Austin Film Fest: ‘The Humbling’ and ‘The Last Five Years’ Will Open, ‘Rosewater’ Will Close ... J.K. Simmons Stands as a Frontrunner For the Upcoming Oscars ... New York Film Fest: ‘Whiplash’ Continues to Drum Up Major Oscar Buzz ... FEINBERG FORECAST: How the Oscar Race Is Shaping Up During New York Film Fest ... Some Surprises May Emerge in the Best Picture Oscar Race ... New York Film Fest: ‘Maps to the Stars’ Gets Laughs But No Oscar Campaign ... New York Film Fest: ”71′ Offers Showcase for ‘Unbroken’ Star Jack O’Connell ... New York Film Fest: Ethan Hawke Reflects on His ‘Boyhood’/’Seymour’ Moment ...
Countdown to Oscars

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Austin Film Fest: ‘The Humbling’ and ‘The Last Five Years’ Will Open, ‘Rosewater’ Will Close


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter 

Barry Levinson‘s drama The Humbling, which stars Al Pacino, and Richard LaGravanese‘s musical The Last Five Years, which Jason Robert Brown adapted from his off-Broadway show — two films that had their world premieres at this month’s Toronto International Film Festival and quickly found U.S. distributors that see them as 2014 awards bait — will open the 21st annual Austin Film Festival and Screenwriters Conference on Oct. 23, the fest announced on Tuesday.

Additionally, Jon Stewart‘s feature directorial debut Rosewater, a drama based on the harrowing true story of the Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, will close the fest in Texas’ capital on Oct. 30, with Stewart and Bahari — who have been working the fest circuit hard this fall — on hand for the festivities.

And writer-director-producer Edward Zwick will receive this year’s Extraordinary Contribution to Film Award on Oct. 25. Previous recipients of this honor have included Jonathan Demme, Ron Howard, Danny Boyle, Oliver Stone, Sydney PollackJohn Lasseter, Frank Darabont and Robert Rodriguez.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

J.K. Simmons Stands as a Frontrunner For the Upcoming Oscars


By Anjelica Oswald
Managing Editor

Though you might not recognize him by name, J.K. Simmons is a familiar face and a recognized voice, having appeared in everything from commercials to TV series to feature films. Most recently, Simmons has been garnering Oscar buzz for his portrayal of Terence Fletcher, a tough instructor at a music conservatory who constantly terrorizes his students, in Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash. These praises have followed him since the film first premiered at Sundance, where the film won both the grand jury and audience awards. The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy said, “For his part, Simmons has the great good fortune for a character actor to have here found a co-lead part he can really run with, which is what he excitingly does with a man who is profane, way out of bounds and, like many a good villain, utterly compelling.” Though Simmons has never been nominated for an Oscar, this year may see that change. He’s been labeled a frontrunner in the best supporting actor category for the 87th Academy Awards.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

New York Film Fest: ‘Whiplash’ Continues to Drum Up Major Oscar Buzz


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter 

It’s not easy for a tiny indie to land a best picture Oscar nomination. Those that do are generally handled by savvy distributors which carefully nurture word-of-mouth buzz over the course of an awards season, largely by taking their contender from one film festival to another. That worked, in recent years, for Amour, An Education, Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Tree of Life and Winter’s Bone. And my sense is that it may work again this year for Whiplash, a powerful drama that is being handled by Sony Pictures Classics.

This was no aberration: The film has received similar receptions at the other aforementioned fests — it won both the grand jury and audience awards at Sundance — and response to it at the NYFF press screening was described to me by SPC co-chief Michael Barker as better than any he can remember since Boogie Nights‘ 17 years ago.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

FEINBERG FORECAST: How the Oscar Race Is Shaping Up During New York Film Fest


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

Every week through the 87th Oscars on Feb. 22, 2015, The Hollywood Reporter‘s lead awards analyst Scott Feinberg will post an updated “Feinberg Forecast,” wherein he presents a summary of major developments since the last update that helped to shape his current opinions and then lists his revised projections. For more about Feinberg and how he arrives at his projections, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Factoring into this week’s Feinberg Forecast …

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Some Surprises May Emerge in the Best Picture Oscar Race


By Anjelica Oswald
Managing Editor 

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.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

New York Film Fest: ‘Maps to the Stars’ Gets Laughs But No Oscar Campaign


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

After Billy Wilder screened his Hollywood send-up Sunset Blvd. for an industry crowd prior to the film’s release, the lights in the theater came up and Louis B. Mayer reportedly shouted at him, in front of a room full of A-listers, “You have disgraced the industry that made and fed you! You should be tarred and feathered and run out of Hollywood!” Wilder calmly walked over to him and replied, “Go fuck yourself.”

