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What ‘Birdman’s’ Big Awards Weekend Means for a Wild Oscar Race
Back-to-back wins for Alejandro Inarritu’s daring comedy at SAG and Producers Guild Awards help throw awards season into disarray
This was supposed to be the weekend that would clear things up in the Oscar race. Instead, it was a weekend that threw the race into disarray, sending one contender soaring and another faltering.
Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” which was considered the leader of the race mostly by default even though it didn’t look anything like a typical Best Picture winner, had a chance to seal the deal but turned out to be a shaky frontrunner instead. »
- Steve Pond
Indie 'Bronze' to Marvel's 'Captain America?' It's all the same for Sebastian Stan
Park City, Utah -- Sebastian Stan played the titular villain in last year's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," but in new Sundance pic "The Bronze," the film's characters are more preoccupied with their heroes. Just think: having heroes have downsides, too. "The thing about heroes, it's a two sided coin," Stan explained from the "Bronze" red carpet at the Sundance film festival. "One way, it's nice have someone to be inspired by..." And then there's "unrealistic expectations." "['The Bronze'] movie deals with that. It's about expectation and about people who have taken these dreams way too far... once the applause is over and the medals are won," bodies are older and they fade to memories. Heavy. But then again, Stan's work as an actor sounds like it's hard work. He said he goes over his scenes and his goals and the start and stop of each shoot. And no matter the size »
- Katie Hasty
Ndm Boards Berlin Panorama Special Opener ‘600 Miles’ (Exclusive)
Taking one of the most anticipated Berlin Fest first features off the table, Ndm, the Mexico and Paris-based sales house, has secured world sales rights to Tim Roth starrer “600 Miles,” which co-opens Berlin Panorama Special showcase next week.
A cross-border drama-thriller-come-road movie, “600 Miles” marks the directorial debut of producer-turned director Gabriel Ripstein (“”No One Writes to the Colonel”); Michel Franco, best known as the director of “After Lucia” which won Cannes’ Un Certain Regard in 2012, produces for his go-ahead Mexico City-based shingle Lucia Films.
The “600 Miles” deal comes as Ndm continues to roll out Bruno Dumont’s “Li’l Quinquin,” now licensed to the U.K. (New Wave), Italy (Movies Inspired), Spain (Aventura Audiovisual) and Turkey, where the International Festival of Instanbul has also acquired Lisandro Alonso’s “Jauja,” with Viggo Mortensen. ‘600 Miles’ adds to a second high-profile Ndm title in Panorama: Ole Giaever’s “Out of Nature,” a hit »
- John Hopewell
Jennifer Aniston Says Skipping the Gym Sounds Nice - But Has Its Consequences
[Brightcove "4011553085001" "" "screenactorsguild"] Sometimes you have to skip the gym and just sink your teeth into Cake. Just ask Jennifer Aniston, who took a big break from working out while filming her stripped-down role in the acclaimed dramatic film. "[I didn't exercise] for a couple months and it helped with your mood, the physical and all of that," a stunning (and quite slim) Aniston said on the red carpet at the 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards, where she was nominated for best actress in Cake. But the sedentary lifestyle isn't all it's cracked up to be. "At first I was thrilled, because I said this will be »
- Aaron Parsley, @freshparsley
Moving Sweden Unveils ‘Guerilla,’ ‘Raggywood’
Goteborg — On Saturday, Sweden’s Goteborg Film Festival premiered the two first mid-length films to emerge from Moving Sweden, a new three-year initiative intended to give primarily new – but also more experienced – filmmakers a chance to challenge their creativity and explore new formats, films at 60, 45 and 30 minutes in length.
At a Goteborg Festival seminar, organizers announced that this cooperation between Swedish Film Institute and Swedish Television now also includes important funds Filmpool Nord, Film i Vast and Film i Skane. Filmregion Stockholm-Mälardalen and Regionala resurscentrums samarbetsrad had already boarded the program, which has a SKr 20 million ($2.4 million) annual budget. Helen Ahlsson, a former producer at Tre Vanner and Svensk Filmindustri, is the newly appointed Commissioner for Moving Sweden.
