Oscars: Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott Race to the Finish

Oscars: Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Ridley
David Fisher/Jim Smeal/REX/Shutterstock

It wouldn’t be awards season without a little bit of drama around last-minute contenders sprinting to the finish line. This year, there are three major prestige projects based on true events from powerhouse directors that could really shake up the race.

Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” — about the Washington Post, the Pentagon Papers, and a watershed moment in the history of press freedom — wasn’t even a go until a week after “Moonlight” won the best picture Oscar earlier this year. The Fox production shot throughout the summer and wrapped in July, aiming for a Dec. 22 limited release. It’s packed with an all-star cast, including Meryl Streep (as Post publisher Katharine Graham), Tom Hanks (as editor Ben Bradlee, a role that won Jason Robards an Oscar in 1977 for “All the President’s Men”), and Carrie Coon (as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Meg Greenfield), among many others.

Meanwhile, Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World” — about the 1973 kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III — was still casting a week after Spielberg signed on to direct his film. It wasn’t on the 2017 radar at all until last month when Sony planted a flag for a Dec. 8, hoping to finally net Scott his first Oscar. The project just wrapped production and is, along with “The Post,” in the editing room now. It features Michelle Williams, as Getty’s fretful mother Gail Harris, and Kevin Spacey, said to be unrecognizable behind considerable makeup prosthetics as Getty’s patriarchal grandfather (who infamously charged his son, Getty Jr., interest on a portion of the ransom money). Mark Wahlberg also stars as an ex-CIA agent dispatched to Italy to deal with the situation.

That would all be exciting enough, but sources say a third entry could be set to make a cannon ball splash, and it should really come as no surprise.


Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood Casts Real-Life Heroes in Next Film ‘The 15:17 to Paris’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Clint Eastwood is well known for his economy and expedition in pulling movies together. “Million Dollar Baby” wrapped in the summer of 2004 before going on to spoil the season for Martin Scorsese and “The Aviator,” for instance. He pulled another sneak attack two years later with “Letters from Iwo Jima,” which came together quickly in the wake of production on “Flags of Our Fathers” (a companion piece released two months prior).

In late April of this year, the four-time Oscar winner announced “The 15:17 to Paris” — about the 2015 Thalys train attack in France and the childhood friends who thwarted it — as his next project. He set off to make the film only weeks ago, but he’s already closing in on a wrap and will likely have it in and out of the editing suite in no time. I’m told it will be ready for release this year, if Warner Bros. wants to roll it out.

The Burbank studio already has a slam-dunk Oscar contender in Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” as well as high hopes for summer superhero hit “Wonder Woman.” But Eastwood could offer something more traditional to work with. That said, there is an unusual flourish to this project: Variety broke the news last month that the director had taken the extraordinary step of casting real-life heroes Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone as themselves in the picture. Eastwood’s expediency on the set — one or two takes before moving on — can sometimes work against non-actors; “Gran Torino” certainly appeared to suffer from that somewhat. Nevertheless, it’s a splashy decision that, in this case, could give the movie some built-in goodwill.

Warner Bros. had no comment about the release plans for “The 15:17 to Paris” at this time.

Monday will mark two years since Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone charged gunman Ayoub El-Khazzani on a Paris-bound Amsterdam train, preventing him from carrying out his planned massacre. It’s a story that, for obvious reasons, could resonate in the modern climate. Though one wonders how Eastwood himself would register; it’s a very different atmosphere now than it was a year ago when he voiced his support for then-presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Filmmakers like Spielberg, Eastwood, and Scott are able to squeeze big projects like these in under the wire because they’re seasoned veterans. They don’t try to find their movies in the editing room. They find them in the script, in pre-production, and then execute a clean production plan that allows for a tight post schedule. Any one of them contending in an Oscar race alone would be reason to take note, but all three potentially mixing it up together could make for an exciting December.

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  1. grand says:

    “work against non-actors…..”
    Give me a break

  2. bobbysue says:

    plz not another emotion wrecked tom hanks movie…

  3. hocine says:

    Clint is about to shoot some scenes of The 15:17 to Paris in France.

