Bridge Of Spies
Deadline spoke to both Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger, two of the producers on Best Picture nominee Bridge Of Spies and both first-time nominees. “I got woken up by my phone buzzing this morning, but, to be fair, I left it on my bed on purpose, next to my pillow,” said Platt said with a laugh. Macosko Krieger was also in bed when her husband nudged her. “My husband brought the iPhone into my room and said, “Here, do you want to see what’s going on here?” Platt made it a point to give kudos to the others nominated for the film: “We are particularly proud of our other first-timers as well such as our writer Matt Charman and (actor) Mark Rylance.” Asked who the unsung hero may have been on this film, Platt and Kristie agreed: The unspoken hero of the film was its subject matter: James B. Donovan. “He was such a compelling character who inspired (all of us) on the film. (Donovan) has children and grandchildren who were marvelously supportive and wildly enthusiastic about the film,” said Platt. Added Kristie: “Steven (Spielberg) was most nervous about showing the film to the family because he wanted to make his legacy worthwhile. He wanted to capture his spirit. The family saw it in New York right before the premiere and they loved it.” Platt interjected, “They were crying. Not only did (the film) capture the spirit of their Dad but also through the relationship between Abel (played by Rylance) and Hanks (Donovan) was the most moving aspects of this.” So what are they doing for the rest of the day? Both are working on films based on books — Macosko Krieger is working on Ready Player One for Warner Bros. and Platt is hard at work on Girl On The Train for DreamWorks. Kristie, by the way, is also in post-production on The BFG which Spielberg directed and also stars Rylance. Spielberg actually cast the actor in The BFG while he was directing him in Bridge Of Spies.
For Finola Dwyer, producer of Brooklyn, this was the second time that she and her writer Nick Hornby were nominated for an Oscar Best Picture. The first time being An Education in 2009. “We had such a great time with An Education. And now we’re family. It was such a great ride with that (film). It’s really wonderful that it’s happened again. We’re so proud of the film,” she said of the film that took her and her crew to locations in different countries. “I think the hardest thing was that we shot 35 days over 8 weeks in 3 countries. We had three big crews in three places. We had a little core group of 12. We called ourselves the Traveling Wilburys and we went to all the (countries) – -Ireland, New York and Montreal — and you drop yourself into another place and get to know people quickly. Other than the financing and achieving what we did on a very small budget, we had the most amazing heads of department that made it happen. We had an inspirational leader in our director who made it all seem so easy. We had a great cast who came prepared every day and knew their lines — and when you have a lot to shoot you need actors who are at the top of their game … and they were.”
Hornby lauded director John Crowley’s wife Fiona Weir who cast the film. “She is the unsung hero. She is the reason we are all there as much as anybody.” He noted that when he saw (fellow nominee) Saoirse Ronan’s performance, “I thought we would get swept along with her. The casting is brilliant.” On his second nomination, Hornby said, “The first time, I really thought that the Oscars operated in a parallel universe from anything that I would ever do. It’s like it didn’t seem possible. The second time around, you realize that independent film has as much of a chance as the other (studio) films.” Hornby got the news at home where he is nursing a sick child today.
Brooklyn director John Crowley, “My phone started going crazy and then I suspected what was happening. My wife, Fiona (Weir, casting director for Brooklyn), was in her office and called me and said “Congratulations, baby!” It was pretty great. It’s the first time anything I’ve ever been involved in has been allowed anywhere near the Oscars.”
“It’s the greatest moment in my life, next to having my kids,” said Simon Kinberg, producer of Best Picture The Martian. “I found the book when it was a self-published e-book. Andy Weir was publishing on the Internet chapter by chapter. It was brought to me as something that was like this cult object. So I took the first 20 pages and I didn’t stop reading. Then I walked it over to Emma Watts and said it’s not going to cost that much money, please just buy this. A lot of publishing companies then came for it. We bought the script before the publishing deal. Then it became a best seller. I gave the early draft to Drew Goddard and read it in a day and he wrote the script and … then I went to Matt Damon. I sent it to him on a Friday and he read it over the weekend and said, ‘I want to do this.’ There is some undeniable spirit that book has that we have been able to keep alive in adapting it for the screen.” What will he do the rest of the day? “I’m going to House of Pancakes and have some chocolate chip pancakes.”
