The Weinstein Company)

The Descendants - Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Hugo – Graham King, Tim Headington, Martin Scorsese, Johnny Depp (Paramount Pictures)

The Ides of March – George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Brian Oliver (Columbia Pictures)

Margin Call - Robert Ogden Barnum, Michael Benaroya, Neal Dodson, Joe Jenckes, Corey Moosa, Zachary Quinto (Roadside Attractions)

Melancholia – Meta Louise Foldager, Louise Vesth (Magnolia Pictures)

Midnight In Paris – Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, Jaume Roures (Sony Pictures Classics)

Moneyball - Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, Brad Pitt (Columbia Pictures)

The Tree of Life – Bill Pohlad, Dede Gardner, Sarah Green (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

We Need to Talk About Kevin – Jennifer Fox, Luc Roeg, Bob Salerno (Oscilloscope Pictures)
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‘Tree Of Life’ Tops Online Film Critics List

By | Monday January 2, 2012 @ 12:58pm PST

Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life scored five wins at the 15th annual Online Film Critics Society Awards, which were announced today. Cannes’ Palme d’Or champion took the top prize of best picture as well as wins for director, supporting actress (Jessica Chastain), editing and cinematography; no other film won more than one award. Michael Fassbender took best actor for Shame and Tilda Swinton was best actress for We Need To Talk About Kevin. Best supporting actor went to Christopher Plummer for Beginners. Here’s the full list of winners:

Best Picture
The Tree of Life

Best Animated Feature
Rango

Best Director
Terrence Malick, The Tree Of Life

Best Lead Actor
Michael Fassbender, Shame

Best Lead Actress
Tilda Swinton, We Need To Talk About Kevin

Best Supporting Actor
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Best Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain, The Tree Of Life

Best Original Screenplay
Midnight In Paris

Best Adapted Screenplay
Tinker Tailor Solider Spy Read More »

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SF Critics: ‘Tree Of Life’ Best Pic, Director; Gary Oldman, Tilda Swinton Best Actors

By | Sunday December 11, 2011 @ 7:07pm PST

The Tree Of Life took honors for best picture and best director Terrence Malick when the San Franscisco Film Critics Circle announced their awards for 2011 on Sunday. Two actors who’ve generated a lot of buzz but have been largely overlooked, Gary Oldman and Tilda Swinton, were honored for best … Read More »

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UPDATE: ‘The Artist’ Is NY Film Critics Circle Best Picture; Meryl Streep Best Actress For ‘Iron Lady’, Brad Pitt Best Actor

New York Film Critics Jump The Gun, Unveil New November Awards Voting Date

The NY Film Critics Circle has just bestowed its Best Picture award for 2011 to Michel Hazanavicius’ black-and-white silent film The Artist, putting the Weinstein Co drama … Read More »

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Gotham Awards: ‘Tree Of Life,’ ‘Beginners’ Share Kudos For Best Feature

Mike Fleming

Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life and Mike Mills’ Beginners shared the best feature award at Monday night’s 21st Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards. Other nominees for Best Feature were nominees were The Descendants, Meek’s Cutoff and Take Shelter. GirlfriendRead More »

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HAMMOND: Composer Alexandre Desplat Is Music To Oscar’s Ears Again This Season

Pete Hammond

Is Alexandre Desplat the new hardest working man in show business? The prolific French composer  who has had four Oscar nominations in the last five years  is just coming off his busiest year since gaining international notoriety in 2003 with Girl With A Pearl Earring. Since then he has been one … Read More »

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Chris Nolan And David Fincher Stump For Terence Malick’s ‘Tree of Life’

By | Thursday June 16, 2011 @ 5:09pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Even though Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life won the Palme d’Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, the film is still such an extraordinarily ambitious work that Fox Searchlight can use all the help it can get broadening … Read More »

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Fox Searchlight’s ‘Tree Of Life’ Release Branches Out To UK

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After opening Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life in the U.S., Fox Searchlight presidents Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula have acquired the U.K. rights to the film from Bill Pohlad’s River Road Entertainment, which financed the film. They’ve dated … Read More »

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CANNES: Hammond Analysis, Jury Explains Their Vote, Winners Talk

Pete Hammond

CANNES AWARD SHOCKER: Terrence Malick’s ‘The Tree Of Life’ Wins Palme d’Or

In the end, it was the movie that has been the most talked about over the past two Cannes Film Festivals, so it was probably preordained, even in … Read More »

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CANNES AWARDS SHOCKER: Terrence Malick’s ‘The Tree Of Life’ Wins Palme d’Or

Pete Hammond

Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life has won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, which just handed out its awards. The reclusive director did not attend the ceremony, and the award was picked up by producers Bill Pohlad … Read More »