    He doesn’t need Oscars.
    He brought two Best Pictures Oscars to Warner Brothers ( Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby ).
    He has already won four Oscars, plus the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award.

    He just seems to like making movies and telling stories. So, what’s the problem ?
    If he won other Oscars, it would be great for him. If he didn’t, it would be ok.
    He has a tremendous career in Hollywood and it will stay forever, no matter what.

    • Frank says:

      Oooooh sure because we all know that only the best directors win oscars. That’s why some fucking Tom Hooper has won 2 oscars and people like Kubrick, Welles,Hitchcock, PTA, Fincher and Nolan (just to name a few) never won one.

  4. Bill B. says:

    The Papers is the first Spielberg film in quite a while that I have been excited to see.

  5. Anthony Sadler says:

    Cannot wait to see The 15:17 to Paris! What an encouraging story giving todays climate.

  6. Adam says:

    Wheres the oscar buzz for Logan

    • Jacen says:

      Agreed. As much as I like Wonder Woman, I don’t think it has the depth or finesse of Logan, but it seems Logan doesn’t have the currency of socio-political cultural connection that is always necessary for consideration. (It has something, but its issues probably would have caught awards-givers’ eyes two or three years ago; thus, it’s not current in their eyes. This is just a guess.) So Logan is probably not going to get any nominations.

  7. Clint Eastwood is a treasure. He is a LEGEND and maybe the best director alive. He is 87 and his last 2 movies grossed 500 million dollars domestically. What a successful career. he is a no nonsense, economical and master director who can stick you on the edge of your seat by every movie he makes. 15:17 to Paris is one of the most anticipated movies of year and I’m extremely looking forward for it.

  8. Rudy Mario says:

    Dunkirk will be pushed and made to win by pseudo intellectual critics who want to prove that they matter.

  9. John says:

    “Gran Torino” was a terrible movie on every level.
    I still don’t understand what made it so successful…it’s an enigma to me.
    Lazy writing, directing, acting, scoring and cheap melodrama.
    For every 3 good films, Eastwood made at least 1 bad one.

  10. Oh joy, another dank, gray Eastwood movie about military/political material. And even worse, using non-actors in the role. Given his Grand Borino track record, as Tapley mentioned, he and his one/two-take style pretty much force these bad actors to flop on the big screen. Can’t he just retire completely already? He’s been mostly miss lately since 2008 (delicious snub, since GT is awful), with the exception of American Sniper of course. But he was rightfully overlooked in the Director category and I hope history repeats itself unless it’s truly one of the best and not a legend getting an undeserving nomination.

    Same goes for Spielberg with The Papers. I’m not exactly sure about this one. I mean, with its release date, is it all assumption that it’s a hit, or is it overestimating based upon status of talent? Hard to say. The biographical and political angle, of course, lend us to suspect this one, unlike 15:17, is a more likely Oscar contender. If it’s at least good, it’ll be a BP nominee and probably for Hanks and Streep (ugh, not again). But I’m kind of rooting against it? Maybe it’s because I’m such a fan of All the President’s Men. Or maybe it’s the “not Streep again” factor. Then again, Bridge of Spies did surprise me. I quite liked that one. In spite of any of my comments here, I will ALWAYS give each and every film a fair chance. That doesn’t mean I hope it’s DOA until that time comes.

    Finally, All the Money in the World is more interesting to me. I’ve always felt this story was ripe for a cinematic yarn. I wonder if Scott has any shot….Too soon to really tell, until we see a trailer and get a sense of his film. But even if it doesn’t become a frontrunner, I can see it figuring into the acting races, primarily with Kevin Spacey and Michelle Williams. Perhaps Williams finally wins (but I’m hedging my bet that the Janis Joplin biopic will finally be her solicitation of the golden boy). But I do have the most confidence in this film, followed by The Papers, with The 15:17 to Paris bringing up the rear.

