Participant Media Hires Fox Searchight’s Anikah McLaren, Will Co-Head Narrative Film With Robert Kessel

“I couldn’t be more excited to have Anikah and Robert running our narrative department during this exciting time for Participant," said Participant CEO David Linde, to whom both will report. Together, they are the perfect team to lead this dynamic team in creating entertaining, socially impactful content for audiences to enjoy around the world.” "Robert has proven himself time and again to be an invaluable part of the company, and Anikah brings with her experience and passion we’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else.
“Participant is the gold standard for entertaining and impactful filmmaking, and I am thrilled to be joining this incredible group of innovative and passionate executives in continuing that legacy,” McLaren said.
Kessel helped develop Participant hits Wonder (as EP) and Green Book and oversaw production on both. He also oversaw Spotlight, Deepwater Horizon, Beasts of No Nation and A Most Violent Year and is now executive producing Todd Haynes' Dark Waters starring Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway.
“For the past seven years, I have had the pleasure of working with incredibly talented filmmakers and colleagues, with whom I look forward to continue to work alongside in championing compelling storytelling with the potential for effecting lasting change,” he said Thursday.” />
She also had gigs at Focus Features and Miramax Films. At FSL she oversaw Robert Redford-starrer The Old Man and the Gun and helped developed projects including a feature film about choreographer Alvin Ailey to be directed by Barry Jenkins. the World, The Bourne Legacy, The Best Man Holiday and Lone Survivor. McLaren arrived at Searchlight in 2015 after a long stint at Universal, where she worked on films including Scott Pilgrim vs. McLaren most recently was SVP Production at Fox Searchlight Pictures, which recently moved to Disney as part of its acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox's assets.
Participant Media said Thursday that it has hired Fox Searchlight executive Anikah McLaren, and she will team with current Participant exec Robert Kessel to be co-heads of the company's narrative film division. Both will sport the titles EVP Narrative Film at the company, whose pics in this space include Oscar Best Picture winners Green Book and Spotlight.
Kessel has been with Participant since 2013, and is being promoted from his current post as SVP Narrative Film.

National Board Of Review Latest Critics Group To Set 2020 Gala Date

The National Board of Review said Wednesday it will hold its annual awards-season gala next year on January 8 in New York City. That will be one day after the New York Film Critics Circle set its gala honoring the year's best in movies.
The critics' groups awards come days after the Golden Globes which will be held January 5.” /> The upcoming awards season will be compressed as the Oscars moved up its date to February 9, 2020.
Neither group has announced dates for this year's voting and winner announcements, which came one day apart last November and are traditionally among the first to weigh in on the year's best in film. The 2020 gala dates are identical to last year's dates for both groups.
The NBR, which chose eventual Oscar Best Picture winner Green Book as its best film last year, will hold its 2020 event at Cipriani 42nd Street, with Willie Geist returning to host for a sixth year in a row. The NYFCC, which voted Roma its Best Picture a year ago, said earlier this week it will have its ceremony January 8 at Tao Downtown.

‘Roma’ Secures China Arthouse Release In Bumper Year For Oscar Winners

Oscar movies have seen halo effects in recent years, including on such titles as La La Land, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and last year’s Best Picture Oscar winner The Shape of Water. Green Book (which, like Roma, is backed by Participant Media) was fully embraced by the Middle Kingdom, opening to a fantastic $17.1M. But this past weekend saw a surge. It was coming off huge social scores and is the market’s 2nd highest-grossing Oscar Best Picture winner ever, behind only Titanic. Anticipation is also high for Bo Rhap which goes through the arthouse network beginning March 22.
After Best Picture Oscar winner Green Book’s stunning debut at Middle Kingdom turnstiles last weekend, and amid news that four-time Academy Award laureate Bohemian Rhapsody will hit Chinese cinemas on March 22, comes word that triple Oscar winner Roma has been cleared for release. nearly two weeks ago, it's evidently still open season in China. While awards season drew to a close in the U.S.
While this is an intensely personal film, Cuaron has history with wide audiences in the Chinese market where Gravity grossed $71M back in 2013.” /> Roma currently has a strong 8.1 score on Chinese reviews aggregator Douban.
China’s National Arthouse Film Alliance today said via its Weibo account that Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white drama is confirmed to be released in Mainland China. No date was given, although a poster celebrating Roma’s Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Cinematographer and Best Foreign Language Film accompanied the tweet equivalent (check it out below).

Final Notes On The Season: Is A Best Picture Voting Change Brewing?; Plus Oscar Vs Streamers – Are New Rules In Store?

