Get ready for the ultimate diva smackdown at the next Oscars: Meryl Streep (“August: Osage County”) vs. Oprah Winfrey
Two years after winning Best Actress for “The Iron Lady,” Streep has agreed to drop down to the supporting race for her role as Violet, the pill-popping, booze-swilling momma in “August: Osage County,” a Weinstein Company source tells Gold Derby. That means Streep will compete against Oprah as the hooch-guzzling wife of the title star of “The Butler.”
Streep’s move is a shockeroo considering that role won Best Actress at the 2008 Tony Awards when Deanna Dunagan performed it on Broadway. Dunagan beat her costar Amy Morton, who portrayed Violet’s frazzled daughter Barbara. Now Julia Roberts, in the role of Barbara on screen, seems to have a clearer shot at a Best Actress victory without risking a split of “August” votes in that category. Roberts won the Best Actress Oscar in 2000 for “Erin Brockovich.” Oprah has never won an Academy Award, but was nominated in the supporting slot for “The Color Purple” (1985).
Streep has three Oscars: one for supporting (“Kramer vs. Kramer,”1979 ) and two for lead (“Sophie’s Choice” in 1982, “Iron Lady” in 2011). If she pulls off one more victory, she will tie Katharine Hepburn for most wins (four). Streep already holds the record for most nominations (17).
Streep’s gracious move may be good news for Roberts, but it’s rotten luck for “August” costar Margo Martindale, who portrays the role of Violet’s sister Mattie, which won the Tony Award for Best Featured (or Supporting) Actress for Rondi Reed on stage. Now past Emmy champ Martindale (“Justified”) must not only face off against Oprah, but Streep, too.
A closet full of skeletons … Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts in August: Osage County, Photograph: Toronto film festival
This year’s …
The Descendants in terms of its character-based comedy and themes of family tension.
- August: Osage County
- Production year: 2013
- Directors: John Wells
- Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Meryl Steep
Also, confusingly, this year’s Argo in that it is co-produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov (who scooped the crowning best picture Oscar for Ben Affleck’s Iranian siege caper last February).
What’s it all about?
Interior: a roomy Oklahoma house, the closets full of skeletons. At the head of the table sits Violet (Meryl Streep), a dying matriarch, addicted to prescription meds. Orbiting her come Julie Roberts (as Violet’s brittle oldest daughter), Juliette Lewis (wayward youngest daughter) and Benedict Cumberbatch (deadbeat illegitimate son). Misty Upton lends support as the Cheyenne housekeeper who bears witness to the domestic squalls.
How did it happen?
Tracy Letts’s original stage-play has won rave reviews, the 2008 Pulitizer prize for drama and (happy bonus) a powerhouse champion in producer Harvey Weinstein. The combination of the play’s pedigree and Weinstein’s backing ensured a smooth transition to the screen, although scheduling niggles meant that Andrea Riseborough (originally cast as the younger daughter) had to drop out in favour of Lewis. The film began shooting in the town of Bartlesville, Oklahoma in September last year, with a relatively modest budget of $25m and John Wells (a veteran of ER and The West Wing) in the director’s chair.
Nominations it wants
Handsome, well-upholstered family sagas like this tend to dominate the acting and screenplay categories, though August: Osage County also looks a shoo-in for the best picture shortlist. If so, don’t rule out TV specialist Wells as an outside bet to join the hunt for the directing Oscar too.
What it might win
August: Osage County stars three-time winner Meryl Streep playing a provincial American Lear. She’s an overbearing matriarch raging against the dying of the light. She has cancer and is addicted to drugs. All of which makes her the putative favourite for a fourth acting Oscar. Julia Roberts (an Oscar-winner for 2000’s Erin Brockovich) and Tracy Letts (who adapted his own stage-play) will also fancy their chances.
Reasons to fall for it
It provides a banquet of rich dramatic meat, a keen sense of familial strife and a series of attention-grabbing roles for its big-name players. Possibly it even has a sense of the wider picture, too. As with Death of a Salesman, Letts installs his dysfunctional American family as a sly metaphor for a dysfunctional America.
Reasons it might fail
Might this domestic firestorm turn out too stagey, too relentlessly talky? Does director John Wells have enough big-screen exuberance to bring it to life? August: Osage County has got the revered source material, the family dramatics, and Meryl Streep in the leading role. Might it even be a little too precision-tooled for its own good? Oscar voters may just baulk at being catered to so slavishly.
When can we see it
The release schedule positively reeks of Oscar ambitions. August: Osage County premieres at the Toronto film festival in September and is released in the US on Christmas Day. The UK roll-out duly follows just 24-hours later.
In four words
March’s Story: Oscar Glory
Ewan McGregor’s mother Carole was refused odds on Meryl Streep winning an Oscar (WENN) Carole McGregor was mysteriously refused odds on Streep bagging an Academy Award for her role in August: Osage County. MacGregor also stars in the film.
Perthshire-born McGregor, 42, is convinced Streep is heading for her fourth Oscar.
He revealed the bizarre story at a publicity event in London, saying: “I told my mum to go to the bookies and put money on Meryl. She said, ‘I don’t know if you can do that’. I said, just try and you will get amazing odds. But they just wouldn’t give her any odds on it.”
