Stunt performers in the U.S. are eyeing an Oscars boycott because of the Academy’s refusal to give them their own awards category for Best Stunt Coordination, Vulture reports. Stunt performers boycotted the Oscars earlier this year and “they're now considering a protest at next year's ceremony. Vulture writer Bilge Ebiri spoke with Jake Gill, a stunt coordinator who has been lobbying for nearly three decades for the Academy to honor his craft.
“When I first approached them, they were extremely eager to help,” Gill said. “As the years went on, they got tired of me. Now it's hard to even get a meeting.”
Gill said he’s tried various ways to get the Academy to pay attention to stunt work but nothing has stuck. One Academy member from a different branch went to advocate to higher-ups on Gill’s behalf but was also rejected. “He had a real foot in the door, and he said, 'I think it's a great idea, and I'm going to help in any way I can,'” Gill remembered. The person told Gill after his meeting, “They told me, right to my face, 'You've got to let it go. It's never going to happen.'”
“We currently have 95 members in our group this year, and next year we will pass the 100-members mark that the Academy said was a prerequisite for a branch and possibly an Oscar category,” Gill said. “I had always argued that our action industry is a smaller group of individuals than the other departments and that having 100 voting members was not needed. I've also argued that other Oscar categories had less than 100 members when they were given an Oscar category, but I was told that I was incorrect in that assumption.”
Stunt coordinator Janene Carleton “Jack Reacher,” “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol” said that stunt work is worthy of an Oscars category and mentioned how stunt coordination is tied to keeping production safe Even actors like Tom Cruise who do their own stunts require stunt coordinators to test the stunts beforehand to make sure they are safe.
“A stunt team designs the action, rehearses it over and over again to determine what looks the coolest, what hurts the most, what's the safest,” Carleton said. “They train the actor for months. And even if the actor does it, the double does it as well, so they can edit it together. The stunt coordinators are responsible for keeping everyone safe.”
Attempts to recognize stunt performers at awards ceremonies that aren’t the Oscars have proven more fruitful. The SAG Awards began awarding a Best Stunt Ensemble prize in 2007, while Canada’s Academy equivalent The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television announced this year it would be awarding a prize for Best Stunt Coordination. Stunt coordinator Angelica Lisk-Hann fought to get the latter prize awarded and said, “It's too bad that it's not the same down [in the U.S.]. All of us here are kind of shocked.”
Lisk-Hann added that it doesn’t make sense for the Academy to award a prize for Best Visual Effects and not a prize for Best Stunt Coordination. “It's weird when films like ‘The Revenant’ and ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ are nominated for all those Oscars and you're sitting there thinking, Half of that is us,” she said.
“The VFX guys are on our side,” Gill added. “We work hand in hand with them. With more VFX movies being made, I'm using more stuntpeople than I ever use. The public has become so savvy about what is real and not real onscreen that the VFX people want as much of the footage to be real as possible.”
Head over to Vulture to read more on the Oscars push from stunt coordinators.
Hot off a Sundance win and with the backing of both Netflix and newly-minted film producers Barack and Michelle Obama, Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert's non-fiction stunner “American Factory” is gearing up for a big showing during this year’s Oscar race. An eye-popping look at the differences between American and Chinese workers when they come together at a Chinese car-glass factory in Ohio, the film won the Directing Award for U.S. Documentary after it debuted at Sundance in January, becoming a top early contender in the 2020 Oscar race in the process.
The Participant Media production focuses on the dramatic culture clash when a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand blue-collar Americans. Following its Sundance premiere, the film impressed the Obamas, who launched their Netflix-partnered Higher Ground Productions last spring “to harness the power of storytelling,” as the former U.S. president described it at the time.
In his review out of Sundance, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote that the the film “extends beyond Trumpian rhetoric about the perils of the working class to examine the real tensions of international businesses in human terms.”
The film will hit the streaming platform later this month, along with a planned theatrical release, all the better to astound a wide viewership with its insightful commentary on commerce, community, and a changing economic world.
The duo aren’t strangers to either the glare of the awards season spotlight or the topic at hand: Bognar and Reichart were previously nominated in 2010 for the Oscar for Best Documentary, Short Subject. That film, “The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant,” followed the very same Ohio-area automobile plant, going through some major changes a decade earlier.
“American Factory” marks the first title from Higher Ground to premiere on the streaming service, though the newly-announced slate includes a variety of inspirational projects that touch on a variety of subjects including race, class, democracy, civil rights and more. Among the Obamas' initial Netflix projects are an adaptation of Michael Lewis' “The Fifth Risk” and a Frederick Douglass biopic.
Check out the newest trailer for “American Factory” below. As IndieWire exclusively reported earlier this year, Netflix will release the film in select theaters and on its streaming platform on August 21.
Greta Gerwig delivered one of the best coming-of-age movies ever with “Lady Bird,” so it’s only fitting the Oscar-nominated writer-director is tackling one of the most iconic coming-of-age stories ever written for her next feature. Enter “Little Women,” Gerwig’s adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel of the same name. The source material is already responsible for several movie classics, including the 1994 Gillian Armstrong-directed “Little Women” starring Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, and Kristen Dunst, and now many cinephiles are hoping Gerwig can deliver another cinematic highlight with Alcott’s beloved characters.
