Category: Award

Press: Has the Oscar Race Already Narrowed to Nomadland and One Night in Miami?

Friday, Sep 25, 2020


VOGUE – In what promises to be the strangest of awards seasons, with continued uncertainty about when people will feel comfortable returning to movie theaters and the Oscars already pushed back two months to April 25, one factor remains constant: The Venice and Toronto film festivals are still a reliable predictor of the films that will most likely compete for the top awards.

Those two festivals, one held with socially distanced in-person screenings and the other held primarily online, seemed to have sharply narrowed the best-picture race to a handful of films and have begun to clarify some of the other top races, most notably best actress and best director. With Telluride and Cannes both canceled this year, and with the New York Film Festival scaled back, Venice and Toronto may hold even more sway this year.

Earlier this month, Venice gave its Golden Lion award to Nomadland—a meditation on the current economic crisis starring Frances McDormand as a “houseless” woman traveling the country in her van—while also honoring its director, Chloé Zhao. (Last year, the Golden Lion went to Joker, immediately giving that film awards-season legitimacy and propelling Joaquin Phoenix to his first Oscar for best actor.) In Toronto, which followed Venice and just concluded earlier this week, the highly influential audience award also went to Nomadland.

The Toronto audience award has been a good Oscar predictor since 2008, when Slumdog Millionaire was a surprise winner and went on to collect seven Oscars, including best picture. Since then, The King’s Speech, 12 Years a Slave, and Green Book have all gone on to win that awards-season double, while runners-up in the audience award—Argo, Spotlight, and Parasite—have also claimed the best-picture prize.

This year’s runner-up, One Night in Miami, the directorial debut of Regina King, is also creating Oscar buzz. (It was not competing at Venice, but garnered extremely strong reviews.) For King, already clearly in the mix for a best-director nomination, it’s been a heady few years. She has won four acting Emmys in the past five years, including the award for outstanding lead actress in a limited series on Sunday for her role in Watchmen, as well as a 2019 best-supporting-actress Oscar for If Beale Street Could Talk.

One Night in Miami, based on a play written by Kemp Powers, tells the story of Cassius Clay (before he became Muhammad Ali) and his celebration with friends Malcom X, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke after defeating Sonny Liston for the world heavyweight boxing championship. It has an electric cast, including the Hamilton Tony winner Leslie Odom Jr., as Cooke, but it is the largely unknown British actor, Kingsley Ben-Adir, playing Malcolm X, who is creating the most Oscar buzz and seems headed for a best-actor nomination.

Among his potential rivals is Delroy Lindo, in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, which is currently streaming on Netflix; Anthony Hopkins, in the harrowing Florian Zeller film The Father (an adaption of Zeller’s own play), which got rave reviews at Sundance, particularly for Hopkins; and several actors whose films have not yet been released, but who are generating a lot of strong advance word. They include Gary Oldman in Mank (playing the screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he battles with Orson Welles over who deserves credit for Citizen Kane); Tom Hanks in News of the World; and Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah. Meanwhile, Andy Samberg, the former Saturday Night Live cast member, might snag his first Oscar nomination for his role in the Groundhog Day–like Palm Springs, another big hit at Sundance.

Vanessa Kirby, best known to American audiences for playing Princess Margaret in the first two seasons of The Crown, received the best-actress award at Venice for Pieces of a Woman—in which she plays a woman who loses her infant daughter during a home birth gone terribly wrong—and is certain to be in the running at Oscar time. So far, her chief competitors seem to be Frances McDormand, already a two-time Oscar winner, for Nomadland; Oscar-winner Kate Winslet (and possibly her costar Saoirse Ronan) for Ammonite; as well as two other past Oscar winners, Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Jennifer Hudson (playing Aretha Franklin in Respect), and previous nominees Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit) and Amy Adams (Hillbilly Elegy).