Room got four noms in total, including best picture. Producer Ed Guiney says, “Brie (Larson) came to us as the first person we cast and she was of course amazing. But I think casting Jacob Tremblay was really the defining moment in the life of the film. He’s such a great actor. As Lenny (Abrahamson) says, he’s living proof that actors are born and not made. We were so lucky to come across him. and had we got that wrong, we would have made a far different movie. The making of the film was difficult and intense–there was just Jake and Brie for a lot of it–but I think Lenny did a lot to create an atmosphere on set that kept it quite light and really helped to protect them creatively, to give create confidence to Jake and Brie.”
Mary Parent, one of the producers of The Revenant received the news in Australia where it was 12:30 AM Friday. “I’ll probably never go to sleep now,” she said. “I watched on my phone and then the Internet connection dropped out for awhile — and then — it came back.” she laughed. “To say I am excited was an understatement. It’s a moment I will not soon forget. It is so gratifying because I watched how hard everyone worked every day so it was an honor to have been part of this movie.” She is currently shooting another Oscar nominee — Brie Larson in Kong: Skull Island. “It’ll be fun going to work tomorrow with Brie there.”
Steve Golin was the producer through Anonymous Content on both Best Picture nominees The Revenant and Spotlight. Asked what it was like to have the double-fisted nominations, Golin said of his films, “I have two kids, and I love both of them. It really worked out well. We developed both these movies inside Anonymous, and then we packaged them and took them out. The Revenant took 10 years and Spotlight took six years so it just worked out that they came out in the same year. It is a complicated situation, but it’s a high-class problem.” How will he celebrate? “I’m going to work today,” he said. “You know, you really can’t rest on your laurels.” Well, maybe a little bit, Steve?
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
“We were all very pleasantly surprised when we got the news with the number of nominations we had,” said Best Actor Nominee Leonardo DiCaprio on the 12 noms The Revenant received today from the Academy. “It’s pretty amazing for a type of film of that it is. It’s the kind that studios don’t really usually take on. It’s an epic art house movie and to have had it received as well as it has been with it being a different type of cinematic experience … and I think everyone felt that while we were making it … as hard as it was in making the film, it’s great to have it received as well as it has been. Hopefully, it will perpetuate other stories like this to be (produced). I certainly want to be part of another movie like this.” DiCaprio spoke to Deadline en route to the London premiere of The Revenant where he is hard at work promoting the film. “We’ve been doing publicity trying to push the movie along through Europe. When you do this kind of work on the film, you want people to see it.” The work is paying off as it has already been extraordinarily well received. The Revenant grabbed $20.5M in overseas markets playing only in 18 countries last weekend, after grossing a big $39.8 in its expansion. It will be released in the UK this weekend where is already amassed eight BAFTA awards. And, of course, the film took top honors at the Globes winning for DiCaprio who is considered the front-runner in this year’s Oscar race.
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
“To me, the global message was that civil liberties were in jeopardy—that we’re in a country where someone’s opinion, though perhaps not popular, or the opposite of yours, is worth persecuting and sending that person to prison because of how they think,” said Bryan Cranston on Trumbo, the film for which he received a Best Actor nomination. “It’s wrongheaded, and not what America stands for, so it wasn’t difficult for me to join the legions of like-minded people to say, “We’re better than that.” This is what brought us here—the differences in opinion and culture and language are what makes us strong.”
