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Here’s the state of the longest awards race ever

It’s a longer Oscar season than ever, but with the fall festival circuit winding down and prizes being bestowed, we’re still off to the races. EW’s awards experts David Canfield and Joey Nolfi discuss the major contenders to emerge out of TIFF and Venice, the contenders we’ve yet to see, and just what to expect…

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It’s a longer Oscar season than ever, but with the fall festival circuit winding down and prizes being bestowed, we’re still off to the races. EW’s awards experts David Canfield and Joey Nolfi discuss the major contenders to emerge out of TIFF and Venice, the contenders we’ve yet to see, and just what to expect going forward.

WE’RE AT THE MIDPOINT

DAVID CANFIELD: Joey! Only seven months until the Oscars, which means it’s the start of the longest awards season ever. Typically, when the fall festivals like Toronto, Venice, and Telluride wrap up, we’ve got a pretty solid idea of how the big races are looking. Not so in 2020, with only a few major contenders premiering across them (in the case of Telluride, only one, with the event canceled except for a drive-in event for Nomadland). Still, there’s lots to talk about, lots to anticipate, and lots of questions. What’s your headline out of this very strange festival circuit?

JOEY NOLFI: The only acceptable headline is: “Stan Penguin Bloom.” Yes, we have seven months until the Oscars, but I just see that as seven 30-day opportunities to launch Penguin Bloom into social consciousness. It will be the awards season hill I die on this year. I won’t rest until Naomi Watts has her Oscar for the film I’ve affectionately dubbed “Naomi Watts Bird Movie,” and neither should you.

DAVID: Well, we know Naomi committed to the part. But I have bad news, Joey: Best Actress is packed this year already, and Penguin Bloom hasn’t even been picked up for distribution yet. Her chances, at least for the 2021 cycle, appear to be slipping away…

JOEY: I think the two big takeaways from the fall festival “circuit” this year are: The festivals sort of mean less this year than they have in years past (the extra padding at the top of 2021 will be where we get the bulk of our contenders), which means things like the TIFF People’s Choice Award (yaaas, Nomadland!) carry much less weight in 2020. But the second takeaway is: The current season is all about the women, and I don’t see that changing. This is the first time TIFF’s top three prize winners are from female directors — Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland, Regina King’s One Night in Miami, and Tracey Deer’s Beans — but Zhao has perhaps the most massive contender on her hands, and Frances McDormand gives one of the best performances of her career in the film. She blended in with this production so seamlessly to the tapestry of working-class America that she was offered a job at Target; that deserves an Oscar in itself. Does Nomadland strike you as, at this current moment, the Best Picture frontrunner?

DAVID: It feels like we’re at sort of a midpoint, doesn’t it? This moment reminds me a lot of where the race normally stands after Cannes, where a select few major contenders emerge, while so many more remain yet to be seen — and there’s just so much more time for anything to happen. Of course, last year a critical darling and audience favorite won Cannes, only to maintain that momentum all the way to the Oscars: Parasite. And I think Nomadland is a similarly major contender. It’s too early to say whether it will go the distance because there’s a lot we haven’t seen. But of what we have seen, it is our frontrunner. It’s brilliant, beautiful, and plays both to arthouse and more mainstream crowds, and it has the kind of Americana scope that voters gravitate toward. Chloé Zhao and Frances McDormand feel like shoo-ins for nominations at the very least.

And yes, this was very much a female-dominated TIFF, both behind and in front of the camera. Beyond McDormand, Kate Winslet and Vanessa Kirby emerged as major Best Actress contenders (sorry, Naomi!). Beyond Zhao, Regina King emerged as a serious force in directing for One Night in Miami, which to me feels like the only other significant across-the-board awards contender to come out of this period. (Both Kirby’s Pieces of a Woman and Winslet’s Ammonite feel too austere to get much beyond their actors.) Would you agree? Is it possible we’ll have two women nominated for Best Director — and women of color, at that — for the first time ever?

JOEY: The Cannes comparison is a great one. But, more recently, Cannes momentum hasn’t wanted for steadfast contenders (Parasite, BlacKkKlansman, Isabelle Huppert in Elle, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, etc.), so I expect Nomadland and One Night in Miami to stick around. It will be interesting to see how far ahead some of these early contenders can get — perhaps enough that other contenders might sit this year out, let one film steamroll, and wait until there’s a much more stable release window next season. Both women have a significant hurdle to overcome, though: The directors’ society in Hollywood is still primarily an old boys’ club, and they’re especially unreceptive to women making the transition from acting to directing, regardless of how good their work is. So, we’ll see.

