August: Osage County (film)

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August: Osage County
August Osage County 2013 poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Wells
Produced by George Clooney
Jean Doumanian
Grant Heslov
Steve Traxler
Bob Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
Written by Tracy Letts
Based on August: Osage County 
by Tracy Letts
Starring Meryl Streep
Julia Roberts
Ewan McGregor
Chris Cooper
Abigail Breslin
Benedict Cumberbatch
Juliette Lewis
Margo Martindale
Dermot Mulroney
Julianne Nicholson
Sam Shepard
Misty Upham
Music by Gustavo Santaolalla
Cinematography Adriano Goldman
Edited by Stephen Mirrione
Smokehouse Pictures
Distributed by The Weinstein Company
Release date(s)
  • September 9, 2013 (2013-09-09) (TIFF)
  • December 27, 2013 (2013-12-27) (United States)
Running time 120 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $25 million[2]
Box office $74,188,937[3]

August: Osage County is a 2013 American black comedy-drama film written by Tracy Letts and based on his Pulitzer Prize–winning play of the same name, and directed by John Wells.[4] It is produced by George Clooney, Jean Doumanian, Grant Heslov, Steve Traxler, and Bob and Harvey Weinstein.

The film stars an ensemble cast consisting of Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, and Julianne Nicholson as a dysfunctional family that reunites into the familial house when their patriarch (Sam Shepard) suddenly disappears.

A modest commercial success, August: Osage County received positive to mixed reviews from critics; while much praise was given to the cast, the screenplay was praised by some and seen by others as too dark and lacking of humor.[5][6] For their performances in the film, Streep and Roberts received Academy Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.


The title designates time and location: an unusually hot August in a rural area outside Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard), an alcoholic, once-noted poet, interviews and hires a young native American woman Johnna (Misty Upham) as a live-in cook and caregiver for his strong-willed and contentious wife Violet (Meryl Streep), who is suffering from oral cancer and addiction to narcotics. Shortly after this, he disappears from the house, and Violet calls her sister and daughters for support. Her sister Mattie Fae (Margo Martindale) arrives with husband Charles Aiken (Chris Cooper). Violet's middle daughter Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) is single and the only one living locally; Barbara (Julia Roberts), her oldest, who has inherited her mother's mean streak, arrives from Colorado with her husband Bill (Ewan McGregor) and 14-year-old daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin). Barbara and Bill are separated, but they put up a united front for Violet.

After five days, the sheriff arrives with the news that Beverly took his boat out on the lake and has drowned. Youngest daughter Karen (Juliette Lewis) arrives with the latest in a string of boyfriends, Steve Huberbrecht (Dermot Mulroney), a sleazy Florida businessman whom she introduces as her fiancé. Mattie Fae's and Charles' shy, awkward son "Little Charles" (Benedict Cumberbatch) misses the funeral because he overslept and is met at the bus station by his father. Charles loves Little Charles, though Mattie constantly belittles her son. Ivy confides to Barbara that she is in love with Little Charles, and she cannot have children because she had a hysterectomy.

The family sits down to dinner after the funeral, fueled by Violet's brutal "truth telling", which results in Barbara pouncing on her mother. She decides she has had enough of the drug addiction and confiscates all her pills. Later, after Violet has had a chance to sober up, she has a tender moment with her daughters and reveals that her own mother was very cruel.

As Little Charles sings Ivy a song he has written for her, Mattie Fae walks in and berates him. This exhausts Charles' patience with his wife's lack of love and compassion for her son, and he tells her their marriage has lasted 38 years, and he wouldn't trade it for the world, but if she can't find a warm spot in her heart for Little Charles, it won't last 39. Mattie subsequently reveals to Barbara that she had an affair with Beverly, and Little Charles is in fact their half brother and that is further reason why he and Ivy should not be together.

Steve attempts to seduce Jean by plying her with marijuana; Johnna catches him and goes after him with a shovel. Barbara confronts Jean and slaps her. This impels Bill to take Jean back to Colorado, leaving Barbara. It is now clear that they are headed for divorce. Karen also leaves with Steve.

Later, Ivy tries to tell her mother about her love for Little Charles. Barbara tries to deflect the admission. Violet says that she has known all along that he is Beverly's son. This drives Ivy to leave, promising never to return. In the last confrontation between Violet and Barbara, Violet admits she was contacted by Beverly, but did nothing to help him until after she removed money from the couple's joint safe deposit box, by which time it was too late. Barbara leaves in a pickup truck. Violet is left with only Johnna.



