THE LADY IN THE VAN

Best Actress Chatter: Silverman and Smith

Every year is a weak year for the best-actress race – according to some, at least. But a few recent updates – including news on this year’s first Oscar screener – keep the conversation hot, especially considering that we’re not chatting top-tier candidates like Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, and Jennifer Lawrence at the moment.

sarahsilverman_ismilebackSarah Silverman in I Smile Back (via IndieWire)

Oscar nominee Sarah Silverman? The comedian-actress will receive the Mill Valley Film Festival’s Spotlight Award, and will participate in an on-stage conversation about her work in I Smile Back, along with a screening of the addiction drama. MVFF runs from Oct. 8 to Oct. 18.

Keep in mind, Smile also played Sundance earlier this year, and will play Toronto next month. Additionally, several recent Spotlight Award winners have gone on to Oscar bids in recent years; bold indicates actors nominated in the years that they won:

  • 2014: Elle Fanning (Low Down), Eddie Redmayne (won best actor for The Theory of Everything)
  • 2013: Jared Leto (won best supporting actor for Dallas Buyers Club)
  • 2012: Billy Bob Thornton (Jayne Mansfield’s Car, which he also directed and wrote)
  • 2011: Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marelene), Michelle Yeoh (The Lady)
  • 2010: James Franco (nominated for best actor for 127 Hours)

Distributor Broad Green Pictures seems to have high hopes for Smile, and will give the film a limited release on Oct. 23 – the same day Suffragette hits select locations.

maggiesmith_ladyinthevan2

The Lady in the Van back on the road? It looks like the Maggie Smith-led dramedy is back on the schedule for a limited bow on Dec. 11 – the same day for which it was once scheduled.

The film premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival next month, and given its apparent December debut, I suppose Van may be an awards vehicle for Smith, who plays a woman who lived in a man’s driveway for 15 years, after all. The two-time Oscar winner originated the role in the Olivier Award-nominated West End play in 1999.

I earlier speculated that distributor Sony Pictures Classics put the brakes on Van to make room for other best-actress contenders, such as Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl with Bel Powley, Paul Weitz’s Grandma with Lily Tomlin, and James Vanderbilt’s Truth with Cate Blanchett. All three may still get campaigns – for best actress, at least – but the apparent return of Van makes me wonder how confident SPC is in them.

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Oscar Predictions 2015: Chi-Raq and Trainwreck Enter the Fray

Hey all! Back for another predictions update!

In case you missed them, here are some news bits that may prove relevant during the awards season:

Photo (via TIME) by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

Amazon Studios to give Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq Oscar-qualifying run in December. The film, based on the classical Greek comedy Lysistrata, will have an official opening after the new year. The theatrical release will precede its streaming debut, in order to avoid a Beasts of No Nation-esque conflict. The film focuses on a woman (played by Teyonah Parris) who goes on a sex strike to protest black-on-black gun violence in Chicago.

The Amy Schumer-led, Judd Apatow-helmed Trainwreck soars. The acclaimed comedy surpassed its mid-teens expectations with $30.2 million – the second-best for an Apatow film, just behind Knocked Up (2007)’s $30.9 million debut. Universal Pictures may push Schumer’s original screenplay for awards consideration; the actress-writer may also find herself in the best-actress conversation – at least at the Golden Globes, right?

Bill Condon’s Mr. Holmes wins the specialty box office. The film, led by Ian McKellen as an aging Sherlock Holmes battling senility and grappling with an unsolved case, made $2.49 million from just 363 locations. If the drama continues to succeed in the coming weeks, we may have another legitimate contender for the best actor Oscar.

Fox Searchlight sets Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition for April 6, 2016. With Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead and Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper in supporting roles, this looked like another awards magnet for Vallée, but maybe this will be a commercial hit next year. The distributor still has contenders in Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, John Crowley’s Brooklyn, Luca Guadagnino’s A Bigger Splash, and Noah Baumbach’s Mistress America.

Sony Pictures Classics pulls The Lady in the Van from its 2015 slate. Once set for limited release on December 11, the drama looked like an Oscar vehicle for Maggie Smith, who reprises her Olivier Award-nominated role as a woman who lived in a man’s driveway for 15 years. No word on a new release date, but I imagine it will make its mark early next year. SPC probably pushed Lady back to make room for other best-actress contenders.

Now, this week’s predictions:

 
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The Lady in the Van Held Up in Traffic, Pushed to 2016

maggiesmith_ladyinthevan2Maggie Smith as she appears in Nicholas Hytner’s The Lady in the Van (via The Guardian)

Sony Pictures Classics has pulled Nicholas Hytner’s The Lady in the Van from its 2015 slate, according to Deadline Hollywood. Once set for limited release on December 11, the film looked like an Oscar vehicle for Maggie Smith, who plays a woman who lived in a man’s driveway for 15 years. She originated the role in the Olivier Award-nominated West End play in 1999. No word on a new release date, but I imagine it will make its mark early next year.

SPC probably pushed Lady back to make room for other best-actress contenders, such as Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl with Bel Powley, Paul Weitz’s Grandma with Lily Tomlin, and James Vanderbilt’s Truth with Cate Blanchett – all of which may make waves in additional races. James Kent’s Testament of Youth with breakout star Alicia Vikander may turn some heads, too.

I will update my Oscar-predictions pages accordingly over the next few days. In the meantime, check out the trailer for Lady below and see how you feel about the delayed release.