THE ACTING RACES

JOEY: As for Best Actress, I’m completely sold on Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan dropping anchor on the race right now. Ammonite is the perfect blend of the kind of prestige period drama the classic Academy member (trust me, there are still plenty of them left among the voting ranks) loves and the progressive storytelling that will hook the younger crowd, and Kate and Saoirse are great torchbearers for those respective demographics. I need more convincing on Kirby, though. She’s fabulous, but the film itself is too muddled and I’m not sure she has the name recognition to break out in a crowded field. I’d actually feel safer betting on Ellen Burstyn becoming a dark horse of the race for her work in this film, to be honest. Wouldn’t that be divine?

DAVID: Yes, I agree — we should mention Netflix acquired both Pieces of a Woman and Halle Berry’s directorial debut, Bruised, out of TIFF (the latter premiered as a work-in-progress cut, with reviews/reactions still on hold), but neither are confirmed for this awards cycle as of yet. Pieces of a Woman, which I expect to compete for 2020-2021, is a tough, demanding, rather uneven movie, and it bears mentioning that Kirby — who’s fantastic in it — has a lot of other competition that’s not TIFF-adjacent. Expect Oscar winners Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Jennifer Hudson (Respect) to really rock this category by taking on a pair of musical legends; Michelle Pfeiffer (French Exit) and Amy Adams (Hillbilly Elegy) will get a run too. So I’m right there with you. Burstyn gets a phenomenal scene near Pieces’ end, and if Netflix pushes accordingly, she should be a good bet.

JOEY: How are the male acting categories coming along? Anthony Hopkins is to die for in The Father. Truly some of the best screen acting I’ve seen in years.

DAVID: Best Actor is weird! Really no development out of the festivals beyond the continued run of The Father, which is a lovely movie on its own — I could see it developing into an across-the-board sleeper, especially with a sharp Olivia Colman performance in support — and just a tremendous showcase for Hopkins. He’s probably the only Best Actor lock we’ve got, and the frontrunner to win at this stage. I love Delroy Lindo’s work in Da 5 Bloods so much, but he’ll have to hang on for nearly a year to get into that top five. Gary Oldman (Mank), Tom Hanks (News of the World), and Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) will certainly get a close look when (if?) their movies drop. Then the big question mark: the late, great Chadwick Boseman. His role opposite Davis in Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, based on August Wilson’s play, straddles lead and supporting, and it’s a really rich part. He’s absolutely a factor here.

A lot of these I just mentioned in the wait-and-see category are Netflix movies, which skipped festivals altogether. Says a lot about where we are in terms of the race. I haven’t even yet mentioned their other potentially significant contenders, like the incoming The Trial of the Chicago 7 or George Clooney’s latest, The Midnight Sky. I’m also hearing good rumblings about The White Tiger, from Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes). The streamer’s slate is huge and mysterious. With theaters such a question mark still, and so many releases indefinitely pushed/undated, do they have the potential to just overpower everyone this year?

JOEY: I don’t think Netflix’s awards might should be considered any more powerful than it has been before. It’s not like non-Netflix studios are halting releases altogether, they’re just adapting. This isn’t 1994. Box office means less and less to a film’s awards prospects. Now they just have to meet their theatrical qualifications (which they’ll likely be able to do by the end of the year/early 2021), and then the rest is in the hands of the blessed screeners. That’s who I have my eye on this year: who, in the past, has been the best at generating digital buzz, efficient at sending out ample screeners, and ensuring that voters have easy access to their films outside of screenings open to the moviegoing public. Not to discredit the work of their fabulous team, but Netflix also has the advantage of releasing buzzy titles that will do a lot of that work for them (Ma Rainey, Chicago).

The one yet-to-be-seen performance I think we can agree is one of the most anticipated of the year is Glenn Close’s impending iconic performance as an Appalachian grandmother opposite Adams in Hillbilly Elegy. Despite not showing on the fall circuit, could this be Glegend Close’s year?

DAVID: All signs point to yes. The source material alone (a memoir) indicates this is the kind of totally transformative, scene-stealing role that tends to win out in supporting categories. Plus, her heartbreaking loss just last year for The Wife — I know you’re still not over it! — is still fresh in the industry’s minds, and that should work in her favor. But this is another title Netflix is keeping close, with a release date not even out there yet, so let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. But I haven’t seen anything that would make a clearer winner in that category.

