After a very early morning and sleepless night for most, the waiting is over for this year’s Oscar nominees. Here’s a round-up of some key reactions.
Jonathan Pryce wasn’t planning to watch this morning’s Oscar nominations. “I’d written myself off,” he said. “I’d been reading all the things online about who was going to win and who wasn’t, and so I decided to take no notice.” He wound up throwing on the livestream, more to see whether his colleagues in The Two Popes had received noms. “But it kept cutting out. I heard the announcement of Anthony [McCarten] for Adapted Screenplay, but I missed entirely Tony [Hopkins’] nomination for Best Supporting Actor, so I really had written everything off by then.”
He let out a loud yell when he finally did hear his name, in the fifth Best Actor slot — Pryce’s first ever recognition from the Academy. “It got to four names, and I thought, well, that’s it. But obviously, they were doing them in alphabetical order,” he laughed. He was surprised by his own reaction to the news. “I really didn’t expect to have the emotional reaction I had, but it’s been a long time coming. It’s been 48 years since I’ve been working. It was a very nice feeling, and it was doubly nice because Tony was nominated. That was great.”
While Pryce is on the merry-go-round for the first time this year, he can at least take comfort in having Hopkins by his side, who is enjoying his fifth nomination (one, for The Silence of the Lambs, resulted in a Best Actor win). Will he seek advice from Hopkins in what to expect? “No, he’d probably tell me to stay away, I think,” Pryce laughed. “That would be his advice!”
“It’s a mixture of excitement and relief that it’s all over,” said Anthony McCarten, who received his fourth Oscar nomination for Adapted Screenplay for The Two Popes. “I didn’t sleep much last night. I normally sleep like a log. I woke at 3 in the morning thinking this is ridiculous, it’s just an award and I shouldn’t care. But I clearly do.” Two Popes is his fourth consecutive film to earn an Oscar Best Picture nom following Bohemian Rhapsody, Darkest Hour, and The Theory of Everything. “I’m drawn to stories that combine the intimate with the epic. There’s something about that macro and micro combination that gives a profundity to it. He adds, “If you see an astonishing event in a movie and then you add the fact that this actually took place, it has an additional power.”
Saoirse Ronan, nominated for Lead Actress for Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, had entire teams of family and friends paying close attention to this morning’s nominations, among them her mom and dog at home in Ireland. (You can watch the clip below). “I didn’t realize they were coming out so early,” Ronan said from Los Angeles. She is celebrating her fourth nomination and has become the second-youngest performer to reach that milestone. “I was so, so happy to hear the news,” she told Deadline. “But as soon as I heard that we got Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay especially, I just burst into tears, because the movie for me is one of the best of the year and Greta’s going to be able to go and represent the movie as she should. I’m so happy to be a part of that.” Asked about her real moments of pride and pleasure in adapting Little Women with Gerwig, Ronan warned that she might tear up. “I think the combination of being given the permission to play Jo March and working with somebody like Greta Gerwig allowed me to open up as an actor in a way I don’t think I’d done before, and have freedom in the way I speak and move and am to try different things. To break through a little more.”
Florence Pugh, nominated for Supporting Actress for Little Women, may have missed the Little Women rehearsal, but she had a very good reason. “I was on the set of Midsommar and I was burning my boyfriend in that exact moment,” she says, “so I would just keep on sending them pictures of me doing mad stuff in my flowered dress and they would keep on sending me pictures of them doing very normal things and were quite confused as to why I was wearing a flower crown. But when I got there, they had such open arms, they were so ready to welcome me and bring me into the family.” Greta Gerwig’s script and Pugh’s portrayal of Amy March certainly shook up earlier interpretations of the character, taking Amy back to her truly feminist, survivor roots. “With Amy, I think Greta went back to the book and she just picked out this girl that we’ve unnecessarily hated for so long,” Pugh said. “For an actor to hope to persuade people otherwise is pretty cool. It’s a nice canvas to be stepping up to and I had so much fun.”
With a Best Picture nomination in the bag for Little Women, producer Amy Pascal is “so happy”, but she credits it all to the film’s writer/ director Greta Gerwig. Pascal championed the project from her first conversation with Gerwig. “She had the whole film that she already directed in her head,” Pascal says. “She knew that it was going to be a movie about the importance of money, and the importance of independence, and the importance of the sacrifices you make as an artist to live in the real world. She knew she was going to tell it in those two timelines. She knew it was going to be about the idealization we have of our childhoods. She had the whole thing and it was awe-inspiring from the very first moment I met her.”
