Meryl Streep to speak at UMass Lowell


Legendary Actress to Present Program for Public, Campus

LOWELL, Mass. – Meryl Streep, considered by many to be the greatest actress of this generation, will speak at UMass Lowell in the latest installment of the Chancellor’s Speaker Series.

Streep, an Academy Award winner whose acting career has spanned five decades and more than 100 roles, will take the stage at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Details on the program and tickets, which will be available to the public as well as the university community, will be announced at a later date.
The UMass Lowell Chancellor’s Speaker Series was launched last December with “A Conversation with Stephen King,” which drew a capacity crowd of more than 3,000 people to see the author in a rare personal appearance. As with the King event, Streep’s program will be a benefit for student scholarships. It is co-sponsored by the UMass Lowell English Department’s Theatre Arts Program and the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
“We are grateful to have someone of MerylStreep’s stature as the next participant in the UMass Lowell Chancellor’s Speaker Series, which brings people at the top of their fields to the university to speak to students and the community while helping to raise funds for scholarships,” said Chancellor Marty Meehan.
Since her debut in a 1977 TV movie, Streep – who holds the record for the most Academy Award and Golden Globe Award acting nominations – has established herself as one of the most prolific actresses in history, appearing in more than 50 films, as well as numerous stage productions. One of her trademarks has been portraying real people, from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “Iron Lady” to French chef Julia Child in “Julie and Julia” to whistleblower Karen Silkwood in “Silkwood.” She is also known for her perfectionism in preparing for roles, learning to play the violin and mastering countless dialects and accents.
Her many other notable movies include “The Deer Hunter” and “Kramer vs. Kramer” in the 1970s, “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” and “Sophie’s Choice” in the 1980s, “Postcards from the Edge” and “The Bridges of Madison County in the 1990s and “Adaptation,” “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Mamma Mia!” in the 2000s.
Streep continues to add to her credits, with three new films in production, including the screen adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical “Into the Woods,” and a fourth that will be in theaters later this year.
Streep has been recognized with acting’s top honors, including three Oscars, eight Golden Globes (also a record), two Emmys, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Cannes Film Festival award, two British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards and five New York Film Critics Circle Awards. She has also been nominated for a Grammy five times and a Tony Award. She was the youngest actor in history to receive the American Film Institute’s AFI Life Achievement Award and a Kennedy Center Honor. In 2010, President Barack Obama presented her with the National Medal of Arts.
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Dailymail: Pill-popping Meryl Streep gets snarky in new trailer for adaptation of Pulitzer-winning play August: Osage County


It feels like Meryl Streep enters the Oscars race every single time she appears in a film.

And that’s certainly no different this fall, considering her much-applauded turn in upcoming film August: Osage County.

A new trailer for the film, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday, features Meryl as Violet Weston, the pill-popping matriach of a dysfunctional family.

Oscar performance? Meryl Streep stars in August: Osage County as a matriach with a sharp tongue and an addiction to prescription pills Oscar-worthy performance? Meryl Streep stars in August: Osage County as a matriach with a sharp tongue and an addiction to prescription pills
Meryl Streep stars in new August: Osage County trailer

Adapted from the 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name, August: Osage County follows the family as they come together after the death of Beverly Weston (Violet’s husband).

It’s clear that there’s plenty of drama – and awkwardness – to air out, as each person holds their own backstory and quirks.

‘Look at your boobs! The last time I saw you, you looked like a little boy,’ Mattie Aiken (played by Margo Martindale) tells teenager Jean Fordham (Abigail Breslin).

Growing up: Abigail Breslin, now 17 years old, stars as the daughter of Ewan McGregor and Julia Roberts' characters Growing up: Abigail Breslin, now 17 years old, stars as the daughter of Ewan McGregor and Julia Roberts’ characters
What did you say? Ewan McGregor and Abigail Breslin stare in shock at a rude comment from Meryl Streep's character Violet Weston

What did you say? Ewan McGregor and Abigail Breslin stare in shock at a rude comment from Meryl Streep’s character Violet Weston

In another scene, Meryl can be seen rolling her eyes and making faces as Chris Cooper, in the role of Charles Aiken, talks about the ‘joy of family’ as he says grace at the dinner table.