Ewan believes that Meryl Streep may win her fourth Oscar for her latest role (WENN)
The film’s production outfit, The Weinstein Company, have postponed the release of the picture, also starring Julia Roberts, Sam Shepard, Juliette Lewis and Benedict Cumberbatch, to November in the belief this will enhance its chance of awards.
McGregor plays the unfaithful husband of Roberts’ character, whose dysfunctional family is gathering at the home of their cancer-stricken mother, played by Streep.
“I had the best seat in the house for their performances. Meryl is just a great leading lady,” McGregor added.
ROME – Leonardo DiCaprio could get his first Oscar in 2014. The actor has been nominated several times but has never won. Among women is head to head between the protagonists of “August: Osage County“, Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, both of which already awarded in the past as Best Actress.
Daniel Huttlestone goes from ‘Les Mis’ To ‘Into The Woods’
EXCLUSIVE: Daniel Huttlestone is in negotiations to star as Jack in “Into The Woods”, the Rob Marshall-directed Disney musical that will star Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt, Chris Pine and Jake Gyllenhaal. Huttlestone was last seen as Gavroche in the Tom Hooper – directed screen adaptation of the stage musical “Les Miserables“.
by Mike Fleming
The Weinstein Company on Thursday shifted the release date of one of its main awards hopefuls, “August: Osage County”, to Christmas Day. It had been scheduled to debut on November 8.
Christmas is getting crowded. Also set to debut on that day are Universal’s Keanu Reeves action drama “47 Ronin,” Paramount’s Chris Pine-Keira Knightley action thriller “Jack Ryan” and the Fox comedy “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”
The studio also shifted “Grace of Monaco,” a biopic starring Nicole Kidman as Hollywood star-turned-princess Grace Kelly, from December 27 to November 27, the day before Thanksgiving.
“August: Osage County” is directed by John Wells and produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov. The cast includes Meryl Streep playing a pill-popping mother and Julia Roberts as her bitter daughter. Also featured are Chris Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, Abigail Breslin and Juliette Lewis.
The Tracy Letts play that inspired the film snagged just about every major theatrical prize including the Pulitzer when it debuted on Broadway in 2007.
The Weinstein Company unveiled its slate for the year at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday, giving a glimpse of their game plan for Oscar season, which includes an intriguing documentary-style feature about the elusive writer J.D. Salinger, a biopic on Nelson Mandela and a southern vehicle for A-list Actresses, “August: Osage County“.
The presentation included a small parade of stars, including Nicole Kidman, Rooney Mara, Michael B. Jordan and a host of other actors and directors joined by co-chairman Harvey Weinstein at the event. Weinstein joked that he would have invited George Clooney, a coproducer on “August“, but he was still sore over losing the Best Picture Oscar to him this year with “Argo.”
That doesn’t mean TWC will be absent at the Oscars this year (they never are).
The most obvious Oscar bait – at least in the acting category – was a first look at “August: Osage County,” based on the play, starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor and Juliette Lewis. It also includes Abigail Breslin and my how Little Miss Sunshine has grown!
The film delves into the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, starting with Streep, in a frowsy black wig (Weinstein told TheWrap this week that Streep went wandering through Wal-Marts late at night to prepare for the role), Roberts as her daughter returning during a family crisis and Lewis as her sister.
Looks like Streep gets in lots of zingers and embodies the tagline for the movie: “Misery loves family.”
Weinstein, wearing a tux, said he was going back to the office after the presentation to keep selling his movies to international partners. So goes Cannes.
They are Oscar wining actresses who have both played a slew of feisty characters in a variety of films.
So it’s no surprise that sparks fly when Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts go head to head in their new film drama.
A trailer for August:Osage County shows the women engaging in several dramatic scenes.
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Matriarch: Meryl Streep plays fearsome family matriarch Violet Weston in new movie August: Osage County, with the new trailer released on Friday
Julia plays Barbara Weston, daughter of Violet, the cancer stricken sharp tongued family matriarch.
Co-produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov, the new trailer features the actresses sparring, in with one piece of dinner table footage especially dramatic.
The drama is based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning play by Tracy Letts and made its Broadway debut in 2007.
Mother daughter tension: Julia Roberts plays Violet’s daughter Barbara in the film
Powerful drama: The feature film promises some powerful scenes between Julia and Meryl’s character
Adaptation: The film is based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning play by Tracy Letts
It revolves around a dysfunctional family who gather together in Oaklahoma after the suicide of family patriarch Beverly.
Along with star names Streep and Roberts, the film features a star-studded cast including Sam Shepard, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch and Juliette Lewis.
The dark dramedy, directed by John Wells, is slated for release on November 8, putting it in direct contention for awards season.
Family affair: Juliette Nicholson as Ivy Weston, Violet and Barbara return to Oklahoma after father Beverly commits suicide
Star-studded cast: The film features a slew of big names including wan McGregor as Barbara’s estranged husband Bill
Oscar hopes: The film’s release on November 8 puts it in line for awards season
Producing partners Grant and George will be hoping to match their Oscar triumph for this year’s Best Picture winner Argo.
The trailer opens with Beverly (Sam Shepard) declaring that ‘life is very long,’ before his death brings the family together again.
Movie goers can expect some dark undertones, with the film’s tagline reading: ‘Misery Loves Family.’
Dysfunctional: Ewan plays a college professor who has left his wife (Roberts) for a younger woman
Part of the ensemble: Benedict Cumberbatch plays clumsy and unemployed ‘Little’ Charles Aiken