Telluride passes just went on sale today. It was also a very big year for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the Golden Globes. It'll be sooner than you think. Finally a big congratulations to all the winners of the 91st Annual Academy Awards, and especially all of those who made the stop at Deadline's The Contenders events in LA, London, and for the first time in NYC. Oh well, there's always next year. pretty good track record there. Also a big shout out to the record number of nominees who appeared at The Contenders. Their top winners in early January all repeated at the Oscars including the same three wins for Green Book, Rami Malek, Olivia Colman, Mahershala Ali, Regina King, Alfonso Cuarón and Roma as Best Director and Foreign Film, and "Shallow" as Song. Their Best Film -Drama choice of Bohemian Rhapsody was derided by critics at the time, but went on to win the top number of Oscars Sunday night. Of course they split the major categories between comedy and drama but still… In terms of other precursors it was a very big year for the Toronto Film Festival's People's Choice award which once again had the eventual Oscar Best Picture winner six months ahead of time. The Critics’ Choice Awards (I am a voter there), usually with the best correlation with Oscar had an off year, missing Best Film, Actor, Actress (twice since they tied Glenn Close and Lady Gaga), and both screenplay awards. The Oscars are moving up two weeks earlier to February 9th! Ready to do it all again? They include Best Picture winner Green Book with Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie (all three also taking Best Original Screenplay too),, and Supporting Actor winner Mahershala Ali; The Favourite's Best Actress winner Olivia Colman who we met at our London event; Bohemian Rhapsody Best Actor winner Rami Malek who appeared at all three; If Beale Street Could Talk's Supporting Actress winner Regina King who joined us in New York; Roma's three- time winner Cuarón, whom we saw in London and L.A.; and BlacKkKlansman Adapted Screenplay winners Spike Lee and Kevin Wilmott joining us in NYC.
Calling it that is sort of like claiming the Preakness winner won horse racing's Triple Crown, without the Kentucky Derby or the Belmont. Just sayin'. He won for Best Director, Best Cinematography, and as director of the Best Foreign Language Film. Iñárritu (Birdman) to name four that come to mind, with Brooks being the rare bird to do it all by himself. However, a "Triple Crown" in Oscar circles refers to the three major categories of Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, a feat accomplished in one night by a few notables in the past such as Billy Wilder (The Apartment), James L. Also the Foreign Language Film winner technically goes to the country of origin, in this case Mexico, and is not counted officially by AMPAS as a win for the director, even though Cuarón gets the Oscar which is engraved: "Foreign Language Film ROMA Director Alfonso Cuarón." So again just for the record, impressive feat that it is, this isn't the Oscar Triple Crown, but rather three Oscars. This isn't at all meant to be a knock on our sister publication Variety so don't take it that way, but I have to quibble with the cover of this week's print issue which features Roma director Alfonso Cuarón holding his three newly minted Oscars next to the headline: TRIPLE CROWN. It is indeed a major achievement for Cuarón, the biggest personal winner of the night, to get to take those Oscars home and place them next to the pair he already had for Gravity. Cuarón actually only won one of those categories this year, Best Director. Brooks (Terms Of Endearment), Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather Part II), and Alejandro G. Just from a statistical Oscars POV, it needs to be corrected for the record.
And those are all the Notes fit to print this season.” />
Is this the case of a studio, not its movie, being the real target? Since Screenplay was a straight vote it indicates to me Green Book likely would have won Best Picture outright, even without the preferential ballot where your second and third choices can have a major impact in a close race. In the end Roma won three Oscars including Best Director for Alfonso Cuarón, but lost the top prize to Green Book which also won three awards including supporting actor for Mahershala Ali and Original Screenplay, the latter being the only category outside of Best Picture in which the two films competed directly against each other. It is not even clear if Roma was runner up (I had heard of voters who watched at home rather than more properly in a theatre turning it off after 30 minutes) since there was strong support evidenced for the likes of Bohemian Rhapsody (winner of the most Oscars with 4), Black Panther (with 3 Oscars), BlacKkKlansman etc. But was Roma, a movie that far outspent its rivals and a betting favorite among a majority of critics and pundits (not this one), intentionally hurt by the preferential system due to fear of Netflix? We'll never know for sure since AMPAS accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is under strict orders to never reveal numbers or the winner's path to victory, thus crushing my hopes for the dream book I would love to write: "91 Years of Academy Award Voting Totals" By Pete Hammond. Whichever way you look at it Green Book topped Roma in both categories where they were head to head.