Her befuddling temperament might have something to do with her prescription drug habit: ‘She takes pills – Valium, Vicodin, Xanax,’ her husband notes.

The drama also follows the separation of Barbara Weston (Julia Roberts) from Bill Fordham (Ewan McGregor), who is apparently involved with ‘a younger woman.’

‘Well, the odds are against you there, babe,’ Violet drawls to her daughter.

Big claims: Julia Roberts has called her acting experience opposite Ewan and Meryl as the 'best' of her illustrious careerBig claims: Julia Roberts has called her acting experience opposite Ewan and Meryl as the ‘best’ of her illustrious career
Why the tears? Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the upcoming film The Fifth Estate, looks distraught in the clip

Why the tears? Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the upcoming film The Fifth Estate, looks distraught in the clip

August: Osage County has earned kudos for its all-star ensemble cast, which also includes Benedict Cumberbatch (The Fifth Estate), Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney and others.

The film has received many positive reviews, with the most praise going to the performances, particularly Meryl’s.

Julia Roberts has even called her role ‘the best acting experience of my life,’ according to the Associated Press.

The film opens Christmas Day in the U.S.

Settle down: Chris Cooper calms Benedict down as they discuss Beverly Weston's funeral
Settle down: Chris Cooper calms Benedict down as they discuss Beverly Weston’s funeral
Winning ways: Variety's Scott Foundas calls Meryl's performance 'electrifying,' and she's certain to get awards-season attention

Winning ways: Variety’s Scott Foundas calls Meryl’s performance ‘electrifying,’ and she’s certain to get awards-season attention

Leading lady: Meryl Streep attends the Crystal & Lucy Awardsi, held at the Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, in June 2012

Leading lady: Meryl Streep attends the Crystal & Lucy Awardsi, held at the Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, in June 2012

Dailymail

Toronto: “August: Osage County” with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts gets rare standing ovation


Toronto: The movie adaptation of “August: Osage County” received a rare 10 minute standing ovation last night at Roy  Thomson Hall. The film of Tracey Letts’ Pulitzer Prize winning play stars Meryl Streep as Violet, matriarch a volatile Oklahoma family. The ovation was like something from the Cannes film festival, not usually seen in restrained Canada, and was very disarming for everyone in the cast who was in attendance including Julia Roberts

I know, every time Streep is in a movie people say “Oscar.” But the three time Oscar winner weaves some kind of magic in this movie. You can see it from the moment she appears in half light, looking haggard with spiky short hair to when she pulls on a full, dark wig to play Violet, the pill popping cancer patient with loads of secrets. And yes, this is a comedy and a drama.

Streep was not at last night’s premiere because she starts filming “Into the Woods” this week and has a bad enough cold that she couldn’t travel up from New York with setting back that production. But her name was heard everywhere as the credits rolled and the lights went up.

Most of the large, talented cast was there however: Ewan McGregor, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Julianne Nicholson, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney, and Abigail Breslin among them. And when they got to their party at Soho House–the only party of any interest last night in Toronto– pop star Taylor Swift arrived and joined them. That caused mayhem as you can imagine, when Swift and Roberts posed for pictures together with Harvey Weinstein.

“August: Osage County” was a bit of a surprise for many reasons last night. There had been a lot of talk that the film adaptation hadn’t worked out. That may have come from a teaser trailer that made the film look like a Southern comedy played for yucks. There was also a lot of discussion about how to handle Oscar positioning with Streep and Roberts. Who would be considered lead or supporting?

But once John Wells’s movie unfurled, all became clear. Streep is the star, the quarterback. In one scene taken from the play she sits at the head of a dining room table with this cast all around her. She literally throws “touchdown passes” to each cast member, landing jokes and barbs as they run to the end zone. It’s sort of mesmerizing because she never flags or tires or misses. It’s like watching an acting master class. It’s breathtaking.

