After spending a decade acting in film and TV projects, writer/director Scott Cooper made his feature film debut in 2009 with Crazy Heart. In addition to being a great success at the box office, the film won Oscars for Best Actor for Jeff Bridges and songwriters Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett for “The Weary Kind.” Cooper won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and was nominated for a Writers Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
For his second outing, Cooper has made one of the most intense, challenging, and violent films of the year with Out of the Furnace. The film may best be thought of as the lovechild of The Deer Hunter and The Grapes of Wrath, providing an unflinching look at working class America in the era of soldiers returning home from overseas and the death of America’s once booming blue collar culture. The film features some of the year’s best performances, including Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone) as a Veteran who resorts to bareknuckle fighting, and Christian Bale (The Fighter) as his brother who after being released from jail must take justice into his own hands.
Out of the Furnace opens on Friday, December 6th, and in anticipation I recently enjoyed a robust chat with Cooper about writing and directing the film. Here’s what Cooper shared with me about making a risky second feature, filming on location in Braddock, Pennsylvania, and crafting Out of the Furnace.
TIME’s Richard Corliss
2. The Great Beauty
3. American Hustle
5. The Grandmaster
6. Fast and Furious 6
8. The Act of Killing
9. 12 Years a Slave
10. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
(thanks to Marshall)
Best Film: HER
Best Director: Spike Jonze, HER
Best Actor: Bruce Dern, NEBRASKA
Best Actress: Emma Thompson, SAVING MR. BANKS
Best Supporting Actor: Will Forte, NEBRASKA
Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer, FRUITVALE STATION
Best Original Screenplay: Joel and Ethan Coen, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
Best Adapted Screenplay: Terence Winter, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
Best Animated Feature: THE WIND RISES
Breakthrough Performance: Michael B. Jordan, FRUITVALE STATION
Breakthrough Performance: Adele Exarchopoulos, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR
Best Directorial Debut: Ryan Coogler, FRUITVALE STATION
Best Foreign Language Film: THE PAST
Best Documentary: STORIES WE TELL
William K. Everson Film History Award: George Stevens, Jr.
Best Ensemble: PRISONERS
Spotlight Award: Career Collaboration of Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: WADJDA
Creative Innovation in Filmmaking Award: GRAVITY
“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
― John Steinbeck
Three strong films in the Oscar race face down the rise of the 1% — a rise that has accelerated alarmingly in this country over the past several decades. As the effects of the economics schemes put in place during the Reagan era play now begin slamming the generations that followed, storytellers in literature and film are attempting to sift through the rubble to find some some sort of deeper meaning to the illusions of trickle-down magic that have gone so horribly wrong.
The best of this trio of films (by many accounts) is The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese’s latest so fresh it’s still nearly wet — a ferocious, unapologetic partner to Goodfellas that nails not only the corruption of Wall Street to the wall, but sticks a fork in the American Dream itself. A pleasure seeker without conscience taking more than he gives back, Jordan Belfort wants only what he’s been conditioned to want until the bottom drops out and he see there’s nothing left of himself but an emptied-out shell. Money in obscene abundance means nothing when it gets you nothing but excess. Buying drugs, hookers, women, fancy cars, yachts — it’s a rotten end goal that takes from the poor what they can’t afford to give and leads to the kind of exorbitance that hollows out the soul.
For the second year in a row, the New York Film critics picked a movie to win that had not yet been officially reviewed or put before the awards machine yet. Last year’s Zero Dark Thirty zoomed right to the top after its NYFCC win, which was quickly followed by the National Board of Review. It started to take the critics awards with a fervor until the shit began to hit the fan. This year, American Hustle could be that movie all over again – it might start to take the critics awards by storm and David O. Russell would be headed straight for a Best Picture win. But now it has to sit out there as the frontrunner, a place no film ever wants to be early in the race. On the other hand, if a consensus begins to build around American Hustle, it might gain enough momentum to push it over the hump and give Russell his long overdue Best Director win, besting Steve McQueen, Alexander Payne, Martin Scorsese, etc.
But because the NYFCC now comes out so early, and because they pick films that yet to run the awards gauntlet — let’s call them awards virgins – there really is no way to determine how all of it will play out. Does it now get the backlash the way other films in its position have? The way Silver Linings Playbook did out of Toronto last year when it suddenly and unexpectedly became the film to beat? Russell seems to be flirting with the edges of a big Oscar win – this might be his year.