At this point, except for Nomadland and One Night in Miami, the best-film race seems the most fluid, with many of the year’s biggest films yet to be released, and one highly anticipated movie that has managed a largely traditional release during the pandemic: Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, debuting to mixed reviews and somewhat disappointing grosses. So far, the most likely contenders for a best-picture nomination seem to be David Fincher’s Mank, Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch (to be released next year), The Father, News of the World, Judas and the Black Messiah, with the possible additions of Aaron Sorkin’s docudrama, The Trial of the Chicago 7. (An early favorite, Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, has been pushed back a year, to December 2021, because of the pandemic.) One outside contender might be Eliza Hittman’s quietly powerful Never Rarely Sometimes Always, a Sundance winner that opened to very strong reviews in March, just days before the coronavirus shut down theaters.

Press: ‘Nomadland,’ ‘One Night in Miami’ Awarded at 45th Toronto Int’l Film Festival

Friday, Sep 25, 2020


BACKSTAGE – The Toronto International Film Festival ended on Sept. 20 after a special awards ceremony that combined socially distanced and streaming events. The scaled-down 45th iteration of TIFF managed to screen 50 features compared to last year’s 333, but that didn’t stop the Canadian festival from offering a bustling marketplace for film acquisition and anointing 2021 Oscar hopefuls.

Even in the hybridized, digital version of the festival, the Grolsch People’s Choice Award still offers a look at award season glory; this year’s coveted first place position went to Searchlight Pictures’ “Nomadland” from writer-director-editor Chloé Zhao. The Toronto screening featured leading actor Frances McDormand introducing the project, which is based on Jessica Bruder’s work of nonfiction about a woman living out of a van as a modern nomad after her town’s economic collapse. Zhao’s film also picked up TIFF’s Ebert Director Award in addition to the Golden Lion Award at the Venice International Film Festival, marking the first time a film has ever taken home both accolades.

And it is TIFF’s People’s Choice Award that places “Nomadland” as an awards contender at this early stage of the season. Last year’s winner, “Jojo Rabbit,” received six Academy Award nominations including for best picture, while the second runner-up in 2019 was “Parasite,” which went on to win four Oscars including best picture. Over the last decade, every winner of the TIFF People’s Choice Award has gone on to receive an Oscar nomination for best picture.

“Nomadland” screened in Toronto Sept. 11 in collaboration with the festivals of Venice, New York, and Telluride. Although the latter was canceled this year, Zhao’s film screened to public audiences at the Rose Bowl Drive in Los Angeles.

The runner-up at this year’s People’s Choice honors was Regina King’s feature film directorial debut, “One Night in Miami,” based on the play by Kemp Powers. Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, and Leslie Odom Jr. star as Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke, respectively, celebrating one of Clay’s boxing wins on a night in 1964. King, fresh off her fourth acting Emmy Award win, is already garnering praise for the film, its directing, and the ensemble cast. Following “One Night in Miami,” the second runner-up for TIFF’s People’s Choice Award was the Canadian drama “Beans” from director Tracey Deer, who also received the Emerging Talent award.

The fest’s tribute awards ceremony streamed internationally and was broadcast across Canada on CTV. The one-hour event awarded actors Kate Winslet and Sir Anthony Hopkins with Tribute Actor honors. Both stars had films screening at the festival: Winslet in “Ammonite” opposite Saoirse Ronan and Hopkins in Sony Pictures Classics’ “The Father” alongside Olivia Colman. Both titles are likely to be players again throughout the 2020–21 awards season.

Along with its awards, the festival still proved itself a significant force in the film industry markets. “Malcolm & Marie” starring John David Washington and recent Emmy winner Zendaya, “Pieces of a Woman” starring Vanessa Kirby, and “Bruised” featuring Halle Berry as star and director, will all be released on Netflix. (The streaming giant is acquiring titles this year despite sitting out film festivals themselves.) “Another Round” starring Mads Mikkelsen went to Samuel Goldwyn Films, “Good Joe Bell” starring Mark Wahlberg went to Solstice Studios, and “Shadow in the Cloud” starring Chloë Grace Moretz went to Vertical Entertainment and Redbox Entertainment. Neon acquired the Côte d’Ivoire–set drama “Night of the Kings.”

