Steve Golin, an independent producer whose career began with low-budget movies like “Hard Rock Zombies” in the 1980s and reached its peak when he and three colleagues won the best-picture Oscar in 2016 for “Spotlight,” died on Sunday at a hospital in Los Angeles. He was 64.
A spokeswoman for Anonymous Content, his production company, said the cause was Ewing sarcoma.
The 2016 Academy Awards ceremony was a capstone for Mr. Golin. Not only was “Spotlight,” Tom McCarthy’s film about The Boston Globe’s investigation of child abuse by Roman Catholic priests, named best picture; a second film that Mr. Golin and Anonymous produced, “The Revenant,” about an early-19th-century frontiersman fighting for his life after being mauled by a bear, was also nominated in that category that year and won for best actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, and best director, Alejandro G. Iñárritu.
Those films, though wildly different, represented the type of compelling human stories that Mr. Golin preferred to tell.
“I think that if you look at ‘The Revenant’ versus ‘Spotlight,’ one is a little bit more procedural and talky, arguably more in a classic sense,” he told Variety in an interview before the Academy Awards ceremony. “ ‘The Revenant’ is very different. Almost no dialogue, but it’s very bold in terms of the technical aspects.”
Mr. Golin built Anonymous into a small Hollywood empire that produces films, television series, commercials and music videos, as well as managing talent like the actors Samuel L. Jackson, Emma Stone and Mahershala Ali and the director Alfonso Cuarón, who won Oscars in 2014 for “Gravity” and 2019 for “Roma.”
The New York Times hired Anonymous Content last year to represent it on film and television projects.
Mr. Golin’s producing credits also include Spike Jonze’s “Being John Malkovich” (1999), a bizarre film about a puppeteer (John Cusack) who finds a portal into Mr. Malkovich’s brain. Not only was it difficult to persuade Mr. Malkovich to participate, he said; it was also nearly impossible to persuade PolyGram, the parent of Propaganda Films, the company he ran at the time, to green-light it.
“I knew Spike’s sensibility,” Mr. Golin told The Los Angeles Times in 1999. “He’s a really unique thinker. And when he started telling me his vision, I said, ‘Now, this makes sense.’ ”
Over the last few years, as television and streaming became increasingly important to Anonymous, Mr. Golin was the producer or executive producer of the HBO series “True Detective”; “The Alienist,” a mini-series on TNT about a gruesome serial killer in 19th-century Manhattan; and “Mr. Robot,” the USA series about a computer programmer recruited to join a band of anarchists.
He was also an executive producer, with George Clooney among others, of a six-episode adaptation of “Catch-22,” Joseph Heller’s satirical World War II novel, which will stream next month on Hulu.
Mr. Golin once said that the only film he produced that he would not change was Michel Gondry’s “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004), the quirky story of a couple (Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey) who, after they break up, undergo procedures to erase each other from their memories.
“It was probably the most complete movie,” he was said in an online profile of him, as well as “the most satisfying.”
Steven Aaron Golin was born on March 6, 1955, in Geneva, N.Y., and grew up in Yonkers. His mother, Marilyn (Phillips) Golin, was a real estate broker, and his father, Jerry, owned an advertising agency.
He studied film at New York University’s School of the Arts and attended the American Film Institute in Los Angeles as a producing fellow. He and another fellow, Joni Sighvattson, did production work on “Hard Rock Zombies,” “American Drive-In” and other movies before they and others started Propaganda Films in 1986.
Propaganda came to dominate the market when MTV was heavily influencing the music business, and profits from making music videos for Madonna, Janet Jackson, David Bowie and others helped finance the company’s films, including David Lynch’s “Wild at Heart” (1990) and John Dahl’s “Red Rock West” (1992). Propaganda also made commercials, including for Obsession perfume and Nike.
“The only game plan we had when we started was to establish a business that was a positive cash-flow business, that would give us the ability to be more flexible, to finance our own development on our own terms,” Mr. Golin said in an interview with The New York Times in 1990. “The revenue from shooting videos and commercial business is enough to let us survive and to give us a certain credibility with directors who don’t want to take a project to a studio.”
He stayed at Propaganda until PolyGram was acquired by the Seagram Company and started Anonymous Content in 1999.
He is survived by his partner, Violaine Etienne; his daughter, Anna Golin; his son, Ari; his stepdaughter Blue Etienne-Gay; his sister, Susan Dickinson; and his brother, Larry. His marriage to Vilborn Aradottir ended in divorce.
Mr. Golin’s desire to expand Anonymous Content’s businesses led to a search for a well-heeled partner to buy a substantial minority stake. In 2016 he made a deal with Laurene Powell Jobs, the founder of Emerson Collective, an organization devoted to social change that had made investments in a variety of businesses, including media properties like The Atlantic magazine and the online news website Axios.
In an email to Anonymous’s staff on Monday, Ms. Jobs praised Mr. Golin. “In an industry and an era that often reward all the wrong things,” she wrote, “he was unsparing in his vision and determination to tell stories he believed in, stories that move us and stay with us.”