We’ve done a lot of shamelessly vague speculating on the many months to come — and we didn’t even get into Best Supporting Actor, where this could maybe actually be Bill Murray’s year?!

JOEY: Yes re: Bill. He is fantastic in On the Rocks, and I don’t think Apple and A24 are playing around with what could be their first legit Oscar push under their new streaming platform. Screenplay and Supporting Actor nods aren’t out of the question for this film, and, going back to what I said about studios that know how to create digital buzz and get movies in front of the right people in an efficient manner, A24 and Apple could be an unbeatable pair if they focus on one huge contender (Murray) throughout the season.

First-Half Treasures

DAVID: Let’s look backward for a moment to wrap this one up. Other than Hopkins, what first-half, pre-TIFF contenders are you looking at that could survive this drawn-out campaign? Back at Sundance — truly, a different world — I along with most everyone in Park City was wowed by Never Rarely Sometimes Always and Minari. They could either go the way of — to name two recent Sundance breakouts — The Farewell, an almost-ran, or Call Me by Your Name, a Best Picture nominee with several other nods to boot. For the latter, I could see Steven Yeun getting a Supporting Actor campaign.

JOEY: I still haven’t caught Minari, so I can’t speak on the strength of Steven Yeun’s performance, but he was sublime in Burning, so I’m giddy with anticipation. As for Never Rarely Sometimes Always… where has the buzz gone? It’s a solid film, but I think the Sundance films you mentioned from the past — The Farewell, Call Me by Your Name — had a much firmer grasp on the industry’s attention at this point in their respective contests, and I just don’t feel the weight of that film anymore.

DAVID: Yeah, this year especially, a March release hurts Never Rarely. But Minari I have high hopes for: It’s a tender, gorgeous, timeless family tale that resonates, and A24 hasn’t released it just yet; they know they have something special.

JOEY: Though I also feel that enthusiasm for it has gone a bit mute since its release, I could see The King of Staten Island hitting with Academy bros (call me), but the clear-cut early-year standout for me is the Emerald Fennell-directed Carey Mulligan vehicle Promising Young Woman, also awaiting release. I’m not 100 percent convinced it’s Academy fare, as it is a super-prickly re-imagining of the rape-revenge genre, but I can’t imagine anyone not being utterly moved — in multiple capacities — by this film’s energy. It’s interesting to be over the wave of first-reaction #MeToo-era films, and Woman pushes its tone to very unexpected places, given the subject matter. In the context of the moment, it feels like fireworks after a funeral, if you will, and Carey gives a career performance. There’s no excuse for her being left out of any awards conversation this year.

DAVID: I have a feeling we’ll be talking about Mulligan for the many, many months to come. Naomi Watts, I’m not so sure.

JOEY: Remember: Stan Penguin Bloom.

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NSA director and nearly all US Joint Chiefs of Staff in isolation for COVID-19

October 7, 2020 by Joseph Fitsanakis Seven of the eight members of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff —the group that brings together the nation’s most senior uniformed leaders— are in self-imposed isolation, after attending a meeting with a Coast Guard admiral who has since tested positive for COVID-19. As the list of senior…

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October 7, 2020
by Joseph Fitsanakis

Seven of the eight members of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff —the group that brings together the nation’s most senior uniformed leaders— are in self-imposed isolation, after attending a meeting with a Coast Guard admiral who has since tested positive for COVID-19. As the list of senior American government officials that are in self-imposed isolation continues to grow, it was reported yesterday that the director of the National Security Agency, US Army General Paul Nakasone, was also self-isolating until further notice.

The

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Royal Opera House’s $16.8 M. Hockney Stars in Christie’s $118 M. Paris-London Series

To get the backstory behind buyers and sellers in Christie’s Paris and London October evening sales, read Colin Gleadell’s detailed Art Market Monitor report available to AMMpro subscribers. On Thursday, Christie’s brought in a total of £90.3 million ($118 million) with buyer’s premium across four sales at its Paris and London headquarters. In the auction series,…

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To get the backstory behind buyers and sellers in Christie’s Paris and London October evening sales, read Colin Gleadell’s detailed Art Market Monitor report available to AMMpro subscribers.
On Thursday, Christie’s brought in a total of £90.3 million ($118 million) with buyer’s premium across four sales at its Paris and London headquarters. In the auction series, titled “20th Century: London to Paris,” the house deployed the live-streamed format, with Christie’s France president Cécile Verdier and its Europe president Jussi Pylkkänen at the helm.

