Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Thoughts on the Oscar nominations?

This isn't a movie blog, but I write about film occasionally enough that I was curious for everyone's reaction to the just-announced Oscar nominations. Because there are so many other awards shows now, the nominees in most of the categories weren't a big surprise. But with the expansion of the Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10, there were a lot of wild cards. (If I had to guess, I'd say that "The Blind Side," "District 9," "A Serious Man," "Up" and "An Education" benefited most from the expansion.)

Of course, the run-up of other awards shows also means there won't be a ton of suspense about who wins, other than perhaps "Avatar" vs. "Hurt Locker" for Best Picture and director, but while we have a few weeks to kill before the big event, what did you think of the nominations? Anyone you hoped/expected to be nominated who wasn't? (For me, it was "500 Days of Summer" for original screenplay.) Any pleasant surprises? (For me, it'd be "In the Loop" for adapted screenplay.) Any nominee you're pulling for, even if they're not the obvious favorite? (I loved Clooney in "Up in the Air," and I'm sure Jeff Bridges is brilliant in "Crazy Heart" and is long overdue, but it'd also be cool to see Jeremy Renner win.)

Have at it.

72 comments:

forg/jecoup said...

Colin Firth in a Single Man was amazing. He was the front runner until Jeff Bridges came.

Glad to see The District 9 nominated, it won't win but still the movie deserves to be nominated.

Surprised no INVICTUS there.

neal said...

Blind Side for Best Picture. Absolutely ridiculous. Maybe a good example of how the expansion "hurts" the Best Picture category...to much fluff!

John said...

I thought A Single Man as a whole was a brilliant movie. It shoud've gotten more nominations. Especially with the expanded best motion picture category.

Carrie said...

I totally agree about the 500 Days of Summer screenplay. That was the biggest omission for me.

I'm with Neal on The Blind Side. A perfectly pleasant film...that in no way should ever be allowed to promote itself as a "Best Picture Nominee" for its DVD release.

Lizbeth said...

I also wished "500 Days of Summer" had gotten an original screenplay nom.

And I'm really hoping Avatar doesn't take anything but technical awards as it's basically "Pocohontas in Space."

Alan Sepinwall said...

Movies like Blind Side - popular, middle-brow crowd-pleasers - used to get Best Picture nominations quite often (e.g. Ghost). It was the disappearance of big box office successes from the Best Picture list - and an attendant ratings drop that many Academy people blamed on all the art house films dominating the list - that led to the expansion from 5 nominees to 10. It's somewhat ironic that Avatar (biggest grosser ever) would have been nominated under the old system, but I'm sure the Academy is happy that several movies most people have heard of got nominated, as that will in theory drive interest and viewership towards the show.

Anonymous said...

I wish that Meryl Streep wasn't have nominated; Julie and Julia wasn't that great, and though her performance was enjoyable, it's definitely not Oscar worthy. In her place it would have been nice to see Abbie Cornish nominated, since she was in Bright Star. And I agree about 500 Days of Summer.

Anonymous said...

I think Julianne Moore not getting a supporting actress nom counts as a pretty big surprise.

Stacey said...

I really liked Bright Star (especially Abbie Cornish's performance). It seems like a film which would normally be in these award shows' wheelhouse.

Allison DeWitt said...

I just hope Quentin Tarantino doesn't reprise his imitation of Alan Freed that he did at the Grammys. (Or whatever that odd thing was..)

Best Actor brings up strong performaces, all...I might lean toward Jeremy Renner , too. He was riveting even in "The Unusuals".

I can't go against Meryl Streep as pick for that category. I do wish the whole film had been about Julia Child. That's a movie crying to be made.

Alyson said...

I wish that Matt Damon had gotten his nomination in the Leading Actor category for The Informant! instead of supporting for Invictus. He was just so hilariously off-kilter in The Informant!, it was a really overlooked performance. Also, major boo to 500 Days of Summer not getting an Original Screenplay nod.

Here's an interesting question: does Up's inclusion in the Best Picture list hurt its chances of winning Best Animated Feature?

J said...

I can't believe Sandra Bullock is going to win an Oscar. But at least Mulligan got nominated. Cruz should be in the main category for Broken Embraces instead of supporting for Nine.

Guess I'll have to see The Messenger? Secret of the Kells? Wha?

At this point I'm just rooting for Bigelow. I know the PGA and DGA wins make her a sort of favorite, but I'll believe it when I see it. Long overdue.

forg/jecoup said...

Julianne Moore's exposure in A SINGLE MAN is so limited, it's almost a cameo, so not surprised she was not nominated.

