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Sony Pictures Classics co-presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard were honored as icons of the Gotham film business on Monday at a lively party hosted by Variety on the roof of the Gramercy Park Hotel.
The two indie impresarios took a break from the New York Film Festival, where the company is fielding six premieres, including major screenings of such leading Oscar contenders as “Whiplash,” “Mr. Turner” and “Foxcatcher,” to be feted for their efforts to bring challenging and innovative work to the big screen.
“They personify independent cinema,” said Variety co-editor-in-chief Claudia Eller during remarks about the pair’s contributions to film. “I learn so much every time I walk away from a conversation with them.”
- Brent Lang
It looks like Paramount is continuing its long-running relationship with Richard Linklater. The filmmaker directed the surprise hit "School Of Rock" and remade "Bad News Bears" for the studio, which has also stepped in to handle home video distribution for Linklater's Oscar contending, critics favorite "Boyhood." And the fruitful relationship between the studio and director will continue with his next movie. Cinephile fave Megan Ellison, who produced this year's hugely acclaimed "Foxcatcher," will produce Linklater's "That's What I'm Talking About" via her Annapurna Pictures, with Paramount taking North American distribution rights. The film features a batch of new and rising actors —Tyler Hoechlin, Wyatt Russell, Ryan Guzman, Zoey Deutch, Will Brittain, and Glen Powell— in this "spiritual sequel" to "Dazed & Confused," regarding a college freshman who rolls with some colorful »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Part of the Mill Valley Film Festival’s charms is how it reflects both the local community’s roots and its forward-thinking spirit. Situated just beyond Sausalito as you cross the Golden Gate Bridge northbound from San Francisco, Mill Valley is many things to many people: part dot-com millionaire bedroom community, post-hippie enclave, Arcadia for Bay Area rock royalty and bucolic getaway in the midst of the redwoods.
And even though it doesn’t have the surprise factor of Telluride, or the market flurry of Toronto and Cannes, Mill Valley — like Santa Barbara later during awards season — has been increasingly favored by Hollywood, which looks at such desirable destinations relatively close to home as hassle-free platforms to showcase prestige product. That the festival, presented by the nonprofit California Film Institute and now in its 37th year, can boast of having screened five out the past six Oscar best picture winners »
- Steve Chagollan
Paramount will release the film in North America and Annapurna International will sell the international rights.
Ellison will produce along with Sean Daniel, Linklater, Sandra Adair, John Sloss and Ginger Sledge. Daniel and Jim Jacks partnered with Linklater on his breakout 1993 teen comedy “Dazed and Confused.”
Daniel said that he, Sloss and Linklater had been developing the project for more than a decade along with Daniel’s longtime producing partner Jacks, who died earlier this year.
“I will be doing this in his memory,” Daniel added.
“That’s What I’m Talking About” will be the first film for Linklater following his well-received family drama “Boyhood.”
- Dave McNary
By Anjelica Oswald
More often than not, best picture winners at the Academy Awards tend to fall into the same genre category: biopic, period piece or drama. “Genre films” have managed to break through and secure nominations for various other categories, such as acting, but they have a more difficult time landing a spot on the best picture nomination list. Since the 83rd Academy Awards, films such as Toy Story 3 (2010), an animated film; Django Unchained (2012), a western; and Gravity (2013), a thriller, all managed to secure best picture nominations, but none became best picture winners. Examining the films that currently stand as frontrunners or major threats in the Oscar race shows a normal pattern emerging, with a few films that may offer up some surprises.
As per usual, biographical films have been dominating the festival circuit, and many of them have been garnering Oscar buzz. Among the top contenders are The Imitation Game, »
- Anjelica Oswald
Pete Hammond believes this year's Oscar race for Best Actor is the "most crowded ever" and asks why the Academy doesn't double its number of acting nominees. He calls it a "serious glut of qualified" contenders in 2014 with just under 30 legitimate men in the discussion. Hammond reminds that even "sure things" like Tom Hanks and Robert Redford could not get nominations last year. The current list starts with Steve Carell ("Foxcatcher"), Benedict Cumberbatch ("The Imitation Game"), Michael Keaton ("Birdman"), and Eddie Redmayne ("The Theory of Everything"). Then throw in Ben Affleck ("Gone Girl"), Chadwick Boseman ("Get on Up"), Gael Garcia Bernal ("Rosewater"), Ellar Coltrane ("Boyhood"), Kevin Costner ("Black and White"), Robert Downey, Jr. ("The Judge"), Jake Gyllenhaal ("Nightcrawler"), Matthew McConaughey ("Interstellar"), »
We are only just on the cusp of October and you can already put the “No Vacancy” sign out on the Best Actor Oscar race. Sorry, no room. Don’t even think about jumping in. Every year of late, it seems the Actor race gets richer while the Actress contest actively searches for candidates. Remember how “sure things” Tom Hanks and Robert Redford didn’t even make the cut last year? Perhaps that is just a reflection of what juicy roles the industry is offering on either side of the gender divide.