On his way to Fox for a reading of Why Him?, in which he’s starring opposite James Franco, Cranston was quick to compliment other films that have taken on the system or the traditional viewpoint this year, including Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight and Adam McKay’s The Big Short. “You look at the list of all of them, and it’s to be celebrated—the messages that are given. Even The Martian, I found very engaging, the exploration of loneliness and determination is a great story to tell, and the same thing with The Revenant,” Cranston says. Trumbo was certainly as difficult to get off the ground as any of these films, and the result is just as strong. “The challenge of bringing Trumbo to the screen was that not many people wanted to tell this story. You have no action, no sex, and the lead character is a communist,” he laughs. “That said, it is a highly introspective story, and a highly relevant story.”
When it comes to his roles, Bryan Cranston is no snob, though he’s had some nice ones to pick from. Speaking with him, he was clearly as passionate about his upcoming role in Kung Fu Panda 3 as anything else. “There’s value in all kinds of storytelling,” he said.
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
“I’m very excited, I’m very honored,” Michael Fassbender said during a break from his last day on Assassin’s Creed. Of what drew him to Steve Jobs, he says, “for a film to have a structure like that, it’s pretty interesting–the three-act structure–and just the fact that all the action and the excitement is in the dialogue. It’s so intelligent, so fluid and so smart, and funny as well in terms of writing. That’s really rare in films these days to have that. When I read the script, I was just astonished. It’s an amazing piece of writing and I just felt very lucky that it landed in my lap.”
Although Aaron Sorkin missed out on a nom for the screenplay, Fassbender is clearly a very strong supporter, although there were huge amounts of dialogue to memorize. “There are challenges in the writing,” he says, “but there are joys in it as well. I spent a lot of time with the script. It was the basics of learning your lines.” Fassbender also prepped by watching old footage of Jobs. “I spent as much time with stuff I could find on YouTube of Steve Jobs, just seeing him speak and listening to him speak, and just trying to soak up as much of it as I could, but mainly the script was where I spent most of my time, whether it was in rehearsal or by myself, just doing homework.” Of the sheer amount of work involved, Fassbender says, “there were times when I felt overwhelmed for sure. But the only cure for that was to sit down and start reading again – that was the best medicine.”
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
“Once I heard the film was nominated as well, that really means so much to us so we’re over the moon” offered Saoirse Ronan after hearing that she and the film Brooklyn received four nominations. When she got the script “there was never any doubt in my mind that it was a good story or that it was kind of important or special” and “hoped that people would get it and people would be able to appreciate it,” she said. She admits she didn’t expect that the movie would receive such critical acclaim noting, “Everyone’s taste from year-to-year changes, and you never really know what an audience is going to be drawn to.” Nonetheless the actress is grateful for the positive attention the film has received. “I knew when it came to our director, editor, and amazing writers, we’re doing the best job that we could, but you never know where it’s going to go from there … to get all of the nominations and the recognition has been brilliant, but to know that families are going to see the movie on Christmas Day or have been to see it 2 or 3 times is amazing. That’s what really touches you.” When asked if she had any expectations come Oscar night, she said, “I don’t think you can have expectations. I try to be as realistic as I can with everything whether it comes to going for a job or doing these awards shows where it’s better to expect not to win because, and not in a negative way, but if you’re just in that mind-set, then you’re a prepared person and can hopefully enjoy the night a little bit more. “
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
“We just flew in from England and landed about 3:30 in the morning and I couldn’t go to sleep. I was just knocked out of my chair,” Best Supporting Actor nominee Sylvester Stallone told Deadline. “It’s so gratifying that I got to share this with my daughters, Sophia, Sistine and Scarlett. They normally don’t watch my films. I guess they don’t see the feminine aspect of Rambo. With this one … with the director Ryan (Coogler) and the music, they got it. This moment with my kids, you know, it’s not going to come again.” Asked about the difference for him between the first nomination in 1977 and this time around, he said, “You know, the first time I was very green, very naive, and didn’t realize how special it was to be recognized by your peers. I was 29 years old and now at 69 years old, this is a modern miracle.” Today, Stallone received his first acting nom and first Academy Award nomination since 1977. And, this round is for acting for the same character — Rocky Balboa. He gave a shout out to his best friend from college, John Herzfeld (15 Minutes) “who has been so very supportive from the start.”
