The Austin Film Society has announced this year's honorees of the Texas Film Hall of Fame, with Sony Pictures Classics co-founder Michael Barker, actress Chandra Wilson and actor Jesse Plemons set to be lauded on the eve of this year's South by Southwest festival.Barker, co-president and co-founder of SPC, will be inducted into the Texas Film Hall of Fame with the Austin Chronicle Champion of the Arts Award. Through previous work at United Artists and Orion Classics and now at...
Along with co-president/co-founder Tom Bernard, he is a legend in the film industry, having launched SPC in 1992. Over a long career that began at UA in 1980 and then continued at Orion Classics, which he co-founded with Bernard, his films have received an astonishing 163 Oscar noms, including several for best picture (“Whiplash,” “Amour”), Woody Allen’s biggest commercial hit (“Midnight in Paris”) and the highest grossing foreign film in North America (“Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”).
In his first year in business, Barker helped guide Emma Thompson to a best actress win for “Howards End,” and since then his track record has been the envy of every studio head — a total of 37 wins (including 2015’s “Son of Saul” for best foreign language film, a best actress Oscar for Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine,” and the same prize for Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”).
Last Oscar season, he championed Isabelle Huppert for her role as a sexual assault victim in Paul Verhoeven’s harrowing “Elle,” and trumpeted “Toni Erdmann” as a best picture candidate. Barker’s success is even more impressive given the short life span of many companies and executives in the specialty film space, and his original business model has proved to be an enduring vision: a diverse slate of indies that also make money.