I knew of voters who admired the Damien Chazelle musical but didn't want it to actually win, so ranked it last even if it really wasn't their least favorite. A similar scenario was heard in 2016 when La La Land was a heavy Best Picture favorite with 14 nominations. In that case the second place votes for Moonlight might have helped the underdog prevail in the end since no film can win on the first ballot count unless it has 50% plus one, a virtual impossibility with such a large group of films competing. However in five of the past seven years there has been a split between the film that wins Best Director, and the one that wins Best Picture, an eye opening statistic for Oscar watchers and one that repeated itself this year when Green Book director Peter Farrelly wasn't even nominated in directing. Of course it is all speculation, and in fact just how this system really works is widely misunderstood, if understood at all. It won six Oscars including Best Director and seemed on its way to a traditional Best Picture win but, in the most notorious opening of an Oscar envelope ever, famously lost to Moonlight. This method of choosing Best Picture has upended the traditional pattern of past Oscars where the winner of Best Director and Best Picture often went hand in hand.
In 2011 the Academy moved to a system where there could be anywhere between 5 and 10 nominees. She was happy because she said she had it all backwards. There has been increasing angst over the preferential (or ranked) voting system which is designed to find a consensus choice, or as I say the least least-liked movie. Think of it as the Academy's version of the Electoral College where the actual popular vote isn't necessarily going to produce the winner, as we have seen in recent elections. This was the second year in a row we have had this conversation. Unlike the 23 other categories where there is simply one vote for the movie you want, members must rank their Best Picture picks from 1 being first choice to 10 for last choice. This year there were 8 and it's a method that makes some voters eyes glaze over in trying to understand how it works. This is not new. One member called yesterday thanking me for correcting her notion that her number one vote was actually for her least favorite, but rather her most favored, which in her case happened to be the eventual Best Picture winner this year. Opinions have been split on using this method, also employed by the Producers Guild which likewise chose Green Book, ever since it was introduced in 2009 when the Academy doubled the number of nominees from 5 to 10, another major change that still remains controversial in some quarters within AMPAS. Of course it isn't a strict connection, but you get the idea.
Steven Spielberg, a Governor of the Right now the rules state a film qualifies with a seven day run in theatres in LA and/or NY, but there is definitely a movement to clarify that and make it an even playing field where all studios and distributors, Netflix and Amazon included, must have a minimum theatrical run (four to six weeks is the range I've heard) before any kind of television, i.e. streaming commences. Whether this evergreen discussion comes up as an issue at the next Board of Governors meeting is to be seen, however another matter involving Netflix is sure to be addressed regarding theatrical exhibition windows as they apply to Oscar eligibility.
There has been considerable media buzz and ink over the idea that some voters, anxious to defeat Netflix with the fear that a Best Picture win for the streamer would produce a seismic and catastrophic change in the industry, tried actively to "game they system" and intentionally urged putting Roma in 8th place thinking this would help stop any momentum it has. It is a somewhat dubious proposition that this would have any real effect, but psychologically it seems to have gripped a number of voters wishing to do damage and thinking this is the way to do it, at least in their mind. The bigger question is if the Academy's board will take this up at all, or do anything about it. A couple of years ago I asked CEO Dawn Hudson if she had heard any opposition to the preferential method and she indicated that she hadn't, at least at that point.
The Television Academy used the preferential weighted ballot system in many of its categories until dumping it altogether a couple of years ago and simplifying its Emmy contest. It doesn't add to the image of the Academy's voting process that even this kind of talk is out there. For the Motion Picture Academy this system of choosing Best Picture was actually in their DNA. But with so many Best Picture nominees possible again, the idea of getting a "consensus" choice was important to the Academy, and likely remains so, even as a rising number of voters think they can really indeed "game the system", which certainly isn't the most dignified approach to choosing an Oscar winning Best Picture. It was used when there were regularly ten nominees between 1934 and 1943, before moving to just five Best Picture contenders in 1944 and dumping preferential which only returned with the list of nominees doubled once more.
In the aftermath of the 91st Annual Academy Awards where Green Book was crowned Best Picture, Deadline sources are saying that conversations have heated up within the membership of AMPAS about changing the system regarding how the Best Picture winner is chosen. Let the debate begin – again.
A column chronicling conversations and events on the awards circuit
Look for this to be a major hot topic this Spring as AMPAS sorts out the considerable damage of this bruising season (before delivering a decent Oscar show with a ratings bump), gets ready to vote in a new President (John Bailey is termed out), and moves closer to opening its movie museum. Both AMC and Regal pretended Roma wasn't a Best Picture nominee (with a leading 10 nominations) by refusing to include them in their annual Best Picture showcases. The two leading theatre chains in Britain just severed ties with BAFTA after that organization awarded Roma Best Film just two weeks before Oscar night. His view has its followers, including at least one former top official of AMPAS to whom I spoke, and there are those who argue the Academy has to look to the future of exhibition wherever and whenever it may be. Exhibition executives themselves have been vocal. AMPAS has had a committee dedicated to looking into all these matters, and it won't be cooling down. Directors branch, has stated publicly that if a film debuts day and date on Netflix or services like it, it is a TV movie.

