Starting this week, MavericksMovies will be keeping you up to date on any and all film news even vaguely related to Awards Season from the past week. Tune in at the start of each new week to see new updates.
Long Awaited Returns:
- Oscar winning director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Oceans 11) announced that despite his apparent retirement from the world of film back in 2013, he will finally be returning to direct a feature film based on the recent Panama Papers scandal. Frequent collaborator Scott Z. Burns (Side Efffects, Contagion, and The Informant!) will be returning to pen the project. It has admittedly been a while since the days when a Soderbergh film was all but guaranteed to be an Oscar contender, but let’s not forget, Soderbergh is one of only three directors in history to receive two Best Director nominations in a single year. Since then, he’s only seen one film receive an Oscar nomination (2006’s The Good German for Original Score), but this new film is topical, and the tremendous acclaim Soderbergh has received for his TV show The Knick suggests he still has his mojo. This is one worth keeping an eye on over the next couple years.
- 3-time Oscar Nominee, Michelle Williams was on fire for a few years with the Oscars…to the point that there was a period in 2011 where many were assuming she would win an ‘overdue’ Oscar for My Week with Marilyn. And then she just kind of…disappeared. But now, with strong notices for Manchester by the Sea this year, she seems to be re-entering the fray of acclaimed work. More importantly, she’s just joined Hugh Jackman’s Greatest Showman on Earth, a 2017 musical biopic about the life of PT Barnum. The project’s pedigree, Jackman Aside, doesn’t immediately scream Oscar contender. Director, Michael Gracey is best known for Visual Effects work, while the screenplay is the result of contributions from on one hand, Oscar Winner Bill Condon, who wrote the excellent screenplays for Gods and Monsters and Chicago, and on the other hand, Jenny Bicks who is best known for writing episodes of Sex and the City, Dawson’s Creek and Amanda Byne’s 2003 film, What a Girl Wants.
- Oscar Winner Goldie Hawn is in talks to return to the world of film after a 14 year hiatus, starring in a film with Amy Schumer, entitled Mother-Daughter. Jonathan Levine (50/50, Warm Bodies) will direct.
We have the first poster out for Peter Berg’s Patriot’s Day. Coming just three years after the Boston Marathon Bombing, the project is certainly a timely one. Director Peter Berg’s name alone likely wouldn’t be enough to bring the film into Oscar consideration. The closest his films have ever come to an Oscar thus far is the two sound nominations Lone Survivor received, while his Battleship film received 7 Razzie Nominations. That being said, the film primarily is worth keeping an eye on for star, John Goodman. Around when Argo came out, people started realizing that John Goodman is very, very overdue for an Oscar nomination. His performance in 10 Cloverfield Lane remains one of the best of the year, and it frustratingly, as a work of genre fiction, isn’t going anywhere near the Oscars…but Goodman’s performance in Patriot’s Day might. Word on the street is that CBS Films is extremely confident in Goodman’s performance. Combine Goodman’s overdue narrative and built up goodwill this year from 10 Cloverfield Lane with a timely subject matter and the Box-Office friendly January wide-release date (after a December qualifying run), and you have the makings of a potential nomination. I’ve talked to a few people who have seen bits and pieces of the film, and the consensus seems to be: watch out for Goodman…and for potential Sound Mixing and Sound Editing nominations.
- We also have the first poster for Mel Gibson’s upcoming WWII film Hacksaw Ridge.
I love how the studio puts on the poster “from the acclaimed director of Braveheart and Passion of the Christ.” Hiding the fact that the ‘acclaimed director’ is Mel Gibson. LionsGate is hoping this film will land more on the Braveheart end of the Oscar spectrum than on the Apocalypto end of things. Scorsese’s silence also comes out this year, like John Goodman, with this film, star Andrew Garfield will likely have a good portfolio of performances for himself come year’s end.
- Be on the lookout for several new trailers this week for potential Oscar contenders. We should be getting the full trailer for 2-Time Oscar Winner Ang Lee’s new film, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. We’ve seen a teaser already, but this will be our first full look at the technically innovative film. At the very least, the film is a surefire Cinematography contender. We’ll also be getting the first trailer for Warren Beatty’s first project behind the camera in nearly 20 years with ‘Rules Don’t Apply.’ The Howard Hughes biopic, which also stars Beatty has been in development for 40 years. Test screening reactions have been mixed, but Beatty’s Hughes performance has been singled out as the film’s strongest asset and its best shot at awards. Here’s a full list of upcoming trailers this week.
