April 20, 2014

Tag Archives: United States

Foxcatcher will debut at Cannes and might be on a collision course with Oscar

About a month ago, I wrote a piece here that speculated on some of the Academy Award hopefuls that might be debuting at the Cannes Film Festival. Well, the lineup for Cannes has been announced (at least the preliminary list of titles…look for some movies to be added in the coming weeks), and while a few flicks I mentioned in that article like The Homesman, How to Catch a Monster, and Maps to the Stars are set to unspool in France, the film that probably is the most anticipated, especially in terms of awards potential, is Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher. In fact, I’ve listed it as a Best Picture frontrunner in my Oscar predictions, if you haven’t already noticed.
In case you’re not up to speed on this movie, it’s obviously directed by Miller based on a script from Dan Futterman and based on a true story. The plot surrounds Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark Schultz and how, while training with paranoid schizophrenic millionaire John duPont, Schultz’s brother, Olympic Champion Dave Schultz, was killed by duPont. The cast is led by Steve Carrell as duPont, Mark Ruffalo as Dave, and Channing Tatum as Mark, with Anthony Michael Hall, Sienna Miller, and Vanessa Redgrave in supporting turns as well. That’s pretty baity stuff if I do say so myself, especially in terms of the potential it holds for Carrell and Ruffalo.
Miller has so far been perfect at getting his films into Best Picture lineups, with both Capote and Moneyball scoring citations. This is also a passion project of his, which could put an extra chip on his shoulder to really nail this one. He’s also gotten multiple performers of his nominated each time out (along with his screenplays getting nominated both times to go along with one Best Director nomination for himself as well), so the odds are really in this cast’s favor. Assuming the debut at Cannes goes well, it’d be pretty foolish to bet against this one not turning into a major awards player.
So, what are the odds of Foxcatcher going from Cannes to the Oscar ceremony? Well, it’s not incredibly uncommon, though winners are a bit more on the rare side. The last movie to pull that off was No Country for Old Men, so while Foxcatcher (along with The Homesman, for example) might not have any statistics out there in the universe to suggest that a strong debut at this [...]

Carlos de Abreu: Founder of the Hollywood Film Awards

Celebrating 20 years of success. Carlos de Abreu is a “New York Times” bestselling author, producer, screenwriter, brand marketing expert and Internet pioneer.
Carlos de Abreu is of Portuguese descent and was born in Mozambique. He was a jet pilot in the Portuguese Air Force and studied economics at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, and film at UCLA.
His vast experience in brand marketing earned him executive positions and contracts with Cartier International, American Express, and the Italian Government among others. He also co-founded the North American Marketing Services, Ltd., an international luxury goods corporation with offices in three continents; North America, Asia and Europe.

In addition, he launched the Hollywood Network® online, an ecosystem of “verticalized” web models, focused on entertainment and Hollywood. Mr. de Abreu’s multiple websites include HollywoodNews.com (http://www.hollywoodnews.com)

Mr. de Abreu’s organization, the Hollywood Network Inc., is an entertainment marketing company – awards, film conferences, festivals, Internet content, live events – which mandate is bridging the gap between established Hollywood and the global creative community and produces/co-produces live events including the prestigious “Hollywood Film Awards®,” and the “Hollywood Gives Back®” project – highlighting and assisting important local and national causes.
According to the “Los Angeles Times” the “Hollywood Film Awards®,” “launch the push toward Oscar and are the kickoff for the awards season.”
He is the co-author of the national and “New York Times” bestseller, “Husband, Lover, Spy: A True Story,” St. Martin’s Press, and “Opening The Doors To Hollywood,” Crown Publishing.
Presently he is writing the novel “The Soulshaker.” His prior works include two screenplays: Mozambique: The Last Good-Bye and Sworn To Silence.

Specialties: Specialized in the Internet, intelligence gathering, entertainment space, live events production – awards, conferences, festivals, plus branding and distribution of luxury goods and jewelry both in the U.S.A. and the global markets.

