OSCAR: Halle Berry's Last-Minute Entrance Into Race With 'Frankie & Alice'

EXCLUSIVE: Hoping to duplicate the feat Jeff Bridges pulled off last year when he became a surprise last minute entry into the Oscar race — and winner — with Crazy Heart, Halle Berry is launching an awards season qualifying run for her indie effort Frankie & Alice. It opens December 17 in New York and Los Angeles before its regular theatrical release set for February 4 in the top 20 markets (shortly after nominations are announced). Freestyle Releasing will handle distribution with P and A reportedly provided by private funding the producers raised. Berry is also  a producer on the 1970s–set  psychological drama, a true story in which she plays a woman suffering with multiple personality disorder, exactly the kind of meaty role (and Oscar bait) that actors covet. Berry, an Oscar winner for Monster’s Ball (2001) has shepherded this as a “passion project” and is said to feel this is her best work since Ball — hence the awards push. I’m told 10,000 DVD screeners will go out to the entire Academy, critics groups, SAG Nominating Committee and others. As one of the more visible aspects of the campaign, Berry will be a prominent part of this year’s AFI Fest on November 9 in “A Conversation With Halle Berry.”

The Best Actress race is already overcrowded this year with a boatload of contenders all jockeying for attention including Jennifer Lawrence, Annette Bening, Tilda Swinton, Julianne Moore, Diane Lane, Hillary Swank, Sally Hawkins, Noomi Rapace, Anne Hathaway, Natalie Portman, Nicole Kidman, Lesley Manville and Michelle Williams – to name a few. Whether it might have been wiser to wait until next year remains to be seen but this is an especially tough field. The last minute stealth entry could be an effective strategy but she will also be vying for attention with Kidman’s Rabbit Hole opening on the same day, with Lionsgate employing a similar strategy for their well-reviewed Toronto Fest pickup. Like Berry, Kidman is also a producer on her film.

“Bringing this story to the big screen has been a challenging, yet very satisfying, filmmaking experience,” Berry says. “Her struggles with mental illness came at a time when the medical community and the public were still grappling with the veracity of multiple personality disorder, and I approached this role with feelings of humility, yet great responsibility.”

Geoffrey Sax directed from a script by Cheryl Edwards and Marko King & Mary King & Jonathan Watters and Joe Shrapnel & Anna Waterhouse (story by Edwards and Oscar Janiger and Phillip Goldberg). Producers also include Berry’s partner Vincent Cirrincione, Hassain Zaidi and Simon DeKaric. Tom Ortenberg’s One Way Out Media is reportedly consulting on marketing plans. Ortenberg  worked with Berry on the successful Monster’s Ball campaign when he was at Lionsgate.

Berry’s films since winning the Oscar include the Bond entry Die Another Day, the X-Men films, Catwoman, Perfect Stranger and Things We Lost In The Fire.

  1. If the ever-boring Natalie Portman can have all this Oscar buzz for “Black Swan”, Ms. B definitely stands a chance with “Frankie and Alice.” Good luck to you, Ms. B.

    1. Tom Ortenberg was responsible for her success with Monster’s Ball and I heard he is involved in this one too. With this team I have high hopes for this film.

    2. Yeah, I do think Portman’s boring too. Sorry to say. She’s fine in stuff like “Garden State,” however I don’t find her an actress I seek out. Far from it. JMHO.

  2. Good God.

    She has the nerve trying to bait for a 2nd one after her career went into the tank after her first win (which BTW she didn’t deserve).

    If these films and performances are so good why all the “sneak” attacks in late December while mailing DVDS to the entire SAG membership?

    1. “Didn’t deserve?”

      Come on, pretending to find Billy Bob Thornton attractive deserves at least a nomination.

      But seriously, actively pursuing a second Oscar with this kind of project backfires terribly more often than not. I wish her luck, she needs it after some of the films she’s made, but I’m not holding out much hope.

  3. sounds like an interesting project but wow I never expected a drama to have so many writers attached. Big comedies? Yes. Small, intimate dramas — not so much.

    In any case, go, Halle, go! It is always nice to see that a woman of such ineffable beauty has got brains (as well as a good heart, from what my acting/producing friends tell me) !

  4. On the plus side, minus For Colored Girls, the Oscar discussion has been seriously lacking “flavor” in regards to the acting nominations. And with For Colored’s less than stellar reviews, any inclusion from the minority acting community should be welcome.

  5. Why are people so harsh towards Halle Berry ? It is disturbing that people don’t understand it is not easy for Black Actresses ( or other actresses of color) to maintain ( or even have) box-office and critical success in Hollywood. We still don’t have an A-list female box -office superstar of color. Halle doesn’t have access to the quality scripts ( or even decent scripts). Julia Roberts, Kate Winslet, Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, Katherine Heigl, Angelina Jolie, and even Kate Hudson will have their fingerprints on most of the scripts before Ms. Berry can even read these scripts. Ms. Berry’s primary goal is to be a working actress- but, she is still trying to fight a losing battle .

