Wednesday, February 01, 2006

America's Best Pictures

There's probably going to be a lot of editorials coming on the low grosses of this year's Best Picture slate and how the Academy just thumbs their noses at the public -blah blah blah [since when should awards be based on box office? --the money is the reward there. And the People's Choice more than covers our needs for awards for mainstream hits] so let's look quickly at the top 5 films of the year according to your ticket buying dollars. Is it true that Oscar ignores them? Or is that mere myth-making on the part of the press and whiny factions of the public?


Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith Gross: $380,270,577
George Lucas's 28 year-long space opera concluded with what some people considered a bang. But to the eyes of Oscar voters? More like a whimper. The Star Wars films have amassed an impressive total of 10 Oscars and about two dozen other nominations. The Academy reaction to this last installment detailing the birth of Darth Vader can only be read as atypical; This is the very first SW "episode" to be shunned in the visual effects category and only the second to be ignored in the sound categories, presumably to favor Memoirs of a Geisha(?!) It gets weirder. This is the first Star Wars film to ever be recognized by the Academy's makeup branch. That's quite an honor when you stop to consider that the branch is known for rejecting makeup work if they feel a computer has touched it too much (Nicole Kidman's proboscis in The Hours was so disqualified). Is there anything in this universe that hasn't been touched to the point of molestation by computers? A very odd nomination.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Gross: $286,335,255
Another strange honor? That would be the Art Direction nod for the fourth (!) installment of this boy wizard series. This is production designer Stuart Craig's second nomination for this series. He's been with it the whole time but it was 2004's Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban that shook up the "look" of the series. So why a second nod now? On the fourth film?

The Chronicles of Narnia Gross: $278,133,732
Let's say you have sometimes shaky rubbery and excessive CG in your movie that pales in comparison to something else that's going for the same effect and gunning for the win (that'd be King Kong) . Let's say you have that and still want an Oscar nod? The solution: Be a big hit. The Oscar nomination will still come. Two other nods: makeup and sound.

War of the Worlds Gross: $234,280,354
It's Spielberg so the Academy pays attention. The summer spectacle was honored in Visual Effects, Sound, and Sound Editing. Deserving nods all despite my reservations about the film entire.

King Kong Gross: $213,298,980
Same nods as War plus Art Direction. Aside from the tech snubs of Sith this giant ape is the only member of the public's favored quintet that could have reasonably been expected to make a better showing. But a word to the wise in terms of Oscar predictions: Whenever a filmmaker sweeps the awards as Jackson did just two years back, his next offering or two will be largely ignored by the Oscars no matter how "baity" it looks on paper or even onscreen (Just ask Attenborough, Eastwood, Demme, Howard, Jackson, Allen, etc...) . Unlike the Emmy Awards, Oscar loves fresh meat. If you're thanking your agent on stage at the Kodak, you're going to have to wait at least 4 or 5 years before you get a chance to do so again. That seems to be the window wherein they're excited to vote for you again.

So draw your own conclusions. But here's mine: I believe that the madlove of ticket buyers helps rather than hurts ones chances of having "Oscar Nominee" plastered on your video box when it comes time to hit the living rooms of the nation. And I also believe that, Capote aside, the grosses of this year's actual Best Picture nominees are more than worthy/respectable. Munich looks like a flop when you consider Spielberg's averages. When you add in the subject matter and downer ending (so uncharacteristic for the world fav moviemaker) that $40 million in the first month doesn't look that bad. Brokeback Mountain is just getting started with its expansion and already near Crash's word-of-mouth hit gross in the $50s. It will end its run as the top grossing of the Best Picture nominees by a good margin and will certainly finish in the "Box Office Top 40" of all movies released in 2005. And Good Night and Good Luck? For what some would call a hermetic history lesson in black & white with only one box office draw in a small role? $25 million outside of awards season is a fine accomplishment.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

On your best picture page, you state this:
"George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck. which explores the war between a civil rights threating administration (sound familiar?) and a passionate journalist willing to stand against their climate of fear."

I'd like to inform you that Eisenhower distanced himself away from McCarthy as much as possible. It was NOT the administration, it was just one man, one Wisconsin Junior Senator, who played upon peoples fears to gain power.

Learn your history and quit being so fucking biased.

Joe R. said...

Yeah, except the POINT is that parallels can be drawn between the McCarthy investigation and the current administration by watching the movie. AND, that one little Wisconsin junior senator ran pretty fucking roughshod in his time. And from what I understand, Eisenhower distanced himself from Mccarthy privately, not in public. I'm sure Eisenhower really appreciates you running in here and defending his good name, though.

