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HomeIndustry SectorFilmMust Reads 12/7/23: NBR Honors Scorsese, Adam McKay Tackles Global Warming, and...

Must Reads 12/7/23: NBR Honors Scorsese, Adam McKay Tackles Global Warming, and More Industry News

Yeah, yeah, I realize that we didn’t have a “Must Reads” earlier in the week for reasons there’s no real point getting into. Thankfully, the biggest news is that the three-year SAG-AFTRA contract vote has been ratified, and hopefully, you’ve read Kevin E. West‘s latest “The Acting Biz” column on that.

Even more good news is that New York Governor Kathy Hochul quickly announced that the state would be doing everything it can to get the production business back up and running by fast-tracking the profess for film and television productions to get permit approvals.

“It’s critical that workers in all industries are fairly paid for their labor,” she wrote in a statement. “Now that the strikes are over, I am directing all relevant state agencies to fast-track approvals and permitting so that actors, writers and the dedicated middle-class professionals of this industry can get back to work.”

“The motion picture, television and related production industries are important contributors to New York State’s economic health, creating over 65,000 jobs annually, significantly stimulating our local and regional economies. Such productions are key economic drivers and a source of good-paying union jobs for New Yorkers,” her statement continued. “More than $1 billion in economic activity and thousands of jobs were lost to the state during the recent Writers and Actors strike. In anticipation of industry union strikes moving toward final agreements, the State is preparing for the return of large-scale productions statewide.”

So what else is going on in the industry?

More awards have been announced this past week, including the National Board of Review (NBR), which named Martin Scorsese‘s Killers of the Flower Moon as its best film. Scorsese was also named as Best Director and Lily Gladstone was named as Best Actress, beginning her three-month run to Oscar night after receiving a Gotham Award for the indie, The Undiscovered CountryPaul Giamatti and Da’Vine Joy Randolph received awards as Lead Actor and Supporting Actress for Alexander Payne‘s The Holdovers, which also received Best Original Screenplay for David HemingsonPoor Things screenwriter Tony McNamara received the award for Adapted Screenplay with Mark Ruffalo being awarded as Supporting Actor for same.

Now, we have to bear in mind that the NBR has very little direct connections to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hand out the Oscars, but it’s a group of movie enthusiasts and professionals that has been around for almost 125 years, so the movies/performances they pick do have some influence and connections on the rest of awards season.

Past Lives
Teo Yoo and Greta Lee in Past Lives (A24)

Also, Film Independent announced its own nominations for the 2024 Film Independent Spirit Awards, which also doesn’t have much of a Venn Diagram with the Academy, but it gives you some idea which lower-budget films might get into the mix. Four or five movies received the most prominent nominations: Celine Song‘s Past Lives and Cord Jefferson‘s American Fiction, which received five nominations apiece. Both movies received screenplay nominations but only Song also received a directing nomination. Andrew Haigh‘s All of Us Strangers also received Best Feature and directing nominations but no screenplay. Todd Haynes received a directing nomination for May December but the movie’s screenwriter, Sammy Burch, wasn’t nominated, while Hemingson was nominated for his The Holdovers screenplay, but Payne wasn’t nominated for his direction.

Adam McKay on the set of Don’t Look Up (Netflix/Niko Tavernise)

Oscar-winning filmmaker Adam McKay (The Big Short, Vice) has picked his next project as a director, which will be an untitled climate change project, in line with the director being outspoken about the threats of global warming. Originally, McKay had brought the project, Average HeightAverage Build to Netflix, who produced his previous film, Don’t Look Up, which received four Oscar nominations. Average Height was meant to include a similarly star-studded cast including Robert Pattinson (playing a serial killer), Amy Adams, and Robert Downey Jr., but when McKay decided not to direct the project, for which he had already written a script, Netflix decided not to move forward with the project.

Getting into some casting, Emma Myers from Netflix‘s hit Wednesday series is joining the Minecraft movie from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, based on the highest-selling video game of all time. Plans are to start filming later this month with the cast including Jason MomoaDanielle Brooks (The Color Purple), and Sebastian Eugene Hansen (Lisey’s Story).

Ryan Phillippe, Selma Blair in the 1999 film, Cruel Intentions (Columbia Pictures)

Prime Video went ahead and confirmed a series order for its Cruel Intentions series, and announced the full cast for the eight-episode series. The updated take on the 1999 movie of the same name was originally being developed for Amazon Freevee, but it’s now been shifted to the paid stramer with the cast including Sarah Catherine Hook (First Kill), Zac Burgess (Totally Completely Fine), Savannah Lee Smith (Gossip Girl), Sara Silva (American Horror Stories), Khobe Clarke (Firefly Lane, Yellowjackets), John Harlan Kim (The Last Thing He Told Me, 9-1-1), Brooke Lena Johnson (You), and Sean Patrick Thomas (Till) with Claire Forlani, Nikki Crawford, Isabella Tagliati, Zeke Goodman, and Jon Tenney as recurring cast.

Daytime Emmy and Tony winner (and Golden Globe, SAG, and Primetime Emmy nominee) Judith Light (Transparent, Ugly Betty) is joining Billy Crystal in the new Apple TV+ limited series, Before, with Adam Bernstein slated to direct. The 10-episode character-driven psychological thriller has Crystal playing Eli, a child psychiatrist who recently lost his wife Lynn (Light), her death not being quite as cut-and-dried as it seemed, which becomes obvious once Eli encounters a troubled young boy with a connection to Eli’s past.

As usual, we’ll wrap things up with a few trailers that were released over the weekend, including Godzilla X Kong: The New EmpireAdam Wingard‘s sequel to his 2021 Godzilla vs. Kong that helped bring theatrical back after the pandemic. Warner Bros. is slated to release the movie on April 12, 2024, and they premiered the trailer at Sao Paulo, Brazil’s hot fan convention, CXCP, this past weekend.

If giant monsters aren’t your thing, how about some dragons? WBD’s other main brand, HBO/Max released the first teaser trailer for House of the Dragon Season 2, also at CXCP, which you can watch below.

That’s probably it until next week, so have a great weekend!

Additional reporting for this installment comes from Deadline.

Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas
Edward Douglas has written about movies for print and the internet for over 20 years, specializing in box office analysis, reviews, and interviews. Currently, he writes features for Below the Line and Above the Line, acting as Associate Editor for the former and Interim Editor for the latter.
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