The three great unknowns in the Oscar race are breaking Christmas Day. By Thanksgiving week, distributors should begin to screen David O. Rusell’s “Joy
,” starring Jennifer Lawrence
, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “The Revenant” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, and Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight,” starring Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh, in order to catch deadlines for the Hollywood Foreign Press Golden Globes voting and the New York and Los Angeles film critics groups.
All three directors are Oscar regulars at this point. Inarritu turned up at the PGA last weekend to run some interference on the media assault on his arduous shooting conditions. Tarantino gave a controversial interview to the NYT. And now Russell gives up some early intel to the NYT on “Joy.”
He’s following up “Silver Linings Playbook” (which won Jennifer Lawrence the Oscar) and Abscam comedy “American Hustle” with a story loosely inspired by Long Island entrepreneur Joy Mangano (Lawrence), a Long Island single mom who designed the Miracle Mop. Lawrence is rejoined by Robert De Niro, playing her dad, and Bradley Cooper, as a Home Shopping Network exec. Edgar Ramirez plays her husband.
Russell likes to fuss on his films until the last possible minute, so he gave his interview at his editing suite in Santa Monica. He tells interviewer Robert Ito that this marks his first film with a woman at the center. Knowing he was following up two big hits, he admitted that was on his mind:
“Always, yes. And part of your job as an artist is to deal with that. You have a big vision in your head, and in some ways it’s unattainable, because what you have in your head is magical. If you can just get some of that, you’re lucky. Of course, [previous success] raises the bar. We’re very aware of that. We’re not going to make the same movie. I know people who loved “Silver Linings” that didn’t love “American Hustle.” And I know people who loved “American Hustle” who didn’t love “Silver Linings.”
It bugs Russell that people consider him to be an actor’s director: “I don’t like being painted with that brush, quite frankly. I think it’s true to some degree, but it’s pigeonholing me. What I’m doing is as much about the cinema, it’s as much about camera and script. I don’t want those to be overlooked and say, well, it’s just about how I got a performance out of an actor. Unlike Cassavetes, there is no literal improvisation in my movies. Everything is planned out, even if we change it. I’ll sit with the actors for half an hour and go: ‘O.K., let’s redo this. Everybody agree?’ We never go onto the playing field not knowing what’s going to happen.”