Oscar Predictions

'August: Osage County' Ending in Flux and Streep Moves Back to Best Actress Category

And The Butler screenplay is going original

august-osage-oscarsI am going to be doing a lot of Oscar predictions updates once I get back home following the Toronto Film Festival, but not before. However, there is some news surrounding one of the the fest's world premieres that's worthy of note.

August: Osage County screened to mixed reactions here in Toronto. I, for one, quite liked it and liken it to some of the best work we've seen from Mike Nichols over the years. One complaint some had was in regards to the film's ending, which (and yes, this is spoiler territory) currently ends with Julia Roberts driving off from the Weston house leaving her mother (Meryl Streep) in the house alone, presumably for the rest of her life.

The suggestion is to avoid the entire addition of the Roberts scene and merely end with Violet shocked into solitude, which is how the play ends. I can accept the film either way, but the stage play ending is far more of a gut punch and should director John Wells go back to that ending I hope he shot enough footage to keep the camera on Streep for almost a solid minute before running the credits. I know that's how Steve McQueen would play it.

According to Steven Zeitchik at the Los Angeles Times, the tacked on Roberts ending comes as a result of test screenings where audiences didn't like the "Violet all alone" ending. The Weinstein Co. and the film's producers, which were not named and do include George Clooney and Grant Heslov, want to stick with the current ending, but Wells and screenwriter Tracy Letts prefer the original.

"We tested it over and over again and people rebelled in the theater," Wells told the Times. "They were terrified about what happened to Barbara." Apparently audiences felt alienated by the Violet on the stairs ending. Wells added, "They felt like we were hitting them on the head with a hammer. I heard it over and over again -- to the point that it was 'Let's see what happens if we put Violet on the steps and then cut to Barbara.'"

Wells said the ending as seen in Toronto is not entirely final as the film doesn't open until December 25 and Wells told the press and industry audience in Toronto only minutes before the film played that they had only finished the current assembly a few days earlier.

What is also interesting about the film's ending is the fact Roberts' Barbara is the lead character of August: Osage County. There was some debate earlier as to whether or not Streep would campaign for Best Supporting Actress of Best Actress at this year's Oscars and it seemed to have been decided Streep would go Supporting and Roberts would compete on her own for lead. The current ending of the film essentially concedes the fact Roberts is lead as it nicely wraps up her character's arc, establishing Barbara as the story's central figure with Streep's Violet supporting that arc. Well, not so fast...

Over at Gold Derby, Tom O'Neil reports Streep will now officially campaign for Best Actress and Roberts will drop to Supporting where she'll compete opposite fellow August star and stand-out, Margo Martindale. If it helps clarify things, the roles of Violet and Barbara as performed in the stage play were both nominated for Tony Awards, both in the lead category.

O'Neil quotes his source that gave him the news saying, "We have to look at the Best Actress race this way: Who's strong enough to beat Cate Blanchett? It's Meryl." Sorry, not going to happen. While the Weinsteins play politics with their positioning of Streep, recent history makes Blanchett the clear front-runner in a head-to-head. If they want to play that game Streep will need to flip-flop once again or else it will be all about that popular saying, "It's an honor just to be nominated."

I'll examine all the categories much deeper once I get back home, where we'll also discuss this news Danny Strong's Lee Daniels' The Butler screenplay is going to be competing for Best Original Screenplay despite the fact all anyone could talk about is how it was based on Wil Haygood's 2008 Washington Post article "A Butler Well Served by This Election" under the classification of "inspired by". Kris Tapley at In Contention broke the news and says he called the WGA's credits department and the guild is classifying the script original. So there you have it.

NOTE: You can read my full review of August: Osage County right here.

Thanks for Reading! Join the Community!
Support the Site! Make it Faster! No Ads!

Your support goes a long way in ensuring RopeofSilicon.com stays stable. For less than the price of one small popcorn, you can can help support RopeofSilicon and, in turn, visit the site every day without ads! Including this one!

Subscribe Now!

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

    I've said all along Streep would end up in lead; this sounds like more of a disservice to Roberts and proves once again that Oscar positioning is as much about an actor's standing within the industry as anything else. But no matter which category Streep is in, she isn't winning again just two years later. Oprah has already won supporting actress (and I say that without having seen The Butler) while lead looks to be between Dench and Blanchett.

    Regarding The Butler's screenplay, I may see it this weekend, but given how much of it was apparently fictionalized, maybe original makes some sense. At what percentage do you go from being adapted to being original? If your script is 10% adapted from another source and 90% original (just arbitrary numbers), does that still make it an adapted screenplay?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/RonOnealFresh/ Ron Oneal Fresh

    I've read stories about how past films endings were changed, last minute. Some during a festival run, some by Studio right before it even hit theaters.

    I HATE the idea of a film's ending being changed not because of the director's dissatisfaction with it but because it tested negative for the 150-250 or so who saw it for the first time. (arbitrary number, it's probably many more than that)

    I get wanting to please the audience....but those few opinions being the example of what the general public will like or dislike. Is wrong.

    I'm sure people will name a litany of films that were better off because the filmmaker reacted to the test screenings, positively or negatively.

    It's just how I feel the filmmaker should present the vision of the film he or she is most satisfied with, audience be damned.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

      Completely agree.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Hudsucker/ Hudsucker

    This isn't too surprising.... I honestly wonder if this will ever stop...