The New York Film Critics have become much more mainstream than they ever were. The Los Angeles Film Critics, by contrast, try not to be as influential in the awards race (although all of them probably want to be influential, hell, who doesn’t) but the NYFCC have changed their strategy recently by wanting to be the first booming voice in the awards race. They have accomplished that, and the win for American Hustle puts it squarely in the Best Picture race. Given the history of NYFCC and Oscar, it seems near-impossible for this film not to at least be a major player.
The DGA begins voting today and this boost could really help David O. Russell make the cut, as well as with the SAG voting which starts a week later. Many will make the mistake of saying that because 12 Years a Slave or Gravity did not get many awards (Steve McQueen won Best Director) that somehow is a statement on their quality; it absolutely is not. Make no mistake, the awards race is a popularity contest. It has to do with perception and buzz, both are shape shifters. Time sorts out the rest. Many people in my field have warned that they thought there was no way 12 Years a Slave could win Best Picture. And that might turn out t be true. At the end of the day, that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t rave about it or that it is any less important – it just means oh look, shiny object. These voters want to distinguish themselves, to stand out, to be sexy. If they go with the flow that is never going to happen for them. This choice makes that kind of statement.
Best Picture: American Hustle
Best Actor: Robert Redford, All Is Lost
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Best Director: Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Best Foreign Language Film: Blue Is the Warmest Color
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
Best Animated Film: The Wind Rises
Best Screenplay: American Hustle
Best Cinematography: Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis
Best First Film: Fruitvale Station
Best Documentary: Stories We Tell
The awards are being announced starting at around 10am New York time (right now). We’ll be reporting them as they come in.
Stay tuned! You can also follow @Sidney_Falco for instant results.
“The Act of Killing,” Final Cut for Real
“The Armstrong Lie,” The Kennedy/Marshall Company
“Blackfish,” Our Turn Productions
“The Crash Reel,” KP Rides Again
“Cutie and the Boxer,” Ex Lion Tamer and Cine Mosaic
“Dirty Wars,” Civic Bakery
“First Cousin Once Removed,” Experiments in Time, Light & Motion
“God Loves Uganda,” Full Credit Productions
“Life According to Sam,” Fine Films
“Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer,” Roast Beef Productions
“The Square,” Noujaim Films and Maktube Productions
“Stories We Tell,” National Film Board of Canada
“Tim’s Vermeer,” High Delft Pictures
“20 Feet from Stardom,” Gil Friesen Productions and Tremolo Productions
“Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington,” Tripoli Street
My eleventh birthday was at the beginning of 1998. I remember a series of very formative years growing up, where Lenny Kravitz was a dominating force on what we didn’t know at the time was the dying breath of commercial radio and televised music videos, both of which still felt like art forms. Kravitz had already spent a decade reaching increasing cultural significance with a sound and style that combined, yet furthered, the musical visions of the likes of Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Wonder. “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” “Believe,” and “Always On the Run,” were just a handful of the songs that propelled the artistic and commercial ascension of ‘90s Kravitz. After the 1998 release of 5, Kravitz won four consecutive Grammys for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. “Fly Away” and Kravitz’s cover of “American Woman” by The Guess Who were getting so much airtime on radio stations and VH1 that it felt like George Orwell had been right. Except Big Brother’s name was Lenny Kravitz. One late-summer afternoon, a P.E. teacher at my middle school opened the trunk of his car, cranked up the radio, and blasted these songs over an epic game of Capture the Flag. I knew in that moment what Kravitz’s music meant, at least to me. A perfect blend of a deeply-felt spirituality and a pure sense of joy.
There’s a new generation of Kravitz fans, who know his work from The Hunger Games, and see him as a celebrity despite not having heard a note of his music. If Kravitz’s work in Lee Daniels’ films Precious and The Butler serve as any indication, his work onscreen may soon equal his work on record. With Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Kravitz does impressive work in the year’s largest ensemble cast. He also wrote, produced, and arranged “You And I Ain’t Nothing No More,” performed in the film by Gladys Knight. I recently enjoyed an in-depth and insightful chat with Kravitz, discussing his approach to recording, portraying White House butler James Holloway, and how the best is yet to come. Here’s what Kravitz shared with me about his work in Lee Daniels’ and the The Hunger Games films, his upcoming album and film with Christopher Walken, and his performance and song in Lee Daniels’ The Butler.
The NBR will be announcing tomorrow, December 4.
Best Animated Feature
Best Animated Short Subject