I bet this year's Oscar awards night will see a huge ratings increase with Avatar, Blind Side and Sandra Bullock in the mix

Anthony Strand said...

I agree with Alyson. I didn't see Invictus, but I thought Matt Damon was incredible in The Informant! I was sure he'd be nominated for that.

In any case, it's great to see Sally Sparrow get an Oscar nomination! And that roster of Best Animated Feature nominees is terrific. Is the first year that no sub-Pixar CGI nonsense was nominated?

Anonymous said...

I'll second the appreciation of Sally Sparrow, Carey Milligan, from Doctor Who to the Oscars, not bad. Ctach "Blink" if you haven't.

Nicole said...

If the ratings are up, it will be due to Avatar and not the Blind Side. I like Sandra Bullock, but I don't think her performance was that good, especially compared to the other nominees and a few left off the list. The Blind Side reminds me of Crash in many ways , and I thought the "racism is bad umm okay" stuff annoying.

That said, I am happy to see A Serious Man on the list, but not so surprised that the lead guy in that wasn't nominated. Renner probably took his spot, so I am fine with that. I would want Colin Firth to win, but from what I have heard, Jeff Bridges is good, so I can live with the Dude getting an Oscar over Darcy.

I also liked Up in the Air so I really hope Reitman gets something, probably adapted screenplay if other awards shows are any indicator.

Nicole said...

Oh, and I just noticed that In the Loop got nominated for Adapted Screenplay... such a hilarious film. Everyone needs to check out the tv series The Thick of It. Lots of swearing Scots, but probably much closer to the truth than we think. Peter Capaldi is amazing.

Greg said...

I was surprised Ponyo didn't get that 5th Best Animated Slot...only because it was Miyazaki, not because it was worthy.

Abhimanyu Das said...

The overblown love for condescending, brutally middlebrow movies like Precious and Blind Side is just infuriating to me. They ignore movies where race is a complex issue and fall over themselves to be PC about the ones that that are obvious and pandering.

The biggest travesty, however, is Avatar. Here is a film with a terrible screenplay, middling to horrible acting, simplistic and cartoonish (I hesitate to use that word given that all the animated features are far more profound than this film) approach to its themes and an all round perfunctoriness in everything but its special effects. So now a pretty, shiny ride that makes a billion dollars can be declared Best Film? Sad. 'Moon' with its minute budget and two characters is twenty times the film that Avatar is.

It's basically like the Academy (and for that matter the other voting bodies for awards) have watched the same 15-20 films every year and just pick the same default choices that everyone else is going with.

Final complaint: It's sad how they always just pick all the US animated films that came out that year as nominees for that category. Nobody could be bothered to watch the films that come from other countries.

The couple silver linings - In the Loop getting a screenplay nom (though its chances of winning are slim) and animated features being included in the Best Picture category at long last.

Sorry for the long rant, guys. It's like the Oscars/Emmys/Grammys get more ridiculous every year.

Paul said...

In 2009, there was Avatar, and then there was everybody else. But along the way, it was demonized by actors who are afraid of the performance capture technology James Cameron invented; of Cameron himself to the point where they'll gravitate toward one of a long conga line of Iraq war films. All these millions of viewers who will tune in March 7 for an Avatar coronation are in for the rudest awakening of their year when the freakin' Hurt Locker's name is announced. And next year's Oscar ratings will suffer because the wrong movie won.

dez said...

Here's an interesting question: does Up's inclusion in the Best Picture list hurt its chances of winning Best Animated Feature?

I was wondering the same thing, but since I figure most people will be voting for THE HURT LOCKER or AVATAR, UP should be a shoo-in for Best Animated Film.

@Paul, I don't know which actors you're talking about, but plenty of non-actor viewers saw AVATAR and saw that the emperor has no clothes (or rather, no good plot, story, acting, or dialogue). Sure, the geek in me loved the tech behind it, but in the end, I want a little more thought than that going into my entertainment. I hope to God THE HURT LOCKER wins because that film is amazing on every level (well, I'd be happier with DISTRICT 9, but I know it hasn't got a chance).

The best part of A SERIOUS MAN getting nominated is now I should finally be able to see it because it should be released into more than one theater now, right? Right!? :-)

renton said...

I think even Cameron would like to see The Hurt Locker win. He's at least opening pulling for his ex-wife in the Best Director category.

Mike F said...

I enjoyed Clooney's performance and the film itself, but it wasn't a best actor type performance for me...on the other hand, I thought Reitman deserved the nod for best director

as is often the case, I saw all the best actor movies and none of the best actress movies

hate the 10 nominees for best picture...takes the oomph out of the category and will make it tougher for an underdog to win....I'd have been ok with expanding it to 6-7 films...but 10 is stupid

Mike F said...

