Oscars: Telluride, ‘Silence’, Editor for ‘Fences’, and ‘Live By Night’ staying 2017?


2016 OSCAR CIRCUIT: It’s the week of the Telluride Film Festival where it will officially kick off the Oscar season.  Over the next thirty some odd days, a total of four festivals will attempt to document and set the landscape of the awards season.  Films will rise, while others will inevitably fall.  Some films may get an unexpected push (i.e. maybe “Silence”).  And with that, we can only hope we come on the other side hopeful that we are in store for a stronger second half of the year.  We’ve already broken down the the three of the festivals in our fall festival guide that dropped yesterday.

birthofanation_4Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen some interesting bits heading into the season.  Surely the biggest noise maker was the controversy surrounding Nate Parker and his past rape accusations while a college student at Penn State University.  We have yet to really flesh out the details of the controversy and am very sensitive that it is murky waters.  To get my initial thoughts, you can read my interview with NBC News where I comment on the matter.  We will have a segment on this week’s podcast episode to address and discuss the matter in greater detail.  With that said, “The Birth of a Nation” may have some trouble down the line.

Filmmakers like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski have come out on the other side of their controversies, with evidence and convictions intact.  Both of which have won Academy Awards in the process.  The treatment and biased of a black filmmaker enduring a more intense and public backlash is staggering.  Inequalities within the Hollywood industry are quite prominent but as other figures have done similar, they’ve emerged on the other side with support and acclaim.  I don’t know where Fox Searchlight Pictures and Nate Parker will end up on the other side of this but I appreciate and am willing to listen to Parker’s responses thus far.

On a lighter note, we have some news regarding some studio vehicles.  Paramount Pictures released their fall slate to publications last week and suspiciously absent from the list was “Silence” from Academy Award winning director Martin Scorsese.  When we reached out to Paramount for comment regarding the film and if it is in fact hitting theaters this year, there wasn’t “any information on Silence…”  Could they be bumping it to next year?  It is said to be more in the line of Scorsese’s “Kundun” than anything he’s ever done before.  The film is rumored to have had a screening for executives that came in at 195 minutes, not that its necessarily a make or break deal but perhaps they’re looking for him and editor Thelma Schoonmaker to trim it down.  Or perhaps they’re seeing it as something that can go to Cannes and run the gauntlet for next year?

washington_fencesWith that said, Paramount does have their hands full.  Denzel Washington’s “Fences” is in the cutting room now, desperately trying to make its Christmas Day release.  On top of that, it must screen for critics groups leading up to the release.  At the helm of the editing is Hughes Winborne, who won the Academy Award for “Crash” in 2005.  Since then, Winborne has worked on Washington’s other directorial effort “The Great Debaters,” as well as Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

With “Silence” potentially moving over, “Fences” has the opportunity to go down the route that has been set by “The Silence of the Lambs,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and “It Happened One Night.”  The film could become the fourth film to win the “Big Five” (Picture, Director, Lead Actor, Lead Actress, and Screenplay).  It’s a film with an all black cast, with the Oscar’s most nominated black actor (who would become the first person to ever win both directing and acting for the same film), along with one of the most overdue actresses in the business (who would also become the most nominated Black actress in history), and that is also written by a Pulitzer prize-winning playwright (who be the second posthumous screenwriter since “Gone with the Wind”).  Phew!  Talk about jumping hurdles.  If there’s a film that can do it, it’s probably “Fences,” the quality is there.

The Telluride Film Festival will kick off on Friday, with the offical lineup being released on the same day.  Michael’s Telluride Film Blog released the most likely showings there.  The most buzzed about films to potentially pop up there are “Arrival” from Denis Villenueve, “La La Land” from Damien Chazelle, “Moonlight” from Barry Jenkins, and “Bleed for This” from Ben Younger.  “Toni Erdmann,” which was announced as Germany’s official Oscar submission for Foreign Language Film, “Una” from Benedict Andrews, and “Maudie” from Aisling Walsh and starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, are expected to pop up there as well.

monstercallsFocus Features shifted the release date of “A Monster Calls” from J.A. Bayona to a limited run on December 23, 2016 before going wide on January 6.  The film could be a strong player below the line, with a focus on its young Lead Actor Lewis MacDougall, rumored to be a contender.  Could he be our next Quvenzhane Wallis?  As we know, Oscar is typically kind to the younger actors but we’re always open to a potential surprise down the road.  So we hope.

Warner Bros. moving “Live By Night” to January gave many hope for a qualifying run for the Oscars.  An Elle Fanning interview also had people speculating as she said it would be released this year.  Sources at Paramount have shared that “the film is opening in January as scheduled.”  Obviously things can change but perhaps Warner Bros. sees a better way to focus their efforts this season with Clint Eastwood’s “Sully” or David Frankel’s “Collateral Beauty.”

We’ve also seen lots of new trailers over the past few weeks.  “Arrival” is climbing the ranks significantly and could be a ticket for Denis Villenueve in Director (finally!), and possibly Amy Adams in Actress.  “Hidden Figures” is going to carry the torch for 20th Century Fox for the season, screening at TIFF.  We also may be looking at possible campaigns for Oscar-nominee Taraji P. Henson and Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer.  “Manchester by the Sea” from Kenneth Lonergan looks very strong and could be a hit with the acting branch.  Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, at the moment, could be potential winners in their categories.  “Lion” from Garth Davis turned lots of heads with Dev Patel hoping for a play in Best Actor.  Considering the problems that the Weinstein Company has had over the past few months with turnover, they’re hoping one of their films can stick with voters.

Ang-Lees-Billy-Lynns-Long-Halftime-Walk-first-trailer-releasedLastly, there’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” from Ang Lee.  With a high-profile World Premiere at the New York Film Festival, we’re anticipating some big things from the Sony Pictures release.  Just recently, the film moved to the top spot in several prediction categories including Best Picture.  We’ll be keeping a close eye on star Joe Alwyn, who could benefit from a not-so competitive Lead Actor race (for the moment), but we’re really optimistic about co-stars Steve Martin, Vin Diesel, and Kristen Stewart, who all have plum roles based on the source material.  With Neeson potentially out for “Silence,” Martin could play the veteran card to his first competitive Oscar nomination.  Martin was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2014.

With that, Oscar Predictions have been updated.  I’ve refrained from including films without solid releases or distributors.  We’ll be keeping our eye on “Silence” the next few weeks along with “The Promise” from Terry George, “LBJ” from Rob Reiner, and “Una” from Benedict Andrews, all playing at TIFF and looking for a home.

Discuss the Oscar season and the potential lineup for the Telluride Film Festival in the comments below!