DAILY NEWS: Oscar News -- Buzz Hits Berlin and First Look Gets Foreign Film Nominee
by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE
>> BERLINALE 2002: Berlinale Buzzing About Oscar
(indieWIRE: 02.12.02) -- Oscar talk was the buzz Wednesday here at the 52nd
Berlinale. While "A Beautiful Mind" (recipient of 8 nods including Best
Picture) was in the spotlight with its perfectly-timed competition screening
and press conference Wednesday, the Berlinale is hosting a number of other
high profile Oscar nominees as well. Halle Berry, best actress nominee for
"Monster's Ball," was here with the film this weekend and Wes Anderson &
Owen Wilson (Oscar nominees for their screenplay for "The Royal Tenenbaums") are in Berlin for tomorrow night's competition screening.
Independent and specialty films did not dominate top categories as solidly
as in previous years. But a truly independent picture from two of New York's
top indie companies has nabbed a spot in the Best Picture race. "In The
Bedroom," which was directed and co-written by actor Todd Field and debuted
at Sundance 2001, was acquired by Miramax and received a number of end of the year honors. The Good Machine/GreeneStreet production stars Oscar
nominees Sissy Spacek (Best Actress), Tom Wilkinson (Best Actor), and Marisa Tomei (Best Supporting Actress). Field and Rob Festinger were nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.
Miramax had a lot to celebrate, the best picture nod for "In The Bedroom"
marks the Indiewood studio's 11th nomination in the category in 10 years,
and this year it received more total nominations that any of the Hollywood
No fewer than 30 video camera crews packed yesterday's press conference for
"A Beautiful Mind," which welcomed Oscar nominees Ron Howard (best director,
best picture), Russell Crowe (best actor), Jennifer Connelly (best
supporting actress), and Akiva Goldsman (best adapted screenplay). The new
Oscar nominees watched the afternoon announcement in hotel rooms here in
Berlin. Actor Crowe, no stranger to the Aacdemy Awards of late, tried a few
acerbic comments on the attending press, but most went over without much
reaction, leading him to offer under his breath, "Tough room." Later, when
commenting on fellow Australian nominee Nicole Kidman (picked as a contender
for best actress for "Moulin Rouge"), Crowe offered, "She is currently
filming a movie in Sweden with Lars Von Trier, so she is probably having a
bad day -- I hope that this (the Oscar nod) makes it better.
"Amelie," the acclaimed French film from Jean-Pierre Jeunet, a Miramax
entry, was hardly a surprise nominee in the best foreign language film
category, nor was Danis Tanovic's UA entry from Bosnia & Herzegovina, "No Man's Land" (which won the Golden Globe award), however the other three nominees are virtual unknowns. Sony Pictures Classics will release the
Argentine entry next month in the United States and (as reported today in
indieWIRE, First Look has nabbed Norwegian nominee, "Elling" for a Summer release. Notable again this year in the best foreign language film of the
year category were the acclaimed foreign films that were overlooked,
including Barbet Schroeder's "Our Lady Of The Assassins" (Columbia), Michael Haneke's Cannes acting award winner "The Piano Teacher" (Austria), Zacharias Kunuk's Cannes Camera d'Or winner "Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner" (Canada), Lone Scherfig's Dogme movie, "Italian For Beginners" (Denmark), Nanni Moretti's "The Son's Room" (Italy), and Majid Majidi's "Baran" (Iran).
There are a number of notable documentaries in the Best Documentary Feature
category, "Children Underground," directed by Edet Belzberg, has been hailed for its bleak portrayal of the lives of kids living on the streets in
Bucharest, it debuted at Sundance last year. "LaLee's Kin," another doc that
screened at Sundance 2001, is from Maysles Films and director Susan Froemke, while "Promises," the story of kids who unite despite the barriers of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has been a hit at festivals and is being released next month by Cowboy Pictures.
As always, Oscar-watchers spent time grousing about would-be nominees that
were forgotten by the Academy. This year about 20 filmmakers, producers,
acquisitions execs and other festival-goers gathered in the indieWIRE hotel
room in Potsdamer Platz to watch the proceedings live on BBC World -- they
offered their immediate reactions in real time.
Cheers and groans followed nominations as they were read live by Academy
President Frank Pierson and actress Marcia Gay Harden, and the group quickly logged onto the Internet to get the full list of nominations. Among the
noteworthy omissions mentioned were: "Waking Life" in the best animated film
category, Naomi Watts for best supporting actress, Baz Luhrmann for "Moulin Rouge," Billy Bob Thornton for best actor for "Monster's Ball" and/or "The Man Who Wasn't There," Tilda Swinton for "The Deep End," Christopher Nolan for "Memento," and Steve Buscemi for "Ghost World," among many others. [Eugene Hernandez in Berlin]
>> First Look Gets Oscar Nominee, "Elling"
(indieWIRE: 02.12.02) -- First Look Pictures has acquired North American
rights to "Elling," the Norwegian film nominated yesterday for an Academy
Award in the best foreign language film category. The company indicated
yesterday that it will release the movie this summer.
The film, based on the novel by Ingvar Ambjornsen, was directed by Petter
Naess. It was described in a company announcement as "a slyly funny and
emotionally affecting odd couple comedy about two misfits trying to find
their places in society."
MJ Peckos, President of First Look Pictures, made the deal with Anna Karin
Strom of Trust Films. Trust is here in Berlin with the competition entry,
"Minor Mishaps" (reviewed today in indieWIRE), among other films.
"Every now and again, a film really stays with you and reminds you of why
you're in this business," commented Peckos, in a prepared statement. "The
'truimph of the human spirit' message coupled with the outstanding
performances makes Elling one of those rare pictures that works on many
different levels." [Eugene Hernandez in Berlin]