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
“I went and got the script from Victoria Thomas, the casting director of the movie, and it was missing the last chapter, so I was able to take it home and work on it, and then I went to Quentin’s house to read for it. We talked about the character for a very long time and then he gave me the last chapter, which I wasn’t anticipating. (Laughs) It was slightly nerve-wracking because Daisy does a lot, but she doesn’t talk a lot through most of the movie, until the end. (Laughs) Then she talks quite a bit,” said Jennifer Jason Leigh, on landing the role of Daisy Domergue. To calm herself during the audition, Leigh thought back to something a former mentor had said to her: “I once had an acting teacher who said, ‘Think of an audition as owning that part for that little bit of time you’re in the room.’ I remember calling my mom, who was just so excited for me just to have the audition, honestly. She’s like, ‘How’d it go? How’d it go?’ and I just said to her, ‘I have no idea, but I had the best time. My throat hurts, I’m sore from yelling, but I just had the best time. If it ends here, I will have had a great day, and the experience of working with Tarantino.’ I feel like I share this nomination with all of those hateful bastards, you know? I really do,” Leigh says.
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
“It’s a grand way to be woken up early in the morning to text messages and emails and phone calls,” said director George Miller who awoke to a Best Directing nomination for Mad Max: Fury Road and a total of 10 nominations for the film. “It’s a nice thing to have happened. It’s a delightful surprise. I would really never have thought … I must say that I feel a little taken aback in the best possible way. Needless to say, even the cats realized this morning that something remarkable happened. They normally are sleeping somewhere in the house, but today noticed that there is a little party going on.” He said there were two more stories for Mad Max that he has been “digging down deep into the world on, and I’m not sure when we’ll get to them again right away because I got a lot of more stories on my dance card. You make the Mad Max movies and think okay that’s enough of that and then they float around in the back of your mind and then it emerges and … it’s a very interesting world to visit.” He said he will probably do something next that “is smaller and quicker and less technically difficult. I never thought we’d be talking about Mad Max all these years later. But I have to say it’s great to be invited to the party. To be honest, right now, I’m grappling with the emotion of 10 nominations.”
Adam McKay, The Big Short
“It was surprising when we first put it up how many laughs it was getting. We in no way were chasing laughs. I thought, ‘Well this is a good problem to have.'” – Adam McKay, Writer/Director
McKay had a transformative experience on The Big Short, working from an original draft by Charles Randolph and finding the stylistic possibilities therein. Most of all, McKay was excited to be involved with a story that was alive. “This is a story that affected the entire planet, and it was really exciting to be working on a movie that was a living, breathing story,” he said.
The director had some important epiphanies while working on the film, which turns on a dime between deadpan comedy and weighty drama. The first is that that the old conventions and truisms of the craft are, in his opinion, fading, including the restrictions of traditional genres. McKay adds, “Working with that verite, handheld style, I was amazed how many laughs you could get off of that. One of the rules in comedy has kind of always been that you don’t do too much with the camera, and I think I learned with this movie that I don’t think that’s true.”
McKay is anxious to keep exploring different blends of genres, naming Kung Fu Hustle as one of his all-time favorite films for the way it blends “six genres in one.” Up next, he will continue to take on heavy topics—currently, he is mulling over an immigration pic with Will Farrell, and a film about global climate change.
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
“Can you believe it?” director Lenny Abrahamson says of his nom. It’s true that Abrahamson was far from a front runner in predictions. He had, he says, all but lost hope. “I believed all the punditry, especially in the last few weeks. I thought, ‘oh come on, we’ve fallen away. Hopefully it’ll be Brie (Larson), and that’ll be wonderful.’ I was prepared for that, so this is hard to process.” Speaking about the difficulty of shooting with a young child (Jacob Tremblay), cramped in a ten-foot square shed for several weeks, Abrahamson says: “For me, when I want to make a film, I have a very immediate gut reaction to something, and there’s a rush of images, a taste in your mouth. The job of making a film is to hold onto that. I did feel the power of it emotionally and what an unusual film it is. Ultimately, that’s the most pleasurable part of the entire thing, to feel that it’s worked. This was a film that had to make its way in the world by getting in front of audiences and affecting them.”