Oscar Ballots Due Now! Campaigns Still Going As Online Voting Closes At 5 PM PT

We'll know soon enough if it paid off. $50 million? The money has been flowing, particularly from streamers like Amazon but especially Netflix, which might have set a record — $25 million? Depends who you talk to — for spending to get their first Best Picture win. This remains a wide-open race, and the outcome still is very murky thanks to the Academy's use of preferential ranked voting in the Best Picture category. $30 million?
The winner for Adapted Screenplay, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, is up for three Oscars, but like the other usually telltale and Oscar-predictive guild contests this year, there is absolutely no agreement on which film is best or delivering any momentum when it is needed most. Common consensus has it that those two films are the two most likely to be left standing as accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers begins sorting through the ballots, trying to come up with Oscar's least least-liked Best Picture contender out of the eight nominated. That includes Sunday's WGA Awards, where for the first time in decades, neither top film award went to a Best Picture Oscar nominee, and one of them (Eighth Grade) won Original Screenplay without having a single Oscar nomination to its name. Five different movies won at five major guilds, and the story was repeated fairly consistently at the other guild banquets. Then again, astoundingly at this point, it could be anyone's ballgame as this has been a crazy year. The campaign — often a sorry excuse for decorum — finally will be over after starting in earnest with the fall festival trifecta of Venice, where Roma came out triumphant; Telluride; and then Toronto, where Green Book took the emerging race by surprise and won the all-important People's Choice Award, often a predictor of Oscar glory. So which way will Oscar turn for the one award that really counts?
So what are you waiting for? It's time.” />
It is still a work in progress until 5 p.m, so if you want to be a king-maker, it’s time to fill out your ballot before Russia gets hold of it. Now you can be a straggler with no sweat. Even in the pre-online era, voting consultants estimated that as many as 500 paper ballots would be walked into or messengered to the downtown Los Angeles offices of Pricewaterhouse on the final day. This is the first year where no paper ballots are allowed; it is all online, which means there is still time, brother. I know of at least two voters who just turned in their choices late Monday, indicating there are a lot more just like them.
Polls close at 5 p.m. If you happen to be one of the 7,902 eligible Academy voters who have yet to cast your ballot, I would suggest you start thinking about it as you only have this afternoon to do it. PT, and that's it.
Oscar ads on the morning shows today included Vice, If Beale Street Could Talk, BlacKkKlansman, Incredibles 2, Bohemian Rhapsody and, of course, Roma — which has had a non-stop presence on the air for several weeks. Oscar campaigners who have been waging the bitterly fought battle for the past six months are going right to the wire. Amazon still was taking out full-page ads in the Los Angeles Times today and is all over the Net hoping to pull an upset for Polish Foreign Language Film nominee, Cold War. And so it goes. Those are just the ones I caught. No doubt Green Book, A Star Is Born, Black Panther and The Favourite are joining in.

Bill Maher Likens Nitpicking Of Oscar Best Picture Field To Undermining Of 2020 Democratic Field: “Let’s Not Eat Our Own” – Update

monologue linking leftist criticism of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates with attacks on this year's Oscar Best Picture nominees for various sociopolitical reasons. UPDATED with video. Bill Maher closed a fairly by-the-book episode of HBO's Real Time with an inspired anti-P.C.
"And sometimes, what you end up with is, no one to host the Oscars at all." "This time, let's not eat our own," Maher suggested about the Democratic hopefuls, referencing the undermining of Hillary Clinton in 2016 by many Democrats. "This is a real problem in our society, looking to dump someone good because there must be someone more perfect," he said. With the early field of candidates already being picked apart, he hit back and then slyly bridged to awards season.
"This is a movie made liberals, for liberals, bursting at the seams with liberal values — not good enough!" he mock-jeered. Green Book has been downgraded by some for director Peter Farrelly's admission that he flashed members of the cast and crew on the sets of his films as a joke.
The Academy Awards, he declared, "are being ruined by these same kinds of ridiculous purity tests." He rattled off a few examples, barely a week before the big contest will be settled (no, not the Iowa Caucus).
Roma, he marveled, "delivers such an authentic portrait of a Mexican housekeeper, Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to impregnate it." And yet, Maher complained, some naysayers insist writer-director Alfonso Cuarón isn't qualified to tell the story because he isn't poor.
"If they believe that, I'm not going to tell them otherwise," said Wiley, a civil rights activist. Apart from the Oscar bit at the very end, the conversations involving all of the guests — musician John Legend, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and panelists Paul Begala, David Frum and Maya Wiley — were striking for the universal support expressed for embattled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. While many Democrats have urged him to resign after the blackface controversy, Wiley cited polls saying 58% of African-Americans in the state prefer that he stay in office.
'Cause all I learned was, don't wear khakis onstage when you really have to pee." Maher ended with A Star is Born having "big problems with consent. Yes, consent." He quoted from a post about the film on Vox, which lamented the "huge power imbalance" between characters played by Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga as well as a "lack of female agency." Incredulously wrapping up the rant, he wondered, "That is what you got out of A Star is Born?
Now, their sexuality is pushed to the background and it's, 'Where's the d–k sucking?'" Bohemian Rhapsody to some is "flawed because it's gay, but not gay enough. What?! Really, that's what they're saying," Maher said. "It's insensitive to the extremely gay. For years, the beef about gay characters in movies was that they were reduced to their sexuality.
Begala, a CNN commentator, Virginia resident and friend of Northam's, cited many of the governor's accomplishments, concluding, "People would prefer redemption to resignation."″ />

