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
Screenplay by Tracy Letts
Based on August: Osage County
by Tracy Letts
Music by Gustavo Santaolalla
Cinematography Adriano Goldman
Edited by Stephen Mirrione
Distributed by The Weinstein Company
Release date
  • 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 $37 million[2]
Box office $74.2 million[3]

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

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 mixed to positive 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 in humor,[4][5] 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 Cheyenne 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 and Charles's 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 his son, whereas Mattie constantly belittles him. Ivy confides to Barbara that she is in love with her cousin, "Little Charles", who plans to move to New York, and she cannot have children because she had a hysterectomy, she feels this is her only chance to finally marry.

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 her mother's drug addiction and confiscates all her several kinds of pills. Later, after Violet has had a chance to sober up, she has a tender moment with her daughters and shares a story that demonstrates how cruel her own mother was when she longed for a new pair of cowgirl boots when she was in her early teens.

As "Little Charles" sings Ivy a song he has written for her, Mattie Fae walks in and berates him, this exhausts Charles's patience with his wife's lack of love and compassion for her son, and he threatens to leave her if she keeps it up. Mattie subsequently reveals to Barbara, who unintentionally listened in, that she had a long-ago affair with Beverly, and Charles is in fact their younger half-brother and that is the true reason why Ivy and "Little Charles" cannot be together.

That evening, Steve and Jean are playfully sharing a joint of marijuana. Johnna sees this and, sensing that he intends to molest her, goes after him with a shovel. Barbara confronts Jean and slaps her, this compels Bill to take Jean back to Colorado, leaving Barbara. 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 tells Ivy that Charles is actually her brother, something Violet knew all along. Ivy leaves and promises to never come back; in the last confrontation between Violet and Barbara, Violet admits she was contacted by Beverly from his motel the week after he had left home, but did nothing to help him until after she removed money from the couple's joint safe deposit box. By this time he had already drowned, this revelation leads Barbara to depart, realizing that her mother has slipped beyond help. Violet is left with only Johnna.

Barbara is driving through the plains, stops, gets out of the car, cries then gets back in the car and follows signage showing highways and number of miles to Wichita, Salina and Denver.



John Wells directed,[6] while Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Steve Traxler, Jean Doumanian, and George Clooney produced the film.[7][8] Renée Zellweger and Andrea Riseborough were considered for a role. Riseborough was cast but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Juliette Lewis replaced her.[9] Chloë Grace Moretz also auditioned for the role of Jean Fordham.[10]


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


August: Osage County premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival[11][12] 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.[13]

Critical response[edit]

August: Osage County received mixed-to-positive reviews with the entire cast being praised for their performances, especially Streep and Roberts. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes sampled 177 reviews, and as of February 8, 2015, 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." There was also significant praise for the performances of Chris Cooper, Margo Martindale, Juliette Lewis, and Julianne Nicholson, with some critics stating that this film gives the finest ensemble acting seen in years.[14] 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".[15]


Award Category Recipient Outcome
Academy Awards[16] Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Julia Roberts Nominated
AACTA International Awards[17] Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Julia Roberts Nominated
AARP Annual Movies for Grownups Awards[18] Best Supporting Actor Chris Cooper Won
American Cinema Editors[19] Best Edited Feature Film - Comedy/Musical Stephen Mirrione Nominated
Art Directors Guild[20] Excellence in Production Design - Contemporary Film David Gropman Nominated
BAFTA Awards[21] Best Supporting Actress Julia Roberts Nominated
Britannia Awards[22] 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
Critics' Choice Movie Awards[23] Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Julia Roberts Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Tracy Letts Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society[24] Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Ensemble Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Julia Roberts Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[25][26] 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[27] 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[28][29] Best Sound Editing: Dialogue & ADR in a Feature Film Lon Bender Nominated
Oklahoma Film Critics Circle[30] Not-So-Obviously Worst Film Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society[31][32] Best Cast Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Tracy Letts Nominated
Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Julia Roberts Nominated
Satellite Awards[33] Best Actress – Motion Picture Meryl Streep Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Julia Roberts Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards[34] 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[35] Best Actress Meryl Streep Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association[36] 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[37] Best Adapted Screenplay Tracy Letts Nominated


Gustavo Santaolalla composed the original music for August: Osage County. The soundtrack was released on January 7, 2014 through Sony Classical.[38]

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: 39:41

An album of Santaolalla's score was released digitally on January 3, 2014.[39]

No. Title Length
1. "August Osage County (Main Theme)" 0:47
2. "The Fields" 2:01
3. "Arrival" 1:51
4. "Impermanence" 3:03
5. "Riding" 1:04
6. "Lost" 1:08
7. "Running Free" 1:47
8. "Morning" 1:34
9. "Family Visits" 0:49
10. "Diagnosis" 1:23
11. "Back At The House" 0:37
12. "Crossing The Line" 1:24
13. "August Osage County (Complete)" 4:56
14. "A New Beginning" 2:02
Total length: 24:26


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  17. ^ Kemp, Stuart (December 13, 2013). "'American Hustle' Dominates Australian Academy's International Award Noms". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 1, 2014. 
  18. ^ "AARP Names '12 Years a Slave' Best Movie for Grownups". AFI. January 6, 2014. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  19. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (January 10, 2014). "'12 Years a Slave,' 'Captain Phillips,' 'Gravity' Among ACE Eddie Award Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Art Directors Guild Nominations Announced". The Hollywood Reporter. January 9, 2014. Retrieved February 12, 2014. 
  21. ^ Reynolds, Simon; Harris, Jamie (January 8, 2014). "BAFTA Film Awards 2014 - nominations in full". Digital Spy. Retrieved January 8, 2014. 
  22. ^ "The Britannia Awards: Benedict Cumberbatch site". British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). September 4, 2013. Retrieved September 5, 2013. 
  23. ^ 19th Critics' Choice Awards
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  26. ^ "Golden Globe Awards Winners". Variety. January 12, 2014. Retrieved March 10, 2014. 
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  28. ^ Walsh, Jason (January 15, 2014). "Sound Editors Announce 2013 Golden Reel Nominees". Variety. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
  29. ^ "'Gravity' and '12 Years a Slave' lead MPSE Golden Reel Awards nominations". HitFix. Retrieved January 15, 2014. 
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  31. ^ "Phoenix Film Critics Society 2013 Award Nominations". Phoenix Film Critics Society. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Phoenix Film Critics Society 2013 Awards". Phoenix Film Critics Society. December 17, 2013. Archived from the original on December 17, 2013. Retrieved December 17, 2013. 
  33. ^ Kilday, Gregg (December 2, 2013). "Satellite Awards: '12 Years a Slave' Leads Film Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 2, 2013. 
  34. ^ 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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  38. ^ August: Osage County Soundtrack AllMusic. Retrieved March 9, 2014
  39. ^ August: Osage County - Original Score Music, retrieved 2015-12-27 

External links[edit]