Review: ‘Ammonite,’ starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan

November 15, 2020

by Carla Hay

Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan in “Ammonite” (Photo courtesy of Neon)

“Ammonite”

Directed by Francis Lee

Culture Representation: Taking place in primarily in 1840s England, the drama “Ammonite” features an all-white cast of characters representing the working-class and the upper-middle-class.

Culture Clash: Two women—one who’s a working-class fossil hunter and one who’s a pampered socialite—have a secret love affair, even though one of them is married to a man.

Culture Audience: “Ammonite” will appeal primarily to people who like period dramas that place more emphasis on mood and atmosphere than on wordy dialogues and fast-paced action.

Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan in “Ammonite” (Photo by Agatha A. Nitecka/RÅN Studio/Neon)

The British film “Ammonite” (written and directed by Francis Lee) is going to get inevitable comparisons to writer/director Céline Sciamma’s 2019 French film “Portrait of a Lady on Fire.” Released just one year apart, both are period European films that are about two women from different classes (one upper-class, the other working-class) in a secret and passionate love affair. “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” takes place in 1790s France, while “Ammonite” takes place in 1840s England.

In each movie’s secret romance, one woman is a never-married bachelorette who is strongly implied to be a lesbian. The other woman is in a very public, committed relationship with a man. (The man in this love triangle is a fiancé in “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” and a husband in “Ammonite.”) The lesbian bachelorette likes to make sketches and drawings of her lover. Both movies have a beach as a backdrop for the secret affair. And both movies were released in the U.S. by independent film company Neon.

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is an overall better film if people want to see a sensual European movie about two women from a past century who fall in love with each other. But that doesn’t mean that “Ammonite” isn’t worth watching, because the acting performances in both films have their unique merits. The sumptuous “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (with its stunning cinematography and brightly lit hues) is the equivalent of a macaron, while the much grayer and blander “Ammonite” is the equivalent of plain English muffin.

The unfussiness of “Ammonite” is a reflection of the story’s no-nonsense but emotionally repressed protagonist: Mary Anning, a fossil hunter who lives with her ailing mother Molly Anning (played by Gemma Jones) in a modest home on the coastline of Lyme Regis in southern England. (Jones and Winslet also played mother and daughter in the 1995 film “Sense and Sensibility.”) “Ammonite” is a biographical interpretation of the real-life paleontologist Anning.

Mary and Molly’s home also doubles as a shop where Mary can sell these artifacts. Mary’s work is rough (digging in hardened terrain) and dangerous (climbing treacherous cliffs), but her work is the only thing that brings her the closest thing to joy in her life. Her outdoor work also makes her vulnerable to getting weather-related illnesses, since it’s often cold and rainy in Lyme Regis.

Mary was once a promising and well-respected paleontologist, but sexism and other society restrictions prevented her from getting the type of recognition and career that she would have gotten if she were a man. Mary is now middle-aged, bitter, and trying to earn enough money to support herself and her mother, who seems to be showing early signs of dementia. Mary still has some fame with fossil aficionados, but she’s been living in relative obscurity. The title of the movie comes from an ammonite that Mary has found that ends up in the British Museum.

One day, a society gentleman named Roderick Murchison (played by James McArdle) shows up at Mary’s place and explains that he’s visiting from London and he’s been a longtime admirer of her work. Roderick practically begs Mary to give him a private tour of her job that day, and he offers to pay her well for it. Mary says no at first, and then reluctantly agrees because she and her mother need the money.

On this trip, Roderick is accompanied by his wife Charlotte Murchison (played by Saoirse Ronan) for this visit. Charlotte gives the impression that she is quiet and withdrawn. She shows no interest in Mary’s work and stays behind while Mary takes Roderick on the private tour so he can see how she works.

When Roderick and Charlotte are back in their home, it’s shown that their marriage is strained. Roderick resists Charlotte’s advances to have sex, and he tells her: “Now’s not the time to make a baby.” It’s later revealed that Charlotte gave birth to a stillborn child and is very depressed about it. It’s unknown if Charlotte and Roderick were having problems in their marriage before this tragedy, but the death of their child and their inability to communicate with each other about it have caused the couple to be emotionally distant from each other.