I'd go with The Hurt Locker for best picture...and can't decide between the guy from the Hurt Locker and Jeff Bridges having seen, loved and been haunted by both performances since

btw, the Crazy Heart soundtrack is outstanding...been listening to it for a couple weeks since I saw the movie and I'm not even a country music fan

Mike F said...

Oh...and Crazy Heart should have gotten a best picture nod...this was not just a one-performance film

Mike F said...

Oh...and Crazy Heart should have gotten a best picture nod...this was not just a one-performance film

I also would have liked to have seen 500 Days of Summer or Away We Go get a couple nominations...really really enjoyed both films...great screenplays...and a great lead performance by the kid from 3rd Rock From the Sun...liked him better than Clooney in Up In The Air

Paul said...

Dez,

There's a Newsweek actors roundtable video out there where the ABA crowd (Anything But Avatar) is well-repped. They tear it apart. Then the Producers Guild gives the one gimme award Avatar looked to get leading into today instead to Hurt Locker, a film whose $12.7 million gross shows it wasn't produced as well as Avatar. Then the Directors Guild drinks the same special Kool-Aid and slaps Cameron upside the head by giving its honor to Bigelow. Avatar's fate was sealed then and there.

And now that it couldn't at least score 3 or 4 more nominations that HL is the final nail in the coffin. Did Hurt Locker even have a script other than soldier defuses bomb, soldier defuses bomb, lather, rinse, repeat? Avatar had a more thought-out plot. The Messenger in original screenplay?

Bottom line is Avatar's success got too big for their own good. The Academy feels somehow threatened by this global phenomenon instead of believing that a rising tide (of $) does lift all boats. Big and small movies alike. This race is finis' even before it starts. The wrong director will win, the wrong movie will win. And there's nothing Avatar fans can do about it except watch it happen.

blinky said...

While the Hurt Locker was good I did not find it satisfying. It was sort of ambiguous. They meandered through random incidents. And while this may echo life in war in Iraq, it was not ultimately fulfilling.
On the other hand that live action Smurf movie was awesome!

Brigid said...

If The Hurt Locker wins then the right movie will absolutely have won. It's an outstanding film with great performances and amazing directing.

I'm thrilled about the Inglourious Basterds noms. I hope Christoph Waltz wins!

Nicole said...

I don't know how the Academy can be threatened by Avatar and yet nominate it for so many categories. Technically, the film is well done, but Dances with Wolves with blue cats is not necessarily a story that most people connect with on an emotional level.
Lord of the Rings was also groundbreaking but managed to have great acting despite the technical achievements, especially with Ian McKellan and Viggo Mortensen.

That said, when I heard the cheer for The Blind Side being nominated for best picture, my stomach turned. There were so many other films to pick from this year, but there is some sort of groundswell about The Blind Side that I just don't understand. At least Avatar has technical achievement going for it.

Abhimanyu Das said...

@Nicole People just love that brand of condescending feelgood. What's more heartwarming than 'Well off white lady saves poor black man and turns him into NFL star'. Not only does it make a lot of people feel like they live in 'post-racial' America, the rescued young man becomes an NFL star! Football is practically another religion. Reader's Digest, eat your heart out!

Unfortunately, no surprise at all that the film was so popular :(

The film makes Crash look like Apocalypse Now.

filmcricket said...

I'm kind of surprised "Where The Wild Things Are" didn't get anything. It was unlikely to get any of the real biggies, but I thought cinematography and art direction were certs, with costume and score being possibilities. I was mixed on the film as a whole, but it was one of the most beautiful looking ones I've seen this year.

Ryan Devisser said...

It's a true shame that Sam Rockwell didn't get nominated for 'MOON', although I understand it wasn't being pushed by its studio, much to Duncan Jones' anger. But Sam was amazing, and he carried the entire movie by being the only actor on screen AND playing opposite himself. Two Sam Rockwells for almost two hours in a "tour-de-force" performance, if I may be cliche.

I also would have liked to see some (500) Days of Summer Love for Writing, as well as Anthony Mackie for Supporting Actor in The Hurt Locker.

Paul said...

Nicole: "but Dances with Wolves with blue cats is not necessarily a story that most people connect with on an emotional level."

Today, Avatar will surpass Titanic as the #1 domestic movie boxoffice champ of all time. I'd like to think the American moviegoing public sometimes gets it right. There is an OBVIOUS emotional connection to the characters or else it would have made as much money...as The Hurt Locker.

