We’re still reeling from the tragic and unfortunate death of Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the independent Western, Rust, at Bonanza Creek Ranch in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but we’re going to try to push on and share some industry news as usual.
As we begin to go head deeper into awards season, the Gotham Film & Media Institute announced the nominations for the 31st Annual Gotham Awards, generally the first awards ceremony of the season, this year to be held in person on Nov. 29 at Cipriani Wall Street, the usual venue for the event.
The Gothams has grown and evolved over its previous 30 years, but the picks generally tend to be fairly indie in terms of film, and the awards have slowly begun to incorporate television and streaming series as well. It’s interesting to note that a good percentage of the nominating committees are culled from the New York Film Critics Circle, so these awards are more an indicator of that critic group’s picks than anything related to the Oscars. Also, there are no below-the-line awards, so we’re probably already spending way more time on these than we should.
Regardless, the films picked for Best Feature are The Green Knight, The Lost Daughter, Passing, Pig, and Test Pattern — the latter being the lowest profile indie film, being released by Kino Lorber vs. A24, NEON, and Netflix for the other four. (Passing and The Lost Daughter have only been screened at festivals so far by Netflix, also pointing to some degree of elitism with the Gothams.)
Best Documentary Feature nominees are Ascension, Faya Dayi, Flee, President, and Questlove‘s Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised). The nominees for Best International Feature are Azor, Drive My Car, The Souvenir Part II, Titane (this has been announced as France’s Oscar selection), What Do We See When We Look at the Sky, and The Worst Person in the World.
The Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award-nominated three of the directors in the Best Feature category: The Lost Daughter director Maggie Gyllenhaal and Passing director Rebecca Hall — both actresses making their directorial debuts — as well as Shatara Michelle Ford, director of Test Pattern. The last two directors nominated are Nine Days’ Edson Oda and Emma Seligman, who directed Shiva Baby. The Lost Daughter and Passing also were nominated for screenplays, written by their directors, as well as Paul Schrader for The Card Counter, Amalia Ulman for El Planeta, and Red Rocket director Sean Baker & Chris Bergoch.
The Gothams decided to do things differently by rolling its two gendered acting categories into a single “Outstanding Lead Performance” category. The ten nominees were:
Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter
Frankie Faison in The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain
Michael Greyeyes in Wild Indian
Brittany S. Hall in Test Pattern
Oscar Isaac in The Card Counter
Taylour Paige in Zola
Joaquin Phoenix in C’mon C’mon
Simon Rex in Red Rocket
Lili Taylor in Paper Spiders
Tessa Thompson in Passing
Likewise, the ten nominees for “Outstanding Supporting Performance” were:
Reed Birney in Mass
Jessie Buckley in The Lost Daughter
Colman Domingo in Zola
Gaby Hoffmann in C’mon C’mon
Troy Kotsur in CODA
Marlee Matlin in CODA
Ruth Negga in Passing
There also were categories for Breakthrough Performer and four series categories.
WarnerMedia held its quarterly earnings call with investors, Wall Street traders, and press earlier this week, which included a number of revelations about the company’s decision to release all of Warner Bros. Pictures‘ 2021 releases concurrently on HBO Max, which has received pushback from theatrical and filmmakers alike. The decision has been credited for the low box office of many of Warners’ 2021 intended franchises like The Suicide Squad and others.
Deadline seemingly got an exclusive interview with WarnerMedia heads Jason Kilar and Ann Sarnoff, which seems to show that they’re ecstatic with the results of the company’s “HBO Max experiment.” They were especially thrilled with how the release of The Sopranos prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, drove viewing of the original six seasons of the HBO Max series, even though the movie itself did not do much business theatrically. (More on that below.)
Even though Denis Villeneuve‘s Dune was just released into North American theaters last night, and we won’t know how well it does until Monday, the WB heads seem optimistic, even “bullish,” that a sequel will happen, helped greatly by the international box office the movie has amassed. Lana Wachowski‘s fourth “Matrix” movie, The Matrix Resurrections, won’t be released for two more months, but Kilar and Sarnoff seem confident that it will reboot the franchise for as long as Wachowski wants to make movies in that universe.
Kilar told Deadline that the studio’s “decisions are well informed and based on audience response, not just based on box office.”