- The Trailer for Jeff Nichols’ Loving has landed. Many had the film penciled in as a likely Best Picture winner at the year’s start. A positive, albeit muted response at Cannes suggests that the film may not generate enough passion to go all the way to the big prize this coming Winter, but stars Joel Edgerton, and especially rising star, Ruth Nega (Warcraft, AMC’s Preacher) are almost certainly going to be in contention. Best Picture contenders have received mixed responses at Cannes before, of course, most recently, Tarantino’s Oscar winning Inglourious Basterds and Terrence Malick’s Oscar Nominated Tree of Life premiered to boos at the festival.
- La La Land: Damien Chazelle’s follow up to Whiplash, a musical starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and Oscar Winner JK Simmons released its first colorful trailer today.
LionsGate recently pushed the film back from a summer release to an Award-friendly December date, which suggests they have high awards hopes for it. AMPAS has a long history of rewarding musicals, and the film comes from an Oscar-nominated Writer/Director, two Oscar nominated producers, two Oscar nominated leads (Stone and Gosling), and an Oscar winning Editor.
Test Screening/Script Reactions:
- The script for Robert Zemeckis’s Brad Pitt/Marion Cotillard WWII drama, Allied, written by Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Locke) has been floating around, and is being RAVED…as in websites like ScriptShadow reviewed it and compared it to Casablanca, saying it’s “one of the first films this decade they believe will be referred to as a true classic down the line.”
Reportedly, one of the few positive things to come from the 2014 Sony Email hacks were the raves this script received within the company as well. Remember of course, the internet is prone to hyperbole, but one can’t help but be intrigued by such effusive praise. And given the less-than-stellar reactions to Pitt’s other recent war film, it’s good to see Pitt looking at another potential hit.
- Jessica Chastain’s Miss Sloane has been test screening recently. Once again, bear in mind, test screenings tend to be hyperbolic, but here’s what one audience member said:
“This is like a theatrical House of Cards. Chastain’s performance is great. Controlled yet powerful, committed even physical. Even if slides into borderline camp a few times due to the nature of the script, it’s still an award-winning powerhouse drama performance. Actually, the ensemble as a whole is great. If the movie becomes big enough, Gugu Mbatha Raw (of 2014’s Belle) can be a serious contender for supporting….The only problem is that the movie itself feels too small to be anything other than a best actress vehicle. But I won’t be surprised about screenplay, editing, and score getting recognitions.”
There’s also a few twitter reactions soiling themselves over the film. Suffice it to say, people are positive. The film revolves around attempts to get gun control measures passed in the US, so…it’s timely as well. Distributor Europacorp has little to no experience in the world of Oscar campaigning though which certainly puts it at a disadvantage. As we saw this past year, though, smaller companies like Broadgreen, Bleeker Street, A24, and Open Road made their way into the Oscar race this year, with Spotlight, Trumbo, Room, and others becoming major contenders without major studio backing.
- Robert Deniro’s The Comedian, from Oscar Nominated Director, Taylor Hackford (Ray) also had recent test screenings. Be on the lookout for any reactions.
- Weinstein just pushed the period drama, Tulip Fever, to 2017 a WEEK before it was set to be released. Which is to say, Oscar Winner Alicia Vikander apparently won’t be getting an ‘afterglow’ nomination for this. Conversely, Weinstein has moved Michael Keaton’s Ray Kroc biopic, The Founder, to an Oscar-friendly December release date. The film had previously been slated for a November release before moving to an August release after lackluster test screening reactions, and is now back in prime Awards Season territory.
- Quentin Tarantino has promised for years to retire after 10 films, but has admitted he might reconsider: “I am planning to stop at 10 [films], but at 75 I might decide I have another story to do.”
- Steve Buscemi, another long-overdue actor, has just signed on for Andrew Haigh’s latest, Lean on Pete. Haigh recently directed Charlotte Rampling to a long overdue Oscar nomination for 45 Years. Ideally, he could do the same for Buscemi.