Maggie Gyllenhaal wins big at the Independent Spirit Awards; Winning Time is a smorgasbord of vintage camera formats and film grains; Apollo 10 1/2 is a return to a special type of animation for Richard Linklater. All in today’s Movie News Rundown.
But First: Fresh director Mimi Cave tells us that her cannibalism thriller, which just arrived on Hulu, is “100% fiction” — but that the villains the film explores — powerful men who think they can have anything — is very real. “We’ve seen Jeffrey Epstein. We’ve seen cases of men that are in scenarios that are the 1% of the 1%, who are so wealthy that no one ever says ‘no’ to them.” Fresh stars Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People) and Sebastian Stan, who also stars in Hulu’s Pam & Tommy.
The Batman Scores Big: Matt Reeves dark take on the Dark Knight took home $134 million in its opening weekend, the second-best opening for any film since the start of the pandemic, behind Spider-Man: No Way Home, The Hollywood Reporter explains. It earned an estimated $120 million internationally for at least $254 million, though that number could climb when updated figures are released today.
Also Winning This Weekend? Maggie Gyllenhaal, who coincidentally starred in 2008’s The Dark Knight, at the Independent Spirit Awards. Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter won Best Feature, and Gyllenhaal won Best Director and Best Screenplay. This is a great time to read our “Things I’ve Learned as a Moviemaker” with Gyllenhaal.
More Winners: Best female lead went to Taylour Paige for Zola, and best male lead went to Simon Rex for Red Rocket (both A24 releases). Troy Kotsur won best supporting male actor for CODA and is the first deaf actor to win a Spirit Award. The John Cassavetes award is given to the best feature made for under $500,000 and Emma Seligman’s Shiva Baby took home that coveted prize. Here’s our interview with Simon Rex and director Sean Baker on how they and the rest of the Red Rocket team made the film feel so alive.
The Full List of Spirit Awards Winners: Can be read here.
What’s the Definition of ‘Independent’ Here?: Good question. Including post-production costs, a feature film’s completed costs must be under $22.5 million to be considered for a Spirit Award. As you might suspect, this cuts out big studio projects like Dune or West Side Story. But don’t shed a tear for them. There are still plenty — and some (like me) would argue too many — other awards shows at which they can compete.
Shooting Winning Time: After last night’s premiere of the pilot for Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, director and executive producer Adam McKay explained the film’s very ’70s-’80s visual style: “Let’s reference the past while creating a modern formula,” McKay told former Laker Rick Fox in a post-episode interview on HBO. This meant mixing camera formats, “going from old ’70s video camera to 35mm,” McKay said. “Audiences are so sophisticated nowadays. We knew they could handle it.”
Expect Grain, Lots of Grain: Maybe because not many TV series are shot on film anymore, Winning Time sure gets its money’s worth on the film grain side of things.
Also Shot on Film: For the 8th year, Vadim Rizov at Filmmaker Magazine has collected a list of all U.S. releases shot on film in the previous year. The films include bigger-budget releases Licorice Pizza, Don’t Look Up, No Time to Die, A Quiet Place Part II, and West Side Story, as well as indies like Bergman Island and The Souvenir Part II (which employed seven different formats). “M. Night Shyamalan’s Old marked his first time shooting a feature on the format since 2010’s The Last Airbender,” Rizov reports. Welcome back M. Night.
Cannes Hopefuls: Citing “a bevy of well-informed sources,” Variety reports that the Cannes Film Festival hopes to attract films including Top Gun: Maverick, George Miller’s Three Thousand Years of Longing and Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, among other films. No formal announcements have been made. Variety also says Andrew Dominik’s Blonde and Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City are not expected at Cannes.
Great Long Read: On the heels of a $8.45 billion acquisition by Amazon potentially finalizing this month, Thomas Doherty at The Hollywood Reporter has a look at the history of film studio giant MGM. The M in MGM, Louis B. Mayer, is a main subject.
You Might Remember Mayer: From that scene in David Fincher’s Mank, where he gives an impassioned speech to his studio employees on why they must accept 50 percent wage cuts. THR notes that it really happened.
On The Major Studios: Doherty says of the early major studios: “If Paramount sold European sophistication and Warner Bros. trafficked in streetwise realism, MGM conjured a sumptuously decorated world illuminated by, in its famous boast, ‘more stars than there are in heaven.'”
Richard Linklater Return to Animation: With the Netflix film Apollo 10 1/2, Richard Linklater returns to the live-action rotoscoping technique used in his films Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. Jack Black reunites with Linklater after appearing in his films Bernie and School of Rock, and Glen Powell reunites with the Texan after 2016’s Everybody Wants Some. Also, all of the films mentioned here are awesome and you should see them if you haven’t. Here’s the Apollo 10 1/2 trailer:
Main image: Maggie Gyllenhaal attends The Lost Daughter premiere during the 59th New York Film Festival. Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Netflix. Gyllenhaal won three Independent Spirit Awards for The Lost Daughter.