Charlotte is so depressed that she finds it hard to get out of bed. Roderick grows impatient with her sadness and decides that while he goes away on another trip, Charlotte should spend time with Mary. Roderick thinks that Mary might be able to cheer up Charlotte and he thinks a change of scenery would do Charlotte some good. He tells Mary that he’ll be away for about four to six weeks.

Mary, who likes her quiet and isolated life, is once again resistant to having her work interrupted so that she can be a diversion for a stranger. But the payment that Roderick offers is too good for Mary to pass up, and she agrees to be Charlotte’s activity companion. However, Mary thinks Charlotte is a spoiled brat. (Mary doesn’t know at the time that Charlotte is depressed over the death of her child.) And once Roderick is gone, Mary is openly hostile to Charlotte.

The first time that Charlotte accompanies Mary to the beach, Charlotte is dressed in clothes that are too fancy and she wears makeup. It’s in stark contrast to Mary, who doesn’t wear makeup and is so unconcerned about appearing feminine and mannered that when she wants to urinate on the beach, Mary just lifts up her skirt and does so in plain view with no attempt to go somewhere discreet. Despite being opposite in many ways, Charlotte and Mary slowly become intrigued with each other.

Charlotte’s “hotel” living quarters in Lyme Regis are way outside of her comfort zone: She essentially lives in a tiny, unadorned shack on the beach. And one day, she gets caught in the wind and rain and comes down with a serious fever. She collapses at Mary’s door, and a doctor is called to attend to Charlotte.

The general practitioner who shows up is Dr. Lieberson (played by Alec Secareanu), a handsome bachelor in his 30s who advises Mary to take care of Charlotte in Mary’s home. Mary resents having to be a medical caretaker on top of everything else she has to do for Charlotte. But as Charlotte is bed-ridden, Mary sees Charlotte’s vulnerability, which starts to awaken feelings in Mary that she might not have known she had. And if Mary did know that she had these feelings before, she kept them buried underneath her gruff exterior.

One of the few other people whom Mary interacts with in this story is an older neighbor named Elizabeth Philpot (played by Fiona Shaw), who gives Mary some medicinal herbs for Charlotte when Mary goes over to Elizabeth’s house to get the herbs. Mary is very abrupt with Elizabeth, and it’s an obvious sign that something happened in their past to cause Mary to be angry and uncomfortable with Elizabeth. Whatever happened, Elizabeth seems to have moved on from it, but Mary hasn’t.

After Charlotte recovers from her fever, Charlotte senses that Mary’s untrusting attitude toward her is softening. Charlotte starts to make it clear to Mary that she might be interested in more than a platonic relationship with Mary. It’s an interesting power dynamic, because although Charlotte is about half the age of Mary and she’s a guest in Mary’s home, Charlotte (through her husband) has more money and a higher social ranking than Mary does. It’s also implied that Charlotte is more sexually experienced and more sexually adventurous than Mary is.

During this slowly simmering love affair between Mary and Charlotte, Dr. Lieberson shows a romantic interest in Mary, but the feeling isn’t mutual. Mary and Charlotte eventually become lovers and hide their affair from everyone else in their lives. When Dr. Lieberson asks Mary on a date to an evening recital, Mary insists that Charlotte accompany them, and he reluctantly agrees.

At the recital (which is a small gathering of about 30 people in someone’s home), Charlotte is immediately accepted and fawned over by the local neighbor ladies, including Elizabeth, and they invite Charlotte to sit in the front row with them. Meanwhile, Mary is seated near the back of the room. And the look on Mary’s face is clear: She’s very jealous of the attention that Charlotte is getting. Mary eventually can’t take it anymore and she leaves the recital early without saying goodbye to anyone.

This recital is somewhat of a turning point in the relationship because Mary sees for the first time how differently she’s treated in society, compared to how Charlotte is treated. As if the taboo nature of having a same-sex affair with a married woman weren’t enough, Mary gets a rude awakening that the class divide between herself and Charlotte is also one that might be too much to overcome.