Shailene Woodley: Magnolia acquires White Bird in a Blizzard

Magnolia Pictures announced today it has acquired North American rights to White Bird in a Blizzard, a suspenseful drama from writer/director Gregg Araki and starring Shailene Woodley, who is coming off her hit film Divergent, which has grossed $116.6 million to date.
Based on the novel by Laura Kasischke, the story is set in 1988 and revolves around a college-bound teenager whose life is deeply affected by the disappearance of her mother, played by Eva Green.
The ensemble cast also includes Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Gabourey Sidibe, Thomas Jane and Angela Bassett.
The film was produced by Pascal Caucheteux, Sebastien K. Lemercier, Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Pavlina Hatoupis and Gregg Araki (Kaboom). White Bird In a Blizzard is a Why Not Productions / Desperate Pictures / Orange Studio / Wild Bunch co-production.
“We are longtime admirers of the singular Gregg Araki, who brings his unique vision to this funny, sexy and haunting film,” said Magnolia President Eamonn Bowles. “Shailene Woodley truly shines with a bold and fearless performance that showcases the depth of her talent.”
“I’m thrilled for this opportunity to collaborate with Magnolia, one of the boldest, smartest companies around. White Bird is a true labor of love for me and the most amazing family of actors I’ve ever worked with,” said Araki. “I can’t wait for the world to see the film.”
The deal was negotiated for Magnolia by SVP of Acquisitions Dori Begley and VP of Acquisitions Peter Van Steemburg with CAA and Wild Bunch on behalf of the filmmakers. Magnolia is eyeing a release for later this year.
Magnolia Pictures (www.magpictures.com) is the theatrical and home entertainment distribution arm of the Wagner/Cuban Companies, a vertically-integrated group of media properties co-owned by Todd Wagner andMark Cuban that also includes the Landmark Theatres chain and AXS TV. Recent releases include Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, the killer whale doc Blackfish, Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies, Thomas Vinterberg’s Oscar-Nominated The Hunt, and hit documentaries Muscle Shoals, Jiro Dreams of Sushi and The Queen of Versailles.
Magnolia’s upcoming releases include Richard Ayoade’s dystopian vision The Double, the raucous Alan Partridge starring Steve Coogan, Steve James’ Roger Ebert doc Life Itself, Joe Berlinger’s Whitey Bulger doc Whitey, Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank, Joe Swanberg’s Happy Christmas, Lukas Moodysson’s We Are the Best!, Norwegian thrillers Pioneer and Ragnarok, and more.

Oscars®: Which acting winner is most likely to win again, Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConaughey?

When the most recent Academy Awards were given out a few weeks ago (it both feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago already), we crowned first time winners in first time nominees Matthew McConaughey (Best Actor for Dallas Buyers Club), Jared Leto (Best Supporting Actor for Dallas Buyers Club), and Lupita Nyong’o (Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years a Slave), while former winner and multiple nominee Cate Blanchett took home her second Oscar (Best Actress for Blue Jasmine). The fact that the majority of the group had never even been nominated before got me thinking…which of them is most likely to be like Blanchett and win again?
First of all, it’s possible that Blanchett could be next in line to win, giving her three Oscar victories, just like Meryl Streep. She always does phenomenal work and the Academy never hesitates to nominate her, so I wouldn’t be shocked at all if she wound up winning again. Next up for her is a film with Todd Haynes, and that could be pretty baity on its own. You never want to predict a third Academy Award for anyone, considering how rare that is, but if anyone out there can get there, it’s probably Blanchett. Especially if she ever works with Woody Allen again like she did here with Blue Jasmine…watch out.
Next in line, you have to think that McConaughey is just getting started. He came close-ish last year to a nomination for Magic Mike and this year he also had Mud and The Wolf of Wall Street in contention, so there’s no shortage of his roles under consideration. With upcoming projects uniting him with Christopher Nolan and Gus Van Sant, it’s a stretch to think that another nomination at least isn’t in his future, if not a win. We’re in the middle of the so called McConaissance, so I think he’s going to become an Academy favorite for some time.
As for Leto, it really depends on if he focuses on music or movies going forward. He’s equally talented at both, so if he makes himself available for films, I could certainly see voters citing him again. He’s proven himself previously with work like Requiem for a Dream, so Dallas Buyers Club was basically just a reminder of his skills. As long as he continues to consistently act, I can see him being on the Oscar radar. We’ll see though.
Lastly, in the case of [...]