    1. With what evidence do you make this remark? It’s all just conjecture on your part. Some of the blame for Halle’s lackluster career must be laid at her feet for choosing some very lame projects.

      1. Halle Berry herself stated in an interview on Oprah that it is hard for her to get roles. Her exact words were “They never want me”. She talked about wanting to work opposite David Duchovny as his wife and the producers had stupid and downright ignorant concerns like, “What would the kids look like?” “What would be the texture of their hair?”. I’m not totally excusing Halle Berry, I’m sure she has made some mistakes. Who hasn’t? However, the reality is that there are people in Hollywood and in the larger world who have these kinds of hang-ups. For these people, it would be a lot less anxiety-inducing to cast a white actress opposite a white male movie star, particularly as a love interest, than to cast Halle Berry in such a role. This kind of mentality greatly limits the kind of roles available to Halle Berry and like someone else mentioned, she has bills to pay. I’m sure in difficult financial times, whether personal or a recession, a lot of people do jobs that they wouldn’t do if they had many other options available.

      2. “Lack Luster?” Not at all. She is the only “black female” actress that is getting the quality of attention and reviews that so many other actresses of color are not and should be.

  6. Why the “sneak” attacks? Obviously, because these smaller films can’t compete with the P&A budget of the studios. Getting nominations is a way to draw attention to the film as well as the performances that they couldn’t get with on an indoe P&A budget.

    And as far as the snarky comments about Ms. Berry’s career, though I would tend to agree, I wish her the best. Especially as actresses age, this is a way to keep your career alive. And it’s hard to slight anyone in this business for that (and as far as her other films…hey, if she waited for great roles to come along before she’d work, she’d go broke. You take movies for all sorts of reasons. Cut her some slack, not everyone is making Inception every time out.)

  7. Please add Naomi Watts to the list of performances in Mother and Child. Concern grows that Annette Benning giving two great performance in the above mentioned movie and “Kids Are All Right.
    It could be argued that Mother and Child is Supporting Role “an Kids Are All Right” is Best Actress. But once again, the Swank performance in Conviction could be the curse to Anette Benning. as before. Swank gave what I think is one of her best, if notthe best performacne of her career in Conviction. Was never a huge fan, but she won me over in this. Fine movie, good telling of a tragic stroy, Tony Goldwyn hit his mark as director big time. BTD Dont forget to Vote

    1. Annette Benning should be nominated for her supporting performance in “The Kids Are All Right,” but people seem to think she deserves a Best Actress Oscar nomination. She didn’t receive as much screen time as Julianne Moore. This reminds me when Forrest Whitaker in “The Last King of Scotland” was really a supporting performance due to little screen time (even some critics called it a ‘supporting Oscar worthy performance’). Something I never understand about Oscar season, I guess.

    1. Chris, did you see the final version of the script? Someone else commented that many writers were working on this script so I imagine the edits were coming fast and furious.

  8. I genuinely hope Berry is back to ‘Serious Actress’-mode, she has potential, but I also hope if she gets the nomination, it will be because she gave an outstanding performance (the role does seem baity enough), and not because there are already complaints that the Oscar is shaping up to be ‘too white’ this year. This year is just too damn strong to knock out someone, just because the Academy wants to look PC.
    I also hope Nicole Kidman is getting her long overdue 3rd nomination.

  9. I am so excited to see that Halle will be in the race this year. I thought her last Oscar win was very deserved, and I hope that she gets nominated this year. I can’t wait to see what this film has in store.

  10. The Actress race just got better!!! My hopes were lifted when Nicole Kidman entered the race, but now with Halle in, this is THE category to watch! I’ve been waiting since 2002 for Halle to come out with a project worthy of awards recognition, and I believe this one is finally it! If Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal pulled it off I have no doubt that Halle will have somewhere to be on Sunday February 27….at the Kodak.

  11. there just hasn’t been the right role since MB that shows off what Halle can do. i read this script, and i’m betting she’s frickin’ awesome in this part. i’m in…

  12. In films so far released there have only been 3 performances worth a Best Actress nom: Noomi Rapace (Girl/Tattoo), Tilda Swinton (I Am Love) and Rachel Weisz (Agora). I know the films they starred in didn’t play LA forever but all 3 of these films played in Manhattan for at least 4 months (2 still playing and Agora just finally left).

    It needs saying that the LA film market is starting to look like any mid-US suburb where filmgoing is concerned. Half the films I see here in NY don’t even seem to be released in LA anymore. That wasn’t the case 5 years ago.

  13. The nominations should be interesting after “For Colored Girls” opens. I’m always fasincated by how we are ignored. Now, may not so much.

  14. Halle is one of my all time favorite actresses and knowing that she will be in this year’s best actress race makes me so happy! She has been doing great things for years, and I can only imagine what she brings to the big screen this time. Agree with theoscarlord that she will be at the Oscars once again!!

