82nd Academy Awards Nominations

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Postby Sonic Youth » Sat Mar 06, 2010 8:38 am

Oscar nods aren’t translating into ticket boom
By Ryan Nakashima
The Associated Press


LOS ANGELES - Spread 10 ways, the phrase "nominated for best picture" hasn't had much of a box office effect.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doubled the number of nominees this year in hopes of drawing more attention to more movies. But the revenue bump for this year's crop is less than the one enjoyed by last year's five best-picture hopefuls.

And of that $135 million, all but about $24 million went to the one film in least need of an Oscar bump: the record-smashing "Avatar." The figures were generated between the nominations Feb. 2 and the last weekend before Sunday's awards.

Last year's best picture nominees pulled in $146 million over a comparable period, and most of that went to a film Oscar helped turn into a sensation: "Slumdog Millionaire." Three of the five 2009 nominees at least doubled their take in that period, something no film in this year's batch even came close to doing.

"The bottom line is adding five more movies didn't necessarily add two times the gross to the crop of films," said Paul Dergarabedian, box office president for industry tracker Hollywood.com.

One possible explanation is that a best-picture nod may be less valuable now with more films getting one, but several other factors lessened the honor's financial impact.

The awards ceremony this year is two weeks later, March 7 vs. Feb. 22 last year, so that the show wouldn't compete with the Olympics, and the nominations came two weeks later as well. Generally, the longer a movie is in theaters, the less it brings in each week.

Snowstorms along the East Coast also appeared to dampen enthusiasm to see Oscar-nominated films, said Bruce Goerlich, chief research officer for market researcher Rentrak Corp.

In addition, five of this year's nominees weren't even in theaters by the time they were nominated: front-runner "The Hurt Locker," "A Serious Man," "Inglourious Basterds," "Up" and "District 9." Last year, all five best picture contenders were still in theaters when nominations were announced.

"Up" was released so long ago it has been out on DVD for 3½ months. "The Hurt Locker" did return to the big screen, but only in about 100 theaters nationwide.

"It used to be for years, the (nominated) pictures would be re-released at Oscar time," said Tom Sherak, president of the Academy. "But it's not viable to do that any more, so most studios don't."

Sherak believes expanding the category to 10 has been successful because it means more people have seen the nominated films and are likely to be interested in Sunday's broadcast.

This year's biggest Oscar bump, percentage-wise, might go to a movie out of the best picture race: "Crazy Heart." Prior to Jeff Bridges' best actor Oscar nomination, the film took in just $5.5 million. It has since added about $20 million, and its theater count looks to expand again, from 1,148 to around 1,300 this weekend.


"We're prepared to go even wider if the momentum is still there," said Stephen Gilula, the president of Fox Searchlight, which is a niche film label owned by News Corp.

Fox Searchlight followed the same pattern for "Slumdog Millionaire" last year, Gilula said. "Slumdog" cleaned up at the Oscars and the box office, making $81 million of its $125 million in ticket sales between the nominations and the week before the ceremony.

This year's smaller overall bounty may also be due to the "Avatar" effect. James Cameron's 3-D epic has become such a juggernaut that it has collected $111 million of the $135 million in ticket sales generated by best picture nominees since the nominations.

Given that "Avatar" has reaped $2.6 billion in ticket sales worldwide, its lift from Oscar acclaim was relatively small. But the action-packed eye candy of "Avatar" may have pulled attention away from other nominees, such as the gritty-till-the-end "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire."

Although "Precious" still powered through the awards season with growing ticket sales — making a healthy $47 million domestically on a $10 million production budget — its post-Oscar nomination bounce has been a measly $1.7 million.

Of course, every year's films are different and critical success translates commercially in unpredictable ways. Last year, "Slumdog" became a global party that audiences everywhere wanted to support. In contrast, "Precious" can be too raw for some audiences to bear.

Sony Pictures Classics' "An Education" did appear to get a small benefit from its best-picture nomination, going from $8.8 million to more than $12 million domestically.

"I think 10 (nominees) is a good thing," said studio co-president Michael Barker. "It causes more attention for more pictures. I'm not feeling a sense of dilution."

