Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

The Spoils: Why It's Smart for Millennium Entertainment to Push Jack Black's 'Bernie' Performance for Awards

Photo of Jay A. Fernandez By Jay A. Fernandez | Indiewire October 5, 2012 at 10:23AM

As even the casual observer knows, awards season is only partially about quality. Yes, from November to February every year talented people are often rewarded for wonderful film work, but only a fool would argue that those honorees and nominees are definitive. Aside from the inevitably debatable results determined by subjective judgment, there is an ocean of equally great performances and craftwork that simply don't make it onto nomination lists — or onto voters’ radars at all. Unsurprisingly, those overlooked films are usually high-caliber independent releases.
2
Richard Linklater and Jack Black at a New York screening of "Bernie" hosted by Quintessentially and Asahi.
Amanda Schwab/Starpix Richard Linklater and Jack Black at a New York screening of "Bernie" hosted by Quintessentially and Asahi.

As even the casual observer knows, awards season is only partially about quality. Yes, from November to February every year talented people are often rewarded for wonderful film work, but only a fool would argue that those honorees and nominees are definitive. Aside from the inevitably debatable results determined by subjective judgment, there is an ocean of equally great performances and craftwork that simply don't make it onto nomination lists — or onto voters’ radars at all. Unsurprisingly, those overlooked films are usually high-caliber independent releases.

So indie and specialty film distributors with limited resources have to be especially strategic about just how they get attention for the films they think are worthy. It’s often a long shot given what they’re up against, but the effort itself can pay off when it comes to the ultimate goal: getting more people to see the movies.

READ MORE: For Your Consideration: The Foreign Language Race Arrives

When Millennium Entertainment threw its cocktail party for Richard Linklater’s “Bernie” Monday night at the Merc Bar in Soho, surely it knew that any effort to get the filmmakers kudos over the next few months is an uphill battle. “Bernie” did receive fairly good critical response, with star Jack Black called out by many for his performance as a gentlemanly mortician who murders an old widow. So Millennium sees Black as a plausible candidate for acting awards. There’s nothing too strange about that -- and who knows, it may happen.

But for a relatively new distributor like Millennium, “Bernie,” which was acquired after its Los Angeles Film Festival debut in 2011, is seen more as a great opportunity to play up the company’s ability to do well by a respectably artistic film. Released in April, “Bernie” grossed more than $9 million domestically, a genuine success story even with limited box office and Millennium’s biggest hit by far. The company acquired several more indies at the Toronto International Film Festival this month, and it wants to send a signal that it’s a good home for great indie films.

READ MORE: The Little 'Bernie' That Could: Richard Linklater and Millennium Entertainment's Sleeper Success Story

In that sense, an awards campaign for Black is as much an investment as anything else. The company may genuinely believe that Black deserves recognition, but even if he doesn’t receive the kudos, Millennium needs to put its name out there in an awards context so filmmakers and producers see it as a strong option moving forward. And if Black or the movie do turn up on year-end best-of lists or nomination ballots, people will notice.

“We're passionately behind an awards campaign for ‘Bernie’ because it's right for the film, and we believe it should be recognized,” says Millennium CEO Bill Lee. “Specifically, Jack Black, whose breadth of talent is extraordinary, and Rick Linklater, who is one the greatest storytellers of our time. As for what this means to Millennium Entertainment, the more awards-worthy our slate, the better films from high-quality producers we attract. So this awards campaign for ‘Bernie’ is an investment not only in the film but in our future.”

Newer distributors such as Oscilloscope Laboratories, Drafthouse Films and A24 inevitably try to establish a beachhead in the awards context because it broadens their options for acquiring movies. Oscilloscope did so with “The Messenger” in 2009; Oscar, Globe and Spirit noms materialized for Oren Moverman’s debut drama. And Drafthouse landed “Bullhead” in the foreign-language category last year. Brand new, A24 is hopeful that its recent acquisition “Ginger and Rosa” can stir up attention across the board for writer-director Sally Potter and young star Elle Fanning.

READ MORE: For Your Consideration: 10 Things The Fall Fests Did Tell Us About Award Season

Millennium did score a best male lead Spirit Award nomination for Woody Harrelson last year off of Oren Moverman’s cop drama “Rampart.” A qualifying run in November and limited February release ultimately led to a mere $1 million in domestic box office that saw no bump coming out of awards season. And this year, the company’s flashiest release, Lee Daniels’ “The Paperboy,” looks destined for a sweep at the Razzies. So “Bernie” may be its best shot for critical recognition in 2012.

This article is related to: Jack Black, Millennium Entertainment, Awards, Richard Linklater, The Spoils, Bernie






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More