Mel Ryane said...

So happy for "The Hurt Locker"...should win Best Picture and Best Director. Disappointed in Cruz being nominated over Marion Cotillard in "Nine." Also, very disappointed in the screenplay nod to Tarantino...this was sloppy writing.

Alex said...

It's a pleasant surprise to see your love for In the Loop. Armando Iannucci(the writer and director) is a GOD of television and his shows--Alan Partridge, The Day Today, The Thick of It--put American(actually, any) comedy to shame. Have you seen these shows Alan? If not, save them for a day when you're dieing to laugh

njames said...

I wasn't surprised in the least with the major noms. Like I said on my website, I think this year's winners are pretty much determined. The only suspense will be Avatar v. The Hurt Locker; however, I see Locker taking both prizes over Avatar.

jason said...

"Today, Avatar will surpass Titanic as the #1 domestic movie boxoffice champ of all time. I'd like to think the American moviegoing public sometimes gets it right. There is an OBVIOUS emotional connection to the characters or else it would have made as much money...as The Hurt Locker."

I like Avatar as much as anyone, but the reason it's made so much money is because it's in 3D and looks incredible. It's a unique theater experience that people don't get on DVD or Blu-Ray. No one is watching that movie to get swept up in the love story or to cry when they see home tree get destroyed.

It's an amazing film experience but lets not make Avatar into something it's not.

dez said...

Today, Avatar will surpass Titanic as the #1 domestic movie boxoffice champ of all time. I'd like to think the American moviegoing public sometimes gets it right. There is an OBVIOUS emotional connection to the characters or else it would have made as much money...as The Hurt Locker.


I think it's more obvious that there's a need for pure escapist entertainment which requires little more than staring at the pretty pictures on the screen. These kinds of films usually do well, especially when real life is looking not-so-great in comparison (see the stories about the people who want to kill themselves because their real lives suck in comparison to life on Pandora for some proof).

The only connection I had to the Smurfs in AVATAR was in which one I wanted to die most painfully first. And I'm not at all opposed to escapist entertainment--some of my fave movies are among the silliest and dopiest ever made. But I wouldn't dream of championing any of those films for an Oscar.

As to your other point about the plot: The only thought Cameron put into the script for AVATAR was thinking of which movies and books to rip-off for his movie. I knew exactly where the story was going and the only surprise I got was that Giovanni Ribisi's character did NOT get eaten by that Turok or Turducken or whatever it was. I thought for sure he was on his way to a Burke-like demise, dammit.

Box office should not be a criteria (good or bad!) in the Oscar noms/wins, but unfortunately, it frequently is. Frankly, I'm secretly hoping that DISTRICT 9 slips in because AVATAR and THE HURT LOCKER split the votes (would also love to see UP or UP IN THE AIR WIN, too) :-)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt totally should've gotten nominated for SUMMER, too.

J said...

I've foolishly braced myself for an Avatar win. The Best Picture winning has never been, with few exceptions, the "best picture" of the year or even in the category.

Thing is, I liked Avatar plenty, both on its technical merits and for the way it told its story. As far as fables go, it satisfies the psychological and spiritual journey points it needs to while using its vast technical achievement in service of its theme: It creates an ecology you want to save (even as you hope to discard its dialogue as noise pollution). In some ways, it's Terence Malick's best CGI film. I was sort of hoping Zoe Saldana would get an acting nod; that sort of performance would be over-the-top elsewhere, but it worked well in a glorified (and glorious) cartoon.

So because of that... I fully expect The Blindside to win. It's a movie I would never ever care to watch.

But really all I care about is a Bigelow win.

renton said...

Mike F said: hate the 10 nominees for best picture...takes the oomph out of the category and will make it tougher for an underdog to win.

Actually, the way the voting works this time, it will be easier for an underdog with a very loyal following to pull off the upset.

http://www.thewrap.com/ind-column/academy-makes-big-changes-best-picture-voting_5700

Colt said...

A little surprised Coco Before Chanel did not get a Best Foreign Language Nomination.

Dibby said...

Coraline, = yay! This may have been a (mostly) shite year for movies that deserve their nominations (unlike, say, 2007), but this was a great year for kids' movies that weren't just a bunch of CGI barn animals making fart jokes. It won't last, but it's nice to see traditional/stop-motion animation, and see the films themselves respecting kids rather than patronizing them.

Vic said...