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CANNES: Malick’s ‘The Tree Of Life’ Finally Debuts – To Mixed Reaction Among Media

By | Monday May 16, 2011 @ 5:50am PDT
Pete Hammond

While the foreplay between the Cannes Film Festival and Terrence Malick’s complex rumination The Tree of Life has been going on for well over a year, it finally climaxed with this morning’s 8:30 AM press screening. There was such anticipation for this film that the cavernous 2300-seat Lumiere Theatre at the Palais was completely full a half hour ahead of showtime — unprecedented. Reactions afterwards seem to be mixed. There was a smattering of loud boos when the picture went to black at the end, but then good (but not spectacular) applause once Malick’s name came up onscreen. One columnist immediately emailed a friend, “the film is terrible,” while another critic rushed to print calling it “major.”

The movie splits its time between the lives of a family in 1950′s Texas with cosmic images of how the Universe was created, a couple of dinosaur cameos and bigger metaphysical questions about our existence than anyone can answer in a 2-hour, 18-minute movie, even Terrence Malick. It’s not a traditional kind of narrative but rather an experience meant to inspire deep thought about our own lives in a greater context. For those special effects sequences detailing the beginnings of time alone the  three companies whose logos appear at the top of the film (Fox Searchlight, Summit, River Road) should be doing everything they can to insure this gets booked on to every available IMAX screen. It’s a visual stunner, as you might expect from a man whose four previous films were Days Of Heaven,  Badlands, The Thin Red Line and The New World. Read More »

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CANNES: Q&A With Bill Pohlad, Producer And Financier Of Terrence Malick’s ‘The Tree Of Life’

Mike Fleming

What a difference a year makes. On the eve of 2010 Cannes, Bill Pohlad’s plan to build Apparition into a powerhouse specialty film distributor was dashed by Bob Berney’s stunning decision to take an out in his contract, just as … Read More »

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CANNES: Halfway With Major Contenders

Pete Hammond

Harvey Weinstein’s little gamble may just pay off. After this morning’s very warmly received 8:30 AM press screening of The Artist, a black-and-white silent movie from French director Michel Hazanavicius, some in the media here were starting to predict Palme … Read More »

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CANNES: 2011 Fest Ready For Its Closeup

Pete Hammond

Just as I hit the ground at the Nice airport today I ran smack into Jude Law, one of the main competition jury members of the 64th edition of the Cannes Film Festival (under President Robert De Niro), and he looked rarin’ to go as he arrived for all the hoopla and non-stop filmgoing over the next 11 days. We’ll see what he feels like after plowing through the 20 competition films as well as those out of competition such as Wednesday night’s opener, Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris, and the closer, on May 22, Christophe Honore’s 2-hour and 25-minute Les Bien-Aimes (Beloved), the longest of any film in the official competition — competing or not.

Workers were busily attaching huge billboards up on the big Croisette hotels when I cruised the tony neighborhood earlier today, but the world’s second-most-famous red carpet won’t be laid out until midday tomorrow just before Woody, Marion Cotillard, Owen Wilson and the cast of the director’s first French-set film make their way up those famous Palais steps for his love letter to Paree. It was hoped that co-star Carla Bruni, aka Mrs. Nicolas Sarkozy, First Lady of France, would be coming too, but I heard she’s not making the trip after all and neither is her husband. C’est La Vie.

Up and down the Croisette you are bombarded as usual by Hollywood product being hyped on any available space. The new Transformers film from that auteur (NOT) Michael Bay got the hot spot at the Carlton entrance right next to a display for Disney/Pixar’s  Cars 2 on one side and Cowboys and Aliens on the other. Lording over them, though, are The Smurfs and all of those Pirates of the Caribbean, which plans to make a huge splash here Saturday as the prime-time film on one of the key nights of the fest. Star power will be in force, of course, with Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz driving the paparazzi wild, which is just what Disney wants for its global launch of the film that premiered last week at Disneyland and makes another stop in Moscow before hitting the Cote d’Azur. Cannes, though a serious-minded haven for cineastes, doesn’t mind the attention either. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Tree of Life’

Mike Fleming

A new trailer is up for Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, the passion project of Bill Pohlad’s River Road that will be distributed next year by Fox Searchlight.

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BREAKING: Fox Searchlight Buys Terrence Malick’s ‘Tree of Life’ And Sets 2011 Release

Mike Fleming

Fox Searchlight has acquired the Terrence Malick-directed The Tree of Life from Bill Pohlad’s River Road Entertainment. Though the film might be an awards season magnet with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn starring, the distributor is flush with those kinds of films already, and will release in 2011. At the Toronto International Film Festival, Searchlight will fete 127 Hours, Black Swan, Conviction and Never Let Me Go. Read More »

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