“Animation’s probably its own thing to some degree because of the sort of family reach that they have, but obviously the Academy has a great weight and cache to it that really elevates the perception of the film—just to be nominated brings the whole quality level up, I think; the perception of it,” said Inside Out‘s writer/director Pete Docter.
“This was a tough one because it was such an abstract concept that for the first couple of years, people would kind of squint their eyes and tilt their heads, trying to picture what we were talking about,” he says of the Pixar project’s long and difficult development process. “A big challenge was just simplifying the incredible complexity of the human mind into something that fits in eighty minutes, you know?”
Shaun The Sheep
Where were they when they heard they got nominated for Best Animated Feature? “We were in the middle of a script meeting for the second Shaun the Sheep movie. We haven’t been doing much screenwriting today though,” joked co-director and writer Richard Starzark, whose collaborator was Mark Burton. “We had a glass of champagne together in a reception with the 150 people who are working here.” The next Shaun the Sheep movie is planned for 2018 or 2019.
“The future of this film, while we were making it, was always so uncertain. We did it with very little money, completely under the radar, outside of the system, and that we even finished it was exciting. Now that the film is being appreciated and people like it and this nomination, it’s very thrilling and rewarding,” said the film’s writer and co-director Charlie Kaufman.
Added co-director Duke Johnson, “On Anomalisa, I learned how to make something big out of not very much. I learned so much from working with one of my heroes, Charlie. This was a huge learning experience, maybe beyond anything else.”
Johnson, Kaufman and producer Rosa Tran have talked about re-teaming for another stop-motion film if Anomalisa ends up a financial success. Additionally, while Kaufman prepares the second draft of a new script for Paramount, Johnson and his writing partner have optioned Donald Westlake’s book, Memory, in the hopes of making a live-action feature.
Foreign Language Film
“We are so extremely happy,” said Deniz Gamze Erguven, director of Foreign Film nominee Mustang on the phone to Deadline from Paris. “I’m on the verge of a heart attack. It’s just absolute joy. It’s the best tribute we could imagine for this film. The subject matter is extremely dear to my heart and extremely important for many, many women today. Everything I was at this year (awards shows) either I was the only woman or one of two (female) directors. It’s been like this for a long time. It’s changing but still not there in terms of numbers. The most difficult thing for me as a woman is to trigger trust with other partners. I have lived this from the inside, and the hardest thing is triggering trust with financial partners wondering if you are solid enough to go through a film. It’s very difficult to earn that trust. It’s been a really long and hard way, even if I’m young or a first feature. At the end of the day, for so many years we have always seen the world through the eyes of men and it has placed women as objects … there is something about the impact of cinema … we shape our society and it contributes to reproducing always from another age for the place of women so the female perspective is so important from that aspect.” For more on this film’s impact on a nation see Nancy Tartaglione’s story here).
Embrace Of The Serpent (Colombia)
This is the first time Colombia has ever been nominated since it began submitting movies off and on in 1980. The nomination for Embrace Of The Serpent is such a big deal that director Ciro Guerra says the Colombian President called him this morning. “He was super happy and congratulating us. It’s making headlines in all the outlets and people are going crazy on social media. We don’t have so much good news here so people really take it personally.” Guerra thinks the film is striking a chord because it “deals with spiritual issues. It’s ironic because people are in spiritual crisis. The world is filled with violence and hate and many people are looking for another way to be human. I think it speaks to that. It’s a very special moment for mankind.”
