Oscar season is the busiest time of year for Sony Pictures Classics co-president Tom Bernard. From his cozy office in Sony’s sprawling Manhattan headquarters, he’s busy plotting the awards campaigns for critically acclaimed films including “Whiplash” and “Foxcatcher.” “We’re interested in quality movies from around the world,” he says of the indie label’s philosophy. The backdrop is vintage Bernard: a hodgepodge of hockey memorabilia, pictures with cultural elites such as Pedro Almodovar and Norman Mailer, and tchotchkes acquired over a lifetime spent traversing the arthouse scene.
CROUCHING TIGER, GRATEFUL ANG: Sony Pictures Classics scored its biggest hit so far with 2000’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” which grossed $130 million domestically. Director Ang Lee sent a pictorial thank you note showing one of the film’s gravity-defying martial artists.
ICED OVER: Bernard plays in various hockey leagues and has been known to lace up the skates along with Jerry Bruckheimer and Kiefer Sutherland. In addition to mementos and trophies, there’s a hockey stick signed by the Hanson brothers, the hockey brawlers featured so memorably in the cult classic “Slap Shot.”
PERFECT FOR NAPS: Sony Pictures Classics co-founder Michael Barker’s face adorns a pillow. It was a Secret Santa present from an intern, which is fitting given that the two met by picking each other’s names during a gift exchange from their time at Film Inc. “Whenever Michael leaves the office,” Bernard says, “he’s turned that around.”
AND THE WINNER IS: Sony Pictures Classics has earned more than 100 Oscar nominations, but the nods it received for French film “Indochine” and Brit pic “Howards End” are among the sweetest. Those wins came in 1992, the label’s first full year in business.