Home Entertainment Nicole Holofcener Talks Oscars Snubs & Her One “Disaster” Movie

Nicole Holofcener Talks Oscars Snubs & Her One “Disaster” Movie

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American filmmaker Nicole Holofcener is relaxed. Her legs are crossed in the yoga pose and she reclines into a large armchair with a glass of white wine perched on the side. 

“I’m out of practice talking about my films, especially the older ones,” she joked. “I’ll try to remember them.”

We’re in the Czech Republic at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival where Holofcener is set to be honored this week with a career retrospective. The festival will screen three Holofcener titles, Please Give, Enough Said, and 2023’s You Hurt My Feelings. The stalwart indie filmmaker will also host an onstage Q&A about her work. 

Holofcener has clocked seven features across her decades-long career, all of which explore similar themes — white middle-class families on the coasts, messy relationships, and troubled artists — with a razor-sharp consistency rarely found in Hollywood today. Holofcener has also lent her hand to television, directing episodes of shows such as Parks and Recreation, Orange Is The New Black, and HBO’s Sex and The City

“It was the first season, so nobody knew what was happening. I didn’t know if I was gonna be working on porn,” she joked of Sex and The City. “It was my first television job and it was a great introduction to that.”

Alongside a steady stream of stories, Holofcener has often worked with a band of returning performers like Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Catherine Keener, who she said have been overlooked by awards voters for their performances in her movies. 

“Catherine Keener was in four of my films, but she’ll get nominated for Capote. It’s like what? And then she got nominated for Being John Malkovich,” Holofcener said. Keener picked up supporting actress Oscar noms for her performances in both films. She didn’t win either. Holofcener added that the biggest acting awards omission from her filmography is James Gandolfini’s quiet yet moving role in Enough Said alongside Louis-Dreyfus. 

“Gandolfini didn’t get any recognition and I don’t understand why,” she said. “They’re subtle performances. They’re not big showy performances or incredibly emotional. But the Oscars don’t pay that much attention to comedies. The Golden Globes are the same. Minor comedies, for the most part, aren’t taken seriously.” 

Across her career, Holofcener has only been nominated for one Oscar, best-adapted screenplay for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, starring Melissa McCarthy. That film was eventually directed by Marielle Heller after Holofcener dropped out following creative differences with Julianne Moore, who was initially cast in the lead role. 

Without directly mentioning the pic, Holofcener described the process as a “disaster” born out of casting “the wrong person to get financing.” She added that despite the longevity of her career, studio execs will still ask her to cast A-list names just to aid their marketing efforts.

“You get the studio’s wishlist. And most of them are wrong for the part. They’re gorgeous when it doesn’t call for somebody gorgeous,” she said. “You still need stars and that’s why I have such low budgets because I’m picky and I want who’s right for the movie.”

Despite her aversions to the studio system, Holofcener has spent much of the last decade working within it. Her last three films have been produced or released by major studios or streamers and she co-wrote the 20th Century Ridley Scott movie The Last Duel with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. So what makes her films or any film independent today?

“It’s a film that takes forever to get made. And that’s because it’s not quote-unquote commercial or marketable,” Holofcener quipped. “It doesn’t necessarily have big stars and it’s low-budget. I have final cut, which I know a lot of non-independent movies don’t. I don’t go to MGM or Universal. I go to their smaller boutique studios or say A24.” 

While Holofcener said she doesn’t expect her mode of filmmaking to change any time soon, she would like to try directing a “silly broad comedy.”

“I’d also be happy to do a thriller,” she said. “I don’t know if I’d be good at it. But I’d like to try because I like watching thrillers. Anything too dramatic or melodramatic would not be for me because it’s always gotta be a little funny for me.”

Back in February we first reported that Holofcener is next set to adapt Alison Espach’s novel The Wedding People for TriStar with Will Speck and Josh Gordon set to direct. 

Speck, Gordon, and Eric Fineman will produce through their company Speck + Gordon Inc. alongside Jonathan King and Ash Sarohia for Concordia Studio. Shary Shirazi and Kelseigh Coombs are overseeing the project for TriStar. The novel follows Phoebe who, after a chance encounter, becomes an unexpected wedding guest after befriending the bride in an elevator, changing the course of both women’s lives forever. Henry Holt & Co. will publish the novel in July.

Karlovy Vary runs until July 6.



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