A War (Denmark)
A War director Tobias Lindholm was home in Copenhagen in the kitchen with his wife this afternoon as he watched the nominations. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to react no matter how it worked out so I wanted to isolate myself. We ended up jumping up and down and then drove out to (producer/distributor) Nordisk Film.” Lindholm is “extremely thrilled. I remember emotionally what happened but I don’t really remember the moment.” As to what’s next, Lindholm says, “The best plan that I have, and the only plan I have, is to meet all the soldiers who were in the film tonight and have beers with them. We need to allow ourselves just to celebrate now. This is for the full Danish film industry. We are a country of 5.5 million and this isn’t the first time we’ve had a nomination. It means a lot for the political engagement in Danish films.” After meeting up tonight with the real soldiers from A War, Lindholm will get back to work tomorrow. “It’s not only a party, it’s also hard work to get this far and to create a platform for a wider audience to see the film.”
Son Of Saul (Hungary)
Son Of Saul director Laszlo Nemes watched the nominations on a computer in the Budapest office of his production company today with the producers and the creative team who were all “extremely thrilled.” This was followed by a press conference with the Hungarian media. “This is a great thing for Hungarian cinema,” he says, “and for the idea of taking risks in filmmaking. How much risk as a filmmaker are you willing to take? Are you willing to interrogate the language of cinema? Do you take it for granted or want to push boundaries? Those are important questions and it’s encouraging to have the nomination for taking risks.” Why has the film resonated so? “I think because people had no immersive experience of the Holocaust and no sense of what the individual must have gone through and that’s compelling for people and creates a whole experience. There’s also the fact that it speaks very naturally to younger audiences, for the first time they really feel and are not only trying to understand in an intellectual way.”
Asif Kapadia, the director of Best Documentary feature nominee Amy told Deadline from London that he was in the middle of doing his taxes when the nominations were announced in Los Angeles. “I was working and then put on the web and watched. It’s really great for the team. Who thought it when we started three and a half years ago?” His film about the life of the late, great Amy Winehouse was one rife with emotion for the filmmaker and his team. “The difficulty on this was not really the financing but getting people to talk to us. It was hard to get people to trust me, but one by one they opened up and started talking so I think the film became a process of dealing with their grief in a way,” he said. “It took a year, to a year and a half for people to talk to me. We all thought we knew the story, but we learned that she was a very different girl. Once people saw her and why she became that way … well, it was very emotional. A lot of tears … every time we interviewed anyone it was hard. It was heavy to walk out of the room every night. And I thought to myself, is anyone going to watch this heavy film? Everyone knew the music but her lyrics were like pages from her diary.”
Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
“When Quentin first asked me to write the score for his new western, I said no. But Mr. Tarantino is an astute man, and he left the screenplay for my wife Maria to read. He had spotted who is the boss in our house. Maria realized instantly what a brilliant screenplay Quentin had written for The Hateful Eight, and she told me in no uncertain terms that I had to do it. I am so happy that I did. To work with such a brilliant young director at my age gives me great pleasure. He was just one year old when I wrote my first score for Sergio Leone for A Fistful of Dollars. It is also a deep honour and very humbling to receive this prestigious award nomination for doing the profession I love. I receive it on behalf of myself, Quentin Tarantino, The Weinstein Company, and the whole cast and crew of this remarkable film. And of course I receive it on behalf of my clever wife Maria.” — Ennio Morricone (in a statement)
Carter Burwell, Carol
“It’s pretty good,” laughed Carter Burwell, who composed the score for six-time Oscar nominee Carol. “When I was told about it, the only other person in my house was my four-year-old daughter — she didn’t really know what I was talking about, but my 13-year-old son just came home, and finally I have someone I can tell about it,” said Burwell. For the composer, Carol was a special opportunity. “It’s really a huge opportunity for a composer because there’s not a lot of dialogue, and a lot of the most important things that are going on in the film are unspoken for various reasons, either because the characters don’t even have the language for what’s going on, or she may not know what she’s really feeling,” he says. “The biggest challenge was to come up with something that would work in the very last scene, which had no dialogue.”