“One of the great things is that we basically fully-fund the films we select – or at least to 90% – so if you get the green light from us you know your film will get made. »
- Jon Asp
Sundance: Sex Comedy ‘The Overnight’ Acquired by The Orchard (Exclusive)
After a fierce bidding war that went into the wee hours of Monday morning, The Orchard has landed distribution rights to “The Overnight,” Variety has learned.
The deal, which is in the seven-figure range, represents a big coup for The Orchard, a relatively new player in film distribution that arrived in Park City with the intention of scooping up two or more high-profile titles (and could land more). The Orchard started in music distribution and sales in 1997, and expanded its portfolio into movies recently, with such VOD-and-theatrical titles as “Loitering With Intent” and the Slamdance 2014 documentary “Little Hope Was Arson.”
“The Overnight,” a sex comedy starring Adam Scott, Jason Schwartzman and Taylor Schilling, premiered on Friday night at the Sundance Film Festival, and The Orchard was the first to plop down a bid of more than $1 million for the film shortly after the screening, Variety has learned.
That initial offer »
- Ramin Setoodeh and Brent Lang
Review: 'Unexpected' is slight, but Cobie Smulders and Gail Bean shine
The "How I Met Your Mother" Redemption Tour is in full effect at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Jason Segel has received the best reviews of his career for his gimmick-free performance as David Foster Wallace in "The End of The Tour." Cobie Smulders is proving her mettle as a leading lady in "Unexpected." And Josh Radnor is nowhere to be seen with a follow-up to "Liberal Arts." [Sorry. Easy punchline. I actually thought "Happythankyoumoreplease" was a perfectly respectable sign of Radnor's potential as a writer-director.] Meanwhile, Neil Patrick Harris has been too busy winning Tonys and preparing to host the Oscars to be in anything Sundance-y this year, while Alyson Hannigan remains chronically underused. Smulders also stars in "Results," which premieres at Sundance on Tuesday, but at least her Festival got off to a solid start with "Unexpected." Directed by Kris Swanberg, who co-wrote with Megan Mercier, "Unexpected" is a very slight movie, almost absurdly short »
- Daniel Fienberg
Slamdance Film Review: ‘Dennis Rodman’s Big Bang in Pyongyang’
A deftly constructed, consistently engrossing and frequently flat-out-hilarious account of a controversial sporting event with geopolitical implications, “Dennis Rodman’s Big Bang in Pyongyang” arrives just in time to serve as a stranger-than-fiction companion piece to “The Interview.” Director Colin Offland strikes the perfect balance of bemused spectator and impartial commentator while offering an up-close, behind-the-scenes account of the much-publicized 2014 basketball tournament organized by the indefatigably flamboyant Dennis Rodman in the infamously repressive North Korea, during which Rodman and other retired NBA greats were pitted against a dream team of local basketballers as a kinda-sorta birthday tribute to dictator Kim Jong-un, arguably the world’s least likely hoops fan. It’s a slam-dunk certainty that this documentary will score in just about every platform where it competes.
Coming across as engaging eccentric, mellow voluptuary, drunken buffoon and political naif, Rodman is viewed with what might be called the documentarian’s »
- Joe Leydon
Berlinale-Selected John Skoog Tops Goteborg’s Startsladden with ‘Reduit (Redoubt)’
Goteborg — John Skoog’s “Reduit (Redoubt)” has won the 12th Goteborg Festival’s Startsladden, one of the world’s largest short film prizes, carrying a nearly Sk500,000 ($64,000) prize in cash, film equipment and services.
A hauntingly beautiful film about a man who once erected a fortress in the countryside, “Reduit” (Redoubt)” was one of eight titles that played at Goteborg’s Cinema Draken. Skoog, who trained at school in Franfurt, dubbed the win “a very brave jury choice.”
Produced by Erik Hemmendorff at Plattform, and made thanks to a scholarship of Stockholm Film Festival, Skoog’s previous short, “Shadowland,” has also been selected for February’s Berlin Festival. Shot in the vicinity of Los Angeles, “Shadowland” is a poetic take on locations that in various ways have had a prominence in early Hollywood films.