John Wells directed,[7] while Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Steve Traxler, Jean Doumanian, and George Clooney produced the film.[8][9] Renée Zellweger and Andrea Riseborough were considered for a role. Riseborough was cast but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Juliette Lewis replaced her.[10] Chloë Grace Moretz also auditioned for the role of Jean Fordham.[11]


Principal photography took place between October 16 and December 8, 2012,[9] in Bartlesville and Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and Los Angeles, California.[12]


August: Osage County premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival[13][14] on September 9, 2013, before its release in select cities on December 27, 2013, followed by a wide release on January 10, 2014, in the United States. It was also released on January 1, 2014, in Australia. In its limited box-office debut, the film grossed $179,475 from five theaters, a $35,895 per-screen average.[15]

Critical response[edit]

August: Osage County received positive to mixed reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes sampled 173 reviews, and as of April 3, 2014, the film holds a 64% approval rating, with an average score of 6.4/10. The website's consensus reads, "The sheer amount of acting going on in August: Osage County threatens to overwhelm, but when the actors involved are as talented as Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, it's difficult to complain."[16] Another review aggregator, Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, calculated an average score of 58, based on 45 reviews, considered to be "mixed or average reviews".[17]


Award Category Recipient Outcome
Academy Awards[18] Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Julia Roberts Nominated
AACTA International Awards[19] Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Julia Roberts Nominated
AARP Annual Movies for Grownups Awards[20] Best Supporting Actor Chris Cooper Won
American Cinema Editors[21] Best Edited Feature Film - Comedy/Musical Stephen Mirrione Nominated
Art Directors Guild[22] Excellence in Production Design - Contemporary Film David Gropman Nominated
BAFTA Awards[23] Best Supporting Actress Julia Roberts Nominated
Britannia Awards[24] British Artist of the Year Benedict Cumberbatch (also for his work on 12 Years a Slave, The Fifth Estate, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and Star Trek Into Darkness) Won
Detroit Film Critics Society[25] Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Ensemble Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Julia Roberts Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[26][27] Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Julia Roberts Nominated
Hollywood Film Festival[28] Ensemble of the Year Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard, and Misty Upham Won
Supporting Actress of the Year Julia Roberts Won
Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards[29][30] Best Sound Editing: Dialogue & ADR in a Feature Film Lon Bender Nominated
Oklahoma Film Critics Circle[31] Not-So-Obviously Worst Film Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society[32][33] Best Cast Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Tracy Letts Nominated
Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Julia Roberts Nominated
Satellite Awards[34] Best Actress – Motion Picture Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Julia Roberts Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards[35] Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Meryl Streep Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Julia Roberts Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard, and Misty Upham Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association[36] Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association[37] Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Acting Ensemble Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard, and Misty Upham Nominated
Writers Guild of America Award[38] Best Adapted Screenplay Tracy Letts Nominated


The soundtrack to August: Osage County was released on January 7, 2014.[39]

No. Title Artist Length
1. "Hinnom, TX"   Bon Iver 3:50
2. "Last Mile Home"   Kings of Leon 4:34
3. "Lay Down Sally"   Eric Clapton 3:48
4. "Don't Let Go"   Adam Taylor 1:47
5. "The Kiss"   Adam Taylor 2:20
6. "The Stroke"   Billy Squier 3:39
7. "Gawd Above"   John Fullbright 3:34
8. "The Decision"   Adam Taylor 1:36
9. "Forward"   Adam Taylor 1:04
10. "Violet's Song"   JD & The Straight Shot 3:51
11. "Can't Keep It Inside"   Benedict Cumberbatch 1:19
12. "End Credits"   Anibal Kerpel 4:55
13. "And Then They're Here"   Anibal Kerpel 1:09
14. "Barb Balcony/Street Beater (aka Sanford & Son Theme)"   Anibal Kerpel 2:15
Total length:


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  30. ^ "'Gravity' and '12 Years a Slave' lead MPSE Golden Reel Awards nominations". HitFix. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
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  33. ^ "Phoenix Film Critics Society 2013 Awards". Phoenix Film Critics Society. December 17, 2013. Retrieved December 17, 2013. 
  34. ^ Kilday, Gregg (December 2, 2013). "Satellite Awards: '12 Years a Slave' Leads Film Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 2, 2013. 
  35. ^ Kilday, Gregg (December 11, 2013). "Screen Actors Guild Awards: '12 Years a Slave' leads Screen Actors Guild nominations". The Guardian. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
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  39. ^ August: Osage County Soundtrack AllMusic. Retrieved March 9, 2014

External links[edit]