Harvey Weinstein's Crowded Awards Calendar Forces Tough Choices
This story first appeared in the Aug. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Harvey Weinstein has some hard decisions to make.
With awards season looming, The Weinstein Co. is fielding a jam-packed schedule of possible contenders -- from obvious Oscar-bait like August: Osage County to a trio of black-themed dramas: Fruitvale Station, Lee Daniels' The Butler and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Also waiting in the wings are Wong Kar-Wai's The Grandmaster; One Chance, David Frankel's movie about British talent-show sensation Paul Potts; and the documentary Salinger.
But while Weinstein has proved his ability to juggle several awards hopefuls at a time, he'll soon have to choose exactly where to focus his famous firepower. After all, while TWC scored an impressive 17 Oscar nominations in January, he admitted he failed to do all he could have to push The Master, which was denied a best picture nom.
At the moment, TWC is riding the zeitgeist with Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale, the true story of a young black man gunned down by a BART officer in Oakland, Calif., which plays into the discussions surrounding the Trayvon Martin killing. Oscar winner Octavia Spencer has some moving scenes as the man's mother, and TWC hopes to position the film as this year's indie success story, a la Beasts of the Southern Wild -- though it may play strongest at the Spirit Awards.
Butler, opening Aug. 16, has already gotten a PR push thanks to TWC's title battle with Warner Bros. and the MPAA -- and co-star Oprah Winfrey made a rare visit to David Letterman's Late Show on Aug. 1 to support the movie. As Nelson Mandela faces his final days, Weinstein is readying a biopic starring Idris Elba for release Nov. 29. "This is the kickass version of Mandela," Weinstein has promised.
In the best actress race, Weinstein will have to be even more strategic. Perennial favorite Meryl Streep stars as a drug-addicted matriarch in the adaptation of the Tony-winning August, set to open Dec. 25. Nicole Kidman portrays Grace Kelly in Grace of Monaco and joined Weinstein in Cannes to chat up the movie, bowing Nov. 27.
There's also Stephen Frears' Philomena, starring Weinstein fave Judi Dench; TWC hasn't dated the film, but it's screening in Venice and Toronto. Weinstein also must decide when to release James Gray's 1920s-set The Immigrant (coming through TWC's Radius label) this year, since Marion Cotillard's star turn could warrant a best actress bid -- if there's room for one more.