The Startsladden Audience Award went to Amanda Kernell’s painful – but hopeful – Laplander story “Northern Great »
- Jon Asp
Brooklyn Nine-Nine Recap: The Chamber of Asses
Since everyone knows that Jake Peralta and Amy Santiago are on a one-way train to Romance Town, it isn’t surprising that we’ve come to the end of Eva Longoria’s B99 guest stint, especially with fewer than 10 episodes left in the season to get those two crazy cop kids on track. (Goodbye, Eva, and thank you for playing the most reasonable, if dull, character who has ever existed in this show’s universe.) But even I was surprised that Sophia’s exit was so painful for Jake, who clearly likes her, but had admittedly only been dating her for three months (and was frankly something of a player before she came on the scene). Like Terry, I love love, and it’s a pleasure to see this softer side of Jake, who tries so desperately to make things work with her even after his harebrained scheme to befriend »
Sundance Film Review: ‘Homesick’
A more overtly serious treatment of sexual themes after their feature debut, 2011 Sundance grand jury prizewinner “Happy, Happy,” helmer Anne Sewitsky and co-scenarist Ragnhild Tronvoll’s “Homesick” approaches the topic of incest sans sensationalism, but without much dramatic impact, either. This drama sketches two half-siblings who get along a little too well when they finally meet in adulthood, but its somewhat bland, underdrawn characters lack interesting internal or external lives, making their predicament seem ultimately, oddly inconsequential. Watchable but unlikely to drum up much critical enthusiasm, the pic will have a harder time following “Happy’s” path from the fest circuit to offshore sales.
A children’s dance instructor, 27-year-old Charlotte (newcomer Ine Wilmann) has a perky, innocuous demeanor whose underlying insecurities are revealed at the wedding of her best friend, Marte (Silje Storstein). Making a toast to the newlyweds, she reveals a bit too much about her own neediness »
- Dennis Harvey
Review: ''Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief' isn't going to make Xenu happy
Park City. If the bursting-at-the-seams crowd at Sunday's (January 25) world premiere of "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" was any indication, the film festival world (and probably the subsequent HBO world) has been waiting impatiently for a cinematic pulling back of the curtain from the Church of Scientology. And when you absolutely, positively have to get informed on a subject in a reasonably smart, reasonably all-encompassing, reasonably passionate (without succumbing to sloppy outrage), narratively tight 120-minutes, it's hard to imagine a more reliable tour guide than director Alex Gibney. The absurdly prolific filmmaker can be counted on to deliver a comprehensive rendering of difficult issues and that's exactly what "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" is. If you've read Lawrence Wright's book -- I have not -- or any of the recent string of tangential Scientology exposes -- including Wright's profile of Paul Haggis, which »
- Daniel Fienberg
Sundance Film Review: ‘Partisan’
A boy raised from birth to be a hit man begins to recalibrate his moral compass in “Partisan,” a confidently told and in some ways quite original debut feature from Australian director Ariel Kleiman. The movie resembles “Dogtooth” and another recent festival favorite, “The Tribe,” in the way it plunges viewers into a circumscribed world that has its own warped moral code. Although there’s clearly a genre hook (pint-size assassins), “Partisan” unfolds patiently and may have too little signposting for the mainstream. But discerning fests and viewers will take note of a film that marks the arrival of a filmmaker to watch.
Kleiman says he and his girlfriend/screenwriting partner, Sarah Cyngler (who also worked on production design and costumes), took inspiration from an article on child assassins in Colombia. The film is set in an unnamed, decaying urban environment, where Gregori (Vincent Cassel) heads what amounts to a cult in an isolated compound. »
- Ben Kenigsberg
Sundance: Tom Cruise Plot, Prison Camps in Scientology Doc ‘Going Clear’
Doc reminds viewers of the insidious power of L. Ron Hubbard’s church that has long focused on Hollywood
“Going Clear,” the much-anticipated documentary about Scientology by veteran filmmaker Alex Gibney caused a ruckus at Sundance on Sunday, resurfacing the most damaging accusations against the religion including a campaign to break up Tom Cruise’s marriage to Nicole Kidman.
Since the defection from the church in recent years by prominent members like Paul Haggis and investigative work including the book by Lawrence Wright on which the film is based, the worst of Scientology is already out there.