And a nomination lasts forever, whether a movie is in theaters or being offered on Netflix, so the full story of the benefits of the expanded category hasn't been told yet. Studios make billions of dollars on DVD and Blu-ray disc sales, not to mention what they collect from pay TV outlets at home and abroad.

Indeed, the revenue for "Up" from rentals, video-on-demand and disc sales had been declining before that movie's nomination. On the second week after the nomination it jumped 23 percent, according to Rentrak.

"If you're selling the DVD and the box said on it, 'Nominated for best picture of the year,' I mean if you didn't catch it, you'd be inclined to say, 'You know, I never saw that movie, it must be fairly decent, right?'" said Dan Fellman, head of distribution at Warner Bros.
"What the hell?"
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Postby Damien » Sat Feb 27, 2010 2:29 am

The New Yorker's terrific political columnist Hendrik Herztberg weighs in:


AND THE OSCAR GOES TO
by Hendrik Hertzberg

FEBRUARY 15, 2010

he Academy Award nominations were announced last week, and two movies came out on top: “Avatar” and “The Hurt Locker,” with nine nods apiece. At the box office, however, the score is not tied. “The Hurt Locker” has taken in a little more than sixteen million dollars. “Avatar” took in eleven million. The difference is, the figure for “The Hurt Locker” represents the totality of its receipts in the seven months since it was released. The “Avatar” number represents only the most recent weekend’s take. In Italy.

The sums associated with “Avatar” would not be out of place in the projected federal-budget deficit, which was also announced last week (but isn’t as much fun to think about). The weekend before last, this gargantuan video game of a movie crashed through the two-billion-dollar barrier, worldwide. That’s a new record. Last week, its domestic gross topped six hundred million dollars—also a new record, and very big bucks, even when corrected for inflation. “Avatar” cost something in the neighborhood of a quarter of a billion dollars to make, and you don’t need 3-D glasses to see all that money zooming up at you off the screen. (Actually, you do.)

Everyone seems to agree that the director, James Cameron, and his legions of artists and technicians have created a thrillingly immersive, lovingly detailed, surprisingly believable alternative world. There’s been less unanimity about the movie’s “message.” Liberals are unhappy with the white-guy-rescues-the-natives aspect of the story, though this aspect surely has less to do with racism per se than with Cameron’s reliance on old-movie plot devices. Conservatives complain that the picture’s vision of the future (the action takes place in the year 2154) is overly hospitable to century-and-a-half-old lefty talking points. Health care? The hero, a wheelchair-bound ex-marine, is told that he will get access to the twenty-second-century medical technology that can give him back the use of his legs only if he plays along with the villain, an evil corporation combining features of Halliburton, Blackwater, and Mobil. Obamacare still hasn’t passed, apparently, and the V.A. has been defunded. (“They can fix a spinal . . . if you’ve got the money . . . but not on vet benefits . . . not in this economy.”) The Iraq War? “Our only security lies in preëmptive attack. We will fight terror with terror,” the mean colonel growls, arguing for a “shock and awe” assault on the graceful, nature-loving, nine-foot-tall humanoids whose lush planet is about to be strip-mined. Environmental protection? “Avatar” is all over that one like blue on a Na’vi. The movie is pro-rain forest, anti-privatization, and pro-scientist. Cameron knows a lot about science, but he’s happy to bag it when necessary, as suggested in this colloquy, from a recent interview with a men’s magazine:

PLAYBOY: How much did you get into calibrating your movie heroine’s hotness?
CAMERON: Right from the beginning I said, “She’s got to have tits,” even though that makes no sense because her race, the Na’vi, aren’t placental mammals.

But enough with the cahiers du cinéma. Who’s going to win Best Picture? Among Oscar touts, the consensus is that it’ll be one of the two top nomination-garnerers, with “Avatar” the heavy favorite. Brandon Gray, at boxofficemojo.com, writes that “good box office has historically been key to winning Best Picture, which usually goes to the movie with the first or second highest gross among the nominees: that would favor ‘Avatar’ over ‘The Hurt Locker.’ ” Given that the latter’s gross is the second lowest among the ten nominees, amounting to less than one per cent of the former’s, you can say that again.

