PROFILE
Name:
Noah Baumbach
Birth Date:
September 3, 1969
Birth Place:
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Height:
5' 9" (1.75 m)
Nationality:
American
BIOGRAPHY
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The Squid and the Whale

Background:

Rising to fame as that director of the art house hits “Kicking and Screaming” (1995) and “Mr. Jealousy” (1997), American screenwriter and film director Noah Baumbach gained widespread recognition and attention with “The Squid and the Whale” (2005), which won him an Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Original Screenplay and awards for Best Dramatic Direction and Screenwriting at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.

“Somebody could easily go through and link everything to different points in not just my family, but people I know. But I don't even really care. For me, the movie is a protection, a completely reinvented film.” (Noah Baumbach on “The Squid and The Whale”)

Produced by friend and fellow filmmaker Wes Anderson, “The Squid and the Whale” marked their second collaboration after they co-wrote Anderson's “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (2004). They also wrote the well-received animated movie “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009), which was also directed by Anderson.

Baumbach is often compared to the noted filmmakers Woody Allen and Whit Stillman. Baumbach and his wife, actress Jennifer Jason Leigh (married since 2005), reside in Los Angeles and New York City.


New Yorker

Childhood and Family:

Noah Baumbach was born on September 3, 1969, in Brooklyn, New York. He was raised in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York. The son of Jonathan Baumbach, a novelist and film critic, and Georgia Brown, a film critic for the Village Voice, he was encouraged to write and introduced to film at an early age. By the time he was attending Brooklyn's Midwood High School, he had begun directing and writing and won his first awards during his senior year. Upon graduating in 1987, he studied English at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he wrote and directed his own plays. He received his B.A. in 1991. It was while attending Vassar that he met his upcoming frequent collaborator, actor Carlos Jacott.

Noah dated actress Jennifer Jason Leigh (born on February 5, 1962) for five years before the couple exchanged wedding vows on September 3, 2005. They are expecting their first child in early March 2010.


Greenberg

Career:

After graduating college, Noah Baumbach spent a summer working as a messenger for The New Yorker, while developing a script that would become “Kicking and Screaming.” Armed with the completed script, he moved to Chicago in 1991 but was unable to get his first movie made until four years later.

A comedy about a group of college graduates, the art house hit “Kicking and Screaming” premiered at the New York Film Festival on October 4, 1995, with Baumbach making his feature film directing and screenwriting debut. The film earned critical acclaim upon its release and received a Golden St. George nomination at the 1995 Moscow International Film Festival.

One of Newsweek's “Ten New Faces of 1996,” Baumbach next wrote and directed the romantic comedy “Mr. Jealousy,” which starred Eric Stoltz and Annabella Sciorra. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 1, 1997, and the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival on April 20, 1998, before receiving a limited theatrical release in the U.S. on June 5, 1998. Although it was well received by critics, the film was only a minor success at the box office.

Still in 1997, Baumbach directed and co-wrote (with Carlos Jacott and Christopher Reed) the low budget comedy “Highball.” Starring Justine Bateman and Peter Bogdanovich, the film was shot in one week after completing “Mr. Jealousy” and used much of the same cast and crew as the predecessor. Unsatisfied with the result, Noah separated himself from the project and took the pseudonyms Ernie Fusco and Jesse Carter as the ones who directed and wrote the film, respectively. “Highball” was later picked up by Lion Gates for straight to video distribution.

In 2000, Baumbach joined forces with Jacott and John Lehr to write the 30 minute short “Conrad & Butler Take a Vacation,” which he also directed and starred Jacott and Lehr. He also wrote and shot a sitcom pilot for NBC, but it failed to air. It was during this time that Baumbach met and befriended director/writer Wes Anderson (born on May 1, 1969). The two co-wrote the script for “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,” which was directed by Anderson and starred Bill Murray as Steve Zissou. The film was met with mixed reviews and flopped at the box office. Despite the failure, the film managed to earn Baumbach a Golden Satellite nomination for Best Screenplay, Original.

