Roadside Celebrates 'Albert Nobbs,' Prepares to Mount Late Campaign for 'Margin Call'

Janet McTeer Glenn Close - H 2011
Scott Feinberg

Earlier this evening, I had the pleasure of spending some time at a reception in Hollywood with the folks from the film Albert Nobbs, including stars Glenn Close (who, along with John Banville, co-adapted the script from a short story), Janet McTeer (who just this week began working with Close on the TV series Damages), and Mia Wasikowska (who was also magnificent this year in Jane Eyre and Restless); director Rodrigo Garcia (who twice previously directed Close and gave Wasikowska her big break by casting her on the recently canceled HBO show In Treatment); and composer Brian Byrne (who became involved with the project in his native Ireland).

The event was hosted by Roadside Attractions, the small studio that guided The Cove (2009) to a best documentary Oscar two years ago and Winter's Bone (2010) to best picture, best actress, best supporting actor, and best adapted screenplay Oscar nominations last year. This year, they are strongly pushing Nobbs, with the hope of scoring Close a best actress nod (and possibly a career-acknowledgement victory) and McTeer a best supporting actress nod -- and, they decided in the last 48-hours, another film, as well: Margin Call, which was written and directed by first-time filmmaker J.C. Chandor and features an incredible ensemble cast led by Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Paul Bettany, Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore, and Mary McDonnell.

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Margin Call, which was made for just $3.5 million and shot in just 17 days in New York City, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January. Roadside and Lionsgate acquired its distribution rights during the festival, then took the film to the Berlin Film Festival, and ultimately released it concurrently in select theaters and on VOD on October 21. Enthusiastic reviews from several high-profile critics and timely subject matter helped to elicit strong turnout at movie houses and phenomenal interest on VOD (that's how I saw it earlier this week), and the resulting word-of-mouth buzz and media attention have convinced the studio that the film -- which received a best ensemble Gotham Awards nod earlier this month -- has a very strong shot at garnering major awards attention in the coming weeks and months: a best ensemble SAG nod and a best original screenplay Oscar nod being the most realistic targets; perhaps best supporting actor SAG/Globe/Oscar nods for Irons and/or Spacey (although both are currently working overseas and therefore unable to do all of the glad-handing that successful awards campaigns usually demand); and, unlikely but not impossible, a best picture Oscar nod.

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Consequently, screeners have already been mailed to the HFPA, with others for SAG and the Academy still on the way; Quinto is doing SAG Q&As and will probably attend the Gothams, perhaps with Irons and other members of the cast; and Roadside is starting to buy ads on various websites that might be read by awards voters. In other words, they're all in.

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As it turns out, Margin Call, against all odds, may turn out to be the one true "late surprise" of the awards season that we've all been waiting for.