“Ammonite” has many scenes with little to no dialogue, and the pace of the movie might be too slow for some people. The film puts a lot of emphasis on Mary’s tendencies to be a loner. Even when Charlotte is in the same house, Mary instinctively retreats in her work. There are numerous scenes of Mary by herself, working on her fossils or drawing sketches. Winslet gives a very restrained but still admirable performance in showing Mary’s resistance to and eventual acceptance of her romantic feelings for Charlotte.

Charlotte is the more complicated character, because she starts out one way in the movie and ends up another way. Whereas viewers can easily see that Mary has lived a routine and isolated life for many years, Charlotte’s previous life before her marriage remains a mystery. However, Ronan is able to strike an interesting balance between Charlotte having innocent girlish charm and calculating seduction techniques.

“Ammonite” writer/director Lee says in the movie’s production notes that although there is no historical information about the real-life Mary Anning’s sexual orientation, “it didn’t feel right to give her a relationship with a man” for this movie. It’s implied in the movie that Mary has never had a romance with a man. Because if she had, Mary’s mother Molly and some of their nosy neighbors are the type of people who would’ve mentioned it.

The movie doesn’t try to put a label on Charlotte’s sexuality, which can be left open to interpretation. Ronan gives an impressively nuanced and complex performance that might might result in people watching “Ammonite” having different answers to this question: Are Charlotte and Mary truly compatible and is their relationship meant to last?

Above all, “Ammonite” is about two people who are lonely in different ways and who find love with each other, but are in an unenviable situation of being forced to keep their romance a secret. How they deal with this issue can best be described this way: “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” wants to break your heart. “Ammonite,” which might end too abruptly for some viewers, wants to give you a reality check.

Neon released “Ammonite” in select U.S. cinemas on November 13, 2020. The movie’s VOD release date is December 4, 2020.

Review: ‘Blackbird’ (2020), starring Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Mia Wasikowska, Sam Neill, Rainn Wilson, Lindsay Duncan, Bex Taylor-Klaus and Anson Boon

September 17, 2020

by Carla Hay

Rainn Wilson, Sam Neill, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Mia Wasikowska, Lindsay Duncan, Susan Sarandon and Anson Boon in “Blackbird” (Photo courtesy of Screen Media Films)

“Blackbird” (2020)

Directed by Roger Michell

Culture Representation: Taking place in the fictional city of Pontsmill, Connecticut, the dramatic film “Blackbird” features an all-white cast of characters representing the upper-middle class.

Culture Clash: Long-simmering resentments cause conflicts during a family gathering for a terminally ill woman who wants to die by euthanasia.

Culture Audience: “Blackbird” will appeal primarily to people who like well-acted dramas about family issues.

Kate Winslet and Mia Wasikowska in “Blackbird” (Photo courtesy of Screen Media Films)

Should people with a terminal disease decide when and how they want to die? It’s an ethical dilemma that has already been decided by Lily Walker, the matriarch of a well-to-do American family. Lily has multiple sclerosis and she wants her doctor husband Paul to give her a lethal dose of medication before her health further declines. The dramatic film “Blackbird” (directed by Roger Michell) is about the family gathering at Lily and Paul’s beach house in the final days that Lily has decided that she’s going to live.

“Blackbird” is a remake of the 2014 Danish film “Silent Heart,” which was written by Christian Torpe, who adapted the movie from his “Silent Heart” novel. Torpe also wrote the screenplay for “Blackbird,” which is a random title for the movie since there’s no blackbird or reference to a blackbird in the story. What’s more important is that it’s a solidly written, well-acted story that isn’t really Oscar-worthy, but it will tug at people’s heartstrings and trigger emotions because there are moments that might remind viewers of their own families.

In “Blackbird” (which takes place in the fictional city of Pontsmill, Connecticut), Lily (played by Susan Sarandon) has already come to terms with how she wants to die. Her attitude, while not exactly jubilant, is rather matter-of-fact and often jokingly sarcastic about her impending death. Lily’s husband Paul (played by Sam Neill) is trying to go about life as “normally” as possible while trying not to let it show too much how much of a heavy emotional burden he has to administer the lethal dose of medication that has been ordered specifically for the euthanasia.

Lily wants to die on her own terms because she’s losing the use of her muscles, while her medical diagnosis is that it will only be a matter of months when she will have to use a feeding tube to eat. The beginning of the movie shows members of Lily and Paul’s immediately family, as well as Lily’s longtime British best friend Liz (played by Lindsay Duncan), gathering at Lily and Paul’s home to say their goodbyes.