So yes, Meryl Streep jumps onto the Best Actress list with Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench and Sandra Bullock. “AOC” becomes an extremely serious contender for Best Picture. It will almost certainly win Best Ensemble at the SAG Awards. Julia Roberts and Chris Cooper will be up for all the supporting awards. Cooper almost steals the show with a scene right out of Letts’s play at the dinner table. Roberts gives her most soulful performance yet, and comes across with a humanity–as one of Violet’s three daughters–that gives the movie anchor while Streep storms on like a hurricane.

PS Kudos also to Margo Martindale, Benedict Cumberbatch and Sam Shepard, who also make this movie an absolute pleasure.

Source

Oscars flip-flop: Meryl Streep returns to lead, Julia Roberts drops to supporting; ‘August: Osage County’ premieres at Toronto Film Festival – Reviews


Yesterday ‘August: Osage County‘ premiered at the Toronto Film Fest. Unfortunately, Meryl Streep couldn’t attend the event due to illness. [ Tweet] Below you can check the official reviews. Also here you can go through the tweets reviewing the movie once the screening was over.

It’s official: The Weinstein Co. has switched the Oscar strategy of the top stars in “August: Osage County“. Meryl Streep will remain in the lead race, according to one of the studio’s Oscar campaigners. But here’s the shockeroo: Julia Roberts will drop to supporting,

Back in early August, the rep told Gold Derby that Streep would compete in the supporting race, but Roberts would go lead. Then last week, the rep warned me that Streep could go back up to lead based upon reactions to early screenings of a new, final cut of the film. But the rep didn’t suggest that Roberts might be shuffled too.

Now it turns out that Roberts will compete against “August: Osage County” costar Margo Martindale, who portrays an award-winning role. The star who performed her character on the Broadway stage (Rondi Reed) won Best Featured (or Supporting) Actress in a Play at the 2008 Tony Awards.

The stars who held the original stage roles played by Streep (Deanna Dunagan) and Roberts (Amy Morton) were nominated by Tony voters in the lead race. Dunagan won.

Now Streep has been advanced by Weinstein Co. as the sole “August” actress competing in the lead race at the Oscars for this reason, according to the rep, “We have to look at the Best Actress race this way: Who’s strong enough to beat Cate Blanchett? It’s Meryl.”

But Roberts may not like too much the idea of being dropped to supporting where she must compete against Oprah Winfrey (“The Butler”), who – let’s face it – probably has that Oscar in the bag already.

Goldderby

toronto-film-fest-tiff-roberts-streep-osage.jpg
Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep star in ‘August Osage County,’ a December movie which got an early premiere in Toronto — and some early Oscar buzz (THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY)
 

“August Osage Country” had its premiere at Toronto tonight. The movie isn’t scheduled to open until Christmas, and this version was so new the sound mix still wasn’t quite done; as it was projected, the formidable Harvey Weinstein literally hovered off to one side of the theater, like a father proudly watching his baby take its first steps.

And then baby broke into a run.

“August Osage County” is a big drama, and some of its theatrics are as overheated as the Oklahoma summer it’s set in. There’s a death in the family, an uncomfortable reunion and a lot of screaming viciousness disguised as “truth-telling”; mom is a pill addict, her three daughters have their own serious problems, and few of the men in their lives seem to be able to stand up for themselves, let alone anyone else.

So basically it’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” crossed with a little “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” But with some comedy, too.

It’s all very effective, although not particularly flashy or visually innovative. That, of course, is how Weinstein prefers it. Apart from Quentin Tarantino, edgy directors have never really appealed to him; Weinstein’s filmmakers of choice are conventional, dependably tasteful and solely determined to get a whole bunch of Oscar-worthy performances on screen and in focus. (For the record, the director here is John Wells.)

Almost everyone is great, but the best of the best is Meryl Streep, as the foul-mouthed, acid-tongued patriarch. And being Streep, she makes the part even harder on herself by doing much of it behind big dark glasses, hiding an actress’ greatest tool — her eyes. It’s like Serena Williams playing a match with one hand tied behind her back, just for fun — and still acing it.