"The Messenger" was an amazing movie but its strength was more in the acting than the actual screenplay. Woody Harrelson deserves his best supporting actor nom however Ben Foster definitely deserves a best actor nom for his role too. His depiction of a returned war veteran was almost haunting in its accuracy and depth. I'm also surprised that no one at NJ.com has talked about this movie and it's Jersey connection. It was filmed entirely in NJ with locations at Fort Dix and a number of North Jersey towns including Elizabeth, Union, Watchung, Scotch Plains, Piscataway and Morristown.

compain87 said...

Well I think (500) days of summer should have been nominated for more awards because that movie was the best romance movie I have seen... maybe ever. I also think Sam Rockwell should have been nominated for Moon, that movie was a one man show and it was very entertaining. I thought it was surprising Morgan Freeman was nominated for Invictus. I love Freeman(Shawshank is in my top 5) but that movie in general was a disappointment it could have been a lot better. I also would have liked to have seen Michael Sheen nominated for The Damned United.

I really have to defend some of the resentment toward some of the films people are bashing.

None of Avatar's actors have been nominated for best acting so calm down. I saw Avatar at an IMax 3-D theater(it should be seen there to really be enjoyed) and that was just breathtaking, I am still captivated by how clear and crisp a 3-D film was. It seems like Avatar is getting that wave of resentment of people who did not enjoy it but keep hearing how great it was and it slowly drives the INSANE. I fall somewhere in the middle, I can see their point of view but I can also understand why people enjoyed the movie, it was very entertaining.

The Blind Side seems to get labeled as some sort of prototypical white guilt movie, which could be understandable if this wasn't a true story. I'd recommend many of the people who hated might resent the movie read Michael Smith's book. I thought they might mangle the story but i was pleasantly surprised, the only thing that I thought they took liberties on and stretch the story was how Sandra Bullock's character was involved with Oher on the football field, it was really Tim Mcgraw's character.

I Have to disagree with people not thinking we should not take the box office and popularity into account. Not pure numbers with box office but rather a reflection of how the movies reflect the movie going public. I watch my fair share of art house films, and I enjoy them but sometimes they will get over-rated.

I am pulling for Up in the Air in all the categories it is nominated in. I expect Farmiga and Kendrick to lose to Monique in the supporting actress. I still have hope Clooney might win for Best Actor but I don't it will happen. I hope Reitman will win for director.

I really want to see how this new format will effect how the voting will be done for best picture. It will be interesting to see if something might steal the category.

Andy L said...

For those arguing about Avatar being a great movie because of it's box office haul, keep in mind that if Gone With the Wind was charging 10 bucks a ticket (the average ticket cost in 1939 was under a quarter) it would have made 8 billion dollars. Avatar is inflated both because of regular ticket prices and 3D/Imax tickets being more expensive. And let's not confuse financial success with artistic merit.

As for those concerned that Blind Side hurts the Best Picture category, they did pretty good considering with ten nominees they picked 8 or 9 (depending on how you feel about Avatar) really good movies. The academy never gets it completely right, but I think that is about as good as anyone could really expect from them.

I am dissapointed with all of the love that Up In the Air gets (although it will only win Best Adapted Screenplay over the more deserving In The Loop). It isn't a bad movie, but people seem to think of it as a new classic, rather than a solid, 3 star movie.

My biggest dissapointment in the nominees is that there is already no drama about winners in virtually any category. Hurt Locker, Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Mo'Nique, Christopher Waltz, Up In the Air (adapted) and Inglorious Basterds (Original). The only real question is Bigelow vs. Cameron for Director, and I thik Bigelow has a pretty big edge.

Remember: The Academy doesn't necessarily pick the best movies. They pick the movies that they think will make them look good for voting for them.

Kirchhoff said...

Avatar got the nominations that it deserved (yes, including Best Picture).

I'm happy that Up got a Best Picture nod, but this doesn't make up for last year's snub of WALL-E, in my opinion the best film of last year by a wide margin.

hazmatzak said...

GWTW has been rereleased several times over the decades. In order to get the "approximated guestimated inflation-but-not-cost-of-living-adjusted" number of "total admissions" that it currently has, when it was first released in 1939, almost every man, woman, and child in the U.S. would have to have seen it twice. It also charged premium ticket prices, in some places 2-3 times normal.

Yes, unadjusted gross does allow the industry to crown new "winners" every decade or two, but there are plenty more options for seeing "moving pictures" and ways to occupy your spare time nowadays. There are too many factors to be definitive.

It is still pretty fair to compare very recent films. And while grosses don't directly correlate to quality, at least Avatar beat Transformers2 for top movie of 2009; that movie was crap.

Anonymous said...