You may also remember that in May, AT&T announced a $43 billion deal to merge WarnerMedia with Discovery Communications, turning the combination into a new streaming entity called “Warner Bros. Discovery” with Discovery CEO David Zaslav at the helm. In fact, Below the Line columnist Neil Turitz wrote a column about it, which you can read here. Apparently, that deal still is awaiting approval, according to AT&T CEO John Stankey. Things may be going slow but Stankey says that it’s “consistent with what we would have expected as we walked into it.”
He continued by saying, “We are moving through the steps with the various regulatory agencies in the U.S. and outside the U.S. Those processes are moving along at the pace we would have expected and we don’t see any surprises. [Regulators] are doing their typical thorough review around that and we feel really comfortable around the back and forth of what’s been produced around the timelines and the milestones we’ve seen around those things.”
The well-paid execs at Warner Bros. must also be feeling good, since last weekend’s “DC Fandome” event, which debuted new footage from many upcoming WM films and series, attracted 66 million global viewers, almost three times what the event brought in last year.
Shifting into some production, attachments and casting, Paramount Players has hired British filmmaker Adam Randall to helm the horror film Curfew from Dick Grunert‘s original screenplay that appeared on the 2017 Blood List, an annual honor paid to some of the best spec scripts on the circuit. The script was written by Isa Mazzei with revisions by Jaki Bradley and Kevin Armento, and it follows a rebellious teenage girl who is sent to stay with her grandmother in a sleepy town whose quirky traditions include a curfew banning anyone from going out at night. When the girl ventures out after dark she discovers the murky truth behind the town’s mysterious history. Randall directed I See You, but his latest film, Night Teeth, just premiered on Netflix this week.
Kate Winslet might be vying for another Oscar nomination by playing model-turned-WWII photographer Lee Miller in LEE, the film directed by cinematographer Ellen Kuras (The Betrayal), but the package that hits the virtual American Film Market (AFM) in a few weeks has added more cast that includes fellow Oscar winner Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Andrea Riseborough, and The Crown star Josh O’Connor. Miller was a glamorous Vogue cover model before setting that aside to start a dangerous career as a WWII photographer who chronicled the fighting on the allied front lines and exposed the atrocities that Hitler’s Nazi Germany perpetrated on Jews in concentration camps Rocket Science, CAA Media Finance, and UTA Independent Film Group are brokering the deals at market.
Winslet said in a statement, “This is absolutely not a biopic. To make a story about Lee’s whole life, that’s a series worth for HBO. What we wanted to do was find the most interesting decade in her life, the one that defined who she was and what she became because of what she went through. It was the period from 1938-1948 that took her right through the war and her most defining time. That is the story we want people to know about Lee more than the many other parts of her life.”
Actors Zachary Quinto, Lukas Gage (The White Lotus), Simon Rex (Red Rocket), Judith Light (American Crime Story: Impeachment), and Tony winner Audra McDonald are leading Rightor Doyle‘s feature film directorial debut, Down Low, for FilmNation Entertainment. They’re joined by newcomer Sebastian Arroyo in the movie about a “deeply repressed man, the uninhibited young man that gives him a happy ending, and all the lives they ruin along the way.” It’s produced by FilmNation‘s Ashley Fox and Lucas Wiesendanger, and Sui Generis Pictures’ Ross Katz, centers around FilmNation Entertainment is also handling global sales for the film.
Maribel Verdú and Oscar nominee Sophie Okonedo will star opposite Ewan McGregor and Ethan Hawke in Rodrigo Garcia‘s Raymond and Ray for Apple Studios, which is now filming in Virginia. McGregor and Hawke play half-brothers Raymond and Ray who have lived in the shadow of a terrible father, although they still have a sense of humor and see his funeral as a chance to reinvent themselves. Verdú will star as Lucia, a partner and caretaker to Raymond and Ray’s father, a character with “innate strength and alluring personality that will mend the broken family in the wake of the father’s death.” Okonedo plays Kiera, “a no-nonsense nurse and a source of comfort for Raymond and Ray’s father in his final days. She enters the world-weary Ray’s life at this vulnerable moment and shakes him out of his torpor.”
You can learn more about some of the productions mentioned above and below by subscribing to our Production Listings.
Also, from the WarnerMedia talks and meetings mentioned above, the company seems as bullish as David Chase to continue his prequel to the groundbreaking HBO series, The Sopranos, even though the prequel movie, The Many Saints of Newark, didn’t do particularly well in theaters. The story, which ends on a cliffhanger, could very well continue as a series for HBO Max.
