Some people (like T. S. Eliot) might say that April is the cruelest month, but for Academy Award hopefuls in Hollywood, it is actually January. It takes strength, stamina and a good stylist for nominees to make it through the month’s nonstop swirl of awards shows, parties and cleverly scheduled premieres that lead up to Oscar Sunday in late February. Kicking off with the annual Palm Springs Intl. Film Festival Awards Gala and culminating with the SAG Awards, January can be tough on the strongest constitution.
Just ask lead actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence, whose walking pneumonia almost kept her from attending the SAG celebration on Jan. 27. She’d been going nonstop all month, hopping from the People’s Choice Awards to the Critics’ Choice and on to a special screening of “Silver Linings Playbook,” the AFI awards luncheon, the BAFTA/LA tea party, the Los Angeles Film Critics Awards and the Golden Globes — all in a single week in L.A. Already ill with a fever by the night of the Globes, the 22-year-old thesp kept right on going to New York, where she hosted “Saturday Night Live,” appeared on the “David Letterman Show” and swung back around to California, where the pneumonia finally knocked her down — but only momentarily.
She missed the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Intl. Awards on Jan. 26, but rallied to grab the female actor in a leading role at the SAG Awards — and to continue on to the Weinstein Co. afterparty at the Sunset Tower.
Her “Silver Linings” co-star must be taking his vitamins, because despite being 16 years her elder, Bradley Cooper did most of what Lawrence did — and more, perhaps winning the prize for the busiest nominee of them all.
He hit the PSIFF Gala and Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch the next day out in the desert, then went to New York for the National Board of Review Awards, came back to Los Angeles for theCritics Choice Movie Awards, AFI, BAFTA/LA tea party and Globes, plus made appearances at Sean Penn’s Haiti gala, L.A. film crix kudos and a few other parties along the way, and then headed across the globe to Madrid, Rome and Tokyo for “Silver Linings” premieres. Cooper got back to Hollywood just in time to watch “Lincoln” star Daniel Day-Lewis take the SAG prize for lead male actor. But as he said earlier in the month at the BAFTA/LA tea, he’s just happy to be in the picture — and at every party and awards show going.
“Are you kidding me?” Cooper said with a guffaw, when asked if he was getting a bit tired of the swirl. “I will go to anything, I am just so happy to be included in this, I cannot believe it is happening. It is so fantastic!”
Day-Lewis had a different sentiment as he, too, crisscrossed the globe in January, bouncing from London to New York to Los Angeles and then on to Madrid, Rome and Dublin for premieres, and back to California in time to be honored at the Santa Barbara Intl. Film Festival just prior to the SAG Awards.
“It’s bearable,” he said with a grimace at BAFTA/LA’s fete. “I have never really been much of a partygoer. I’d rather be home.”
It isn’t only the nominated actors who are working the rooms, either, as plenty of other contenders are making sure to see and be seen, taking every chance to remind Academy voters of their work.
At the PGA Awards, “Les Miserables” producers Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan cracked up the aud when Fellner referred to their humble beginnings, quipping, “Thirty years ago, we were trolling the streets of Soho, dodging hookers and perverts — which prepared us for Hollywood.” The two Working Title honchos had previously shown up at the Santa Barbara Fest as well as the Globes.
Composers Alexandre Desplat (“Argo”) and Mychael Danna (“Life of Pi”) hit the circuit early in the month, at the CCMAs and Globes, with Danna going home triumphant from both. Danna’s director Ang Lee has been bouncing around, from Palm Springs to Hollywood and on to Tokyo and Taipei before making it back to L.A. in time for the PGA Awards, while “Lincoln” helmer Steven Spielberg matched Day-Lewis’ itinerary plane for plane (with supporting actress nominee Sally Field in tow).
“Django Unchained” nominated screenwriter Quentin Tarantino used early January to premiere his film across Europe, then got to the City of Angels just in time to grab a Golden Globe for his writing, as well as the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts prize for screenplay. “Zero Dark Thirty” author Mark Boal worked the circuit much harder, with visits to the N.Y. film crix awards, theCritics Choice, AFI, LAFCA and the Globes, usually with Kathryn Bigelow laminated to his side. Tony Kushner accepted important prizes on both coasts (the NYFCC and the Critics Choice) for his “Lincoln” script and kept his face in the picture at the BAFTA/LA, AFI and Globes celebrations.
Nominees in the documentary category had been stirring things up all month, too, starting at the NYFCC awards, where Michael Moore managed to provoke a loud “fuck you” as he presented the first feature to David France’s ACT-Up doc, “How to Survive a Plague.” France, in turn, quipped to Moore, “Thank you for holding me up as your human shield against the Catholics.”
“Searching for Sugarman” helmer Malik Bendjelloul brought Sugarman (Rodriguez) along to National Board of Review Awards in New York, then on to the Critics Choice in Los Angeles, where the film took doc prize. Rolling along with that momentum, he hit the Santa Barbara fest, where 40 nominees congregated over the 11-day sprocket opera to promote their work.
Of course, the campaigning won’t end until the last Oscar ballot is received on Feb. 19, which means busy nominees from all disciplines will be spotted out and about well beyond Jan. 31. Look for them at the upcoming awards given out Intl. Animated Film Society, Visual Effects Society, the WGA and the Costume Designers Guild — and anywhere else where a red carpet is unfurled.
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