The total hammer price was £77.9 million ($101.9 million), landing at the low end of the pre-sale estimate of £76 million ($99.4 million). With premium, the sales generated a total £90.3 million ($118.4 million), achieving a solid 84 percent sell-through rate.

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Still unable to host large live audiences, auction houses have engineered new set-ups that focus attention on the bidding dynamic across specialists and auction staff—which acts as a way to inject tension without the energy of a salesroom packed with buyers. Typically, there are more than 100 guests at a Christie’s sale of this kind; last night, there were eight live guests in the room according to Pylkkänen, who led the London auction.
In a post-sale press conference, Christie’s representatives said that the format—which was once unconventional, and is now becoming the norm—holds out promise for the future. “It’s about creating bridges across our selling centers,” Pylkkänen said. “The vocabulary of the art market has changed fundamentally.”
“We know it’s a difficult moment—it’s a challenging market,” said Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti. “We need to be creative by buildings sales that are selective…. Creativity is key in this market.”
The Paris sale hammered around the low estimate of at £15.52 million ($20.3 million), or £17.1 million ($22.4 million) with buyer’s fees. A guaranteed painting by centenarian abstract artist Pierre Soulages hammered at £4.5 million ($5.9 million), below the low estimate of £6 million ($7.1 million). A 1968 abstraction by Zao Wou-Ki sold for €2 million ($2.4 million) with fees, doubling its low estimate.
The contemporary art sale in brought in a total of £49.2 million ($64.3 million), hammering at £41.3 million ($54 million), just above the low estimate of £40.9 million ($53.5 million). A Francis Bacon portrait estimated at £4 million–£6 million and an Albert Oehlen estimated at £2.5 million–£3.5 million were each withdrawn from the sale.

The top lot was Peter Doig’s Boiler Room (1993), which went to a bidder on the phone with specialist Katherine Arnold for £13.9 million ($18.2 million), hammering below the estimate of £13 million. Next was David Hockney’s commissioned Portrait of Sir David Webster (1971), which was sold by the Royal Opera House to raise funds as part of a long-term financial recovery plan. Hammering at £11 million ($14.4 million) and likely going to the guarantor, it sold for a total of £12.9 million ($16.8 million) with buyer’s premium. The third-most expensive lot was Bacon’s Study of the Human Body (1991), acquired by the seller from the estate of the artist. It sold for £5.5 million ($7.2 million) with buyer’s fees.

Titus Kaphar, Fidelity, 2010.
Christie’s Images Ltd 2000.

The house brought Marina Abramović’s The Life, a 19-minute mixed reality performance featuring the artist’s 3D digital avatar, to auction, making it the first work of its kind ever to hit the block. The private Copenhagen-based Faurschou Foundation won the piece with a hammer of £230,000 ($300,856), far below its £400,000 low estimate.
Works by market darling Titus Kaphar, who has recently seen a spike in demand following his addition to Gagosian’s roster, saw steep competition. Fidelity (2010), depicting a mummified figure and a dog, sold for £250,000 ($326,000)—double its low estimate. This week, Kaphar saw a new record at with the sale of his 2016 painting Alternate Endings for £466,200 ($604,350) at Phillips London.
A 2005 portrait by Canadian artist Steven Shearer, whose works do not come up at auction often, sold for £125,000 ($163,000). The result follows ex-Christie’s chairman Loic Gouzer’s sale of Shearer’s Synthist for $437,000 as the debut work for his members-only auction app Fair Warning in June. The previous record price for the artist was $164,014, for the work HASH, which sold at Sotheby’s London in October 2015.
Elsewhere in the sale, works by Rudolf Stingel and Anish Kapoor—whose markets have declined somewhat in recent years—failed to find buyers.
Following the contemporary sale was “Thinking Italian Art & Design,” which brought in £5.9 million with fees ($7.7 million) across 18 lots, landing well below the £9.7 million ($12.7 million) low estimate and seeing a 54 percent sell through rate. Dealer Paul Haim’s collection of large-scale sculptures totaled £18.6 million with premium ($24.3 million).

