There’s no question this was Hollywood’s biggest week of the year. But now it’s all coming to a close tonight — and not a moment too soon for a lot of nominees at the end of a looooong campaign trail. “Thank God,” said The King’s Speech’s 73-year-old screenwriter David Seidler when I asked him Saturday night at The Weinstein Co bash at Soho House how he felt about nearing the end. After tonight, he plans to spend a month fishing. At the same party I caught up with the ultimate class act, Colin Firth, who between last year’s A Single Man and this year’s The King’s Speech has been on the awards circuit for the better part of two seasons. I asked him about being heavily favored to take Best Actor, and he replied, “I’m told I am”. He’s next making lighter fare: a Coen Brothers-penned version of the 1966 movie Gambit that starred Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. He said the film, to be directed by Michael Hoffman (The Last Station), is not a remake and that there’s barely a line of dialogue in common between the two films. Cameron Diaz will co-star. The Weinstein party filled up fast and brought out the entire King’s Speech crowd except for Geoffrey Rush who was on stage in New York for Diary Of A Madman but will be at tonight’s Oscars.
At a Society Of Lyricists And Composers reception Saturday afternoon, many-times nominated and Inception Best Music Score nominee Hans Zimmer told me he’s been too busy to worry before tonight’s awards. “I won’t start thinking about it until tonight,” he said as he went off to write some more music. Other sightings around town included Gwyneth Paltrow who is singing the nominated “Coming Home” original song from Country Strong and also recently performed with Cee Lo Green on the Grammys. She was “sort of” looking forward to her performance on the big show confessing, “I’m a little nervous”. She confirmed that she’ll do more episodes of Glee but will not be in the film version of Rock of Ages with Tom Cruise as has been speculated. And Helen Mirren had been down to the Kodak Theatre rehearsing her Best Foreign Film presentation and praising one of the nominees which she had seen, Biutiful.
Paramount Chairman Brad Grey is ignoring the frontrunners and hoping for Oscars for The Fighter and True Grit while promising Paramount is still very dedicated to quality pictures despite shuttering its specialty division. He said he is keeps finding an economic model to make these movies viable. Then again, most of this year’s 10 Best Picture nominees made $100 million plus at the domestic box office, a real rarity. One of the most successful has been Black Swan which scored big and won four awards at the Film Independent Spirit Awards where I spent much of Saturday. Fox Searchlight was touting Black Swan’s Best Film, Best Female Lead Natalie Portman, and Best Director Darren Aronofsky plus the Best Male Lead win for James Franco in 127 Hours, making the specialty division the first distributor to nab all four major Spirits since 1996 when Fargo triumphed. Fox Searchlight Co-President Nancy Utley was celebrating Black Swan‘s good fortune at the Spirits. “It would have been different if we made it, but it was a true independent project,” she said.
Franco’s award came early in the program, likely because this year’s Oscar co-host had to head back for rehearsals at the Kodak. By the time Swan finally started racking up its awards though, many had left the beach tent because it was freezing. There were a lot of complaints about the endless commercial breaks during the live show which usually speeds along but this time was stopped and started over and over by its cable TV partner IFC which tape-delayed the awards show for a late-night time slot instead of showing it live as in years previous. It sucked the life out of what is normally a fun and loose affair. (As one filmmaker told me, “It’s wrong to let commercialism take over the Indie Spirits. But don’t quote me by name. I want a table next year.”)
Best Director winner Darren Aronofsky almost fell on the extremely slippery stage. When he came back to his table, he warned the very pregnant Natalie Portman to be careful up there. She did and she was. But the guy who should have been warned was the director of the John Cassavetes Award winner Daddy Longlegs who fell flat on his back when he – literally – hit the stage.
Though Danny Boyle didn’t win for directing 127 Hours, he’s had stellar reviews for his London stage version of Frankenstein which started previewing this week. The show is going to be closed–circuited into theatres in the U.S starting March 17 (including the Chinese Theater in L.A.). But Danny told me, “Try to come to London to see it before it closes May 5. It’s a much better way.”
Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker skipped the Spirits altogether and went to Barry Diller’s pre-Oscar Moguls Picnic instead. Later Saturday he was speculating on the Oscars outcome. “I think it’s much closer than you think between The Social Network and The King’s Speech but The King’s Speech will probably win.” We will know soon enough as Hollywood gets ready for the last night of a loooong season.