The family members who have gathered for this bittersweet reunion include Lily and Paul’s two daughters who are total opposites. Elder daughter Jennifer, or Jen (played by Kate Winslet), is a judgmental control freak who likes her life to be well-planned and orderly—and it bothers her if other people’s lives aren’t in order too. Younger daughter Anna (played by Mia Wasikowska) has a very messy life, including jumping around from job to job and being treated for bipolar disorder. It should come as no surprise that Jen and Anna don’t get along very well and have been estranged for years.

Trying not to get in the middle of this sibling feud are their respective love partners: Jen’s mild-mannered and nerdy husband Michael (played Rainn Wilson) and Anna’s on-again/off-again partner Chris (played by Bex Taylor-Klaus), who appears to be nonbinary. (Taylor-Klaus is nonbinary in real life.) Also at this family reunion is Jen and Michael’s teenage son Jonathan (played by Anson Boon), who’s going through that teenage phase where he’s easily embarrassed and irritated by things his parents say and do. Jonathan (who is about 16 or 17 years old) is a well-behaved, academically talented student, but he wants to be an actor, which is a career choice that he knows his parents won’t like.

The movie does not show how Lily and Paul told their loved ones the news about Lily’s planned euthanasia, but by the time the group has gathered at the house, they all know about it, except for Jonathan. Paul eventually takes Jonathan aside for a private talk to break the news to him. Jonathan is shocked, but he’s willing to accept whatever Lily wants because he loves and respects his grandmother. In fact, Lily is the first person in the family whom Jonathan tells that he wants to be an actor. She encourages him to pursue this goal.

But since this is a drama about a family reunion, it isn’t long before the family friction starts. Jen and Anna haven’t seen each other in some years. While they’re alone together, Jen expresses disappointment that Anna wasn’t at their father’s birthday and at Jonathan’s school recital, even though Jen sent several reminders. Anna said she was too busy and really wanted to be there. However, it’s pretty obvious to observant viewers from Anna’s tone of voice and body language that Anna has been avoiding family gatherings because she doesn’t want to be around Jen.

Jen isn’t shy about expressing her disapproval of Anna being unable to settle on a professional career. (It’s not really stated what Jen does with her life, which makes her morally superior attitude even more insufferable.) When she asks Anna how her dance program is going, Anna tells Jen that she’s dropped out of the program. Jen then scolds Anna for not completing the program, as well as Anna giving up on past attempts to train for jobs in yoga therapy, acupuncture and quilting. These were programs that their parents paid for, so Jen tries to make Anna feel guilty by implying that her parents are wasting their money on Anna.

Jen then proceeds to annoy Anna even more when she admonishes Anna for bringing Chris to this intimate and sensitive family reunion, because Jen had asked Anna not to invite Chris. Anna tells Jen that if Jen can bring her husband Michael to this reunion, then Anna can bring Chris. Anna angrily says to Jen, “Chris happens to my husband.” Jen replies, “Are you sure you’re even gay?”

Jen’s apparent homophobia isn’t the only reason why she doesn’t approve of Anna and Chris’ relationship. Anna and Chris (who are dating but don’t live together) have had a rocky romance, and Jen thinks Chris is a lower-class person who isn’t a good fit for their family. Unfortunately, as Jen is telling Anna about how Chris isn’t worthy of being part of their family, Chris walks into the room and overhears this part of the conversation, and then walks out of the room embarrassed.

And as if Jen couldn’t be more condescending and insulting, she tells Anna: “Can you give Mom this whole weekend and not have it revolve around you, Anna?” At this point, Anna has had enough of Jen’s lectures and explodes: “Can you quit being a fucking bitch?”

Of course, there are more arguments that take place, as is typical for movies about family reunions. Most of the conflicts revolve around Anna and Jen. Anna confides in Chris that she secretly plans to prevent Lily’s euthanasia by calling 911 to report a suicide attempt. Why? Because Anna doesn’t want Lily to die and she wants to spend more time with her mother to make up for time that they spent apart.