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‘Boycott French products’ launched over Macron’s Islam comments

Several Arab trade associations have announced the boycott of French products, protesting the recent comments made by President Emmanuel Macron on Islam. Earlier this month, Macron pledged to fight “Islamist separatism”, which he said was threatening to take control in some Muslim communities around France. He also described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide and…

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Several Arab trade associations have announced the boycott of French products, protesting the recent comments made by President Emmanuel Macron on Islam.
Earlier this month, Macron pledged to fight “Islamist separatism”, which he said was threatening to take control in some Muslim communities around France.
He also described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide and said the government would present a bill in December to strengthen a 1905 law that officially separated church and state in France.
His comments, in addition to his backing of satirical outlets publishing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, has led to a social media campaign calling for the boycott of French products from supermarkets in Arab countries and Turkey.

Hashtags such as the #BoycottFrenchProducts in English and the Arabic #ExceptGodsMessenger trended across countries including Kuwait, Qatar, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
In Kuwait, the chairman and members of the board of directors of the Al-Naeem Cooperative Society decided to boycott all French products and to remove them from supermarket shelves.
The Dahiyat al-Thuhr association took the same step, saying: “Based on the position of French President Emmanuel Macron and his support for the offensive cartoons against our beloved prophet, we decided to remove all French products from the market and branches until further notice.”

Putting an insulting picture of the Prophet (pbuh)in a French building is an unprecedented challenge and an insult to a billion and a half of Muslims around the worldAs Muslims, we must boycott #BoycottFrance #boycottfrenchproducts pic.twitter.com/lauaiPofKG
— Muhammad Akeel (@MuhammadAkeel0) October 24, 2020

Kuwait started who’s next #إلا_رسول_الله#Koweit #kuwait pic.twitter.com/0t7wEE5DRq
— عـبداللـه العويهان (@a_alowaihan1) October 24, 2020

#Tunisians launch the #BoycottFrenchProducts campaign in response to attacks on #Islam and #prophetMuhammed in #France.#تونس #قاطعوا_المنتجات_الفرنسية #إلا_رسول_الله #فرنسا pic.twitter.com/AKRsI28y9A
— Mourad TEYEB (مــراد التـائـب) (@MouradTeyeb) October 23, 2020

In Qatar, the Wajbah Dairy company announced a boycott of French products and pledged to provide alternatives, according to their Twitter account.
Al Meera Consumer Goods Company, a Qatari joint stock company, announced on Twitter: “We have immediately withdrawn French products from our shelves until further notice.”
“We affirm that as a national company, we work according to a vision consistent with our true religion, our established customs and traditions, and in a way that serves our country and our faith and meets the aspirations of our customers.”
Qatar University also joined the campaign. Its administration has postponed a French Cultural Week event indefinitely, citing the “deliberate abuse of Islam and its symbols”.

(1/2) عطفًا على مستجدات الأحداث الأخيرة والمتعلقة بالإساءة المتعمدة للإسلام ورموزه، فقد قرَّرت إدارة جامعة قطر تأجيل فعالية الأسبوع الفرنسي الثقافي إلى أجل غير مسمى.
— جامعة قطر (@QatarUniversity) October 23, 2020

In a statement on Twitter, the university said any prejudice against Islamic belief, sanctities and symbols is “totally unacceptable, as these offences harm universal human values ​​and the highest moral principles that contemporary societies highly regard”.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) described Macron’s statements as “irresponsible”, and said they are aimed at spreading a culture of hatred among peoples.
“At a time when efforts must be directed towards promoting culture, tolerance and dialogue between cultures and religions, such rejected statements and calls for publishing insulting images of the Prophet (Muhammad) – may blessings and peace be upon him – are published,” said the council’s secretary-general, Nayef al-Hajraf.
Al-Hajraf called on world leaders, thinkers and opinion leaders to reject hate speech and contempt of religions and their symbols, and to respect the feelings of Muslims, instead of falling captive to Islamophobia.
In a statement, Kuwait’s foreign ministry warned against the support of abuses and discriminatory policies that link Islam to terrorism, saying it “represents a falsification of reality, insults the teachings of Islam, and offends the feelings of Muslims around the world”.
On Friday, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) condemned what it said was France’s continued attack against Muslims by insulting religious symbols.
The secretariat of the Jeddah-based organisation said in a statement it is surprised at the official political rhetoric issued by some French officials that offend French-Islamic relations and fuels feelings of hatred for political party gains.

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