×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Oscar Sunday Will Be Veterans’ Day for Sony Classics Team

Sony Pictures Classics heads into the Feb. 22 Oscars with 18 nominations. Aside from being a company record, those noms represent two words associated with SPC: loyalty and longevity.

Toppers Michael Barker and Tom Bernard are proud that so many of their nominees are veterans of past SPC films. “With Julianne Moore, we go back to ‘Vanya on 42nd Street,’” says Barker. “We’ve worked with Wim Wenders (in the docu race) since ‘Wings of Desire.’ Tom Cross, the editor of ‘Whiplash,’ was an assistant to Tim Squyres on ‘Crouching Tiger.’”

Barker rattles off a list that also includes director Bennett Miller, writer Dan Futterman, Mark Ruffalo, and the team on Mike Leigh’s “Mr. Turner”: costume designer Jacqueline Durran, d.p. Dick Pope and composer Gary Yershon. And aside from the nominees themselves, SPC’s former collaborators include people associated with the films in contention, such as “Still Alice’s” writer-directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland and exec producer Christine Vachon.

“So when we go to the Oscars this year, we will really feel part of the enduring film community because we have long-term working relationships with so many people,” adds Barker.

SPC’s Oscar bids include five for “Foxcatcher,” five for “Whiplash,” four for “Mr. Turner” and one apiece for “Leviathan,” “Salt of the Earth,” “Still Alice” and “Wild Tales.”

“We’ve had one of our best years because this has been a really good year for movies,” Bernard tells Variety. “It’s almost a throwback to the ’70s, with auteur-driven films and filmmakers who have something to say — and theaters have adapted. You can have ‘Foxcatcher’ or ‘Whiplash’ on over 500 screens. That wasn’t always the case.” Just a few years ago, it was rare for a specialty film to score more than 100 screens.

“American indie filmmakers are getting much, much better,” says Bernard. “If you look at Sundance, Toronto, Cannes, you see American indie directors up there with the studios. The filmmaking tools are accessible and the system is easier to navigate.”

Sony Classics has scored Oscar nominations every year since Barker, Bernard and Marcie Bloom started the company in 1992, with “Howards End.” In the ensuing decades, a slew of specialty divisions have come and gone: Gramercy Pictures, October Films, USA Films, Paramount Vantage, Paramount Classics, Overture Films, FilmDistrict, Warner Independent, et al. Others, like UA and Miramax, have morphed dramatically.

SPC is unique because the original bosses are still there — and because it has maintained the size of its staff, 25 people.

That’s in keeping with the company’s low-key style. Their 20th anniversary passed with little fanfare, as Barker and Bernard preferred to emphasize their filmmakers, not themselves.

They also are hands-on. As Bernard told Variety, “We never remove ourselves from the day-to-day process. We came from a college-film-series mentality. I was a print shipper, salesman, I did accounting — we’ve done every job. We have a staff that really loves movies, and they’re here because they like to work on these films. We only buy movies that we like and we think can work.”

Asked on nomination day how they were celebrating, Bernard joked to Variety, “It’s just business as usual in the salt mines.” In other words, they got excited, then went back to work.

More Film

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content