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

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Santa Barbara Film Fest: ‘Desert Dancer’ U.S. Premiere Will Kick Off 30th Edition


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

Richard Raymond‘s Desert Dancer, a drama about a young dancer in present-day Iran that stars Slumdog Millionaire‘s Freida Pinto, will kick off the 30th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the historic Arlington Theatre on Jan. 27, 2015, the fest’s organizers announced this week. SBIFF also announced that its Attenborough Award for Excellence in Nature Filmmaking, which hasn’t been presented in five years, will go to the Cousteau family.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Shonda Rhimes and the Diversifying of Network Television


By Anjelica Oswald
Managing Editor 

Tonight marks the season 11 premiere of Grey’s Anatomy, the season 4 premiere of Scandal and the series premiere of How to Get Away With Murder. Each consists of a diverse cast and is produced by Shonda Rhimes.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Oscar Season Kicks Off in Hollywood With ‘Birdman’ and ‘Chef’ Events


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

If Tuesday evening’s Hollywood Reporter awards season kickoff party wasn’t proof enough that the Oscar race has now made its way from Telluride and Toronto to Hollywood (en route to New York, where the New York Film Festival gets underway on Friday), then a flurry of other awards-related gatherings held simultaneously across town — including an Open Road Films party celebrating the DVD/Blu-ray release of Chef and a Fox Searchlight special screening of Birdman — certainly should be.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Genre Films Can Break the Oscar Norm


By Anjelica Oswald
Managing Editor 

Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as a sleazy freelance TV reporter determined to go to any length in search of crime footage in Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler could get him “recognized as one of the most daring actors working in Hollywood today” and has been called some of the “best work of his career.” With this type of praise, award contention usually follows, but historically speaking, “genre films” don’t fare well at the Oscars. It’s not impossible for films that deviate from the Oscar norm — biopics, period pieces or dramas — to secure Oscar nominations for the actors involved, but looking back through the years, from 2000 to the present, shows that these films constitute a lower percentage of overall nominees.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Making the Switch From Documentary to Narrative (and vice versa)


By Anjelica Oswald
Managing Editor

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!.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Field of Foreign-Language Oscar Contenders Begins to Come Into Focus


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

A year after a record 76 countries entered the race for the best foreign-language film Oscar, and with this year’s Oct. 1 deadline for countries to name their official submission nearing, 2014’s field of international Oscar hopefuls is starting to come into focus.

More than 50 nations have already made their selections, including perennial contenders France, Sweden, Japan, Israel and Denmark. Among the major film-producing countries that have yet to announce a pick, but surely will, are Italy, Spain, Argentina, Russia and China. (To be considered, a film must have screened in its home country for seven consecutive days between Oct. 1, 2013 and Sept. 30, 2014.)

In November the Academy’s foreign language film committee will select six submissions for a shortlist; then the committee’s executive committee will add three more submissions, addressing any glaring oversights, and the full shortlist of nine films will be made public. Then two committees — one on each coast — will view the nine films and vote to determine which five will be nominated for the best foreign language film Oscar.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sony Classics’ Michael Barker, Tom Bernard Inducted Into French Legion of Honor


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

Just hours after France named Saint Laurent as its submission for consideration in this season’s best foreign-language film Oscar race, Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, whose Sony Pictures Classics will distribute that film in the U.S., were presented with France’s highest military and civilian honor, the insignia of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, at a ceremony at the French Consulate in New York.

Saint Laurent is only the latest in a group of of roughly 90 French films distributed in the U.S. by Barker and Bernard’s various ventures over the past 30-plus years — at United Artists (1980-1983), Orion Classics (1983-1991) and Sony Classics (1992-) — and, come January, could join many of them in the elite club of Oscar nominees.

Before presenting Barker and Bernard with their medals, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius praised the duo for their “unique place in the realm of French cinema, distributing the largest number of French films in America and Europe.” He added, “Without your dedication and passion, French cinema would not have reached the American audiences that it has.”

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Top Trailers Available for Potential Oscar Contenders


By Anjelica Oswald
Managing Editor

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:

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Can ‘True Detective’ Star Michelle Monaghan Land an Oscar Nom for ‘Fort Bliss’?


By Scott Feinberg
The Hollywood Reporter

Michelle Monaghan, one of the most underappreciated actresses working today, has starred in two films — both tiny indies — in which she portrays a character employed in a stereotypically masculine job who is struggling to juggle her work responsibilities with the stereotypically feminine responsibility of raising a young child.

The first, which came out six years ago, was James Mottern‘s Trucker, and she deserved a best actress Oscar nomination for her work. (Don’t take my word for it; the late Roger Ebert wrote at the time, “Her performance clearly deserves an Oscar nomination.”) Unfortunately, though, despite the best efforts of the film’s tiny distributor, Monterey Media, the film never quite made it onto the radar of the Academy’s acting branch.

The second, which was released in New York over the weekend, is Claudia MyersFort Bliss, in which Monaghan is equally good — and which even includes a little Truckerhomage. It is my hope, as an admirer of Monaghan and someone who recognizes how wide open this year’s best actress Oscar category is, that history will not repeat itself. (Disconcertingly, though, this film’s distributor, Phase 4 Films, was recently acquired by eOne, which may be more focused on VOD prospects than awards campaigning; it recently sold away the U.S. distribution rights to Cannes prize-winner Maps to the Stars, which it had co-financed.)

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Monday, September 22, 2014

FEINBERG FORECAST: The Race Takes Shape a Week Ahead of the New York Film Festival


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 (to which the best cinematography, best film editing, best makeup and hairstyling, best original score and best production design categories have been added)…

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