Nevertheless, for 2014 it’s worse than ever and we have a serious glut of qualified Best Actor possibilities — just under 30 by my count, and even more seem to be trying to gain entry. This is the year the Board Of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences really ought to amend the rules, just as »
- Pete Hammond
It’s that time again…time to take a stab at Golden Globe predictions. As I previously mentioned in my last installment, I was originally planning on waiting to take a new look at Golden Globe predictions until the summer was over (so basically now), but I just couldn’t resist. Fast forward to today and I’m back now with what’s my fourth look at the Golden Globe Awards, with this time around, another new theory to try and drum up some different/more accurate predictions. Anyway, here goes nothing! To reiterate one more time, the biggest difference that you’ll see here between the Academy and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is that they tend to go for the bigger names or the bigger productions, as well as more European fare. So yes, films like Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, David Fincher’s Gone Girl, and Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher are here, »
- Joey Magidson
The New York Film Festival kicks off this evening, though not with Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner (that comes next weekend), even though I couldn’t resist leading off this year’s round-up with this glorious sunburst of a poster for that film’s German release.
Keyart doesn’t seem to have been created yet for some of the newest films like Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, Mia Hansen-Løve’s Eden, the Safdies’ Heaven Knows What, Pedro Costa’s Horse Money, Eugene Green’s La Sapienza, Nick Broomfield’s Tales of the Grim Sleeper, and Oren Moverman’s Time Out of Mind, but I have managed to find posters for the other 23 films in the Main Slate of the Festival. Some are repeats from my Cannes Competition round-up earlier this year, though I have tried to find newer designs if possible (like that striking Saint Laurent). Posters are presented »
- Adrian Curry
While working as a journalist in Karachi, American Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and beheaded in early 2002. It seemed timely to watch the 2007 film A Mighty Heart, based on his wife Miriane's memoir of the experience, as similar attacks by Isis have been in the news in recent weeks.
The main reason I'd been hesitant to see A Mighty Heart is the casting of Angelina Jolie. Nothing against her as an actress, but having a white actress play a mixed-race woman continues a long history of "whitewashing" in film. Jolie does a fine job here, mimicing well Mariane Pearl's French accent and cadence. She plays Mariane as contained and determined during the search, then fierce and raw when she receives the tragic news of her husband's death. Logically I know that if Jolie hadn't been involved, the movie might not have ever received wide release. Yet I couldn't help wondering »
- Elizabeth Stoddard
After successful screenings at Telluride and Toronto and a Cannes Best Director award for Bennett Miller, this much is certain: “Foxcatcher” is a bona fide Oscar contender. With its three strong performances from Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo, economical direction from Miller, and tightly written script from E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, this true-crime saga about eccentric billionaire-turned-murderer John du Pont’s (Carell) obsession with an Olympic gold-medalist wrestler (Tatum) and his brother (Ruffalo) should receive multiple nominations, including Picture, Director, and Screenplay. -Break- Both of Millers previous films – “Capote” (2005) and “Moneyball” (2011) – contended for Best Picture, and “Capote” won a Best Actor prize for Philip Seymour Hoffman. Brad Pitt received a nod for “Moneyball” as well, so if there’s one thing Miller’s good at, i »
As Toronto fought Telluride for premieres, and fest competition for prestige pics reached a fever pitch this year, the New York Film Festival quietly delivered some key victories: world premieres of two highly anticipated lit adaptations for its opening night (David Fincher’s “Gone Girl,” Fox) and centerpiece (Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice,” Warner Bros.).
At first glance, each seems like an obvious studio strategy — Fincher’s “The Social Network” (Sony) opened the 2010 fest, while last year’s closing film, WB’s “Her,” starred Joaquin Phoenix, who also toplines “Vice,” and both nabbed screenplay Oscars. But in an equally noteworthy move, the closing night gala was given to Alejandro González Inarritu’s “Birdman” (Searchlight), fresh from Venice and Telluride, ending a policy from former Film Society of Lincoln Center exec director Rose Kuo (succeeded this year by Lesli Klainberg) to have all three galas show world premieres.
“Last year, »
- Gregg Goldstein
Since first premiering at the Cannes Film Festival, Foxcatcher, the biographical film about Olympic wrestling champion Mark Schultz, his brother David, and paranoid schizophrenic John du Pont, has been getting a lot of buzz in large part due to chilling performances from the film’s three leading men (Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, and Steve Carell). And now that it’s making the rounds at film festivals — it has since debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and will screen at the New York Film Festival starting Oct. 10 — Foxcatcher is all anyone’s going to be talking about from now until the 87th Academy Awards in February.
With that in mind, we break down the film to its essential talking points so you can get up to speed ahead of its theatrical release on Nov. 14.