Even so, there is a distinct possibility of an upset. To understand why requires drilling down into the mechanics of voting systems. It’ll only hurt for a minute. From 1946 until last year, the voting worked the way Americans are most familiar with. Five pictures were nominated. If you were a member of the Academy, you put an “X” next to the name of your favorite. The picture with the most votes won. Nice and simple, though it did mean that a movie could win even if a solid majority of the eligible voters—in theory, as many as seventy-nine per cent of them—didn’t like it. Those legendary PricewaterhouseCoopers accountants don’t release the totals, but this or something like it has to have happened in the past, probably many times.

This year, the Best Picture list was expanded, partly to make sure that at least a couple of blockbusters would be on it. (The biggest grosser of 2008, “The Dark Knight,” was one of the better Batman adventures, but it didn’t make the cut.) To forestall a victory for some cinematic George Wallace or Ross Perot, the Academy switched to a different system. Members—there are around fifty-eight hundred of them—are being asked to rank their choices from one to ten. In the unlikely event that a picture gets an outright majority of first-choice votes, the counting’s over. If not, the last-place finisher is dropped and its voters’ second choices are distributed among the movies still in the running. If there’s still no majority, the second-to-last-place finisher gets eliminated, and its voters’ second (or third) choices are counted. And so on, until one of the nominees goes over fifty per cent.

This scheme, known as preference voting or instant-runoff voting, doesn’t necessarily get you the movie (or the candidate) with the most committed supporters, but it does get you a winner that a majority can at least countenance. It favors consensus. Now here’s why it may also favor “The Hurt Locker.” A lot of people like “Avatar,” obviously, but a lot don’t—too cold, too formulaic, too computerized, too derivative. (Remember “Dances with Wolves”? “Jurassic Park”? Everything by Hayao Miyazaki?) “Avatar” is polarizing. So is James Cameron. He may have fattened the bank accounts of a sizable bloc of Academy members—some three thousand people drew “Avatar” paychecks—but that doesn’t mean that they all long to recrown him king of the world. (As he has admitted, his people skills aren’t the best.) These factors could push “Avatar” toward the bottom of many a ranked-choice ballot.

On the other hand, few people who have seen “The Hurt Locker”—a real Iraq War story, not a sci-fi allegory—actively dislike it, and many profoundly admire it. Its underlying ethos is that war is hell, but it does not demonize the soldiers it portrays, whose job is to defuse bombs, not drop them. Even Republicans (and there are a few in Hollywood) think it’s good. It will likely be the second or third preference of voters whose first choice is one of the other “small” films that have been nominated.

And “The Hurt Locker” has special appeal with two important and overlapping constituencies. If it’s picked, its director, Kathryn Bigelow, will become the first woman to have directed a Best Picture winner. This would please women and men who like to see glass ceilings smashed, whether or not they were Hillary Clinton supporters. The other group is ex-wives, who are numerous in the movie colony. James Cameron has four. No. 3 is Kathryn Bigelow. She and her ex-husband are said to get along fine. Still, there’s such a thing as identity politics—something to keep in mind when you’re filling out your entry for the office pool
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Postby Eric » Fri Feb 19, 2010 7:37 am

Very good:
Inglourious Basterds
A Serious Man

Good:
The Hurt Locker

Meh:
Up
District 9

Not good:
Avatar
Precious
Up in the Air
An Education

Worse:
The Blind Side

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Postby Precious Doll » Fri Feb 19, 2010 2:14 am

1. The Hurt Locker
2. An Education
3. Up
4. A Serious Man
5. District 9
6. Inglorious Basterds
7. Avatar
8. Up in the Air
9. Precious

None of these films are worthy of a place on a 'ten best' list.
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Postby anonymous1980 » Thu Feb 18, 2010 11:54 pm

barrybrooks8 wrote:1. Inglorious Basterds
2. Precious
3. A Serious Man
4. District 9
5. An Education
6. The Hurt Locker
7. The Blind Side
8. Up
9. Up in the Air
10. Avatar

The Blind Side over Up, Up in the Air AND Avatar interesting.

I've seen 7 out of the 10 Best Picture contenders. Up in the Air opens here right before the Oscars so I'll get to see that. I doubt very much I'll be able to see Precious and A Serious Man before March 7th. So anyway, here are my rankings:

1. Inglourious Basterds
2. Up
3. The Hurt Locker
4. Avatar
5. An Education
6. District 9
---------------------------
7. The Blind Side

NOTE: I had to make a distinction because The Blind Side is the only contender I've seen I actively disliked. I loved/liked everything above the line and have 0 problems with them being on the Best Picture lineup.