Excellent, too, is Chris Cooper as perhaps the one truly decent fellow in the whole family, Streep’s brother-in-law. And the often underestimated Juliette Lewis is a delight as the flakiest of the three sisters, still trying so desperately — and vainly — to win her mother’s affection.

As the strongest sister — the only one to really go toe-to-toe with Mom — Julia Roberts is fine. But she’s not wonderful and it’s annoying — and obvious — how the film has been tweaked to accommodate the size of her stardom. She gets long, careful closeups; worse, there’s a completely unnecessary coda which detracts from what should be (and was, in the play) the final scene, just so the film can end with her onscreen.

Of course, to be cynical, the superfluous footage does more than that: By ending on Roberts, you announce that this is her film, and this is her best-actress race. (In fact, there have been reports — albeit constantly changing and contradictory ones — that the studio may push Roberts alone for a best-actress Oscar, knocking Streep down to the supporting category.)

I hope that’s not true, not because of who has the better chance in which race — unlike studio heads, I truly don’t care — but because of what’s fair. Cooper has a supporting role, and should be nominated for such. Lewis has a supporting role, and could be nominated in that category as well (she’s been an excellent, and under-the-radar actress for years).

But this is Streep’s movie. It is about her, and she owns it from beginning to end. And no matter what category she is eventually put forward for — and which, if any, Academy members choose to select her for — she is already a winner. And an undisputed champion.

TIFF 2013: ‘August: Osage County’ becomes an early Oscar fave

It’s undeniable that, at least on paper, “August: Osage County” looks like a can’t-miss proposition. PairingTracey Letts’ Pulitizer Prize and Tony Award-winning play with an outstanding ensemble cast ranging from awards-nominated veterans to rising young stars—Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard, Misty Upham—it’s hard to fathom the material not working. And while the choice of helmer John Wells (“The Company Men”) might not seem like the most inspired decision, all he theoretically has to do is put the camera on a tripod and let the actors do their thing. And he does. And yet, ‘Osage County’ still turns out be an exhausting, screechy drama, in which a lot of very good actors work very hard, and yet produce so little as a result.

Following the death of family patriarch and celebrated poet Beverly Weston (Shepard, in an appearance that’s just slightly more than a cameo), the entire brood returns to the titular home to rally around their mother Violet (Streep), a cancer-battling, pill-popping woman. Arriving from near and far are Violet’s daughters Barbara, Karen and Ivy (Roberts, Lewis and Nicholson); her sister Mattie Fae (Martindale), her husband Charles (Cooper) and their son “Little” Charles (Cumberbatch); as well as Barbara’s estranged husband Bill (McGregor) and their daughter Jean (Breslin) and Karen’s new fiancé Steve (Mulroney). And as major family events like births, marriages and funerals tend to unveil, there’s a lot history to discuss, catch up with and reconcile, and over the next few weeks it will all come out in mostly painful and harsh showdowns.

Violet in particular seems to have an unending reserve of bitter, acidic observations and opinions to rain down on everyone she knows, and she doesn’t waste much time in getting down to business. At a family dinner after Beverly’s funeral is when the gloves first come off, in an extended scene where nearly everyone has a sharp spear of insult or indignation hurled straight at them. The Westons are hardly the Waltons, and it soon becomes clear that is just the tip of an iceberg of meanness and cruelty. The dinner is just the first layer of an onion of secrets, regrets, revelations and accusations that are yet to come, and while we have no doubt Letts’ original material won awards and critical acclaim for good reason, the translation to the big screen leaves much to be desired.

While seeing this on stage in a series of clearly defined acts likely gives the the story a different shape, presented similarly as a film, it leaves the pacing feeling particularly slack. Letts’ work contains frequent verbal bouts, and showdowns between various characters, but the staginess of the movie—particular in scenes that get stuck in one room for minutes upon minutes on end with different people shouting at each other—can be tiring, and certainly visually lifeless. Granted, we’re not watching ‘Osage’ for camera movements and slick sequences, and though the screenplay by Letts’ himself does open things up slightly, it doesn’t do enough inside the Weston home to knock down some walls have give both these characters and the audience room to breathe.

