Co-President and Co-Founder, Sony Pictures Classics
As Co-President and Co-Founder of Sony Pictures Classics, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2022, Michael Barker (with Tom Bernard) has distributed (and often produced) some of the finest independent movies. Previously he was an executive at United Artists (1980-1983) and went on to co-found Orion Classics (1983-1991) and Sony Pictures Classics.
Over the span of his career, Barker’s films have received 186 Academy Award® nominations, including several for Best Picture: THE FATHER; CALL ME BY YOUR NAME; WHIPLASH; AMOUR; MIDNIGHT IN PARIS; AN EDUCATION; CAPOTE; CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, recognized as the highest grossing foreign film of all time in North America; and HOWARDS END. His companies' 41 Academy Award® wins include Best Actresses Cate Blanchett (BLUE JASMINE), Julianne Moore (STILL ALICE), and Emma Thompson (HOWARDS END); Best Actors Anthony Hopkins (THE FATHER) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (CAPOTE); Best Supporting Actor J.K. Simmons (WHIPLASH); Best Supporting Actress Marcia Gay Harden (POLLOCK); Best Adapted Screenplays by Christopher Hampton and Florian Zeller (THE FATHER) and James Ivory (CALL ME BY YOUR NAME) and Best Original Screenplays by Woody Allen (MIDNIGHT IN PARIS) and Pedro Almodóvar (TALK TO HER); as well as 5 wins for Best Documentary Feature, including INDOCHINE, SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN, INSIDE JOB, and FOG OF WAR; and 14 for Best Foreign Language Film, including INDOCHINE, IN A BETTER WORLD, BABETTE’S FEAST, ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER, THE LIVES OF OTHERS, A SEPARATION, AMOUR, SON OF SAUL, and A FANTASTIC WOMAN.
Barker has collaborated with some of the world’s most beloved filmmakers including Pedro Almodóvar, Nadine Labaki, Luca Guadagnino, Mike Leigh, Sally Potter, Louis Malle, Zhang Yimou, Susanne Bier, Agnieszka Holland, the Dardenne brothers, Jonathan Demme, R W Fassbinder, Michael Haneke, Nicole Holofcener, Akira Kurosawa, Mario Van Peebles, Richard Linklater, David Mamet, Errol Morris, Francois Truffaut, and Wim Wenders, all of whom he’s worked with on multiple occasions, as well as Chloé Zhao, Robert Altman, Lorene Scafaria, Michelangelo Antonioni, Lone Scherfig, Ingmar Bergman, Marielle Heller, Francis Coppola, David Cronenberg, Spike Lee, Guillermo del Toro, Ang Lee, Damien Chazelle, Haifaa Al-Mansour and Maren Ade.
Over the years, Barker has released features from American masters (THE RIDER, FOXCATCHER, ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE, RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, SWEET AND LOWDOWN) and new American filmmakers (MILES AHEAD, MAGGIE’S PLAN, THE MEDDLER, INFINITELY POLAR BEAR, EQUITY, WHIPLASH, PARIS CAN WAIT, THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, TAKE SHELTER, SLACKER, WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE, FROZEN RIVER); cutting edge films (BAADASSSSS!, KUNG FU HUSTLE, MOON, ORLANDO, RUN LOLA RUN, THE RAID); animated features (THE TRIPLETS OF BELLVILLE, PERSEPOLIS, WALTZ WITH BASHIR); feature documentaries (THE TRUFFLE HUNTERS, MAIDEN, DARK HORSE, RED ARMY, DOGTOWN AND THE Z BOYS, CRUMB, WINGED MIGRATION, IT MIGHT GET LOUD, THE GATEKEEPERS) and foreign films (PARALLEL MOTHERS, CAPERNAUM, NO, PAIN AND GLORY, WADJDA, TONI ERDMANN, RAN, A PROPHET, ELLE, CENTRAL STATION, WINGS OF DESIRE).
He and his colleagues have also restored and theatrically reissued some of the great films of the past, including THE PASSENGER, THE GARDEN OF THE FINZI CONTINIS, MURMUR OF THE HEART, and the classic films by Indian master Satyajit Ray.
Honors bestowed on Barker and Bernard include the Honors Award from the Directors Guild of America, the FINDIE Spirit Award in Los Angeles, the GLAAD Media Award, the Gotham Industry Lifetime Achievement Award from the Independent Feature Project, and Outfest’s Legacy Award. Under his and Bernard’s leadership, Sony Pictures Classics received the Special Recognition Award from the Sony Corporation CEO two years in a row. He and Mr. Bernard were awarded the esteemed French Legion of Honor from the French government and The Women in Film Beacon Award from Women in Film Los Angeles in recognition of their unmatched support of female filmmakers throughout their careers. Barker and Bernard had the privilege of being honored by the Directors Guild of America at their prestigious 3rd Annual DGA Honors, which celebrates individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions in support of the industry.
Barker currently serves as Co-Chairman on the Museum of the Moving Image Board of Directors, on the Entertainment Media and Technology Dean’s Advisory Board at the NYU Stern School of Business, and has in the past served as Adjunct Professor at the Columbia University School of the Arts Graduate Film Program and on the Visiting Committee to the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. He was also inducted in the Texas Film Hall of Fame. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas.
Sony Pictures Classics most recently released RETURN TO SEOUL (Davy Chou), ONE FINE MORNING (Mia Hansen-Løve), LIVING (Oliver Hermanus), TURN EVERY PAGE – THE ADVENTURES OF ROBERT CARO AND ROBERT GOTTLIEB (Lizzie Gottlieb), THE SON (Florian Zeller), and the re-release of CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (Ang Lee). Upcoming releases include CARMEN (Benjamin Millepied), IT AIN’T OVER (Sean Mullin), A LITTLE PRAYER (Angus MacLachlan), THE PERSIAN VERSION (Maryam Keshavarz), SHORTCOMINGS (Randall Park), and FREUD’S LAST SESSION (Matthew Brown).