You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

East Coast Boast: New York Plays Vital Role in Awards Season Jockeying

The Gotham-set “Birdman,” about a fallen Hollywood star seeking redemption on Broadway, swept last year’s Oscars with best picture, director, original screenplay and cinematography prizes. The Fox Searchlight film represents the latest example that shows that when it comes to the Oscar race, the major evolution has occurred in Manhattan, overtaking the Hollywood studio film.

To some extent, the East Coast’s winning spirit is as old as “My Left Foot,” British arthouse imports distributed by New York-based independents in the 1980s and 1990s. That was when Harvey Weinstein at Miramax cracked the Oscar code. Weinstein didn’t create the American independent movement, but he exploited its awards potential.

“After decades of Academy members being admitted from the indie world, it should not be a shock to anyone that the taste is really indie,” says one high-placed insider. Every time an independent film wins, more independent filmmakers flood AMPAS. As the Academy becomes more and more indie, the movie selection has gone more and more indie.

“It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy,” says the insider. “From the early Weinstein era on, it has become an indie-based Academy.”

Emblematic of this trend are the Gotham Awards — celebrating its 25th anniversary this year on Nov. 30. “New York has always been the epicenter of independent film,” says Joana Vicente, exec director of the Independent Filmmaker Project, which presents the Gothams. “In our culture, people get excited by original voices, things that feel organic and original — like ‘Short Term 12,’ like ‘Birdman,’ like ‘Boyhood,’ a traditional story told in an untraditional way, an authentic film.”

Tyler DiNapoli, president, marketing, media & research at Bleecker Street, has a different angle: “Part of the rise in the importance of New York is the need for a prolonged PR push not only on the editorial side, but also on the advertising side. The other piece that is driving awards campaigns to New York is the increasing importance of film institutions like MOMA, the Museum of the Moving Image and Film Society of Lincoln Center in creating events surrounding film and the ability to advertise and promote those events to Academy and guild members.”

Sony Pictures Classics co-prexy Michael Barker sees the evolution less in terms of N.Y. vs. L.A than studio vs. specialized. “These movies you’re talking about would have been made by studios — high quality not blockbusters.

“There was a change in the economics heralded by ‘Jaws’ and ‘Star Wars.’ ” Barker said. “It became standard business for big studios to make and release movies that were broad-based and not platformed. What has happened is that the independent companies (or the specialized companies owned by the studios) ended up taking over those films that the bigger studio used to release. It’s an evolution in the business itself.”

(Pictured: Michaael Keaton in “Birdman”)

More Film

  • '2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live

    Film Review: ‘2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action’

    The Academy skewed dark in its choice of live-action shorts this year, selecting four films to slit your wrists by — each one featuring child endangerment in a different form — and a fifth, about a diabetic on her death bed, that finds a glimmer of uplift at the other end of life. If that [...]

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Yorgos Lanthimos

    Film News Roundup: 'The Favourite' Director Yorgos Lanthimos Boards Crime Drama

    In today’s film news roundup, Yorgos Lanthimos has set up a crime drama, “Here Lies Daniel Tate” is being adapted, and Donna Langley becomes a member of the USC film school board. DIRECTOR HIRED “The Favourite” producer-director Yorgos Lanthimos has signed on to write and direct crime drama “Pop. 1280,” an adaptation of Jim Thompson’s [...]

  • Brody Stevens Dead

    Comedian Brody Stevens Dies at 48

    Prominent Los Angeles comedian Brody Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed. He was 48. “Brody was an inspiring voice who was a friend to many in the comedy community,” Stevens’ reps said in a statement. “He pushed creative boundaries and his passion for his work and his love of baseball were contagious. [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business

    Hollywood Agents Blast Writers Guild Over New Proposals

    The war between the Writers Guild of America and Hollywood agents has escalated as the two sides battle over the rules on how writers are represented. The latest volley emerged Friday from Karen Stuart, executive director of the Association of Talent Agents, who accused WGA leaders of misleading its members and asserted that the guild [...]

  • Xavier Legrand Custody

    Cesar Awards: Xavier Legrand’s ‘Custody’ Wins Best Film

    Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody,” a tense portrait of a family torn by domestic violence, won best film, actress (for Lea Drucker), and original screenplay at the 44th Cesar Awards, which took place at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. The awards are France’s highest film honors. “Custody,” which marks Legrand’s follow up to his Oscar-nominated [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content