And sure, one could justify that choice as a metaphorical one, emphasizing the claustrophobia of the entire situation, but this a film that requires performances to carry what the isn’t in the (endless) scenes of dense dialogue. But sadly, for most of the cast, yelling every line loudly is confused with conveying emotion, sarcasm and/or depth, with several zingers completely missing the mark because any shaping of the lines is erased by sheer volume. “August: Osage County” is a film of big, wild gestures, plate smashing, screaming and tears, but not nuance, and it all has the effect of leaving one deadened, not moved. None of these characters are sympathetic, nor should they be, but we aren’t given a reason to personally invest, relate or even understand the depth of betrayals and bad behavior that has stacked up over the years. These are clearly people who don’t like being together, but yet the movie doesn’t give the audience a reason to want to be with them either.

But there are some saving grace notes throughout. Streep is at her Streep-iest, given a wig to wear, and allowed to look ugly, and she takes to sneering, emotionally volatile Violet with ease. She commands the screen and many scenes like she should, but has a great foil in Roberts playing Barbara. As the eldest daughter, who has to come to grips with her family history, as well as take the unwanted role of Weston matriarch, Roberts hasn’t been this good in a while, and that’s likely due to a role that gives her a lot of substance to play with. And a special nod of recognition has to go to Cooper as Charles, who delivers one of the film’s few genuine moments, with a wonderful, poignant rebuke of his wife Mattie that lays bare the ugliness at the core of the Westons.

As directed by Wells, he seems to have been almost too hands-off when it comes to his heavyweight cast. There is little in the way of craftmanship here—even the usually-reliable composer Gustavo Santalallaprovides a rather workmanlike score—and the film could’ve used a stronger hand in guiding the transition of the play to the big screen. There is a powerful cinematic experience somewhere in “August: Osage County” waiting to get out in the sprawling two hour plus runtime, but in seemingly staying too faithful to Letts’ work, the end product winds up playing almost like a supercut of Important Acting In Big Scenes, instead of a cohesive work of dramatic weight and thematic thoughtfulness. 

Review

It’s tough to decide if August: Osage County is foremost an insightful work about the dark, twisted, occasionally humorous nature of family, or if it’s good platform to showcase big performances.  Either way, it’s an engaging picture that features memorable turns from its stellar cast, especially (and unsurprisingly) Meryl Streep, and also throws together a complicated, abrasive portrait of a shattered family that can’t put the pieces back together.  They can only break into smaller pieces, and the only thing stopping the audience from breaking down is the black comedy permeating the family affair.

Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard), the patriarch of the Weston family, has died, and his funeral has brought together his estranged family.  The pill-popping matriarch Violet (Streep) is joined by her daughters Barbara (Julia Roberts), Karen (Juliette Lewis), and Ivy (Julianne Nicholson); sister Mattie Fae (Margo Martindale), her husband Chris (Chris Cooper), and their son Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch).  Also along for the demented ride are Barbara’s daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin), separated husband Bill (Ewan McGregor), and Karen’s fiancée Steve (Dermot Mulroney).  The only non-related person on the premises of the Weston house in Oklahoma’s Osage County is the new maid Johnna (Misty Upham) who is presumably relieved that she’s not related to this gang of lunatics.  Over the next several days, grievances are aired, secrets are revealed, and the strained relationships become even more complicated.