The Oscars® were no enormous shame, a few good jokes, no great shocks

I’m a big fan of Ellen DeGeneres and her understated, often brilliant humor. This was most evident when she hosted the 2001 Emmy Awards after the horrific events in New York and Washington that year. The show was postponed twice, and when it finally aired a couple of months later the big question was how it could be entertaining?
Almost from the outset Ellen delivered. To paraphrase what she said, it was something like the terrorists could not break our spirit. Then she paused and deadpanned that only network executives could do that.

It was funny, unexpected yet absolutely true. It related to the events just passed, but broke the ice and allowed the show to go on to its true purpose after the long delay.

The Oscars Rate a B-Minus.
I wish I could say Ellen’s performance last night rose to that occasion. Though it generally retained the dignity and glamour that audiences expect, something lost in last year’s show hosted by Seth MacFarlane, it was mostly bland with repetitive jokes and occasional good moments. Having said that, I cringed a bit when Ellen repeated out loud and very slowly a compliment to Nebraska supporting actress nominee June Squibb, whom Ellen had termed the oldest Oscar nominee ever, as if the actress were almost deaf and needed careful attention to hear her remarks.

Throughout the ABC show, Ellen drew from a past playbook and redid bits from the last time she hosted in 2007, often appearing in the audience, talking with this celebrity or that and taking photos. In one segment she asked if anyone was hungry, which drew very few responses and went on much too long. However, when a pizza man arrived later in the show, though only with three pizzas, it was amusing to see how many celebrities accepted a slice, including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Harrison Ford. And that no one initially responded to Ellen’s request for donations to pay the man.
To read Michael Russnow’s latest book, “Hollywood on the Danube,” go to www.createspace.com/4497564

I’d thought sometime later it would have been funny if the delivery man, denied payment, started taking back the pizza slices from Meryl, Julia and the others. However, they eventually paid the bit off when Ellen passed a hat into which producer Harvey Weinstein threw two hundred dollars and several celebrities forked over twenty or more dollars each. By my count that was over three hundred [...]

12 Years a Slave wins five Independent Spirit Awards

Could the Independent Spirit Awards results from earlier today be foreshadowing what happens with the Academy Awards tomorrow night? Personally, I don’t think so, but the potential is there at least, especially after 12 Years a Slave pretty much dominated the show, taking five awards, including Best Feature, Best Director for Steve McQueen, Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o, and Best Screenplay for John Ridley. The other award it won was Best Cinematography, but it’s not nominated for that Oscar, so there won’t be a chance of a perfect correlation here between the two voting bodies.
Among other major categories, Matthew McConaughey won Best Male Lead and Jared Leto won Best Supporting Male for their work in Dallas Buyers Club, while Cate Blanchett took home Best Female Lead for Blue Jasmine. We also had 20 Feet from Stardom winning Best Documentary, Blue is the Warmest Color winning Best International Film, and as previously announced Mud taking the Robert Altman Award.
While there’s no chance of Academy members being influenced here, considering that voting ended earlier this week, 12 Years a Slave finally got the chance to run roughshod over a televised awards show, and that’s something at least. Without competition from American Hustle and Gravity, you can’t be totally sure what this means, but it’s a nice citation for the movie, regardless.
You can see the full Spirit Award winners list below:
BEST FEATURE: 12 Years a Slave
BEST ACTOR: Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club
BEST ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
BEST SUPPORTING MALE: Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE: Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave
BEST DIRECTOR: Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
BEST SCREENPLAY: John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave
BEST DOCUMENTARY: 20 Feet From Stardom
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: 12 Years a Slave
BEST EDITING: Short Term 12
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM: Blue Is the Warmest Color
BEST FIRST FEATURE: Fruitvale Station
BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY: Bob Nelson for Nebraska
ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD: Mud
JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD: This is Martin Bonner
PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD: Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston

Oscars: Get to know the Best Supporting Actor race

Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips, Bradley Cooper for American Hustle, Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave, Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street, and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club
Notable precursor wins: Abdi wins BAFTA Award, while Leto wins Broadcast Film Critics, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Awards
Current frontrunner: Jared Leto
Next in line: Bradley Cooper
Dark horse: Barkhad Abdi
Continuing on with my “Get to know” series, we now have our penultimate piece as we turn our attention today to the Best Supporting Actor race. As you can see in the vital statistics above, the gentlemen making up this category are Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips, Bradley Cooper for American Hustle, Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave, Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street, and Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club. More or less the whole season, it’s been Leto’s Oscar to lose, and as he’s picked up win after win, that line of thinking has only gotten more common. At this point, he’s potentially the biggest lock of them all.
From the start of the precursors, Leto has all but swept the ceremonies, with the one exception being Abdi emerging victorious from BAFTA, where Leto wasn’t eligible/nominated. Especially with Matthew McConaughey likely to win Best Actor, that only increases the likelihood of Leto taking Supporting Actor. If you’re expecting anyone else to win, you’re quite frankly a bit on the delusional side.
Now, unless there’s an absolute shocker of an upset, Leto is going to be an Oscar winner on Sunday evening. Abdi and possibly even Bradley Cooper are the next in line contenders, but they’re runners up in the strongest sense of the word. The Leto train is pretty much unstoppable, so look for it to pull into the Oscar station in a few days time and pick up an Academy Award for Leto. You can all but mark it down in ink.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of the acting categories tomorrow, with Best Supporting Actress up next to wrap things up!

Chavez Film: The Producer Strikes Back

By ROBERT W. WELKOS
The producers of a new biopic about the late labor leader Cesar Chavez are rushing to tamp down a flickering controversy appearing on Latino social media over whether unionized workers were fired and non-union personnel employed on the film.
The allegation is being vigorously disputed by lead producerPablo Cruz, who said the production complied with all union regulations andthat all the actors, either those from the U.S. or from Mexico, were unionmembers. He did concede, however, that extras hired in Mexico were non-unionsince there is no equivalent of an extras union in Mexico.
‘If there was a union for extras (in Mexico), we would havehad them, but there wasn’t one,’ Cruz said.
Cesar Chavez, which is directed by Diego Luna and stars Michael Pena, America Ferrara, Rosario Dawson and John Malkovich,is scheduled to be released March 28 in more than 600 theaters by Pantelion Films.
The movie was shot predominately in Sonora, Mexico, for reasons that had to do with the grape-picking season and how differently grapesare harvested today in the Central Valley of California, as opposed to decades ago when Cesar Chavez was organizing farm workers.
Cruz also rejected claims that they were a ‘runaway’ production. ‘We are a Mexican production company. We are the company who managed to finance this film. We are not a U.S. company.’
If the union/non-union issues are not satisfactorily dealt with, they could impact the film’s perception, especially in the Latino community, where Chavez’s struggle to organize California farm workers lifted him in many eyes into the Latino equivalent of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The controversy, which has been around for a few years, erupted anew earlier this week when the website Latino Rebels published a story under the headline: ‘Critics of New Chavez Movie Allege Producers Used Non-Union Workers and Outsourced Workto Mexico.’
The source of this allegation was an L.A. activist namedChamba Sanchez, who wrote on his Facebook page that he had received an emailasking if he would help promote the film. He derisively questioned why he would want Luna to get rich?
‘Furthermore,’ Sanchez posted, ‘I am currently researching into allegations that people behind this movie fired unionized workers and outsourced part or the entire production to Mexico. This is quite disturbing. If this is the case, Cesar Chavez must be spinning in his grave. And a bigger question: Why his family would agree to this?’
‘We never fired anybody to hire a non-union [...]

