The Godfather turns 50 this week and director Francis Ford Coppola gets a much-deserved award commemorating his career; meanwhile, James Caan is still annoyed at Coppola for an excised Godfather scene; a slew of award shows this weekend paint a three-way race for best picture ahead of next Sunday’s Academy Awards. All in today’s Movie News Rundown.
But First: Windfall director Charlie McDowell tells MovieMaker how classic noirs, Hitchcock, and Polanski inspired him to focus on character blocking for his three-person, single-location thriller. Pandemic restrictions forced McDowell to block out every scene on location with his cinematographer for three weeks before shooting.
Jared Leto is Everywhere: Before Sony’s next Marvel entry Morbius hits theaters on April 1, Leto can be seen in WeCrashed, Apple TV+’s new series on the rise and fall of shared workspace giant WeWork. Here’s the scoop on whether Jared Leto’s Adam Neumann character actually tried to sell kneepads for babies.
PGA Awards: CODA was the big feature film winner at the PGA awards on Saturday, taking home the Darryl F. Zanuck Award for outstanding producer of theatrical motion pictures. “CODA‘s win bolsters its chances ahead of next weekend’s Oscars. While The Power of the Dog has earned the top prize at the BAFTA Awards and the DGA Awards, CODA‘s PGA Award victory is a nice complement to its SAG Award win for best ensemble,” The Hollywood Reporter says. On the TV side of things, Succession continued its awards season sweep while Ted Lasso and Mare of Easttown also took home awards.
Adam McKay Wins Big: At the WGA awards this weekend with awards for Don’t Look Up (which he wrote and directed) and HBO series Succession (which he produced and directed). CODA also won for best-adapted screenplay, adding even more momentum to its best picture chances. Variety has the full list of winners here.
Cinematography Awards: The American Society of Cinematographers has its own awards show, too, and DP Greig Fraser won the feature film prize for his work on Dune. Fraser previously won this award in 2017 for Lion, The Hollywood Reporter notes. Fraser’s work on The Batman is a highlight of that film, so perhaps he will find himself in this position for a third time next year.
So, Who Will Win Best Picture Next Sunday?: It’s a three-way race, says Clayton Davis for Variety. The three: CODA, The Power of the Dog, and Belfast.
SXSW Wrap Up: To lend busy distributors a helping hand, IndieWire has a list of 10 SXSW features that they think deserve distribution. Catching my eye was Peter Oh’s Jethica, which alongside Slamdance’s excellent The Civil Dead, showcases a mini-trend of “annoying” ghosts haunting the indie sphere.
A Novel Prize: We love highlighting unique film festival prizes (check out our 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee this spring for more of them) and this brand new SXSW award fits the bill. Boutique PR firm Rakoom has awarded $10,000 in marketing resources and services to SXSW narrative grand jury award-winner, I Love My Dad. Whenever I talk to indie filmmaker friends it usually surrounds press and how they can get it for their small projects, so $10K in PR is no small thing.
The Godfather Turns 50: This Thursday, so expect a number of pieces celebrating the massive anniversary all week. Here are a few recent ones worth your attention:
James Caan and Robert Duvall Reflect: On The Godfather, for The Hollywood Reporter. For his part, Caan is still annoyed that Coppola cut one of his scenes. “When Michael [Pacino] tells me he is going to take care of the cop and Sollozzo [Al Lettieri], I say, ‘You’ll get brains all over your nice Ivy League suit.’ There was a scene before in the same room that I had with Bobby [Duvall] that was like 10 pages long — and Francis cut all of it out! I was so pissed off, I couldn’t watch the rest of the film,” he tells THR. “But otherwise, he gave me a great honor.”
It’s All Good: Duvall had more fun on the set of the first Godfather because of just how funny Caan was on set. He also relays an anecdote where Caan facetiously mocks Marlon Brando.
‘Can Bobby Have a Moment?’: “Before shooting, Brando asked Coppola for a moment to prepare himself. ‘It was a small scene, but it meant something to him emotionally,’ Duvall recalls. ‘The next day, Jimmy [facetiously] asks, ‘Can Bobby have a moment?’ So I take a moment like I am getting ready to do something emotional. Francis called action. And I simply walked across the stage. And Brando gave me a look. It was just Jimmy having fun, and Coppola liked that because it ultimately relaxed the set.”
Coppola Honored: Today Francis Ford Coppola is getting a much-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Variety reports. It’s kind of mind-boggling he doesn’t have one already. Even more mind-boggling: George Lucas doesn’t have a star yet either, something Coppola notes about his filmmaker friend.
Locarno in Los Angeles Wraps: The fifth edition of this unique satellite film festival wrapped last night. Some highlights for me include The Sacred Spirit and Medea. From Spanish moviemaker Chema Garcia Ibarra, The Sacred Spirit is a hilarious look at a group of conspiracy theorists whose interest in UFOs may seem innocuous, but darker dealings lurk beneath their awkward meetings. I watch a lot of films for this job and rarely does a film surprise me on a scene-to-scene basis as much as The Sacred Spirit did here. It’s also timely in a manner that never felt too on the nose. Medea is from Russian auteur Alexander Zeldovich who only makes about a film a decade and likewise, each one is a can’t miss.
Another Highlight: Stay tuned to our website today for a writeup on a lively Abel Ferrara Q&A for Zeros and Ones, which premiered Friday at Locarno in Los Angeles.
Main image: The Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola attends the Marie Antoinette premiere at the 59th Cannes Film Festival. Courtesy of Shutterstock