Paul, the success of Titanic at the Oscar ceremony for 1997 pretty solidly repudiates your theory that Avatar is being discriminated against on the grounds that it's a successful film. In fact the third Lord of the Rings movie won in 2003 and was the most successful movie of the year, and Gladiator was second place in 2000. There's no anti-success bias operating against Avatar here, if there was it would have been shut out of everything. I haven't seen it yet, and I've heard enough criticism of it for being formulaic that I wonder about its inclusion, but I also can see how the lush visuals and depth of mythology could create a tactile experience strong enough to merit consideration beyond acting and scripting.

As for my take on the nominations, this is the worst set in recent memory. Junk like The Lovely Bones, The Blind Side, and Julie & Julia should not be getting nominated, and it seems like the acting categories are being set up to guarantee certain victories for a big TV moment. Jeff Bridges will finally get his recognition, Christoph Waltz will give a Tarantino penned speech to give the middle of the show a boost the terrible jokes written for the hosts can't, Bullock will get her Mickey Rourke without the actual years in the wilderness career turnaround moment, and Mo'Nique will get the "I played a monster" award where people get to marvel about how different she looks. To cap off all that, the divorced couple in competition storyline will run through the evening, with Bigelow getting the directing award so that there's a "history in the making" moment, and Avatar getting best picture so that Cameron can respond graciously to her win before giving the sequel to his "king of the world" speech. The list feels like it was designed by the producers of the ceremony rather than on the merits of the films.

Some sadly ignored performances:

Joaquin Phoenix in Two Lovers
Tilda Swinton in Julia
Michael Stuhlbarg in A Serious Man
Melanie Laurent in Inglourious Basterds
Matt Damon in The Informant
Joseph Gordon Levitt in (500) Days of Summer
Sam Rockwell in Moon
Peter Capaldi in In The Loop

Andy L said...

Anonymous 4:44PM - Is it really that big of a tragedy that Julie and Julia and Lovely Bones got one nomination each for actors who were almost universally praised in reviews that acknowledged that the films had flaws (or were just plain awful)? MOst reviews I saw for both of those films gave them 2 or 2.5 stars at best, but recognized that they would have been much worse had it not been for Streep and Tucci, respectively.

Besides, complaining about Meryl Streep getting an oscar nomination is like screaming at the rain. It's just not going to stop.

And you include five people in your list of overlooked performances who would all be in the Best Actor category. Does that mean that you think that every single nominee in that category should have been ignored in favor of your five? There just aren't enough slots to give nominations to every deserving performance or movie.

jason said...

If Gone With The Wind was released today, it would have made $200 million...at best. No one is going to the theater to watch a 4 hour movie more than once.

That's why the whole "...but this movie sold more tickets!" argument is flawed. It doesn't take into account that people today don't typically go see movies more than once in theaters. A lot of people don't even go to the movies at all anymore. They just wait until the DVD comes out or until they can order it on-Demand. You didn't have as many viewing options for a movie in 1939 or even 1997.

Hatfield said...

dez, I know you can't hear it, but I'm loudly applauding your 'Turducken' joke. Made my day.

Craig Ranapia said...

If Gone With The Wind was released today, it would have made $200 million...at best. No one is going to the theater to watch a 4 hour movie more than once.

Really? Don't tell John Woo, whose four hour 'Red Cliff' was a massive hit in Mainland China and Asia last year.

Craig Ranapia said...

That's why the whole "...but this movie sold more tickets!" argument is flawed. It doesn't take into account that people today don't typically go see movies more than once in theaters. A lot of people don't even go to the movies at all anymore. They just wait until the DVD comes out or until they can order it on-Demand. You didn't have as many viewing options for a movie in 1939 or even 1997.

If you want to run that line, Jason, then I've got to point out that Warner obviously thought GWtW still has enough of an audience to release a lavish 70th anniversary DVD/BluRay edition, and it still has a life on television. Let's just come back here in seventy years and see if anyone even remembers 'Avatar'.

M. said...

True story- I was watching Hurt Locker on a transatlantic flight recently, as were many of my fellow passengers. At a certain high-tension climax in the movie, an older gentleman sitting a few rows back involuntarily yelped "Holy- -?!?!" really, really loud. I turned around and asked, 'Hurt Locker?' and he just grinned like a kid in a candy store.
Later, I mentioned the movie to my teenage brother, who after being shocked that his older sister LOVED it, spoke intellectually about the philosophy and political meaning behind HL for over an hour.

Being able to deeply affect such different people like Bigelow's film can is the mark of great cinema. Hopefully it's win best picture and director and make it a
dvd classic.

dez said...