Anonymous said...

So Eisenhower had no control over what was happening in his government? Poor man.

As far as the post that this is replying to goes, good job. I think one of the main problems is that most people don't get a chance to see really good movies. I'm lucky to live by a great art house theater, but I can't tell you how many times people have said "I would like to Brokeback, but we only have two screens showing Big Momma's House 2 and Hoodwinked."

PoliVamp said...

Yeah, my rinky-dink West Texas town has 1 movie theatre with 12 screens, and it's not uncommom (especially in the summer) for it to only be showing 5 or 6 movies. My jaw dropped to the floor when I saw that we had Brokeback.

Anonymous said...

anonymous #1 - That's what happens when you read things too literally. The movie is pretty clearly a statement on the current political climate.

Anonymous said...

"And I also believe that, Capote aside, the grosses of this year's actual Best Picture nominees are more than worthy/respectable."

The nominations of Capote and, to a lesser extent, Good Night and Good Luck are what really suggest a different attitude this year. I thought both movies were very good, but was certain that Walk the Line, which I found decidedly mediocre, would beat at least one of them. Both movies not only did little box office, they're not even that crowd pleasing: Good Night is incredibly spare, and Capote is both spare and emotionally dark as hell. But the Academy went with quality over box office/sentimentalism. Who knew.

Anonymous said...

My point is that Nathanial, being uninformed, attacked Eisenhower's administration. I was point out that McCarthy had nothing to do with the administration. McCarthy even accused Eisenhower of being a communist at one point, but by then, he had already met his fate at the U.S. Naval hearings. You guys should really try to catch up on history.

Anonymous said...

"George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck. which explores the war between a civil rights threating administration (sound familiar?) and a passionate journalist willing to stand against their climate of fear."
And for those who need further proof to Nathanial being an idiot, look at this phrase again. He attacks both Eisenhower AND Bush. I don't care about the latter, but anyone who knows anything about history shouldn't attack Eisenhower over Civil Rights.

Anonymous said...

I really don't care about your beef with Nathanial. I just want to know why you're leaving a comment about something that has nothing to do with the post at hand. Wouldn't this be better handled in an email?

Steve said...

The communist witch hunts may have started with McCarthy, but he managed to mobilize the entire US government to go along with him. He couldn't have done it alone. And distancing oneself from something that is hapenning in the government of which you are the chief executive is a whole lot different than doing anything to stop it. If it's THAT big a deal, maybe switching the word "administration" to "federal government" would work better for you.

Still, Nathaniel's essential point (about the film being a comment on our current political situation) remains.

NATHANIEL R said...

i've changed the wording a smidgeon. so calm down. (and last i checked Senators were part of the government so...)

the point remains. Bush and his cronies have very little respect for our civil rights and Clooney's terrific film is a neat little reminder of another time in history when things were similarly ugly with Americans pitted against one another.

And one last thing I will always be "fucking biased" when it comes to defending our civil rights... and you should be too, anonymous.

and as for McCarthy and the "just one man" bit? Doesn't fly. People don't gain that much power and wreak that much havoc unless other people let them.

right said...

and another mistake related to GNGL on your best picture page: how can you mention BP nominees about television and leave out The Insider??

You must be some sort of left-wing, pinko, commie-loving Eisenhower-hating history dropout or something...

adam k. said...

Um, was that last comment by "right" meant to be sarcastic? Cause it sure sounded like it.

Kamikaze Camel said...

lol, i think it was. Because, you see, this Right guy isn't an "anonymous" poster. And as I just mentioned in the Joan Allen post, it's always the anonymous posters that are the snarkiest (not that all of them are).

I wish they'd give themselves a name though.

right said...

of course i was being sarcastic, sheesh! sarcasm really doesn't come across very well in writing (or i'm not a good enough writer... probably both).

Anonymous said...

Senators ARE part of the government, but not the administration. Don't slander Eisenhower's administration by connecting him with McCarthy.

Anonymous said...

The term is libel. Libel is written, slander is spoken.

And it's not libel.

Anonymous said...

Libel is when its actually printed. An Internet blog is not printed, but an off-shoot of actually being spoken. Slander is spoken.

Check it out if you don't believe me.

Anonymous said...

Libel must be published. I suppose if Nathanial's site is copyrighted, then he is committing libel.

Anonymous said...

I always talk to myself when I type.

Anonymous said...

I do that so I know I'm talking to someone intelligent, not some dim-witted bimbo.