  11. Mark says:

    WB really wants to support another generic Eastwood movie instead of Dunkirk???? By the way, we live in an era in which Clint Eastwood has 2 oscars for directing and Nolan hasn’t even been nominated. The academy is a joke.

    • Dunkirk is just an one time-see movie. no story at all. useless.

    • Dmitry says:

      There is nothing Oscar-worthy about Dunkirk, especially compared to other Nolan movies.

      • JJHensucker says:

        Hopefully students are not relying on any movie as a learning tool. Movies, even those that attempt to include as much factual detail as possible, are mythic fictions, not the truth. Even documentaries need to be taken with a grain of salt. Hopefully students actually, y’know, study. Read a few books. Google some stuff. Talk things over with other people. Movies can make for a good cultural touchstone, a point of reference for argument, but they’re seldom reliable as an objective “source”.

        I’m not trying to convert you – no reason in the world anyone SHOULD like a film if it’s not their cup of tea – but I would argue that Dunkirk wasn’t “shallow”. On the contrary, it assumed that the viewer already knew the basics about WWII – Germany spreads across Europe, so a coalition of British and French (and others including, later, American) forces set out to stop their progress – because, honestly, that’s all we needed to know. It’s not meant to be a social studies lesson, or a lecture on military strategy, or an Eastwood-style ode to the virtuous sanctity of Killing Evil Foreigners (it’s about a barely-avoided catastrophe, not a victory, and the enemy is barely seen at all never mind demonized). The emphasis was on the primal experience of enduring, and deliberately putting oneself in to, a seemingly hopeless situation: it’s an impressionistic art film, disguised as a pure suspense picture, disguised as epic spectacle. My thoughts, anyway.

      • AmandaSue2 says:

        My problem with Dunkirk, was that, there wasn’t any factual, historical narratives. If people aren’t familiar with some of the battles during the Second World War, or what happened at Dunkirk, it was nothing more than a lot of gun fire and emotions….Hitler’s failed plan, how and why the military became stranded, Winston Churchill’s strategy and plea to the citizens to help…these events were never explained. The movie was shallow. Hopefully students aren’t relying on these kind of movies as a learning tool. Great cast, but not Oscar worthy.

    • Eva says:

      You’re way under predicting The Papers if you think it’s just another nomination for Meryl.

  12. frederick@dreamerchant.com says:

    A supporter of directors with true talent…many directors at bat swing at the fences before hitting a homerun. Ridley’s “Martian”, for example. This makes viewing the Oscars more probable than gifting a film like “MOONLIGHT” as Best Picture of the Year which it was not.

  13. David says:

    Eastwood and Scott are past their prime, so i don’t hold out any hope for their films. Spielberg is another one who lost his edge long time ago and this project seems the typical oscar-bait bullshit. Overall these 3 old-timers have done recently uninteresting and paint by numbers work, i don’t expect them to be at the center of the oscar race this time. The only interesting work that will be released in December will be the PTA/ Day-Lewis movie.

    • Eva says:

      Have you read anything about The Papers? You have to be living under a rock if you think it’s not a major player.

      • Eva says:

        The Papers isn’t even close to just a auto-nom, it literally has everything going for it. Again, if you think it’s anything less than a major contender, Meryl included, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • Right, I don’t want it to be because it looks basic and some will inevitably compare it as inferior to All the President’s Men. Plus, I don’t want another Streep auto-nom, because quite frankly I’m sick of it. She hasn’t deserved her last 3 nominations or her 2011 win. It’s just autopilot at this point and it’s gross.

  14. Lara says:

    I didn`t even know Ridley Scott had made a film this year,they`ve been flying under the radar with this one.

  15. Flosse says:

    Wow! I had Spielberg down for Ready Player One (loved the novel, liked the trailer), wasn’t expecting him to finish the Papers that quickly. Same is true for Eastwood. His movie was on my radar, but so far, it does not show up on release shedules. Scott is a complete surprise. Nice to see that interesting movies do not rely on a number after the title…

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