BAFTA Awards: ‘Roma’ Wins Best Picture To Top Battle With ‘The Favourite’ – Full Winners List

Sandy Powell
Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Lukas Nelson
Fox Searchlight’s The Favourite, which led all nominees going in with 12, won a leading seven trophies as the two films with the most Oscar nominations this year duked it out on at London's Royal Albert Hall. Alfonso Cuarón's Netflix film Roma won the Best Film at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' BAFTA Film Awards on Sunday.
Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen” />
Geoffrey Baumann, Jesse James Chisholm, Craig Hammack, Dan Sudick
Cuarón's black-and-white Spanish-language memory play score four noms overall — Best Film Director and Cinematography for him, and Best Film Not in the English Language — but those categories came later in the evening.
Jonathan Hodgson, Richard Van Den Boom
The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón
Hank Corwin
Spike Lee, David Rabinowitz, Charlie Wachtel, Kevin Willmott
Both won the same categories at the SAG Awards. Also picking up Oscar momentum Sunday was Rami Malek, who scored a Leading Actor win for Fox's Bohemian Rhapsody (the pic also won a Sound award). Mahershala Ali won the Supporting Actor prize for Green Book.
Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
Nadia Stacey
Here's the full list of winners:
Yorgos Lanthimos, Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Lee Magiday, Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
Alfonso Cuarón
John Casali, Tim Cavagin, Nina Hartstone, Paul Massey, John Warhurst
Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin
Alfonso Cuarón, Gabriela Rodríguez
The Favourite
Alfonso Cuarón, Gabriela Rodríguez
Michael Pearce (Writer/Director), Lauren Dark (Producer)
The rest of the show was mostly The Favourite's playground, where the Brit-originated pic with its Brit subject matter won Outstanding British Film, acting trophies for lead Olivia Colman and co-star Rachel Wiesz, as well as Original Screenplay, Costume Design, Production Design and Make Up & Hair.
Green Book
Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, Phil Lord
Letitia Wright
Bohemian Rhapsody
Alex Lockwood

Notes On The Season: Julia Roberts On Making A Difference; Quincy Jones Loves ‘Green Book’; Norwegians Court Spielberg