Also Read: Tom Cruise »
- Sharon Waxman
Sundance Market Returns to Old Heights with 'Me, Earl and the Dying Girl' and "Diary of a Teenage Girl'
Sure, Fox Searchlight and Sony Pictures Classics are the last studio specialty houses still standing. And yes, they've landed some of the most commercially viable titles of the Sundance 2015 Film Festival. But. Distributors have had to pay prices that haven't been seen in a few years for such titles as "Dope." If the reporting is accurate, Fox Searchlight could lay out some $12 million to nail down worldwide rights to the Sundance competition entry from Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Sunday debut "Me, Earl and the Dying Girl," which is adapted by Jesse Andrews from his 2012 young adult bestseller. Approached by producer Dan Fogelman, Andews had never written a script and had to acquire Final Draft. "Terminal illness is so hard for adults to process," Andrews said at the Sundance Q & A. "And for adolescents it's impossible." The Pittsburgh movie brought the Eccles room to tears, as an awkward young teen (breakout narrator-star Thomas Mann »
- Anne Thompson
Look at Nick Offerman's New Mustache-less Face
Pawnee's most striking countenance has evolved into a new manimal, as Nick Offerman's upper lip is finally getting some fresh air. MTV said Offerman's mustache-less face looked like that of a garden gnome, and although that is accurate, it is also semi-mean. So let's be pretend-nice for the next five or so minutes and say his transformed mug looks like the Mona Lisa, but with a chin strap, because Nick Offerman — mustache or no mustache — is a national treasure. (Okay, fine, Mona Lisa or an older Mose Schrute, whatever.) The actor was spotted without his notorious whiskers at the Sundance Film Festival, where he's been promoting his new film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.Here's what Offerman 2.0 looks like: Preaching to the choir: One can only hope: Either smizing or longing for a mustache: All good things must come to an end, so with that we »
- Sean Fitz-Gerald
Review: Why SAG Awards are an ideal model for all awards telecasts
If I ran award shows, they'd go like the SAG Awards: quick, efficient, to the point, without a host or any filler. -Break- Don't get me wrong, I love a good host when the job is done well – see folks like Neil Patrick Harris, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler for some of the best examples in recent years – but it's usually a thankless job, and a hostless show is always preferable to watching an ill-fitting emcee struggle for laughs. (Sorry Michael Strahan, but as hard as you tried, you hosting the Critics' Choice Awards a couple of weeks ago looked uncomfortable for you and the audience.) SAG Awards Live blog: Let's dish the best, worst and craziest moments But most of the big awards shows still try to jam in as much "content" and "entertainment value" as possible, as if to apologize for making us sit through the reading of »
Julianne Moore on her Oscar chances: 'I'm trying to remain calm'
Julianne Moore's clean sweep of awards season just notched another win at the SAG Awards, as the actress picked up the Best Female Actor in a Drama trophy for "Still Alice." But she admitted in the press room how difficult it is not to think about the Oscars because, well, everyone keeps bringing it up to her. "I'm trying to remain as calm as I can, as present. I'm incredibly grateful for all of this and I don't take any of it for granted -- not for a minute." In this press room clip, Moore explains why "Still Alice" was not difficult for to make and how happy she is that her children are old enough to appreciate her work. »
- Louis Virtel
Sundance Film Review: ‘Last Days in the Desert’
A filmmaker known primarily for his perceptive melodramas about women, from “Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her ” to “Mother and Child,” now turns his attention to a primal tale of fathers and sons — including the Son of Man himself — in “Last Days in the Desert,” a quietly captivating and remarkably beautiful account of Jesus’ time in the wilderness before the beginning of his ministry. Deliberately paced, sparely imagined and suffused with mystery, writer-director Rodrigo Garcia’s seventh feature is nonetheless quite lucid and accessible in its themes of empathy, compassion and sacrifice, and grounded by a Christ/Satan dual performance by Ewan McGregor that plays vastly better onscreen than it sounds on paper. While many will find the drama as arid as its parched surroundings, with a thoughtful and concerted marketing approach the picture might well appeal to art-minded nonbelievers and Christians open-minded enough to accept an off-Scripture narrative. »
- Justin Chang
Sundance: Sony Classics Buys ‘Diary of a Teenage Girl’
Drama about teenage girl who has affair with her mom’s boyfriend
Bel Powley stars as the title character, who has an affair with her mother’s boyfriend, played by Alexander Skarsgard. Wiig co-stars in the film, which is being sold by UTA.
The feature is Heller’s first film, but emerged with a pedigree from the Sundance Lab’s screenwriting workshops.
- Jeff Sneider
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