@Hatfield, thanks :-)

Also, I know a lot of people (including myself) who go to long movies in the theater repeatedly because we loved the films enough to do so(I saw THE DARK KNIGHT at least six times in the theater, for example). AVATAR is raking in similar repeat business, I'm sure.

Captcha: "killy" - how AVATAR is making me feel these days, tee hee!

Chrissy said...

I thought Up in the Air was pretty overrated; not bad, but like another poster put it "a solid three star movie" nothing more. Avatar was pretty fluff that many people enjoyed - I don't think it's the best picture of this or any year, but I didn't think Titanic was either. At least Avatar isn't up against anything I love as much as L.A. Confidential.

I think it would be great to see Jeremey Renner win, just because he's so unknown - and not unknown in that standout way that, say, the actress from Precious is unknown - just a hard working actor who many people will recognize but few could name.

Other than that, yeah, Moon's absence is silly, but I'm happy to see District 9 on the list.

jason said...

"If you want to run that line, Jason, then I've got to point out that Warner obviously thought GWtW still has enough of an audience to release a lavish 70th anniversary DVD/BluRay edition, and it still has a life on television. Let's just come back here in seventy years and see if anyone even remembers 'Avatar'."

Did you read what I said? I never said that Gone With The Wind wouldn't be popular. Last I checked, $200 million is still a fantastic box office number. That isn't an insult to the film by any means. And it would make a ton of money on Blu-Ray and DVD. Would it make a billion dollars domestically? Of course not.

People's viewing habits have changed since 1939. Please don't pretend that it didn't. Back then, the only way you could watch Gone With The Wind is by going to the movie theater when it was released and subsequently re-released. Now? Like you said, you can buy it on blu-ray or DVD. You can wait until its on on-Demand. You can download it on iTunes. You can stream it through Netflix or Hulu.

If Gone With The Wind was released today, like every blockbuster movie it would make a ton of money opening weekend and lose steam after a couple of weeks. The 21st Century equivalent would be The Lord of the Rings movies, which was widely popular but none of the three came close to grossing $500 or even $400 domestic despite it's mainstream appeal? Why? Because there are very few people who would go pay $10 over and over again to see a movie in theaters when they could just wait a few months, pay $30 for the DVD and be able to watch it on their own schedule whenever they want.

As for Red Cliff, I don't even know why you bring that up. That movie made a worldwide gross of $641...Thousand.

Andy L said...

Jason - I don't mean this to sound snotty, but what is the point of mentioning that Gone With the Wind would not be a big hit with today's audience? I completely agree that if it was released today (having never been released in 1939) it wouldn't be nearly as popular, but I don't think that is simply because people might wait to watch it at home or just the fact that it is really long. It was made as a blockbuster for a different era. Back then it wasn't special effects that brought people into theaters in droves. It was the number of people. Big movies back then advertised themselves as having "A cast of thousands". Whether you want to argue that audiences today are more sophisticated, or simply that tastes change, it is just not a modern blockbuster.

Besides that, GWtW was something people had never seen before. The size and scope of the production, the technicolor (which was still new), the adaptation of a very popular book (which actually made a difference back then), plus Clark Gable was one of the biggest moviestars in the world.

A lot of other films wouldn't have existed if it weren't for GWtW, including the 3 hour, billion dollar epic Titanic.

So GWtW wouldn't have made a billion dollars if it was released today. What does it hypothetically being released now have to do with anything?

Again, I am not trying to be snotty. I just want to understand your point.

Craig Ranapia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alan Sepinwall said...

Okay, folks, let's all calm down a bit about our analysis of box office grosses vs. inflation vs. evolving cinematic distribution systems, okay?

Or, to quote a show I blogged about a couple of days ago... "Girls, girls - you're both pretty!"

Craig Ranapia said...

People's viewing habits have changed since 1939. Please don't pretend that it didn't.

Fair enough, Jason -- though you did a splendid job of knocking down an assertion I never made. Now, could you spare me the liberal applications of handwavium that inflation and 'premium pricing' of 3D films like Avatar are somehow irrelevant?


As for Red Cliff, I don't even know why you bring that up. That movie made a worldwide gross of $641...Thousand.

Because you made the absurd assertion that nobody watches long movies any more. You also tripped yourself up with rather lazy research.

I think you went for the Box Office Mojo page, that (no surprisingly) only covers the cut-down American version that was only released on 47 screens!

I was talking about the full version that was, by any measure, a huge hit in Asia. The complete two-part film (combined running time of around four and a half hours) grossed US$84.74 million in Mainland China; and a pretty amazing US$108.79 million in Japan (where Chinese films don't usually go over)!