The Weston clan could be referred to as a powder keg, but a powder keg can only explode once.  The reunion is predicated on death and it doesn’t get much better from there when it comes to the prevailing attitude hanging over the characters.  Violet is by far the most damaged as she’s not only lost her husband, with whom she already had a tenuous relationship, but she’s a drug addict, cancer-stricken, and is mean down to her bones.  Her children have hardly any love for her, her sister berates Charles, Chris tries to play peacemaker, and on it goes.  There are, at most, two healthy relationships in August: Osage County.  The rest are predicated on grudges, deceit, and manipulation.  Separately, each of these groups had their problems, but bringing them together only highlights their issues and then exacerbates them.

august-osage-county-meryl-streep

Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tracy Letts (who also wrote the screenplay),August: Osage County edges dangerously close to a melodrama with how far it takes the characters’ lives from bad to worse.  Some reveals are absolutely unnecessary, and only exist to further show how family relations could be construed as inherently and inescapably damaging.  The Westons aren’t meant to represent all families but instead provide an amalgam of issues that some families could face.  At the very least, they provide an utterly captivating freak show.

The deeply flawed characters are an actor’s paradise, and the cast runs absolutely wild with Streep at the forefront.  The only way Streep could truly surprise audiences at this point is if she gave a bad performance.  Violet is despicable, but Streep taps into the wry, funny, sad, venomous, manipulative facets of the character.  We can see how Violet’s ugliness could drive people away and yet her perceived weakness can guilt her children into staying close.  Streep doesn’t have anything to prove, but August: Osage County is further evidence that she’s one of the greatest screen actors of all-time.

august-osage-county-julia-roberts

The rest of the cast does an admirable job of keeping up and finding their place in the script even though Violet is the juiciest role.  Barbara is a co-lead, but doesn’t really get to carve out a role until the second-half of the movie.  Once there, Roberts’ performance really takes off as we see a woman who is against her mother but also disturbingly similar to her.  However, until this point, Roberts’ performance consists mostly of giving Violet plenty of hardened glares.  At least when Barbara is finally unleashed, her wrath is worth the wait.  All of the other actors get their moments, but the main event is Violet vs. Barbara.

The large performances and outsized conflict is tempered by the dark comedy laced throughout the story.  Without the humor, August: Osage County would still feature interesting characters and worthwhile subtext, but the ugliness would be too much to bear.  The jokes are where the audience can come up for air, and Letts’ script deftly weaves laughs into even the darkest, most serious scenes.  A typical scene can feature hilarious, quotable one-liners and an absolutely devastating reveal.

august-osage-county-meryl-streep-julia-roberts

This emphasis on giving the movie over to the actors isn’t just by virtue of having a great cast, but is also the natural extension of having a stage play as the source material.  Director John Wellsmakes sure the movie never feels stagey even though its stage origins are always on display.  Most of the film is comprised of long scenes that take place in a single location.  The trick for Wells is managing the details like how long to hold a shot on an actor, if he should keep the camera on the speaker or go for a reaction shot, and where to place the camera.  This sounds relatively simple, but trying to move around multiple characters in a single location is incredibly complex, especially when it comes to the film’s centerpiece—a dinner scene following Beverly’s funeral.  The direction may not be flashy, but it’s pragmatic and lets the characters and themes come through.

The difficulties the Weston clan faces shows how family trauma is like a virus that spreads not only across generations but across all family ties.  At one point, Ivy questions the very nature of family, and how we’re forced together with these people not by choice but by birth, and that they’re allowed to have so much of an impact on our lives.  Of course, with the cavalcade of difficulties permeating the Weston family, that impact is greatly amplified to an overwhelming degree.

August: Osage County is a big movie filled with big emotions from big characters played with big performances.  Subtlety is not the film’s strong suit, but the performances make the characters come alive in such a way that you feel some sympathy for each of the Weston family members even if the character has far more than their fair share of personal shortcomings.  And while difficult emotions bubble beneath the surface of the story, and later explode into chaos, we can leave the movie with a smile on our faces not only because of the dark comedy, but because as dysfunctional as our families might be, at least we’re not as bad as these nutjobs.

Review

Exclusive Oscars news: Meryl Streep drops to supporting, takes on Oprah


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.

Goldderby

The Wrap: Weinstein unveils slate in Cannes: ‘August: Osage County’ shouts Oscars


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.

TheWrap

Meryl Streep and Naomi Watts have the early Oscar edge according to our editors: http://bit.ly/19Fgq2W #Oscars2013

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