Golden Globes, SAG Award Noms Prove Upstart Indies as Mighty as Studios

It has been a good week for Open Road Films, A24, Bleecker Street, Broad Green Pictures and Netflix — with multiple nominations

If the Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations have made anything clear during this somewhat confusing awards season, it’s that upstart indie distributors such as Open Road Films, A24, Bleecker Street, Broad Green Pictures and Netflix are competing on a level playing field with the major studios.

When the dust settled following Thursday morning’s Hollywood Foreign Press Association announcement, A24 had received four total nominations — the same as a stable of titles from veteran indie distributor Sony Pictures Classics. A24’s “Room” received three nominations for picture (drama), screenplay and star Brie Larson, while “Ex Machina” co-star Alicia Vikander drew a supporting nomination.

Meanwhile, Open Road and Bleecker Street received three nominations apiece, tying them with indie power players such as Fox Searchlight, Focus Features and Lionsgate, not to mention studios like Disney and Warner Bros.

“Room” and Open Road’s “Spotlight” each scored as many Globe nominations as “The Martian,” “The Danish Girl” and “The Hateful Eight,” while Bleecker Street’s “Trumbo” tied studio offerings such as “Joy” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

The awards-seasons success is given the lower profiles and, in many cases, awards-campaign budgets for these indie distributors including fledgling outfits like Broad Green, which snagged Globe and SAG nods for Michael Shannon in “99 Homes” and a SAG nom for Sarah Silverman in “I’ll Smile Back.”

“We are staying focused on the tremendous performances… and were lucky enough that the community has agreed with us,” Broad Green’s chief creative officer Daniel Hammond told TheWrap. “We have learned that our team can achieve the same results as the majors.”

His brother Gabriel Hammond, Broad Green’s CEO, said the awards recognition should boost the company’s profile in the industry, making it more competitive in the acquisitions market as it heads into events like next month’s Sundance Film Festival.

“Last year when we went to Sundance, we were brand new, nobody knew [us],” Gabriel said. “[But] we added three films to our slate, including ‘A Walk in the Woods,’ a film that we put tremendous resources behind and which has done extraordinarily well for us.

Bleecker also celebrated its first year with some impressive recognition: Not only did “Trumbo” stars Bryan Cranston and Helen Mirren land nominations, but the company also snagged a surprise nomination for Al Pacino, the star of its little-seen first release from March, “Danny Collins.”

Elsewhere, Netflix found its way onto the scoreboard with a supporting actor nomination for “Beasts of No Nation” star Idris Elba.

And over at 4-year-old Open Road Films, “Spotlight” managed to draw three Golden Globes nominations, for Best Picture – Drama, director (Tom McCarthy) and screenplay (Josh Singer and McCarthy) — though the cast was shut out with the HFPA. (Rachel McAdams and the cast earned SAG noms.)

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