And since this is a movie about family reunions, it has the usual trope about secrets being revealed. One thing that’s not a secret is that Liz used to date Paul, before Paul ever met Lily. What is a secret, which Liz and Lily (who used to be free-spirited hippies) discuss while they walk on the beach together, is that back in the early ’70s, they made a drunken attempt to become lesbian lovers, but it didn’t work out. They have a laugh about it all these years later.

The family has gathered in November, close to Thanksgiving, but one of Lily’s last wishes is that they have their Christmas celebration early. She asks Paul to make the Christmas dinner and Michael to go outside and cut down a small tree that will be used for Christmas decorations. This family dinner, where Lily gives everyone a personal gift from her, is one of the best scenes in the movie. Sensitive viewers should have tissues on hand for this tearjerking moment.

With this high caliber of talent in the cast, it’s no surprise that the acting in the movie is top-notch. It’s a story that could easily be adapted into a play, since most of the action takes place inside the house. The beach setting (the movie was actually filmed in Chichester, England, not Connecticut) is lovely, but it’s not very essential to the story.

As good as the acting is in the movie, “Blackbird” doesn’t quite have what it takes to be a movie worthy of a lot of prestigious awards. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the movie, but so much of the “family reunion when someone is dying” aspect has been done before in a familiar manner in other movies, that there’s nothing extraordinary about the way that “Blackbird” tells this type of story. It’s not exactly like a formulaic “disease of the week TV movie,” but the character development is lacking in some ways.

The men in the movie are written as incomplete sketches who mostly react to what the strong-willed women in the family (Lily and Jen) want. Paul essentially admits that he’s just carrying out Lily’s demands, when he tells Liz in a private conversation that people who decide to die by euthanasia are rarely insane or depressed, but they are “deeply controlling.” Jonathan isn’t quite a man yet, but his personality is also fairly generic. He shows typical signs of teen rebellion to both of his parents, but he’s willing to please his beloved grandmother Lily.

The conflicts between Jen and Anna suck up a lot of the emotions in the story, which leaves little room for viewers to really get to know Paul and Michael and what they are feeling. Anna and Jen’s love/hate relationship with each other often leaves Chris feeling like a helpless outsider, since Chris has been dating Anna off and on for about three years, and the issues between Anna and Jen have been going on much longer than that. Lily’s unconditional acceptance of Chris goes a long way in how Jen eventually warms up to Chris. There’s a very good scene that Chris and Jen have together where they confront the awkward family tension that has existed between them.

“Blackbird” isn’t a perfect film, but it realistically raises issues that will make people think about what they would do if someone in their family chose euthanasia as a way to die. How much time would be enough time to prepare the family? What grudges can or can’t be resolved before the loved one dies? And what if someone in the family objects to the euthanasia and wants to stop it, even if it means getting family members into legal trouble? There are no easy answers to these questions, but “Blackbird” is a compelling look at how a fictional family deals with these very real and emotionally complicated dilemmas.

Screen Media Films, in association with Fathom Events, released “Blackbird” in select U.S. cinemas for two nights of previews on September 14 and September 15, 2020. The movie expands to more U.S. cinemas and is available on VOD on September 18, 2020.

Harvey Weinstein scandal: Meryl Streep, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Kate Winslet and more celebrities speak out against sexual harassment

October 10, 2017

by Colleen McGregor

Harvey Weinstein at The Weinstein Company party in celebration of “Wind River” at Nikki Beach in Cannes, Frances, on May 20, 2017. (Photo by Dave Benett)

Meryl Streep, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Mira Sorvino and Judi Dench—five actresses who have won Oscars for their roles in movies distributed by Harvey Weinstein-founded The Weinstein Company (TWC)  and Miramax Films—have joined the growing list of celebrities who are speaking out against the sexual harassment and sexual assault that TWC co-founder Weinstein is accused of committing for more than 30 years.

Streep has publicly praised Weinstein over the years, but on October 9, 2017, she issued a statement saying, in part: “The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported. The intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes.  One thing can be clarified. Not everybody knew … Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.” Other stars—such as Glenn Close, Lena Dunham, Judd Apatow and Mark Ruffalo—have also made public statements condemning Weinstein. (Click here to read many of their statements.)