I guarantee you that, having seen this gripping and rather incredible true story at another awards screening on Monday, it would have found much favor with the Academy's foreign language committee and definitely had a shot. Not every film has the kind of budget you need to compete in the modern Oscar race, where money can make a big difference in getting you into, and keeping you in the game (just ask Netflix). is the name) as the country's official selection, a decision that could well cost them a spot on the shortlist of nine finalists that the Academy will be releasing Monday afternoon. The film was so successful that, for whatever logic, the national committee that selects the single Norwegian entry for Oscar's Foreign Language contest instead went with a much smaller, less heralded movie (What Will People Say? Too often political or other considerations interfere with what should be purely artistic choices. The Academy ought to finally lose that one-film-per-country rule. That doesn't stop some dreamers from trying, and such is the case with a superb new World War II-set film from Norway called The 12th Man, which became the sixth-highest-grossing movie ever released in that country and a movie that actually beat the latest Star Wars when it was in theatres there last year.
Here are these families, and for me if we can do that, if we can reignite the human conversation about this then that is everything to me." And it is a crisis that has gone on for so long. So this to me reignites the human conversation of people. We are all these people. "It’s not just this boy and his mom. Roberts is proud that it covers a wide tent of those affected. Here are these people. Written and directed by Peter Hedges and starring Roberts as a mother determined to save a severely addicted son (Lucas Hedges) from drugs, it is a sober warning against the increasing opioid crisis in this country, but also a gripping thriller that serves as the rare film that entertains as much as it informs. Everybody really represents everyone in this kind of global experience, because we are all the sister, the neighbor, the churchgoer. Sadly, there is just so much bad news. This has become just numbers, statistics. There is only so much that can go front-page above the fold. It’s not numbers, it’s not just Big Pharma and this and that. "It’s not just this boy," she told me. We don’t really have conversations about it. I love that he in some quiet, subtle way represents everybody in this sort of horrible crisis of drug addiction.
A column chronicling conversations and events on the awards circuit.
In a way it is like a Norwegian version of The Fugitive, and every bit as compelling. The film is about Jan Baalsrud (rapper-turned-first time actor Thomas Gullestad), a Norwegian Resistance fighter on the run from an obsessed Gestapo Nazi General (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) in snowy conditions that make The Revenant look like Bambi. Nevertheless the film, which inexplicably was released through IFC Midnight (a label usually reserved for horror film fodder) in May, now is being pushed for Oscar attention in other categories by the filmmakers (including director Harald Zwart) themselves and on their own dime.
The nearby Malibu Twin Theatres also shut down, so for these AMPAS Westsiders this new theater could be a smart campaign stop for contenders. They got a big boost from none other than the Princess of Norway, who came into town to shake hands with Oscar voters at a debut launch for the new Cinepolis Pacific Palisades theater, where a packed group of numerous AMPAS members turned up. Realistically they hope for at least a Makeup/Hairstyling nomination and created a handsome booklet showing the process used in the film. Considering a couple of Scandinavian films have landed in the category in recent years, they could have a shot there. Spielberg wasn't at the screening, but they got a response and got to send a copy of the film over to his Amblin offices. Never say never for resourceful Oscar hopefuls, even if you have the longest of shots and nothing close to Netflix-style money.” /> One famous Palisades resident the filmmakers were hoping to lure was Steven Spielberg, and in order to get his attention, they shot an ambitious special video featuring that Princess from Norway, Märtha Louise, complete with a cameo from a Jurassic Park dinosaur. The Palisades is rich with voters, and the new theater — the first since the old Bay Theatre disappeared in the same location decades ago — is a plus for getting potential voters in the area out of their expensive homes.
Julia Roberts is back in the awards conversation this season, not only with her latest film, Ben Is Back, which has been winning her some of the best reviews of her career, but also her Amazon series Homecoming, which got a two-season initial order and has racked up Lead Actress nominations right out of the gate for her at the Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards after just a 10-episode first season.
Despite blowback from a few critics who feel it should have been grittier in dealing with racial tensions, Green Book continues to be an audience-pleaser, having cleaned up on the festival circuit in terms of audience awards starting at Toronto. Even at my KCET Screening Series (sponsored by Deadline), which concluded Tuesday night with a great screening of Barry Jenkins' If Beale Street Could Talk, the total of votes for Green Book as favorite film of the nine-movie series was the largest margin of victory by any film in the 17 years I have been hosting this series.
The film has yet to figure in the early precursor critics group nominations or at SAG, but it is one that clearly could make a mark if it gets seen by enough voters. It certainly ignited a conversation at the reception last night that followed the CAA screening, Everyone seemed to have a personal story — a family member or friend affected by this epidemic — and the film made them feel free to talk about it, not only with Roberts but also director Hedges, who also was there. More on my Julia Roberts interview next week. There was a similar response at a Writers Guild screening last weekend, where Hedges fielded several personal stories from the audience. Among those in the crowd, many visibly shaken by the film, were Sean Penn, Marcia Gay Harden, Sally Kirkland, Camryn Manheim, Howard Rosenman, Teddy Schwarzman (one of the film's producers) and so many others from various AMPAS branches.
Mahershala, you did an absolutely fantastic job playing him, and I think yours and Viggo’s performances will go down as one of the great friendships captured on film. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to do it alone with just a driver. So Peter [Farrelly, the film's director-writer], thank you for telling this story of our country’s not-so-distant history and capturing on film the ties that can bind us when we spend time listening, talking and living with one another." "I hope that you all enjoyed this very special film about friendship and the power of music to bring people together," the Grammy-laden Jones told the audience. "I had the pleasure of being acquainted with Don Shirley while I was working as an arranger in New York in the ’50s, and he was without question one of America’s greatest pianists … as skilled a musician as Leonard Bernstein or Van Cliburn. … So it is wonderful that his story is finally being told and celebrated. Jones added that he had been there as well about the same time when the movie was set in 1962. "I did that 'Chitlin Circuit' tour through the South when I was with the Lionel Hampton band, and let me tell you … it was no picnic. And we were a band.
In his case it took on extra meaning because, as he explained in his welcoming speech at the post-reception at Ysrael on Fairfax, he knew Don Shirley, the acclaimed concert pianist Mahershala Ali plays and so far has earned Globe, Critics' Choice and SAG supporting actor nominations for playing (as has his co-star Viggo Mortensen in the corresponding lead categories). Quincy Jones did that at another Thursday night screening on the circuit for Universal and Participant Media's Green Book. As is the custom this time of year, there are numerous screenings of movies being hosted by well-known industry figures who otherwise have no personal connection to the film they are loaning their name to in order to draw a crowd.
I caught up with her Thursday night at CAA for an interview set to run on Deadline next week. We talked as a full house, largely Academy members, watched Ben Is Back. She's justifiably proud of the movie, which just began its limited runs last week and will expand through Roadside Attractions to the top 25 markets next week as it continues to widen during the season. Even though it is set in a 24-hour period starting on Christmas Eve, it is like no holiday movie you have seen, to be sure.

