It’s Friday, but during this holiday week, time is just a theoretical construct—like my New Year’s resolutions to start weight training and stop making fun of pouting Star Wars fans.
Hello from Los Angeles, where we’re looking for an Oscar season box-office hero, listening to Ridley Scott’s unvarnished movie opinions, and twirling in our Ann Roth–inspired caftans.
AN OSCAR FOR THE PEOPLE
We all remember the extraordinary Moonlight/La La Land best picture envelope flub at last year’s Oscars. But before that jaw-dropping moment in the telecast, another best picture contender, a long shot, was the talk of Twitter. According to social-media research firm Fizziology, Hidden Figures was the movie that TV audiences were excited about during much of the 2017 show. At that point in late February, the feel-good Fox drama starring Taraji P. Henson,Janelle Monae, and Octavia Spencer as a group of NASA mathematicians was 10 weeks and about $153 million domestic dollars into its successful, 42-week box-office run. While the horse race between La La Land and Moonlight consumed Oscar prognosticators, the audience at home—the ones host Jimmy Kimmel and Oscar producers Mike De Luca and Jennifer Todd desperately needed—was buzzing about Monae’s fairy-tale gown, the on-stage appearance of real-life NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, and Henson’s gleeful grabbing of candy that fell from the Dolby Theater ceiling.
This year’s likely best picture contenders include some box-office bright spots, films that could help intrigue audiences about the telecast. Some earlier-in-the-year releases, like Christopher Nolan’sDunkirk ($188 million domestic) and Jordan Peele’sGet Out ($175 million domestic), have been widely seen. Steven Spielberg’sThe Post got off to a strong start in its limited opening over the Christmas holiday, collecting more than $1 million so far over a week in only nine theaters. Among art-house offerings, Greta Gerwig’sLady Bird is up to about $30 million domestically, passing Moonlight to become distributor A24’s biggest grosser yet. And Fox Searchlight’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is up to $23 million. Expect those numbers to grow after the Oscar nominations are announced January 23.
But it’s hard to imagine what the 2018 Oscars’ Hidden Figures could be. What’s the best picture nominee that broad audiences will be excited enough about to sit on the sofa and root for on March 4, which is still (shudder) more than two months away? Could Rian Johnson’sStar Wars: The Last Jedi or Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina’sCoco make the cut with Oscar voters outside below-the-line and animation categories? What about Patty Jenkins’sWonder Woman, which, despite an enthusiastic Academy screening over the summer, seems to have disappeared from Oscar conversations? This year’s unpredictable awards race has no shortage of strong, eclectic films. But what this Oscars still need is a real box-office hero.
AT THE MOVIES WITH RIDLEY SCOTT
I guess when you’re 80 and you just re-shot a movie in nine days, you can say . . . whatever the heck you want. In a recent interview with Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan about speedily replacing Kevin Spacey with Christopher Plummer in his new movie, All the Money in the World,Ridley Scott also dropped his opinion of Blade Runner 2049,Denis Villeneuve’s follow-up to Scott’s 1982 neo-noir classic. “It was fucking way too long,” Scott said of Blade Runner 2049’s two-hour, 44-minute run time. “Fuck me! And most of that script’s mine.” Eventually, Scott backed off a bit: “I shouldn’t talk,” he said. “I’m being a bitch.” Well, Ridley, you kind of are. And also, let’s get together to mix some skinny margaritas, watch some screeners, and sell this show to Bravo.
Yes, The Post is about both the power of the First Amendment and a bold businesswoman charting her path in a sexist era. But Steven Spielberg’s newspaper drama is also, as V.F.’s Katey Richpoints out, a showcase for one of the year’s great movie dresses. Rich spoke with The Post’s costume designer, Ann Roth, about the flowing white caftan Meryl Streep wears as Katharine Graham while hosting a party and making the movie’s pivotal to-publish-or-not-to-publish decision. Roth, who has worked with Streep since 1983’s Silkwood, came aboard The Post a mere month before shooting began. She told Rich she made the caftan, since she didn’t have time to hunt down a perfect vintage one. The 86-year-old costume designer also deflected the focus on her work in the film. “The movie is so important to me that the costumes are the least—it’s just not about that,” she said.
A PHANTOM AUDITION
“Vicky, I’m sorry, but do you know who we are talking about?” That’s what Vicky Krieps’s agent said after the Luxembourg actress replied with nonchalance to the news that she had just scored a director meeting based on an audition. In a conversation withV.F.’s Julie Miller, Krieps recalled responding to her agent, “Now that you mention it, I don’t remember the director’s name. But it’s for some student film in England, right?” After a pause, the agent responded, “No. It’s for Paul Thomas Anderson.” Krieps described her preparation to star opposite Daniel Day-Lewis in Anderson’s Phantom Thread as a process of “forgetting.” “I didn’t Google Daniel’s name before filming,” she said. “I didn’t want to see his movies. I tried to forget everything about acting myself.”
This week’s episode of V.F.’s podcast Little Gold Men includes Richard Lawson’s interviews with Phantom Thread’s Lesley Manville and Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’s Jamie Bell. Come for the awards season chatter, stay for the charming English accents.
That’s the news for this week on the Hollywood and awards beat. Tell me what you’re seeing out there. Send tips, comments, valet-line gossip, big deals you overheard at the Polo Lounge, bad vibes you picked up at Craft, and Ridley Scott’s unvarnished movie reviews to [email protected] Follow me on Twitter @thatrebecca.
Get Vanity Fair’s HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Rebecca KeeganRebecca Keegan is a Hollywood Correspondent for Vanity Fair.