Diane Warren, “Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground
“I thought about their stories when I was told about the film. The music supervisor came to me and she was telling me about the stories of these girls and I really felt like I had to write the song. I was really compelled” said Diane Warren, who received an Oscar nom this morning for Original Song, “Til It Happens To You,” from The Hunting Ground, the controversial documentary detailing alleged incidents of rape on college campuses. “It’s really become an anthem for all these, I don’t want to call them victims because for me they’re survivors.” She said the inspiration for crafting the ballad stemmed from not only the stories of the survivors but her own personal experience with sexual abuse. “Till it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels … just to be honest I’ve had my own situation, a similar kind of situation, a sexual assault situation and so when you can relate a little bit of it to yourself as well maybe it helps resonate. I can certainly relate.” On working with Lady Gaga, Warren lauded the songstress saying, “She’s amazing” and described her performances as “genius.” She recounts seeing the singer on stage at last year’s Oscars performing the Sound Of Music medley. “I remember at the time tweeting, ‘okay just lost number seven, but lucky number eight, we’re coming back next year and she’s going to be back on that stage.’ I saw it with my eyes when she came on stage I thought it was such a sign. This is Warren’s eighth nomination but the songwriter insisted that it never gets old. “It’s exciting! It’s pretty amazing. I’ve yet to win but it’s awesome.”
J. Ralph, “Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction
J. Ralph was nominated for Best Original Song Manta Ray from the documentary Racing Extinction, the second time he has been nominated. The first was in 2013 for the 2012 documentary Chasing Ice. He is the first person in the history of the Academy ever to have been nominated twice for documentary compositions. So why does he concentrate composing for documentary films? “I focus on the documentary space to create music and help raise money and awareness for these critically important issues that affects everyone,” he said, mindful of his own young child. “My intention is to make sure that these issues get to the widest audience possible.” The latest documentary about climate change and man’s role in the destruction of the planet, focuses on the beauty of the species, the ocean life, which are being denigrated each year. “I believe climate change is the single most defining issue of our time. It’s affecting everything on (this Earth). We are literally at a critical tipping point of the survival of our planet.”
J. Ralph has worked on a number of other Oscar nominated/winning documentaries including Man on Wire, The Cove, and Finding Vivian Maier – “All the films I (compose for) is about dreams or the importance of consciousness. Any person can accomplish the greatest change with a dream or one small idea.” He said when the nominations were announced this morning, that he was playing with his 14-month old daughter Theodora. “I was in the studio until 5 in the morning. I was exhausted, came home and was so happy to see her completely in her own world playing with her blocks. And then her Mom started screaming at the TV. The first person I called was Anthony who I wrote the song with and she was in disbelief. We had no expectations. These are small films. We are up against some of the giant, giant movies. These are tough subjects to tackle. It’s life-changing stuff to become aware of this information. It’s important for people to realize that every person has the ability to change the world through small shits in consciousness.” You could say it’s a mission of conscience. “For me, I brought a daughter into this world and I want to make sure I do my part to make this world a safer and better place for her.”
Josh Singer, Spotlight
Josh Singer, co-screenwriter for Spotlight, gave a lot of credit to both the journalists and the director of Spotlight for their collaboration on the script. “We had a lot of help from the six reporters who just gave an incredible amount of their time. They had to re-live it all over again, and I think some of it was great for them and some of it was tough. They really were our partners in this. Tom (McCarthy, co-writer and director) is one of the most wonderful partners of the world. You collaborate with a lot of people over the course of your career and you never know what you’re going to get. This was one of those rare and incredible collaborations.” Singer was on-set writing and giving pages to actors the night before (which no actor really likes), but he said as challenging as it was, the cast was so good that it worked, and it made the movie all the better. But, he says, “If I was told beforehand how much re-writing there were be on-set, I would have fainted and then got up and run away. I joked with Rachel (McAdams, nominated for Best Supporting Actress) at one point after we had given her more pages the night before, that she was so good that the problem is you don’t give us any incentive NOT to give pages to you the night before. Mark Ruffalo was the first one to sign on and he’s the soul of the movie.” Ruffalo got a Best Supporting Actor nomination today.