Continuing his collaboration with Anderson, Baumbach next wrote and directed “The Squid and the Whale” (2005), with Anderson taking on the producing duty. The film, which starred Jeff Daniels, Laura Linney, Jesse Eisenberg and Owen Kline, emerged as a sleeper hit and garnered critical acclaim. It won the Best Dramatic Direction Award and Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. It also received six nominations at the 2006 Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Feature, Best Director and Best Screenplay and nominations at the 2006 Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy and Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. Baumbach was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Screenplay. Other awards that Baumbach collected for his writing job include a Toronto Film Critics Association Award, a New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) Award, a National Board of Review (NBR) Award, a Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) Award, a National Society of Film Critics (NSFC) Award, and an Austin Film Critics Award, not to mention an additional Austin Film Critics award for Most Promising Filmmaker. He also picked up a Writers Guild of America nomination for Best Original Screenplay, Broadcast Film Critics Association's Critics Choice nomination for Best Writer, a Chlotrudis nomination for Best Original Screenplay, and London Critics Circle Film's ALFS nomination for Screenwriter of the Year, among others. “The Squid and the Whale” grossed over $7 million at the box office, well surpassing its $1.5 million budget.

Baumbach resurfaced two years later when he wrote and directed “Margot at the Wedding” (2007), which starred Nicole Kidman as Margot, his wife Jennifer Jason Leigh as Pauline and Jack Black as Malcolm. Produced by Scott Rudin, the film debuted on August 31, 2007, at the 34th Telluride Film Festival and continued to enjoy festival runs at the Toronto International Film Festival, the New York Film Festival, the Mill Valley Film Festival, the Glasgow Film Festival, the Istanbul Film Festival, and the Peñíscola Comedy Film Festival, where Baumbach and his wife won the Best Director Award and Best Actress Award, respectively. He also picked up a Gotham nomination for Best Film, which he shared with producer Rudin. “Margot at the Wedding” received mixed reviews from critics and was considered a commercial failure.

After a brief stint on TV, during which time he directed the 2008 episode “Paul Rudd/Beyoncé” of “Saturday Night Live,” Baumbach was reunited with Anderson to write the big screen adaptation of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009), which was based on Roald Dahl's children's book of the same name. Directed by Anderson, the animated movie starred the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Jarvis Cocker, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe and Helen McCrory. Baumbach shared a San Diego Film Critics Society and San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Screenplay, Adapted, and an Annie nomination for Best Writing in a Feature Production, a Broadcast Film Critics Association's Critics Choice nomination for Best Screenplay, Adapted, and an Online Film Critics Society nomination for Best Screenplay, Adapted. The same year, Baumbach also produced the movie “Alexander the Last,” which was written and directed by Joe Swanberg.

Baumbach's newest film, “Greenberg,” which he directed and scripted, is slated to be released on March 26, 2010. It will star Ben Stiller as Roger Greenberg and will also feature Greta Gerwig, Rhys Ifans, Chris Messina, Brie Larson, Juno Temple and Noah’s wife, Jennifer Jason Leigh. In addition to acting, Leigh also contributed to the story and served as a producer. Baumbach has also written an adaptation of Claire Messud's best selling novel “The Emperor's Children.” Ron Howard has been approached to direct the film.

“Really, as long as they're supportive of the movie and the way I want to make it, the difference between it being a studio or not isn't that great. It's more secure with a studio, but you can also get caught up in more red tape. Suddenly they have to clear everything in the shot. People get anxious.” Noah Baumbach


Awards:

  • San Diego Film Critics Society (SDFCS): Best Screenplay, Adapted, “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” 2009

  • San Francisco Film Critics Circle (SFFCC): Best Screenplay, Adapted, “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” 2009

  • Peñíscola Comedy Film Festival: Best Director, “Margot at the Wedding,” 2008

  • Austin Film Critics: Best Screenplay, Original, “The Squid and the Whale,” 2006

  • Austin Film Critics: Most Promising Filmmaker, “The Squid and the Whale,” 2006

  • National Society of Film Critics (NSFC): Best Screenplay, “The Squid and the Whale,” 2006

  • Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA): Best Screenplay, “The Squid and the Whale,” 2005

  • National Board of Review (NBR): Best Screenplay - Original, “The Squid and the Whale,” 2005

  • New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC): Best Screenplay, “The Squid and the Whale,” 2005

  • Sundance Film Festival: Directing Award, Dramatic, “The Squid and the Whale,” 2005

  • Sundance Film Festival: Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, “The Squid and the Whale,” 2005

  • Toronto Film Critics Association (TFCA): Best Screenplay, “The Squid and the Whale,” 2005

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