Hello From Hollywood
THIS WEEKEND Hollywood prepares for two big award events that are widely considered to be reliable prognosticators of Oscar winners in several categories to be announced during the February 24th ceremony. The Producers Guild of America will choose the best film of 2012 out of a group of 10 nominees on Saturday, January 26th and the Screen Actors Guild will hand out its prizes for the lead and supporting actors and actresses, and to the best ensemble cast, the closest to its “Best Picture” award. The frontrunner going in is “Lincoln” at both ceremonies, but there is no lock according to current buzz. “Les Miserables” has been gaining momentum from SAG voters for being a rare musical that works on many levels - honoring it on that alone. The PGA could easily reward “Silver Linings Playbook” for its successful blend of comedy and drama, performed by a stellar cast with a great script. In the meantime, the show must go on as the new season gears up. While the preparations are underway, many of Hollywood’s best known faces can be found 700 miles north of Los Angeles at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Founded by Oscar-winning director Robert Redford more than 30 years ago, the upbeat gathering not only boasts the famous, but also some of the best parties to celebrate achievements for and build momentum on next year’s awards season. Everyone from past Oscar winners Nicole Kidman and Holly Hunter, and TV stars January Jones (Mad Men) and Jon Cryer (Two and Half Men) to Anita Hill (the subject of a new documentary about her testimony during the 1991 Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination) can be seen running from screenings to the slopes (or a party at the slopes) during the nearly two-week festival. Here’s a short list of those names on the fast-track and hungry for a distribution deal for their films:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the triple threat of 500 Days of Summer and 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, does triple-duty again, but this time as star, director and writer of Don Jon’s Addiction. His co-stars include Scarlett Johansson, Juliane Moore, Brie Larson and Tony Danza. As one of the most anticipated entries at Sundance, the film landed a hefty deal reportedly worth $4 million with Relativity Media for Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut – and that’s just for US distribution. The actor plays a New Jersey tough guy whose interests are the gym, his car and sex (real and virtual), until meets two women with different agendas.
James Franco, former Oscar host and nominee for 127 Hours, shows up at Sundance with two films. He co-directed Interior. Leather Bar with Travis Matthews, a film that re-creates 40 minutes of Gay S&M footage allegedly cut from Al Pacino’s 1980 film Cruising in order to avoid getting an X rating by the MPAA. Franco also execproduced kink, a documentary directed by Christina Voros about the web’s biggest producer of BDSM. Two sexually-themed projects from someone who is known to be involved in varying creative and academic endeavors.
Grammy-winning singer Alicia Keyes continues to work in film, and this year exec-produces The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete. Directed by George Tillman Jr., the coming of age film stars Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, Jeffrey Wright, Anthony Mackie and Sklyan Brooks.
Finally, The Weinstein Company has acquired to the rights to Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker’s Fruitvale, the true story about the fatal shooting of 22-year old Oscar Grant in Oakland, California while riding the city’s subway system. Octavia Spencer, last year’s Best Supporting Actress winner, heads the cast. Ryan Coogler makes his directorial debut. The film is already receiving Oscar 2014 buzz and it is rumored the Weinstein brothers paid close to $3 million for the English-speaking territories.