Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Michael Cieply writes that Unbroken plans to "sit out the season’s opening festivals" -- which still leaves open the possibility that it may show up at the AFI, the last of the big fests.  The production schedule for By the Sea had already hinted that Unbroken would not be at any festival before November 10 when filming is scheduled to wrap.  Logistically, it can still be the AFI's closing night film on November 13.



In the Race for Oscars, Toronto Puts Up a Hurdle



“Unbroken,” directed by Angelina Jolie and starring Jack O’Connell as Louis Zamperini, the Olympic runner and World War II prisoner of war, is expected to sit out the season’s opening festivals. Credit Universal Pictures

While the Oscars are more than five months away (on Feb. 22), the list building has begun, and the whispering campaigns are already ferocious.

For months, Angelina Jolie’s coming World War II movie, “Unbroken,” based on a Laura Hillenbrand book about the tortured hero Louis Zamperini, has been identified as the picture to beat.

Never mind that the film, set for release on Christmas Day by Universal Pictures, isn’t finished and hasn’t been seen by those who are feeding the buzz. Much of the talk is an apparent effort by competitors to tag Ms. Jolie’s film with the dreaded front-runner status — like the ultimately snubbed “Dreamgirls,” from 2006 — in a game that almost always breaks toward dark horses.

Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” an ultrapersonal film about the life of a boy, played by Ellar Coltrane, over 12 years, has seemed to be in campaign mode at least since June, when Mr. Linklater, Mr. Coltrane and Ethan Hawke, who also stars in the film, helped warm up a crowd of tastemakers with an intimate screening at the Creative Artists Agency.

The trick is to get “Boyhood” out front while making it look like a long shot, or, in a cliché favored by awards publicists, “the little engine that could.”

Last year a half-dozen little engines emerged from the Telluride festival as supposed awards contenders, only to fall away by Oscar night. The Telluride darlings included “Inside Llewyn Davis,” from Joel and Ethan Coen; Robert Redford’s one-man show, “All Is Lost”; Hayao Miyazaki’s supposedly final animated feature, “The Wind Rises”; two hot documentaries, “Salinger” and “Tim’s Vermeer”; and Alexander Payne’s black-and-white dramedy, “Nebraska.”

In all, those six films won exactly no Academy Awards. Among them, only “Nebraska” was even nominated in the high-profile acting, directing, writing or best picture categories.

Shannon Goodwin Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the Telluride festival, declined to discuss whether the Toronto edict would affect this year’s program.

By custom, the roughly 30 Telluride films are revealed only as the festival actually begins, on Aug. 29 this year. But Toronto’s new exclusionary rule makes clear that several films it lists as “world premieres” — including Ed Zwick’s “Pawn Sacrifice,” about the chess player Bobby Fischer; Noah Baumbach’s “While We’re Young,” with Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts; and Jason Reitman’s “Men, Women & Children,” with Jennifer Garner and Adam Sandler — will not show up in Telluride.

On the flip side, Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Wild,” which stars Reese Witherspoon on a lonely hike on the Pacific Crest Trail and is to be released in December by Fox Searchlight, appears likely to grace Telluride, as does Jon Stewart’s “Rosewater,” about the trials of an imprisoned Iranian-Canadian journalist, set for release later this year by Open Road Films. Neither is called a “world premiere” on the Toronto schedule, signaling that each film will have played elsewhere — most likely Telluride — before showing up in Canada.

Several of the more prominent studio-backed Oscar prospects are bypassing both Telluride and Toronto, either because the films are not yet finished or because their backers see advantage in the sort of late-season arrival that last year earned five nominations, including best picture (but no wins), for Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street.” (The strategy contrasts sharply with that of “Gravity,” a Warner Bros. film that last year played the early festivals in Venice, Telluride and Toronto on its way to 10 Oscar nominations, and seven wins, including best director for Alfonso Cuarón.)

Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar,” from Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros.; David Ayer’s “Fury,” from Sony Pictures Entertainment; and Ms. Jolie’s “Unbroken” are all sitting out the season’s opening festivals, according to people briefed on the films, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice,” a thriller from Warner Bros., similarly will sidestep Telluride and Toronto, but will play in the New York Film Festival, which runs from Sept. 26 through Oct. 12. Another widely anticipated prospect, David Fincher’s “Gone Girl,” is also set to open the New York festival. .....

Read the full article at  nytimes

A version of this article appears in print on August 20, 2014, on page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: In the Race for Oscars, Toronto Puts Up a Hurdle .

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