International Insider: Academy Award Noms Are In; Berlin Latest; Channel 5 Boss Talks Tough
Good afternoon Insiders, Max Goldbart here. It’s Oscar noms week, and we’d be rude not to bring you the latest headlines and analysis from the Academy and beyond. Read on.
And The Nominations Are In
Everything Everywhere all at the Oscars: Zac Ntim here reporting after an Oscar noms week in which A24’s multiverse epic Everything Everywhere All at Once scored a leading 11 nominations, while there was plenty to digest on the international side. The film’s haul included Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress for Michelle Yeoh, who became the first actress of Asian descent nominated in the category. Writer-directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert originally created the role for Jackie Chan. The A24 pic has leapt from plucky underdog to awards frontrunner in a matter of weeks, collecting impressive hauls at BAFTA and numerous others. A nomination for Best Supporting Actress Stephanie Hsu, who has rarely featured this awards cycle, is evidence of the film’s popularity amongst Academy voters, while former Goonies star Ke Huy Quan’s nod is a beautiful comeback story. Martin McDonagh’s latest pitch-black comedy, The Banshees of Inisherin, and Netflix’s All Quiet on the Western Front trail Everything Everywhere in overall noms with nine apiece.
International race: Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness joins All Quiet in the race, waving the flag for the international contingent. All Quiet is also up for Best International Feature, as expected, while other non-shocks include Lukas Dhont’s Close, Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO, and Santiago Mitre’s Argentina, 1985. Notable international absences include Ali Abbasi’s Holy Spider, Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s Bardo.
Luck of the Irish: The standout nom is Colm Bairéad’s The Quiet Girl, which is the first Irish feature film to receive a Best International Feature nod. The pic premiered in Berlin and went on to become the highest-grossing Irish-language film of all time in its home market. And what a night for Irish stars, who scored a record 14 noms overall and comprise one quarter of the acting noms. McDonagh’s Banshees accounts for a large portion of these but Paul Mescal scored a surprising yet delightful nom for his role in Charlotte Wells’ festival favorite Aftersun.
To who?: In a similar vein, British director Michael Morris’s feature debut, To Leslie, debuted at SXSW without much noise, but a guerrilla campaign waged by industry insiders for Andrea Riseborough’s leading performance in the film led to a startling Best Actress nom. Ana de Armas, Cate Blanchett, and Michelle Williams round out the category and Blanchett was one of Riseborough’s biggest proponents. It is quite an incredible story pertaining to a film that grossed less than $30,000. Our very own Joe Utichi sat down with the star to dissect further. “I’m astounded,” she told him. “It’s such an unexpected ray of light. It was so hard to believe it might ever happen because we really hadn’t been in the running for anything else.” Plenty more from the Oscars here and you can check out the full noms here. Ceremony takes place March 12.
“Eclectic selection”: The Oscars aren’t the only incoming major film event. This week was a big one for the 73rd Berlin International Film Festival as the International Competition and Encounters lineups were unveiled Monday. Mel sat down with Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian and Executive Director Mariëtte Rissenbeck Monday to discuss what Carlo termed an “eclectic selection,” featuring established names such as Philippe Garrel (The Plough), Margarethe von Trotta (Ingeborg Bachmann – Journey Into the Desert) and Christian Petzold (Afire) alongside newcomers including Celine Song and Giacomo Abbruzzese with respective first features Past Lives and Disco Boy. Mixing the established with the up-and-coming has long been a feature of Berlin lineups. Meanwhile, China’s Lu Zhang’s The Shadowless Tower is repping Asia, a focus for the European Film Market, according to EFM Director Dennis Ruh. He told Mel that he expects Asian and U.S. professionals to be out in force alongside European counterparts when things kick off next month. Read his full interview here. Festival takes place February 16 to 26 and Deadline will be out in force.
