The week before Viola Davis became the first black woman to win an Oscar, Tony, and Emmy after winning Best Supporting Actress for her role in Paramount’s Fences at the 89th annual Academy Awards, BET held a special ceremony dedicated to black entertainment.
BET Presents the American Black Film Festival Honors. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Paramount’s Arrival and Fences each won an Oscar last night, capping a torrid award season that firmly established the two films as among the best of 2016.
With a fiery speech that summoned the emotional resonance of the film she appeared in, Viola Davis accepted the prize for best supporting actress for her role in Fences.
“You know, there’s one place where all the people with the greatest potential are gathered,” Davis said in her acceptance speech. “One place. And that’s the graveyard. … So here’s to August Wilson who exhumed and exhalted the ordinary people.”
The haunting Arrival¸ a gorgeous sci-fi tale of aliens landing, earned top honors for Sound Editing. Sylvain Bellemare, a longtime collaborator with director Denis Villeneuve, led the team that created the film’s auditory component, an immense task given a story that spans civilizations, time periods, and settings from the pedestrian to the otherworldly.
As a boy, Jean de Meuron would rise in the dead of the European night to cheer the Academy Award recipients ascending gilded stages on the far side of the Atlantic. He relished this annual celebration of a world he deeply admired: he was a student of Hollywood history, a fan of Spielberg’s Indiana Jones, a dreamer gripped by the allure of the American entertainment industry.
So here he came, from Switzerland, in 2008, embedding himself in studies at the New York Film Academy, USC, UCLA and the New School; bunking down in internships at the Weinstein Company, MTV, Viacom International Media Networks and Paramount. He would go anywhere – New York City, Los Angeles, Mexico, Buenos Aires – as he produced student films and peppered executives with questions at every stop. He learned about marketing campaigns, about the importance of everything from color schemes to timing to creating effective trailers.
It was an immersive course in filmmaking and marketing, fueled by an unwavering vision of what his life ought to be. It was this resolute focus that led him to the 2012 Basel Gässli Film Festival in his native Switzerland, where he met a young director named Timo von Gunten, a preternatural talent whose work – the editing, framing, storytelling – echoed legendary Amelie director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. And it was his partnership with von Gunten, as executive producer (along with Bela Böke) on the short film La Femme et le TGV, that last month opened up the Oscars in a way de Meuron’s boyhood self would not have believed: live, at the event, as a nominee.
Jean de Meuron (right) with La Femme et le TGV producer Giacun Caduff and director Timo von Gunten at a luncheon for Oscar nominees. Photo courtesy of Jean de Meuron.
It would be the culmination of a lifelong ambition, the highest professional acknowledgement in one of the most prominent creative industries in the world. But like an artisan crafting a beautiful piece of furniture, a filmmaker does not spring wholly into the existence with the knowledge of his art, but learns it through a long apprenticeship. For de Meuron, his time at Paramount would prove crucial to plan, produce, edit and promote La Femme et le TGV.
A rich, nostalgic world
It helps to understand, first, what they have made, for an Oscar nomination is reserved for those things that are exceptional.
La Femme et le TGV is set in an idyllic mountain landscape pancaked with cliff bands in the green and field-dotted wilderness outside the impossibly quaint town of Monbijou, Switzerland. At the center of this world is Elise Lafontaine (Jane Birkin), and hammering through it in a shimmering streak of steel and noise is the twice-daily TGV high-speed train. Every day for 32 years, at 6:18 a.m. and again at 7:13 p.m. Lafontaine has leaned, Swiss flag waving, from the window for these joyous passings.
There’s a movie about an alien invasion and one about race relations in 1950s Pittsburgh and one about a Manhattan socialite who has everything except for self-awareness. There’s the latest entry into the Star Trek canon and a spy-thriller of a jaunt back to World War II and another journey even further back with religious missionaries in feudal Japan. And there’s a biopic on one of the most persistent stories of our time, the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
These are the seven Paramount movies that secured a total of 18 nominations for the 89th Oscars when the academy released its annual list of nominees on Tuesday morning.
CriticalfavoritesArrival and Fences led with eight and four nominations, respectively, with each earning a shot at Best Picture. Florence Foster Jenkins follows with a pair of nominations, including Actress in a Leading Role for star Meryl Streep. Silence, Allied, Star Trek Beyond and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi each locked down nominations in one category.
An extended member of the Paramount family also racked up his first Oscar nomination – former international marketing division intern Jean de Meuron’s La Femme et la TGV is up in the short film category.
All of nominations are listed below, along with a preview of each film. The show will air on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017 on ABC. See the full list of movies in each category here.
It’s officially awards show season. 2017 kicked off with the 47th annual Golden Globe Awards earlier this month, where Paramount’s Fences kept up its momentum as one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year.
Washington’s character, Troy Maxson, is an embittered former baseball player and sanitation worker. Viola Davis plays his wife Rose, who ferociously protects her children, ideals, and convictions—which are challenged by her husband’s ego.
These performances garnered Washington and Davis Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor in a film and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.
Who will be this year’s winners in the race to the Oscars? Any way you look at it, the field of contestants is stacked, which is why EPIX is thrilled to bring intimate conversations with the Directors and cast from this year’s biggest Academy contenders to movie fans across the nation. From Anne Hathaway to Quvenzhané Wallis, Ben Affleck to Bradley Cooper, EPIX partnered with The Los Angeles Times on its star-studded panels in “The Envelope” series and is excited to present “The Envelope Please…,” an exclusive on-air and digital series beginning tomorrow, Feb. 8. Read More
Congratulations to Paramount and its creative partners on pulling in six Oscars at the 84th Annual Academy Awards last night – the second biggest haul of any film studio. Gore Verbinski’s Rango took home the statuette for Best Animated Film, while Martin Scorcese’s Hugo won a total of five Awards, including a Best Cinematography nod for Robert Richardson.