Matt Charman, Bridge Of Spies
“The film school I’ve had working with Steven Spielberg, working with the Coen brothers, is an education like no other. You just don’t get to trade ideas and thoughts and pick the brains of those kind of people. It makes me so excited about the future,” said Charman, nominated for Best Orginal Screenplay with Ethan and Joel Coen. Working with Spielberg, for Charman, has been “a proper collaboration” with not only an iconic director, but also a very generous collaborator. It was a particularly extraordinary experience for him, given that this was the first major project that he originated. “I really believe what Steven has done is create something that’s thrilling, but something that’s true, you know?”
Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, Straight Outta Compton
Straight off the success of the sleeper hit, Straight Outta Compton, writers Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff nabbed an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, which came as a surprise to the scribers, “I think my exact words were ‘oh my God, oh my God, oh my God’, Berloff said on her initial reaction. “You can always hope but I certainly thought it was a real long shot,” Herman said. On the success of the film, Berloff noted, “First and foremost, it was the incredible music of NWA that brought people to their story and, as any other story, it was incredibly universal and really applicable to any young people who have ever had a dream and who have ever wanted to rise above where they were born. It was also time in America to have a conversation on race, and I think the country was ready to hear a story like this.” Added Herman, “Stories like this don’t get told very often unfortunately and hopefully this is a step in the right direction … the success of the film could open the door to many more stories that weren’t ordinarily being told in Hollywood.”
Another issue on the forefront this morning was the lack of minority nominees. “We certainly would’ve hoped for more from our collaborators down the line from the producers, from Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, from the director F. Gary Gray, to our actors, they all did an incredible job on this film and of course we wished they were recognized for that,” Berloff said. “We care deeply about the issue of diversity in Hollywood … we’re excited to have this opportunity to continue to discuss it.”
Meg LeFauve, Inside Out
When Meg LeFauve heard the news of nomination for Best Original Screenplay for Inside Out, she recounts something fun happening. She was taking a plane home after being at Pixar where she found out about the honor with fellow writer Josh Cooley. “On the Southwest flight, they announced that I had been nominated and they brought out a bottle of champagne. I was just flabbergasted, and I got off the plane and didn’t know what was happening.” She later found out that one of her friends called the airplane to tip them off. On the challenges of writing a screenplay that takes on the complexity of human emotion, LeFauve said, “It was an incredible challenge. It’s an incredibly complex concept and Pete’s [Docter] vision is so original that it really just feels like such an accomplishment to having it become what it became — that it had such impact on audiences.” She said the biggest challenge was “maintaining Pete’s originality and vision and the complexity of it, while at the same time keeping it emotional and thematic in terms of the idea growing up and accepting sadness … it’s so exciting to have pulled it off.”
Phyllis Nagy, Carol
“It’s the most thrilling thing that’s ever happened to me, and all I keep thinking about is the many, many people who helped push it along. I’m happy for all of us, and that includes Tessa Ross from Film4, and all the producers and people who have been working right alongside me. I mean, I just wrote the thing,” Nagy laughed. She, of course was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay today. She said she faced an intense, prolonged development process of over 10 years and was tempted more than once to throw the towel in, but at this point, is very happy that she persevered. “I had to try to convince people that this romance, that wasn’t really an issues-based lesbian romance, was worth making, and that it would reach a number of people for whom it would have great meaning.”
Charles Randolph, The Big Short
“It’s a great example of how you can find emotional context and emotional conflict in any subject matter,” said Charles Randolph, who was nominated today for co-writing the Best Adapt Screenplay. “Moving forward, The Big Short cracks the door open a little wider on institutions and complex subjects that we normally wouldn’t touch, and that only get written about in long form journalism and occasionally, in a documentary. The second lesson is that there’s a broader-scale farce that actually works really, really well with smarter material. I knew that before, but Adam (McKay) did it in a way we hadn’t seen in a while. That’s fantastic because that means we can do the thing we’re always trying to do, which is to make art and commerce meet.”
Note: Kate Winslet, who received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Steve Jobs, said she was declining interviews today regarding her nomination out of respect for Alan Rickman, who died this morning at the age of 69.