With Maps to the Stars, which screened at Alice Tully Hall on Saturday night as part of the New York Film Festival, David Cronenberg — another revered filmmaker who was born outside of America and who has always looked a bit askance at Hollywood and opted to make all of his films so far in his native Canada — has made a satire of his own about the film colony and more or less told its population the same thing that Wilder told Mayer.

That is good for a few laughs, but, for a film that is not of the caliber of Sunset Blvd., or even The Player, it won’t help its Oscar prospects. Then again, those were fairly limited to begin thanks to the film’s unconventionality — probably to Julianne Moore, who was awarded the Cannes Film Festival’s best actress prize but would compete stateside in the best supporting actress category — and are further hindered by the fact that the film’s U.S. distributor, Focus World, apparently intends to push it only for Golden Globes.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

New York Film Fest: ”71′ Offers Showcase for ‘Unbroken’ Star Jack O’Connell

By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

’71, a drama about a harrowing chapter of The Troubles of Northern Ireland that marks the feature directorial debut of the Algerian-French filmmaker Yann Demange, completed the fall film fest trifecta on Saturday night when it screened at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall as part of the ongoing 52nd New York Film Festival. The film, which had its world premiere back in February at the Berlin Film Festival, previously screened at Telluride and Toronto, and at its New York showing it was greeted by a long, partially-standing ovation.

Much of the interest in ’71 centers around Demange’s casting of Jack O’Connell, who will also play the lead role in Angelina Jolie‘s highly-anticipated Oscar hopeful Unbroken. In the former, the 24-year-old plays the main role of Gary Hook, a young British soldier who becomes separated from his unit during a riot on the streets of Belfast and goes through hell trying to get home. In the latter, he’ll be playing World War II POW Louis Zamperini in another tale of men in battle.

O’Connell also appears in David Mackenzie‘s Starred Up, which was shot simultaneously with ’71 but premiered at last year’s Telluride Film Festival and was released last month, to rave reviews. If his quiet but sturdy performance in that film and in ’71 are any indication, then Jolie may have struck oil. Certainly Demange did, and he knows it: “He’s the bollocks, as they say,” the director said of his star during a post-screening Q&A.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

New York Film Fest: Ethan Hawke Reflects on His ‘Boyhood’/’Seymour’ Moment


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

There are few people in the film industry who are better liked or more respected than the actor-writer-director Ethan Hawke. For this reason, many are surprised to learn that the 43-year-old, who is celebrating his 30th year in the business, and who will receive a career tribute at the New York Film Festival on Tuesday night, has received only one Oscar nomination for acting, 13 years ago for Training Day, despite giving a litany of great performances in memorable films over the years.

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Saturday, September 27, 2014

New York Film Fest: David Fincher’s ‘Gone Girl’ Opens Fest, But Is It an Oscar Movie?


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

David Fincher‘s Gone Girl, an adaptation of Gillian Flynn‘s 2012 bestselling novel about the marriage of Amy and Nick Dunne — 8.5 million copies sold — that was scribed by Flynn herself and stars Rosamund Pike (Amy) and Ben Affleck (Nick), opened the 2014 New York Film Festival on Friday night with multiple screenings at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall and a lavish after-party at Central Park’s Tavern on the Green.

The New York Film Fest has a hit-or-miss track record with opening night films in recent years:Mystic River (2003), Good Night, and Good Luck(2005), The Queen (2006), The Social Network(2010), Life of Pi (2012) and Captain Phillips (2013) all went on to land best picture Oscar nominations — but Celebrity (1998), The Darjeeling Limited (2007) and Carnage (2011) were entirely ignored by the Academy.

Into which grouping will Gone Girl eventually fall?

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Ten Things To Know About ‘Gone Girl’


By Anjelica Oswald
Managing Editor

Tonight’s world premiere of Gone Girl marks the start of the 52nd New York Film Festival, which runs from Sept. 26 to Oct. 12. Directed by David Fincher, Gone Girl is the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s best-selling novel and stars Ben Affleck as Nick, a man at the center of an investigation surrounding his missing wife (Rosamund Pike). The film has been gaining Oscar buzz since March and will be released in theaters Oct. 3. Here is a list of 10 things you should about Gone Girl:

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