Speaking of Many Saints, one of that movie’s stars and second gen. actor Michael Gandolfini is joining the Paramount+ ten-episode limited series The Offer, which is about the making of The Godfather (which probably offered at least a tiny bit of influence on The Sopranos). Gandolfini won’t play a gangster in this one, as he is instead playing businessman Andy Calhoun, who tried to buy Paramount Pictures during the period in which that movie was made.
If nothing else this week, we got some fantastic news from Apple TV+ today that they’re renewing the hilarious video game comedy Mythic Quest for not only a third season but a fourth season as well. The hilarious office-place comedy created and starring Rob McElhenney from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia may have to wait until he’s done filming the next season of that comedy before starting work on the third season with co-creators Charlie Day (also working on Sunny) and Megan Ganz.
CBS has also given its recently-premiered Ghosts a full season order for an undisclosed number of episodes. It’s the first CBS comedy to get a back order.
Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer continues the exodus of “movie stars” to television, as she will be starring in and exec. producing the one-hour drama series, The Bobby Love Story, in development at FX with Kerry Washington‘s Simpson Street Productions also on board with Washington as exec. producer. Written and exec. produced by showrunner Shalisha Francis-Feusner (Seven Seconds) with ABC Signature, where both Spencer’s Orit Entertainment and Simpson Street have deals, the series is based on Cheryl and Bobby Love’s memoir, The Redemption of Bobby Love: A Story of Faith, Family, and Justice, which was published on October 5 by Mariner Books/William Morrow. It’s the dramatic true account of escaped convict Bobby Love and wife Cheryl, who never knew he was an escaped convict after 35 years of marriage. The Loves serve as executive producers along with Girls co-showrunner Jenni Konner, who helped put the project together and exec. produces through her Jenni Konner Productions, which has a deal under 20th Television. The story was first told through Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York blog in 2020, where it went viral and led to a 10-way bidding war for the rights.
Gabrielle Creevy (In My Skin) is joining the Showtime drama series, Three Women, joining the lead cast that includes Shailene Woodley, DeWanda Wise, and Betty Gilpin in the cable network’s hour-long adaptation of Lisa Taddeo‘s non-fiction bestseller.
Timothy Simons from Veep is joining Jessica Biel in the Hulu true-crime limited event series, Candy, based on the true story of Candy Montgomery (played by Biel) who killed her friend Betty Gore (Melanie Lynskey) with an ax in Texas in 1980. Simons will play Pat Montgomery, “a brilliant engineer and loving father and husband to Candy Montgomery, but the events on the morning of Friday, June 13, 1980, rattle his perfect life to the core.” Pablo Schreiber also stars in the pilot script written by Robin Veith and directed by Michael Uppendahl, both of whom exec. produce. The series comes from UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group, and 20th Television, part of Disney Television Studios.
Wrapping up with some television exec. news as Freeform‘s Krissy Wall is joining Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman‘s Brownstone Productions as Head of Television.
We’ve seen a slew of action movie trailers released in the past few days, possibly because we have a big action movie coming to theaters in Marvel Studio‘s Eternals in a couple weeks — look for our review on Sunday. The first trailer is actually for a Netflix movie, the anticipated Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot action-comedy Notice, directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (Central Intelligence), which will hit Netflix on November 12.
Next, we have the first trailer for Sony Pictures’ long-in-development adaptation of the popular video game, Uncharted, this one starring Tom Holland and Mark Wahlberg and hitting theaters on February 18. This is directed by Sony mainstay filmmaker Reuben Fleischer (Venom, Zombieland), and it co-stars Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle, and Antonio Banderas.
You really can’t debut a bunch of action movie trailers and not include one from the Master, Mr. Michael Bay, who actually will have his next action movie, the heist thriller Ambulance, released by Universal Pictures into theaters ALSO on February 18. It stars Yahya Abdul-Mateen II from Candyman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Eiza González (Baby Driver), and it looks pretty incredible.
We’ll leave you for the weekend with something a little more Joy-ful than the news that opened today’s column, and that’s Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning actress Anya Taylor-Joy, who sings an acapella version of the Petula Clark classic “Downtown” in Edgar Wright‘s upcoming horror film, Last Night in Soho. Focus Features has released a music video of Ms. Taylor-Joy performing said song, and what a great way to head into the weekend before A Night in Soho hits theaters on Oct. 29, hm?