After being unable to sleep the night before the Oscar nominations, songwriter Diane Warren was pleased to learn this morning that she’d received her 11th nom for “I’m Standing With You,” a song from the Christian drama Breakthrough, starring Chrissy Metz. “It’s really emotional. I thought that the song worked so well within the movie, but it’s had so many different lives since the movie,” the songwriter explained. “The ACLU used it as a theme song this year. Then, at the 50th anniversary of Stonewall, it became an anthem for LGBT solidarity. Then there was a performance at the PEN Awards, where it represented freedom of speech.” With her latest song, sung by Metz, Warren hopes people will take away the simple fact that none of us is alone. “I think the song has such a really timely message, because it’s such a divided country right now, and people feel so alone,” she says. “And here’s a song that’s saying, ‘Through whatever you go through, I’m standing with you.’”
With 20 Oscar nominations behind him, composer Randy Newman earned two more this morning, for his contributions to Marriage Story and Toy Story 4. Nominated for Best Original Score for Marriage Story, Newman will face off with his cousin — Thomas Newman (1917) — in that category, for the first time in more than 20 years. With the latest installment in the Toy Story franchise, directed by Josh Cooley, the composer again is up again for Best Original Song, for “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away.” For Newman, the best part of working on this pair of films was the collaborations he shared with their directors. “It was a pleasure to work on both of them — I mean, as much of a pleasure as it can be. It’s a god*mn grind. Not the songwriting so much, but movie music, you have to work while you’re awake or it doesn’t get done,” the composer said. “I’ve never liked it; I’ve always found it really difficult. [But] a day like today is very nice. [The nomination] may be all I get in this go-around, but I enjoyed it.”
A first-time Oscar nominee recognized today for “Stand Up” — an original song written for Harrie — Joshuah Brian Campbell said he’s now experiencing “a pretty intense sense of awe at where this song has taken us.” Writing it alongside Cynthia Erivo, who also got a Best Actress nomination today for playing Harriet Tubman in Kasi Lemmons’ drama, Campbell intended for the song to be “an honest homage” to the American icon, a slave-turned-abolitionist who led hundreds of slaves to freedom by way of the Underground Railroad. “I hope [viewers] take away from the film that Harriet was a deeply spiritual, deeply dynamic woman,” Campbell tolds Deadline. “She just extends her life experience so much into our future that there can be a movie made in 2019 that’s so vibrant and so full of action and all those facets of her life.”
Pippa Harris is one of the four producers of Universal/Amblin’s 1917 (with Jayne-Ann Tenggren, Callum McDougall and director/co-writer Sam Mendes) who all picked up their first producing nomination today, with a Best Picture slot one of 10 overall for the World War I epic. She said the unique approach to the World War I epic — shot in a continuous take by cinematographer Roger Deakins – was specific to the material and wouldn’t make sense in most applications, but she noted that it added considerably to the film’s ambitions.
It required cast and crew to take a theater-production approach to many of the basic components of the process: The long takes required more exhaustive rehearsals, stitched-tight screenwriting, less lighting gear, and more decisive directing choices.
“They were some practical complications,” she said. “If you’re shooting across 65 days, as we were, and yet on screen the time span is continuous and taking place in a very short period of time, you obviously need the weather to be continuous and consistent. You can’t show it sunny one moment and a rain downpour in the next. So capturing 65 days where the weather was amenable was quite a challenge. We essentially needed overcast weather every day because Roger [Deakins, our cinematographer] wasn’t able to light anything in the 360-degree approach to shooting that Sam needed.”
Harris, whose previous credits via Neal Street Productions alongside Mendes include Revolutionary Road, Shrek the Musical, Penny Dreadful and Call the Midwife, also expressed pride in the fact that 1917 is an original story, not a sequel or adaptation, and that it relates a period piece tale with both contemporary urgency and themes. The movie’s main stars are not famous famous faces, either.
“All of it was exhilarating — like doing theater,” she said. “We would get everything set up and then sit back and watch these seven- or eight- minute takes and just cross our fingers that the actors could get all the way through the take.”