Goodbye Mr Smith: Big news in the world of Saudi-based broadcast and media group MBC. On Wednesday, we broke the story that Peter Smith is leaving MBC Studios after four years as Managing Director. Smith has seen first-hand the changes in Middle Eastern media of recent years, as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia forcefully pushes to turn the country into a regional business hub of choice, including the introduction of a lucrative tax credit. MBC moved its headquarters from Dubai to the Saudi capital Riyadh last year in a hugely symbolic move for the Saudi-owned company. Smith – known in the international production world for stints at Cineflix Studios, NBCUniversal International and Antenna Group – had led a production revolution at MBC after being charged with making its studios group the most influential producer in the region. Big budget shows such as The Devil’s Promise and Rashash have followed and last year the outfit launched its most ambitious production to date – fantasy adventure series Rise of the Witches (pictured), shot at the emerging smart city Neom and made for MBC streamer Shahid. Smith has assembled an impressive local team, including several international execs. A new MD will be unveiled any day now, MBC CEO Sam Barnett told us. A day before the news broke, MBC had unveiled a major content partnership with Vice Media Group, which will see the iconoclastic U.S. company making shows in numerous genres for MBC platforms. It has also re-upped and expanded a deal with Warner Bros Discovery, as a busy month for the Middle East’s biggest media group continues.
Channel 5 Boss Talks Tough
“Giving our rivals a good kicking”: Paramount-owned Channel 5 content boss Ben Frow (pictured) rarely pulls punches. Frow has spent the past few years turning around the fortunes of the network once owned by a porn baron and C5’s new era is, by now, barely new. Unveiling a 40 hour slate at a swanky do in London’s Covent Garden Wednesday night, Frow chided broadcasting rivals who “used to look down their noses at us,” adding: “There’s nothing I like better than giving our rivals a good kicking.” Tough talk, and Frow went on to claim Channel 5 now beats Channel 4 in the nightly ratings at least once a week. “We’re getting bigger and they’re getting smaller,” he jibed. The event was an opportune moment to assess the rise of Channel 5, which used to be known for bargain holiday shows and Neighbours repeats and is now working with the likes of Stephen Fry and Michael Palin, while 150 hours of drama are currently in production. On the slate, a return for much-loved hardman Ross Kemp to acting after 15 years in thriller Blindspot and factual shows featuring superstar astronaut Tim Peake, Ruby Wax and Repair Shop darling Jay Blades. Read all about it here.
Sitting Down With Cate & Zar
From Spider to Shayda: It’s been quite the year for Zar Amir-Ebrahimi, who won the Best Actress Award in Cannes for Holy Spider and found herself mere weeks later flying to Australia to make Shayda with EP Cate Blanchett, who comes fresh off the back of an Oscar nom for Tár. The pair sat down with Diana at Sundance to talk about a movie described as a “love letter to mothers and daughters everywhere,” which opened the fest’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition. “I’m not that interested in doing a comedy or something that doesn’t really change anything in our society,” confessed Zar. Go deeper here. Sundance ends Sunday.
🌶️ Hot One: Kevin Spacey is being replaced by RRR star Ray Stevenson (pictured) in 1242: Gateway to the West. Andreas with this one.
🌶️ Another one: Paul Mescal-starring A Streetcar Named Desire is heading to Broadway, thanks to Baz for this one.
🌶️ And another: Wales’ search for the next Doctor Who kicked off with the opening of Aria Studios, per Zac’s exclusive.
🪑 Chair: The BBC’s Richard Sharp landed himself in the hottest of hot water after it emerged he helped arrange a loan for Boris Johnson before landing the top job at the corporation.
🚪 Exit #1: Britain’s Got Talent label Thames boss Amelia Brown, who is setting up her own shingle.
🚪 Exit #2: ITV Studios’ Arjan Pomper, with Ruth Berry taking on the Love Island producer/distributor’s Global Distribution and Global Entertainment arms.
🚪 All the exits: Last but not least Aloke Devichand, who left his role as Netflix Head of Original Documentaries in Asia to freelance in London late last year.
❌ In court: Twitter, sued by UK’s Crown Estate over unpaid London rent. Whoops.
🏆 Awards latest: Louis Garrel’s The Innocent took the lead in nominations for the 48th César Awards.
❄️ Freezing: The conditions on Netflix’s Squid Game: The Reality set. Medics were called in.
🏪 Setting up shop: Strong Film & Television from BAFTA-winner James Strong and Matt Tombs, which has been backed by Studiocanal per Jake’s scoop.
🖼️ Casting: Pose star Dyllón Burnside will make his London stage debut with Black Superhero.
🍿 Box office: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish crossed $300M global Monday. Here’s Nancy’s analysis.
🎥 Trailer: It’s nearly here… and we’re excited. Trail for HBO/Sky’s Succession season four dropped Thursday.