The 45-Pounds & Hundreds Of Drafts It Took To Launch ‘Green Book’ & ‘First Man’ On The Big Screen: Universal At The Contenders NY

Also appearing at today's session was Green Book composer Kris Bowers who literally was Mahershala Ali's hands in the film, playing all of Shirley's music. In fact, Shirley never wrote any of his music down, so Bowers had to transcribe his jazz music to composition by ear.
When it came to who would play Vallelonga's father, there were notable Italian-American actors thrown around. As far as a non-Italian playing Tony, Vallelonga said, "I didn't want anyone doing a bad Joe Pesci imitation." But when Viggo Mortensen's name was suggest by Farrelly, "It clicked in me," said Vallelonga.
"The most iconic Italian character is The Godfather and he was played by Marlon Brando and he's not Italian. Viggo is so amazing, I saw him doing it," said the producer-writer. And transform, Mortensen did with the Calabrese-Bronx dialect and gaining 45 pounds.
Green Book follows the story of American pianist Don Shirley and his music road tour in the 1960s South with his Italian-American driver and bodyguard Tony the Lip.
Green Book is currently in theaters. First Man is coming soon to home video and SVOD.
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Essentially Vallelonga was respecting the wishes of Shirley who wanted the movie to happen after his death (both Vallelonga and Shirley died in 2013). But it was his son Nick Vallelonga who would bring his father and Shirley's emotional story to the big screen. But Currie didn't hard sell Farrelly; he soft-pitched the idea and let the Dumb and Dumber director get back to him. The real Tony went on to be a character actor in an array of movies such as The Pope of Greenwich Village. Why did it take so long? Vallelonga had interviewed both thoroughly. He told screenwriter Brian Currie about the movie, and he then pitched Green Book to his friend Peter Farrelly.
He was bottled up, and how were we going to show that?" Singer said it took "a hundred" drafts: "The technical stuff was hard, but the emotional stuff was harder….Neil was hard to package.
And such was the jumping off point for the film which was adapted by Spotlight Oscar winner Josh Singer. First Man producer Wyck Godfrey thought he knew everything about first man on the moon Neil Armstrong, but James R. Hansen's book made him wiser. Godfrey didn't know that the man who traveled from a cabin in California to Houston to join the astronaut program all along carried the pain of his young daughter's death.

Peter Bart: After Election Season Where Truth Was Casualty, Hollywood Chases Truth With Fact-Based Films