Now, the next time you try to school me 1) do your homework, and, 2) take a remedial geography class where the United States is not the entire world, or even the centre of it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Craig, and everybody else: seriously. Stop it.

I put this up as a fun little post so people could talk about the nominations, and it's now somehow morphed into a flamewar about adjusted box office grosses.

Enough. Next person who can't obey Rules #1 & 6 of the commenting rules gets this entire discussion shut down.

Paul said...

Alan, to steer this back on topic, do you agree with what I wrote at lunchtime today:

"Bottom line is Avatar's success got too big for their own good. The Academy feels somehow threatened by this global phenomenon instead of believing that a rising tide (of $) does lift all boats. Big and small movies alike. This race is finis' even before it starts. The wrong director will win, the wrong movie will win. And there's nothing Avatar fans can do about it except watch it happen."

Alan Sepinwall said...

Paul, no I don't agree with that. If Hurt Locker wins, it has nothing to do with Avatar's success and everything to do with voters liking Hurt Locker more.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:44 responding to Andy L:

My feeling is that the acting awards should be about performances that made a good movie into something great. When most of the films from this era are long forgotten, the Academy Award winners and nominees are going to be some of the easiest to track down when people look for what was good at this time period. By wasting those spots on good performances that turn bad material passable, a major disservice is being done to high quality films that then go ignored. I realize that this is not the mandate the Academy seeks to fulfill in the way the voting is handled, but since the public perception is that "Academy Award Nominee" means quality I think it's a real shame to waste the opportunity to highlight the best films.

I also realize that complaining about a Meryl Streep nomination is like trying to hold back the tides, but if the film is as mediocre as Julie & Julia I'm at least going to spit in the ocean (metaphors aren't my strong suit). The list of performances I included at the end of my post aren't meant to be definitive, they're just examples of great performances in great movies that came to mind. You're perfectly right that there aren't enough slots, so why reward weak movies?

I haven't seen Crazy Heart or A Single Man, but I'd pull Freeman and Clooney out of that category and keep Renner. And for the record that's the category I find least problematic, the other three acting awards are much weaker.

Paul said...

There's going to be a huge audience, then, for Oscar night, thanks to Avatar, but the vast majority of them who will watch expecting a coronation, for lack of a better word for the biggest money-earning film in history, are going to be in for one epic, hellacious rude awakening when an Iraq war film that was thisclose to being a direct-to-DVD release is going to roll over a global phenomenon which has won over critics and fans alike. And it will send a message that there is a SERIOUS disconnect between the Academy and main street America which will have ramifications, ratings-wise, for next year, I fear.

belinda said...

Huh. I wonder if expanding the best picture category would split the votes so much that the winner would win by only one vote (though, how did it work before?)

Though I think half the time GG noms are a joke, it would be interesting to have best comedy/best drama categories for the Oscars instead of having a bloated 10 nom category of best picture. But I bet the studios are happy about this bloat!

I have to agree with those who thought Matt Damon deserve a nom for The Informant! as well. That movie was surprisingly great to watch, which had a lot to do with Damon.

As for Avatar, I realize that a lot of people absolutely love the movie, and it crushed the box office records and whatnots; but I really hope it doesn't win best picture.

Craig Ranapia said...

Craig, and everybody else: seriously. Stop it.

Alan:

My apologies, and I think we crossed each other there. But, of course, I could have made the factual point without being snarky about it in the first place. (I try to be careful about matters of fact like that because it's a law of the internet that when you treat people like idiots, someone is going to come along and make a fool of you.)

Craig Ranapia said...

And it will send a message that there is a SERIOUS disconnect between the Academy and main street America which will have ramifications, ratings-wise, for next year, I fear.

Seriously, if James Cameron could have the class to stand up at the Golden Globes and acknowledge his ex-wife and her film, could Avatar fans do the same. I know it's a cute headline (and an obvious lede), but the whole 'battle of the exes' thing is a little insulting to both Bigelow and Cameron.

Even with Cameron, I'd argue that The Abyss might have been a (relative) critical and commercial flop, but IMO it's actually the one film he's made I consider rather under-rated.

Paul said...

Moments ago, BoxofficeGuru reported Avatar has ended Titanic's 11 1/2 year reign as North America's top moneymaking film of all time (and can we at least put the kibosh on AFI and just look at these numbers):

1. Avatar: $601,141,551
2. Titanic: $600,788,188

That is a staggering achievement from any angle, and Team Cameron deserves to be be congratulated for it. Un-frakkin'-believable.

josh said...

"Hurt Locker" all the way. "A Serious Man" was pretty close, but it's Hurt Locker. I still have it stuck in my head.