- Stacy Lambe
One key advantage of running a film company together is that it’s possible to be two places at once. That came in handy on a recent night at the Toronto International Film Festival when Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, the co-presidents of Sony Pictures Classics, canvassed the town. They both attended screenings of “Leviathan,” the Russian film they picked up at Cannes, and “Infinitely Polar Bear,” starring Mark Ruffalo. Then Barker stopped at an event for Martin Scorsese, while Bernard attended back-to-back dinners. They reunited later that evening to haggle over an acquisition deal for the buzzy Julianne Moore drama “Still Alice.”
It’s no wonder that after working in tandem for three decades, Barker and Bernard have perfected a way to navigate an industry that demands constant nurturing of relationships, a keen eye for talent and movies, and the financial discipline to survive the volatility of a business »
- Ramin Setoodeh
By Anjelica Oswald
Where feature filmmakers head into a project with a script and a plan, the path for documentarians is unpredictable. They follow real subjects and real issues often in real time — and sometimes for years at a time — and piece everything together as the footage comes along. Sometimes, things fall apart or the subject has to change, such as it with Alex Gibney’s The Armstrong Lie (2013). Though different skill sets go into the distinct film forms, some documentary filmmakers choose to transition to narrative features and vice versa, such as Spike Lee, whose next release will be a documentary titled Go Brasil Go!.
Rob Epstein and Jeff Friedman have made the jump from documentaries to feature films and have said that they intend on continuing to make both types of film. Epstein and Friedman won an Oscar for their first co-directed documentary, Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt »
- Anjelica Oswald
As I mentioned last week, with the festival season well underway and a good portion of the major contenders for the Academy Awards having screened or about to screen, now seems like as good a time as any to take a look at the big eight categories and see what’s what in an updated and more expanded fashion. I did this with the major categories a few months back, but that was when almost everything was still speculation. We have some facts to go on now, so while much of this is still just an educated guess, I’m not completely relying on overt hunches this time around. It’s more of an even mix, depending on the film/director in question, of course. Today I’m turning my attention once again to the Best Director field, which will certainly match up somewhat with Best Picture, but perhaps not necessarily in a total form. »
- Joey Magidson
Exclusive: Fox has just closed a deal with Bryan Singer to direct X-Men: Apocalypse, the next installment of its billion-dollar Marvel mutants franchise. This will be Singer’s fourth installment as director; he hatched the franchise with the first two films for Fox, and came back to direct this year’s X-Men: Days Of Future Past. That latter film, which meshed the original trilogy cast with the one from X-Men: First Class, grossed $746 million worldwide, the most of any of the films. Singer’s participation in the new film had been rumored, but his deal is now done.
The new film is being scripted by Simon Kinberg from a story written by Singer, Kinberg, Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris. Singer and Lauren Shuler Donner are producing with Kinberg and Hutch Parker. Production begins early next year, and the film will be released May 27, 2016.
- Mike Fleming Jr
By Anjelica Oswald
Offering us glimpses into new worlds and stories, movie trailers have just a few minutes to show the premise of a film and what viewers can expect to see. Teasers are often a minute or less. These minutes have the potential to create or destroy excitement surrounding a film. Potential Oscar contenders, such as Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, still haven’t released trailers to the public. As of right now, the only glimpse of Anderson’s anticipated film is in a minute long preview for the 52nd New York Film Festival. Many of the projected contenders have released their trailers or teasers, though. Here are some of the best trailers/teasers available:
- Anjelica Oswald
It's that time of year again when crowds descend upon Lincoln Center to experience world cinema worthy of the ultimate accolades, the most hyped Oscar-worthy Hollywood offerings of the year, experimental programs that expose the versatility of the medium, and shorts that announce a whole spate of new, young directors who will no doubt blow our minds in the future -- or at least supply us with a few major catharses.
Yes, for seventeen days the main slate of the 2014 New York Film Festival will showcase 30 films from such countries as Germany, France, Switzerland, South Korea, Portugal, and "O Canada." There will be Romantic fare such as Beloved Sisters, which chronicles Friedrich Schiller's love affair with two siblings; Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of a Thomas Pynchon novel (Inherent Vice); and Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher, with Steve Carell as a loony du Pont heir who gets a bit unsavory »
- Brandon Judell
"Foxcatcher" star Steve Carell started this year's Oscars derby in first place for Best Actor but has now taken a back seat to Michael Keaton for his performance in "Birdman." According to the latest predictions by our experts, Keaton has leading odds of 14/5 with Carell sharing second place with Eddie Redmayne ("The Theory of Everything") at 4/1. (See who each of our Experts is backing here.) And while both Redmayne and fourth place contender Benedict Cumberbatch ("The Imitation Game") are on the rise, I am still predicting Carell to win. Let me share with you my five reasons why: -Break- 'The Imitation Game' puts pressure on Oscar rivals for Best Picture in latest predictions Reason One: He plays a real person. Carell plays John Eleuthère du Pont who murdered Dave Schultz (played by Mark Ruffalo) in 1996 after training both Dave and his brother Mark (played by Channing Tatum)...' »
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