Of this year’s unusual festival, Artistic Director and Co-Head Cameron Bailey said, “TIFF 2020 was a year we won’t soon forget. Over the last 10 days, we have experienced community in the truest sense. The pandemic hit TIFF hard and we responded by going back to our original inspiration—to bring the very best in film to the broadest possible audience and transform the way people see the world through film. We heeded the urgent calls for greater representation of under-represented voices. And we watched as audiences embraced cinema’s ability to transport them through screens of all sizes by joining us online from all over this country.”

TIFF Executive Director and Co-Head Joana Vicente said in a statement, “In a time where the very future of our beloved art form was in question due to cinema and production shutdowns and film festival cancellations, we have seen a tenacity of spirit.” She also mentioned one of the fest’s biggest achievements: 46% of all titles screened were either directed, co-directed, or created by women. For more on TIFF, the changes to this year’s festival, and year-round programming, visit their official website.

Gallery: 28th Palm Springs Film Festival Gala

Wednesday, Jan 4, 2017


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Hidden Figures Cast Wins Ensemble Performance Award

Wednesday, Jan 4, 2017

UINTERVIEW – The cast of Hidden Figures walked away with the Ensemble Performance Award last night at the 28th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala.


Kimberly Quinn, Kirsten Dunst, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe star in the upcoming film Hidden Figures, about the black women working behind the scenes to help NASA put a man in space in the 60s. The actresses and their many costars, were awarded for their performance at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on Monday night, where they took home a top prize for their work together.


“History has its share of incredible untold stories, and this is one of the most compelling, the tale of three African-American women – engineers, physicists, mathematicians – who in their work for NASA in the early 1960s were integral in calculating the flight trajectories for Project Mercury and Apollo 11,” said Festival Chairman Harold Maztner. “Fueled by the performances of Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe, the ensemble cast also features outstanding performances from Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Glen Powell and many others. The Palm Springs International Film Festival is proud to present the entire cast of Hidden Figures with the 2017 Ensemble Performance Award.”


Past Ensemble Award winners include the casts of Argo, American Hustle, Babel, The Big Short, The Imitation Game and The Social Network.

WGN America’s UNDERGROUND Receives 3 Cablefax Program Awards

Friday, Aug 5, 2016

294694857-FF4A-0562-67E78204C469A933BROADWAY WORLD – WGN America’s acclaimed series UNDERGROUND, which follows a courageous group of American heroes who attempt a daring flight to freedom from slavery, was honored with three Cablefax Program Awards for Best New Program, Best Historical Show or Series and Best Showrunners (creators, writers, and executive producers Misha Green and Joe Pokaski). Series stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell (“Rosalee”) and Aldis Hodge (“Noah”) were also acknowledged with honorable mentions in the Best Actress and Best Actor categories. These honors mark WGN America’s first Cablefax wins since the network’s recent transformation into a destination for high-quality original programming in 2014.


“Underground” took the country by storm this year, sparking a nationwide conversation and igniting Twitter as the #1 most social cable drama each week it aired. The series premiere ranked among the top 10 new cable dramas this TV season in Live + 3 delivery and scored 3 million Total Viewers weekly, making history as WGN America’s most-watched original program ever. Season two begins production this summer for a 2017 premiere on WGN America.


WGN America’s intense and gritty original drama “Outsiders,” a breakout hit, was also recognized with honorable mentions in several categories, including Best Program, Best New Program and Best Actor (David Morse as “Big Foster”). The premiere of “Outsiders” ranked among the top 10 new cable dramas this TV season, and the series averaged an impressive 2.8 million Total Viewers and 1.4 million Adults 25-54 on Tuesday nights in Live + 7 viewing. A struggle of power and control set in the rugged hills of Appalachia, the series explores the epic battle between the Farrell clan and their fight to defend their way of life from the town below and anyone who would dare to challenge them. The second season of “Outsiders” is currently in production and will premiere in early 2017.


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