To some critics, Green Book is inflicted with Driving-Miss-Daisy sentimentality – it is the polar opposite of 12 Years a Slave. In fact, Green Book was co-written by Tony Vallelonga, the son of the driver-bodyguard based on his father’s letters which could not be referenced before his death. But Farrelly’s showmanship, and the skills of his cast, help him overcome that challenge. As the road movie unfolds, each character puts himself at risk in saving the other.
The healthiest antidote to months of political noise, of course, is to avoid the genre completely and bask in vintage MGM musicals, or perhaps Abbott and Costello clips. This is mind-healing fare; but then there’s the less cowardly option: Getting real.
The movie’s title stems from the actual survival guide called The Green Book, created by black travelers of that period who were forced to navigate "whites only" hotels and restaurants. The trek in this case involves a rough-hewn Mafia-style driver and bodyguard, played by a surprising Viggo Mortensen, and a brilliant concert pianist (Mahershala Ali, who won plaudits in Moonlight).
Fact-based movies offer an authenticity and verisimilitude (that ugly word from school) that are missing from Hollywood dramas like A Star Is Born. Still, having been trained as a newsman, I habitually welcome films like Green Book, The Front Runner, Roma and First Man — stories forcefully based on real lives and real events. But the genre also offers its own afflictions: Films can be pedantic, or by contrast, aggressively ambiguous, and hence particularly vulnerable to critics. Pure fiction can be attacked as dopey; a fact-based movie can be dismissed as "fake news."
In Roma, Cuarón summons up his extraordinary filmmaking gifts to depict a family caught up in fires, earthquakes, student riots and personal betrayal, but his focus is on the nuances of humble Mexican family life – clearly Cuarón's. Hence there is no hint of resolution. As some critics point out, its characters never come to grips with their destinies, their aim is simply to quietly endure.
In his own quirky way, Farrelly has a more defined story to spin in Green Book, but he, too, has been hassled by some critics for doing so. He and his brother, Bobby, gave us There’s Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber, and glints of comedy spark the harrowing road movie he’s now fostered. “If I see an opportunity for a joke, I can’t resist,” Peter concedes, and to my taste, the comedic asides reinforce the story. Farrelly is himself odd casting for this movie.
All have this in common: They are based on first hand accounts, whether letters (Green Book) or books by insiders (Front Runner). After the film was shot, we learned that Hart’s fall was, in fact, carefully crafted by Republican hit men, not the result of sharp investigative reporting. Shot in the cinema verite style of The Candidate (the Robert Redford film directed by Michael Ritchie), Reitman’s movie dotes on ambiguities. But if their voices are vivid, even painfully so, they’re often frustrating. Reporters are the good guys, as in Spotlight, but also the hiding-in-the-bushes bad guys, bent on invading Hart’s privacy. In The Front Runner, Jason Reitman retreats from taking a point of view on Gary Hart.
After months of political noise, facts have become something like black holes in our public conversation – rhetoric in search of truth. There’s a certain perversity in the decision to open "fact-based" movies at the close of an election season.
First Man focuses on the psyche of Neil Armstrong, the moon-walker. The Front Runner focuses on the obliteration of Gary Hart’s political career in 1988. Roma is a cinematic meditation on Alfonso Cuarón’s youth. The four films I cited are studies in contrast: Green Book, directed by Peter Farrelly, is a male-bonding road movie set in the racially divided ‘60s South.
So do facts survive their ambiguities? Surveying these movies, I would argue that they embellish them. But I think I’ll still need those old MGM musicals.” />
Ryan Gosling is convincingly chilly — the death of a child is suggested as the trigger. Ambiguities also impact First Man. Scrupulously researched and superbly shot, its key scenes focus on a man who is an emotional void. But as Anthony Lane points up in the New Yorker, the movie becomes as chilly as its protagonist.

‘First Man’ & ‘Green Book’ Offer New Perspectives On 1960s America — The Contenders LA

First Man tells the well-known story of Neil Armstrong’s journey to becoming the first man to walk on the moon, in 1969. The other, Green Book, makes a different sort of voyage to another planet, when real-life concert pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), who happens to be black, makes an early-1960s concert tour of the Deep South with working-class Italian bouncer Tony Lipp (Viggo Mortensen) acting as his bodyguard.
Composer Hurwitz said he tried to bridge “the home stuff with the space stuff," favoring light and delicate music and the harp for home scenes, bringing out the brass for Apollo 11 and learning to play the eerie theremin to conjure outer space. "That’s not how to play it." “I learned to play it completely wrong,” he joked.
Since so much of the action takes place on the road, with Mortensen’s character in the front seat and Ali’s in the back, both could tap into the comedy of facial reactions the other character could not see. While director Peter Farrelly's Green Book explores the racism of the period, stars Ali and Mortensen both said on the panel moderated by Deadline’s Pete Hammond that they enjoyed playing the humor of the relationship between their characters.
At the end of the conversation, Farrelly — who is known for his broad comedies — deadpanned that Green Book represents a departure to say the least. And he’s reveling in a new kind of acclaim.
“It opened a different side to that icon who [before] had felt distant, like a marble statue.” Chazelle said he was informed by a little-known tragedy in Armstrong’s life — the death of his young daughter eight years before he walked on the moon. “[He] lost her on the eve of becoming an astronaut,” Chazelle said.
When they finally had scenes together and Mortensen could see the well-educated Ali character's appalled reactions to his unsophisticated one, “I had a hard time not laughing out loud.”
“Believe it or not, Dumb and Dumber didn’t get to Cannes,” he said, to laughter. “The best thing [it got was] Hustler magazine gave us a full erection,” Farrelly added, referring to the magazine’s unique standard for rating movies.” />
At today’s The Contenders LA event, Universal Pictures took the audience rocketing back to the 1960s by presenting panels on two very different historical films: First Man and Green Book.
Deadline co-executive editor Mike Fleming Jr. moderated the First Man panel that included director-producer Damien Chazelle, cinematographer Linus Sandgren, editor Tom Cross and composer Justin Hurwitz. The group talked about how they pooled their talents to perhaps create a darker, more melancholy view of the first moon landing than was presented in the rah-rah 1983 hit The Right Stuff.
“Damien always wanted this to be, talked about the balance between the moon and the kitchen sink,” Cross said. Editor Cross said Chazelle wanted to bring two different types of realism, contrasting the warmth of Armstrong’s home life with the claustrophobic, often terrifying life within the space capsule.