Gerwig’s “Little Women” reunites her with “Lady Bird” Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet, plus “Midsommar” darling Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Bob Odenkirk, and Chris Cooper. The story centers around the March sisters’ coming-of-age experiences in 1860s Massachusetts, but Gerwig has redrawn the narrative structure of Alcott’s novel to tell the events in non-chronological order.
Speaking to IndieWire at Sundance earlier this year, Pugh teased that Gerwig’s adaptation will feel both familiar and radically different to fan’s of the novel. “I think what Greta [Gerwig]'s done is make a classic that we've all seen and we've all heard and we've all read — if you haven't, you've heard your gran talk about it at some point — and she's made it relevant to us now and she's made these four sisters talk in a way that sisters talk,” Pugh said. “It was a really cool thing to be part of, and it's fresh. I'm looking forward to watching it, and I got to work with some amazing women — and men.”
With “Lady Bird,” Gerwig became only the fifth woman nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards. Gerwig also picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, while the film landed in the Best Picture race as well. The award season success of “Lady Bird” which IndieWire recently named the 10th best film of the decade has made “Little Women” the late-hitting Oscar hopeful to watch for awards prognosticators.
Sony Pictures will release “Little Women” in theaters December 25. Watch the first official trailer below.
strong>BREAKING: WME just signed Matthew McConaughey, the Oscar-winning actor.
McConaughey had been at CAA, and his move follows the exit of his longtime agent Jim Toth, who left for a big job at Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi in March. McConaughey won his Oscar for 2013’s Dallas Buyers Club, and his credits include Dazed and Confused, Magic Mike, Lincoln Lawyer, Mud, Killer Joe and the groundbreaking HBO limited series True Detective.
McConaughey next will be seen starring in the Guy Ritchie-directed The Gentlemen fka Toff Guys, which STX releases in January.
He has gone the indie route most recently, to mixed results, including the Harmony Korine-directed Beach Bum and Serenity. Recent screen turns have also included White Boy Rick and The Dark Tower.
As McConaughey figures out the next steps in his career, I hope he goes back and dusts off the edgy comedy The Grackle, a damn funny script he developed at New Line years ago but never made.
He continues to be repped by attorney Kevin Morris.
Michael Steiner’s romantic comedy, about a Swiss Orthodox Jew who falls in love with a “schickse,” was a box office hit at home.
Switzerland has picked Michael Steiner's romantic comedy Wolkenbruch to represent the country at next year's Oscars in the international feature film category.
Based on Thomas Meyer's best-selling novel, Wolkenbruch's Wonderous Journey into the Arms of a Schickse, the film is set in Zurich's Orthodox Jewish community. Joel Basman plays Motti Wolkenbruch, a student who, much to the dismay of his Orthodox mother, falls head over heels for the beautiful schickse, or non-Jewish woman, Laura Noémi Schmidt.
Wolkenbruch premiered at last year's Zurich Film Festival, where Basman won the Swiss Film Award for best actor for his performance. The film was the number one local release in Switzerland in 2018, selling upwards of 300,000 tickets in the country.
Netflix picked up worldwide rights outside of Switzerland and will bow the film on its platform later this year.
Zurich's Turnus Film produced Wolkenbruch in collaboration with DCM Pictures and SRF Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen.
Switzerland has been nominated five times for what used to be called the best foreign-language film Oscar and has twice won the Academy Award: in 1984 for Richard Dembo's Dangerous Moves and for Xavier Koller's Journey of Hope in 1990.
One of the release calendar’s biggest lingering questions finally has an answer: after debuting a trailer way back in March, Fox Searchlight has dated Noah Hawley’s Natalie Portman-starring space drama “Lucy in the Sky.” The film will now land in theaters on October 4, when it will open in limited release. The film, loosely based on the true story of an astronaut who returns home from a long mission and finds herself losing her connection to her family, has long been a question mark on the speciality arm’s slate, especially after the Disney and Fox merger that put a number of previously announced Fox titles into limbo.
Per the film’s official synopsis: “Natalie Portman plays Lucy Cola, who returns to Earth after a transcendent experience during a mission to space and begins to lose touch with reality in a world that now seems too small.” The film also stars Jon Hamm, Zazie Beetz, Dan Stevens, Pearl Amanda Dickson, and Ellen Burstyn.
Despite prime Oscar season dating, the film will go up against another Searchlight hopeful: Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit,” which will debut at TIFF next month, before hitting theaters just two weeks after “Lucy,” on October 18. Two months later, the Fox speciality arm will release another contender, Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life.”
Earlier this summer, Hawley told IndieWire he had high hopes for a festival premiere for the film, which has so far not been announced for the upcoming fall rush, including Venice, TIFF, and NYFF. It’s still possible the film will be added to a festival schedule, and there’s always Telluride, which doesn’t announce its slate plans until just days before the Labor Day event rolls out.
“The studio has their strategy that they're building toward a release, and it's Searchlight, so unlike Disney, which dates their movies three years in advance, they're quite used to going out [to festivals],” he said at the time. “And all those festivals that are in anticipation of fall are starting to look at movies now, so we're going through that process to figure out the best strategy to release it.”
Hawley also put to rest rumors of reshoots. “We did one day of additional photography to put a button on the movie, basically,” he said. “It was just an ending sequence, which I think is very common — less common on movies of a certain budget, but endings are in some ways the most important part. In a movie like this, in the journey we were on, it needed an extra piece.”