Finally, an awards show for all those people who usually get played off the stage after 45 seconds. Actually last night’s event at the Ebell Theatre was the 7th Annual Hamilton Behind The Camera Awards, an honor for which actors need not apply except as a presenter. Production Designers, Casting Directors, Film Editors, Costume Designers, Cinematographers, even a Property Master got to be in the spotlight here. Yes, there were some “above the line” awards too including David O. Russell (American Hustle) for Directing, Brad Ingelsby and Scott Cooper (Out Of The Furnace) for writing, Saudi Arabia’s Haifaa Al Mansour (Wadja) for Foreign Film and Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter (Dallas Buyers Club) for Producing. I am not exactly sure who votes on these except to say the watchmaker bases the choice of honorees on “the knowledgeable advice of professionals” which I imagine is code for studio publicists who want to get their Oscar contenders out winning something on a November Sunday night. There were lots of PR people swarming the red carpet last night so Hamilton definitely has this on the Hollywood radar. Nevertheless it was a nice, well-organized event and any awards show devoted to the artists who make great movies happen behind the scenes is a worthwhile one.
Numerous actors did show up to make the presentations including Casey Affleck to his Out Of The Furnace writer/director Cooper who was excited about the early trade reviews from the intense film’s AFI Fest premiere the night before. After the Hamilton award he was heading to the DGA where he was thrilled William Friedkin would be doing the Q&A following their official screening. He told me the movie was a “very personal” one that is really about examining the “times in which we live” over the past five years in a country that he says is the “most violent” on earth. Cooper got laughs though in his acceptance when he talked about his very first watch, a Hamilton. “I cherished it until it stopped working. But it sure looked good,” he said which was not exactly the kind of ringing endorsement for which the evening’s sponsor might have been hoping.
Among others presenting were Amy Adams to her American Hustle costume designer Michael Wilkinson, Zoe Saldana to Brenner and Winter, Bruce Dern to his Nebraska cinematographer Phedon Papamichael who talked about shooting a couple of Dern’s actual pee breaks during the movie’s road trip scenes. “They made the film” he said. Also there was Jason Reitman (who told me he is about to start shooting his next film but doesn’t have a title yet) handing the trophy to his longtime editor Dana E. Glauberman for Labor Day. “This is fun,” Reitman said. “This is like giving an award to your wife. She’s my work wife and our marriage is the longest lasting relationship of my life.”
Grey’s Anatomy’s Sandra Oh presented to an engaging Mansour whose film is the first ever from Saudi Arabia to be entered in the Academy Awards as well as the first to be directed by a woman from her country. Joe Mangiello presented to his Magic Mike prop master Brad Einhorn whom he saluted by saying, “It wasn’t until Brad put that penis pump in my hand on Magic Mike that I really was able to get into character”. Jeremy Renner also turned up for his American Hustle director David O. Russell who talked about living above a Hamilton Watch store when he was so broke he couldn’t afford any of them. Inside Llewyn Davis Production Designer Jess Goncher received his award from the film’s Executive Producer Robert Graf.
Lenny Kravitz presented the casting director prize to the now ironically named Leah Daniels-Butler for Lee Daniels’ The Butler. She’s the director’s younger sister and shared the honor with an absent Billy Hopkins, but the weird name/movie title coincidence had people at my table thinking it was a typo in the program. It wasn’t.
This event is one of many in November, even though some of the films honored haven’t even opened yet, or in the case of Hustle haven’t even been seen. So why has this become perhaps the busiest month of the whole season, even with four still to go? I figured it out. At this point everyone still thinks they are a winner. For this talented group of behind the scenes artists that’s a very nice thing.