For what it's worth, and if you haven't heard, Miramax is now repositioning John Patrick Shanley's Oscar hopeful Doubt into October --it was previously slotted for December. That's a smart move and it's now as good a time as any to discuss the release date shuffling that's happened. Those Oscar predictions I made back on April 1st are already obsolete (as they always are within a month or two) and will be updated on June 1st with all of these new fast-tracked contenders deciding for 2008 instead of '09.
Doubt's repositioning is a smart move. December is always over-crowded and at least on Broadway, Doubt was the sort of water cooler phenom' that benefited from audiences talking about incessantly. One of my favorite and most aggravating aspects of the Oscar game is release dates. I'm obsessed, as you well know, with complaining about the all December habits of studios... It definitely teaches serious moviegoers to only enjoy the cinema for one quarter of the year and that aint right.
Nobody puts Baby in a corner!I am hopeful that the strategists start looking more closely at 2006 when audiences had a lot more time to see the eventual nominees before Christmas and even take a peak at 2007 . It led us us right back to old "dump it at Christmas!" habits, but in both years one of the earliest releases among the nominees won the big prize. The Departed (2006) and No Country (2007) had significant head starts winning over the voting bodies. (One wonders if There Will Be Blood would have put up more of a fight for critical prizes had it opened as early as No Country For Old Men)
Anyway, those years are over --LIVE IN THE NOW, NATHANIEL! With Doubt moving the expected major 2008 players are now looking fairly spread out... or at least as spread out as it gets with Oscar strategies these days.
August Vicky Christina Barcelona
September Blindness, Happy-Go-Lucky
October Body of Lies, Doubt and Miracle at St Anna's , W (moving up from 2009. It will be released while George W is still in office. Very odd)
November The Road (pictured right, moving up from 2009), Australia, The Soloist and Milk
December Frost/Nixon, Seven Pounds, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Other Man, Revolutionary Road and Defiance
"TBA" (a cute nickname for December): Che (in some form or another), Chéri (moving up from 2009), Brothers, Changeling (or The Exchange), The Reader and The Young Victoria
All of which brings to mind the question: Which films do you think are heading for a nomination come January? Make a wild guess. Five of them.