Edited By anonymous on 1266555493

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Postby barrybrooks8 » Thu Feb 18, 2010 8:07 pm

1. Inglorious Basterds
2. Precious
3. A Serious Man
4. District 9
5. An Education
6. The Hurt Locker
7. The Blind Side
8. Up
9. Up in the Air
10. Avatar
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Postby rain Bard » Thu Feb 18, 2010 6:17 pm

Well personally, Les Doulos is my own favorite Melville film (not that I'm a particular devotee of the director). As for It Always Rains on Sunday, though certain to come out on DVD soon enough, it's really wonderful too.

Sounds like a terrific afternoon of black & white cinema to me, which I'd prioritize over a Best Picture nominee double-bill.. But then I've pretty much checked out of seeing new films solely because of their status in the Oscar race...

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Postby Jim20 » Thu Feb 18, 2010 6:10 pm

I'll give it a go:

1. The Hurt Locker
2. Up
3. A Serious Man
4. District 9
5. Up in the Air
6. Inglourious Basterds
7. An Education
8. Precious
9. Avatar
10. The Blind Side

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Postby Big Magilla » Thu Feb 18, 2010 5:43 pm

Depends on your priorities. I had to chose between The White Ribbon and The Last Station the other day, picked the former because I was more curious about the acting nominees than I was about the foreign film and cinematography nominee. I'll get to The White Ribbon next.
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Postby dws1982 » Thu Feb 18, 2010 5:36 pm

I've got Up in the Air, Precious, and An Education left. Might see the first two Saturday, since they'll still be around, or I might drive up to Nashville to do a marathon of The White Ribbon, It Always Rains on Sunday, and Les Doulos. Any suggestions as to what I should do? On one hand I'd like to see Precious and Up in the Air before the Oscars, but on the other, I doubt I'd seek them out were it not for the Oscar buzz, and they'll be on DVD two days after the Oscars anyway.

Of the seven I have seen, only The Hurt Locker has any business on a Best Picture ballot.

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Postby rain Bard » Thu Feb 18, 2010 5:18 pm

Not sure I'm going to see the others on the list before the Oscars, so...

1. Up
2. Inglourious Basterds
3. a Serious Man
4. the Hurt Locker
5. Up in the Air
6. Avatar

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Postby Sabin » Thu Feb 18, 2010 5:03 pm

1. A Serious Man
2. The Hurt Locker
3. Up
4. Inglourious Basterds
5. Up in the Air
6. District 9
7. Avatar
8. An Education
9. Precious

I expect The Blind Side to fall between no.'s 8 and 9.
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Postby Damien » Thu Feb 18, 2010 4:28 pm

Mister Tee wrote:
Damien wrote:I've now seen all 9 movies nominated for Best Picture, and I would rank them thusly:

1. Up In The Air
2. Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire
3. District 9
4. Inglourious Basterdds
5. Avatar
6. An Education
7. The Hurt Locker
8. A Serious Man
9. The Blind Side

So, you're just pretending Up doesn't exist?

Oh, it exists all right. It's just not a movie. It's a cartoon. :p

By the way, in my opinion, only Up In The Air, Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire and District 9 have any business being even near a Best Picture list.
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Postby Mister Tee » Thu Feb 18, 2010 4:20 pm

Since it's all the rage:

1. A Serious Man
2. Up in the Air
3. An Education
4. Inglourious Basterds
5. The Hurt Locker
6. District 9
7. Avatar
8. Up
9. Precious
10. The Blind Side

It might be interesting to run the graduated voting results, if we get enough people submitting. But probably we have too many people committed to Hurt Locker as No. 1 for it to be very revelatory.

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Postby OscarGuy » Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:04 pm

He won't watch Up, you know that, Tee.

Here are my rankings (I have not seen An Education):

1. District 9
2. Up in the Air
3. Up
4. The Hurt Locker
5. Inglourious Basterds
6. A Serious Man
7. Avatar
8. Precious
9. The Blind Side
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