On October 7, 2017, Weinstein issued an apology that read, in part: “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it.” He also said he was in therapy for his admitted anger issues and “demons.” Through his representatives, Weinstein has denied the most serious allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

Weinstein was fired from TWC on October 8, 2017—three days after a New York Times article gave detailed accounts of these accusations, which included allegations made by actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan that Weinstein sexually harassed them in the 1990s. The New York Times investigation reported that over the past several years, Weinstein had least eight sexual-harassment cases against him that were settled out of court; the most recently known case was in 2015.

Allegations published by the New York Times and the New Yorker on October 10, 2017,  give first-hand accounts by numerous women with various jobs in the entertainment industry (including assistants, producers, executives and actresses) who talk about being the targets of sexual misconduct by Weinstein. Angelina Jolie, Paltrow, Sorvino and Rosanna Arquette are among the other actresses who claim that they have been sexually harassed by Weinstein early in the actresses’ careers. Meanwhile, actress/filmmaker Asia Argento told the New Yorker that Weinstein raped her in 1997, and she felt pressured to have other sexual encounters with him over the next five years.

According to the reports, Weinstein’s main tactic would be to lure a woman to be alone with him in a hotel room or other private area, with Weinstein leading the woman to believe that it was a business meeting to help her career. The allegations often included salacious details such as Weinstein getting naked and asking the woman he was alone with to give him a nude massage, watch him take a shower and/or have sex with him. In some cases, Weinstein would allegedly masturbate in front of the woman or force the woman to touch his penis.

Lucia Evans, a former aspiring actress, told the New Yorker of a disturbing encounter with Weinstein in which she claims he forced her to perform oral sex on him during what she thought would be a business meeting with him in 2004.

Weinstein, who is 65, has been married to fashion mogul Georgina Chapman (co-founder of the Marchesa brand) since 2007, but she announced on October 10, 2017, that they have separated. Weinstein was married to his first wife, Eve Chilton, from 1987 to 2004. His has three daughters with Chilton: Remy (previously Lily), born  in 1995; Emma, born 1998; and Ruth, born in 2002. Weinstein has two children with Chapman: daughter India Pearl (born in 2010) and son Dashiell (born in 2013).

In 2015, Weinstein was investigated by the New York Police Department for groping actress Ambra Battilana Gutierrez during a private business meeting at TWC headquarters in New York City, but the Manhattan District Attorney declined to file charges. On October 10, 2017, New Yorker released a NYPD sting audio tape made at a hotel a few days after the incident that has Weinstein admitting to groping her breast and trying to convince Gutierrez to come into his hotel room.

Weinstein was a major donor to several progressive causes and Democratic politicians, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Since the scandal broke, Obama and Clinton have issued statements condemning Weinstein. Some of the politicians, such as Senators Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren, have stated that they would take the amount of money that Weinstein donated to them and give it to charitable causes.

Over the years, Weinstein  earned a reputation for being a vengeful bully to many people in the industry, but he earned just as much praise and admiration from those who benefited from his help. He was considered one of the movie industry’s most powerful campaigners for prestigious awards. TWC’s Oscar-winning movies include “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist.” Streep won an Oscar for her role as Margaret Thatcher in TWC’s “The Iron Lady,” while Winslet won an Oscar for TWC’s “The Reader.” Among the other celebrities who have won Oscars for TWC films include Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”),  Penélope Cruz (“Vicky Cristina Barcelona”), Quentin Tarantino (“Django Unchained”), Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”) and Christoph Waltz (“Inglourious Basterds,” “Django Unchained”).

Weinstein co-founded TWC in 2005 with his brother Bob Weinstein. The Weinstein brothers co-founded Miramax Films in 1979, and headed the company until 2005. Miramax, which was bought by Disney in 1993, is the movie studio behind such Oscar-winning films as “Shakespeare in Love” and “Chicago.” Paltrow and Dench won Oscars for “Shakespeare in Love,” while Sorvino won an Oscar for Miramax’s “Mighty Aphrodite.”

In recent years, TWC’s power has been waning. The company, which also has departments for television and books, has not had a big movie hit since 2012’s “Django Unchained.” And although 2016’s “Lion” received six Oscar nominations, the movie did not win any Oscars.