Oscars: Get to know a Best Picture nominee: “Dallas Buyers Club”

Dallas Buyers Club
Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée
Written by: Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack
Main cast members: Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Jennifer Garner, Denis O’Hare, Steve Zahn, Dallas Roberts, Griffin Dunne, Michael O’Neill
Number of Oscar nominations in total: 6
Other nominations besides Best Picture: Best Actor (McConaughey), Best Supporting Actor (Leto), Best Original Screenplay (Borten and Wallack), Best Film Editing, and Best Hairstyling & Makeup
Notable precursor wins: Won Best Actor/Supporting Actor at the Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards
Chances at winning Best Picture: A rather long shot contender frankly, though not the absolute longest of shots in the lineup this year
Chances at other Academy Award wins: Frontrunner in Best Actor and Supporting Actor, while also perhaps the frontrunner in Best Hairstyling & Makeup
ANALYSIS OF OTHER OSCAR NOMINEES: 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity and HER.
Dallas Buyers Club is the fourth film in my “get to know a Best Picture nominee” series, and it’s another movie that’s not a major contender in this category. That being said, it could wind up being one of the biggest winners overall at the Oscars. Early on in the precursor season, this flick wasn’t thought of as a particularly big contender (outside of Jared Leto, who seemed like a lock for Supporting Actor from the start of the season), but it just kept showing up in all the right places, especially once Matthew McConaughey started to pick up the important Best Actor prizes. Now, it’s among the more highly represented titles of 2013, potentially on the verge of leaving the Academy Awards with the second most statues of any nominated film.
Working in Dallas Buyers Club’s favor is the fact that it’s highly unlikely that this movie goes home empty handed. Best Supporting Actor is almost wrapped up in a bow for Leto, while McConaughey is the odds on favorite to take Best Actor as well, and that doesn’t even take into consideration that Best Hairstyling & Makeup is a crapshoot, so there could be a trio of victories for this movie. Aside from Gravity, no other contender knows it’s going to potentially win that many. That’s an enviable spot to be in. The flick might not be nearly as likely a Best Picture winner as 12 Years a Slave or American Hustle, but it could score more wins overall.
If you’re looking for something that’s not [...]

Johnny Depp will play Whitey Bulger in Black Mass

An adaptation of the Dick Lehr and Gerald O’Neill book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob has been in the works for some time now, always intending to have Johnny Depp play the centerpiece role of mob boss Whitey Bulger (the character that Jack Nicholson played in The Departed was loosely based on Bulger, just so you know). Barry Levinson was initially going to be in the director’s chair, with Depp having Joel Edgerton as his main co-star. That never came to pass though, with some reports indicating that Depp wanted more money than was being offered. He officially dropped out at one point, but now that the film has a new director in Scott Cooper, it seems that Depp is back in for this. At this moment at least, Black Mass is a go.

This time around, Depp will have the aforementioned Cooper directing and Edgerton’s Warrior co-star Tom Hardy in the other role. While Depp will undoubtedly have some fun playing the mob boss (or at least more fun than he had with the role of John Dillinger in Public Enemies), Hardy will get the juicy sounding part of FBI John Connolly, who apparently was a longtime friend of Bulger’s. Not your standard issue crime flick, for sure, or at least from the sound of it.
Could this wind up being a return to Oscar contention for Depp? One certainly hopes so, as he’s too talented of an actor to pigeonhole himself into the oddball roles he’s been occupying over the last few years. As for Hardy, he’s been getting closer and closer to his first Academy Award nomination, so perhaps this could do the trick for him as well. We’re only a few months away from production getting underway in May, so most likely this will be a 2015 release. I don’t know about you all, but I’m very curious to see how this one turns out. The pieces are there for an awards contender, that’s for sure!

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