  15. Although the 1st Academy Award was held on 1929 to honor outstanding film achievements of the season, do you think the Academy board is out of touch with moviegoers? How can an honorary board vote on and award its peers IF the film’s target audience didn’t connect with the film(s) or the actor(s) nominated. That’s like voting for employee of the month and excluding people outside the organization that have seen their job performance too.

    When will moviegoers have a say in who deserves to win Best Picture, Best Actor, etc? Would you have voted for the following films that didn’t win Best Picture if given the opportunity?

    2000- CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON
    2002- LOTR: THE TWO TOWERS
    2003- SEABISCUIT
    2004- SIDEWAYS
    2005- BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN
    2009- THE BLIND SIDE

    Notice the pattern– each film was considered financially successful at the box office. They connected with their widest target audience.

  16. I cannot wait to see Halle in this performance, and how her addition to the race is going to shake up this year’s Best Actress category!! It’s time for Halle to get back in the spotlight and I think this is just the role to get her there. An indy, psychological drama based on a true story? yes please.

  17. Yeah, the “Best Actress” nomination category is becoming quite crowded. I saw a screening of Andrew Jarecki’s “All Good Things”, and Kirsten Dunst was amazing in the film. Magnolia Pictures is releasing the film in December 3rd. I hope Dunst gets some sort of traction because she sooo deserves it.

  18. Won’t the fact that this was on the Academy’s eligibility list for 2009 keep this from being a contender this year?

    1. Yes, it’s interesting to see that the film is actually on the Academy’s eligibility list for 2009 but that simple fact would not make it ineligible. It could be a clerical error. It had to have completed a theatrical run of 7 days in L.A. If it did that then it’s not eligible this year. Those connected with the film say it never opened.

  19. PLEASE ENOUGH ABOUT HALLE, SHE NEVER COULD ACT, OVERRATED OVERRATED AND BORING, WE NEED SOME KNEW BREATH OF LIGHT LIKE JANET JACKSON, THANDIE NEWTON, SOME WITH GOOD WORK AND TALENT.

    1. I’m a Halle Berry fan, so we will have to agree to disagree about her acting abilities. However, the fact is that it takes all types to make Hollywood. Hollywood needs its Marilyn Monroes, Betty Grables, and Rita Hayworths, as much as it needs its Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburns, and Joan Crawfords. I doubt that anyone felt giving roles to popular pin-up Rita Hayworth would harm or threaten Bette Davis’ career. In fact, I think that Bette Davis saw Joan Crawford as her major competition.

  20. Wow the negative comments against Halle Berry are very disappointing but not surprising. So white A list actresses are allowed to have movie vehicles BUT the only A list black actress in Hollywood should not! The hypocrisy of the covert racism and sexism against Berry is not surprising.

    1. I co-sign your comment. These comments are very disappointing indeed. How dare Halle Berry attempt to break through the glass ceiling that Hollywood has set in place for women of color!!!
      Indian actress Freida Pinto has noticed this as well, she was talking about her own personal experiences, and stated that she guessed people weren’t ready for a brown-skinned female movie star. It broke my heart to hear her say that, but unfortunately, there is some truth to her statement.

      1. Why is it racist/sexist to criticize Ms. Berry’s acting ability? I have enjoyed her in many movies and would have no problem seeing her play the romantic lead against an actor of any race. She’s one of the most attractive women on the planet. But her acting has always been inconsistent. When I think great actresses, she is not on my list. Compare her with someone like Angela Basset. It’s not even close.

        1. I was talking about the negativity towards Halle Berry as well as discrimination against actresses of color in Hollywood, not whether or not she is a good actress. If people don’t like her acting fine, but they don’t have to dislike her personally. Many people may not consider Marilyn Monroe to have been a great actress, but a lot people still find ways to compliment her strengths as oppose to focusing on her weaknesses whatever they might be. Like it or not, actresses of color do face discrimination in Hollywood regardless of their acting abilities. I would also like to see Angela Bassett in leading roles, as well as Thandie Newton, Naomi Harris, Salli Richardson, Zoe Saldana, Keesha Sharp, Rutina Wesley, Regina King, Kerry Washington, etc. However, each of these actresses have stated the challenges they face in Hollywood due to race as well as the sexism all women face. I also want to see more Latina actresses, as well as Indian actresses(Freida Pinto), and East Asian actresses (Ming-Na, Rosalind Chao, Lauren Tom and Tamlyn Tomita). Diversity is beautiful and it is long overdue for Hollywood to recognize this fact!

          1. At the very least, regardless of her acting ability, people should gave Halle Berry credit for being a trailblazer for women of color in Hollywood. Because of her efforts, more and more people who may not have personal interactions with women of color in their daily lives, will get more comfortable with racial diversity because they saw Halle Berry in a movie or saw her picture on the cover of a major magazine. Even Angela Bassett celebrated when Halle Berry won her Oscar because, like it or not, she is a trailblazer. Trailblazers may not always be the most talented, but they fight the hardest and I will always respect, admire, and thank Halle Berry for fighting the good fight. So many women will benefit from her efforts, not just black women.

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