The Fablemans Finally Lands in LA As Best Picture Buzz Grows

Feb 8, 2023

Two months after its TIFF world premiere, Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical drama “The Fablemans” finally had a glitzy debut in Los Angeles. It was an AFI Fest gala, and, of course, the director and co-writer were there, as was likely Best Actress nominee Michelle Williams and potential Supporting Actor player Judd Hirsch, among others. But despite a paparazzi-filled red carpet and a chic after-party, the film’s real arrival occurred 24 hours earlier, at the first official Academy members screening in Beverly Hills.
READ MORE: “The Fablemans” Review: Steven Spielberg bares his soul [TIFF]
It’s taken a while for AMPAS members to get back in the swing of screening at the Samuel Goldwyn theater. The massive venue, where many Oscar nomination announcements have been made, only reopened to members this past spring following the 2022 nominations as the Academy Museum’s theater took center, um, stage. Even before the pandemic, few films would fill the entire 1010-seat theater, so awards watchers and consultants tend to grade it based on comparable attendance. Needless to say, the Saturday afternoon screening of “The Fablemans” was the best attended of the 2023 Oscar season so far (at least 60% full). They also gave the TIFF People’s Choice Award winner a rare standing ovation before the post-screening Q&A began. Was it overboard in the manner of a Cannes, Venice, or TIFF ovation? No, but for just an AMPAS and their guests’ screening, it was absolutely noteworthy.
During the Q&A, Spielberg revealed that Gabrielle LaBelle, the 19-year-old who plays the director as a teenager, “deposed” him with questions at least three days a week. The legendary filmmaker joked it was a lot more than he thought it would be. And eventually, Spielberg had to let LaBelle just go off and find the character himself. Hirsch was also shocked to discover LaBelle was not only Jewish but Canadian as well (LaBelle’s family changed their name in the 1930s before immigrating to North America).
While Williams, Paul Dano, and co-writer and co-producer Tony Kushner all had a moment to speak, it was truly Hirsch who stole the show. Something he does with a small role in the picture as well. The two-time Emmy winner, two-time Tony Award winner, and Oscar nominee for “Ordinary People” remarked he wasn’t sure what in his previous work promoted Spielberg to cast him. The latter replied without hesitation, “Independence Day,” and then added, “among other roles.”
And, if you are truly concerned…slight spoilers ahead…

Spielberg also revealed that it took three weeks to convince David Lynch to play legendary director John Ford in a memorable scene at the end of the film. He credits Kusnher’s husband, Mark Harris, with suggesting Lynch and Laura Dern for calling her longtime creative colleague numerous times to get him to commit. It appears Lynch doesn’t like being in front of the camera if he doesn’t have to. Oh, and his only request was that there were Cheetos on set.
It was hard to leave the theater that afternoon without thinking “The Fablemans” will be hard to beat in the Best Picture race. Could there be some backlash? Sure. Could international voters be disinterested in such an inherently American story? Maybe. Could “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” “The Banshees of Inisherin,” the unseen “Babylon,” or “Avatar: The Way of Water” become the consensus pick instead? It’s certainly not unthinkable. But as we wait to screen the latter two contenders, that opportunity feels as though it’s a door that’s barely open enough to squeeze through. It’s gonna be tough to knock this one off.
Keeping all that in mind, let’s revisit the Best Picture race, shall we?
November 7, 2022
1 “The Fablemans”
Holding strong, but those international voters will be the wildcards.
2 “Everything Everywhere All At Once”
How do you lose the top prize with so many acting nominations, pt. 1?
3 “The Banshees of the Inisherin”
How do you lose the top prize with so many acting nominations, pt. 2?
4 “Top Gun: Maverick”
There is gonna be a campaign, right? Like, an actual “don’t forget” campaign. Hello. Is anyone there?
5 “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
Looks like Ryan Coogler pulled off a little bit of a cinematic miracle. Bless.
6 “Women Talking”
Waiting in the wings.
7 “Avatar: The Way of Water”*
The last legit contender to be screened. Worked out well the first time around.
8 “Babylon”*
We’ll know more in a week.
9 “Elvis”
Warner Bros. might need to send a gigantic “thank you very much” card to Baz Luhrmann when all is said and done.
10 “TAR”
She’s here. She’s queer. She’s canceled. And she’s likely making the cut.
11 “Close”
Just on the cusp…on the cusp. Would be great if some prominent Acadamy members were more publically vocal about their love for it.
12 “The Woman King”
Should still be in the mix. Feels like it’s fading fast. Perhaps September was the wrong release date?
13 “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”
Netflix’s best chance at a nod this year. Maybe it’s the movie that wipes away those midterm result tears in Hollywood.
13 “She Said”
It certainly has a shot, but is it too soon for the industry to look itself in the mirror on its subject matter? Wait, I’m not sure I want the answer on that one.
14 “Triangle of Sadness”
Better box office would have helped. Maybe it will find love during members’ annual holiday screening deluge.
15 “Till”
The box office is meh. MGM/UA has reviews to run on though.
“Guillermo del Toro’s “Pinocchio”
Rave reviews and Guillermo is a master campaigner. The last animated film to earn a Best Picture nod, however, was “Toy Story 3” and it earned over $1 billion at the global box office. That ain’t happening this time around.
“Armageddon Time”
Original Screenplay nomination absolutely still on the table. Reviews overall? Solid. Is that enough with a weak limited release?
“The Whale”
I mean, sure. Not buying it, but…sure.
“Empire of Light”
Would need to have a massive comeback just in terms of making the “must-see” film list for guild and AMPAS members.
“The Pale Blue Eye”*
Crickets. We’re gonna assume it’s a no on this one dawg.
“The Son”
There is no way SPC will give up on this one from an awards perspective. Any nominations or honors it can finagle simply help it at the art house box office. Prepare yourself!

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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