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Awards Season Analysis:
Academy voters have sent in their final ballots. See the 2016 Oscar timeline below.
Sundance Film Festival: Amazon Studios scooped up Kenneth Lonergan’s emotionally devastating drama “Manchester By the Sea” (Roadside Attractions), starring acting frontrunners Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams for $10 million. They fared better in the awards derby than rival Netflix did last year by adopting a more theatrically-friendly approach (the film has grossed $41 million domestically so far).
Cannes: Emerging from the festival was CBS Films’ “Hell or High Water,” starring Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster in a modern heist western set in Texas, which scored the best reviews of the year and became the top performer at the indie box office. Also gaining notice was Focus Features’ “Loving,” the heart-tugging Jeff Nichols true biracial romance starring Joel Edgerton and Best Actress nominee Ruth Negga.
The Fall Festivals proved a crucible for a raft of critics’ faves.
Venice gave a warm reception to “Hacksaw Ridge,” Mel Gibson’s comeback bid as a director ten years after “Apocalypto.” Andrew Garfield has been lauded for his pacifist soldier medic, earning Critics Choice, Golden Globe, SAG and Oscar nominations, and the film scored six Oscar nominations including Picture and Director.
COURTESY OF SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT
Telluride broke out Damien Chazelle’s audacious musical romance “La La Land,” starring Best Actress Globe and SAG winner Emma Stone, as well as Barry Jenkins’ coming-of-age ensemble drama “Moonlight” (A24), featuring SAG Supporting Actor winner Mahershala Ali (“House of Cards”). A hit at the box office ($153 million worldwide) was Denis Villeneuve’s brainy sci-fi thriller “Arrival” (Paramount), starring Telluride tributee and Best Actress contender Amy Adams, who did not land a Best Actress nod.
The Weinstein Company
Also playing well in Toronto was Weinstein Co’s Oscar pick for this year, Garth Davis’s tearjerker “Lion,” starring supporting Oscar contenders Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman in a true story about a man who lost his family when he was five years old and uses Google Earth to try and find them again.
Debuting at the New York Film festival was Mike Mills’ semi-autobiographical “20th Century Women” (A24), starring Annette Bening in a rich comedic role as a woman much like his mother, which scored rave reviews and Critics Choice and Golden Globes nominations for Bening, but wound up only with an Original Screenplay nomination.
Scoring with audiences and critics over the holidays were “Hidden Figures,” a sleeper Fox hit starring Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Oscar contender Octavia Spencer as three 60s NASA math whizzes, which landed Best Ensemble at the SAG Awards, and Paramount’s film version of August Wilson’s Tony-winning Pittsburgh play “Fences,” co-starring the director Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, both SAG winners, and much of the cast of the 2010 Broadway revival.