Oscar History

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Months of Meryl: THE RIVER WILD

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Free Association: "Sandy" & The Impossible

You may have noticed that The Impossible has been fading on my Oscar charts these past couple of months. I always thought it a chancy Oscar prospect. Though it's undeniably technically impressive -- I'm not sure I want to know what Naomi Watts had to go through to film the tsunami scenes -- and emotionally compelling if you can get past its blonde privileged whiteness in a Thailand-set disaster epic. But its profile also seems quite low for a potentially major player. Summit is either planning a mega-blitz at the tail end of the year (a risky strategy with several giants opening at Christmas) or they're too busy rubbing their hands together gleefully whilst awaiting those Breaking Dawn Part 2 dollars to remember that they have an inspirational drama to push!

But lately I've been wondering if Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath might turn people off of The Impossible. More... 

Remember what happened with The Gangster Squad? It was stumbling towards a public relations nightmare -- the trailer's big set-piece featured machine gun armed men firing at a movie theater audience shortly before The Dark Knight Rises gun-violence tragedy hit -- but it wisely vacated its release date. Distance helps. I don't mean to be indelicate: a shooting is not a storm and a hurricane is not a tsunami. For all the destruction and disruption Sandy brought to the East Coast the loss of life was thankfully miniscule given a well prepared government and mandatory evacuation orders... hundreds of thousands of lives lots to a sudden unpredictable tsunami is a whole different story than millions inconveniently losing power for days and thousands sadly losing property. But the point is this: the mind does make associations. 

Will anyone be in the mood to watch Naomi Watts screaming her head off and worrying that her children are dead somewhere else in the storm? Will it play cathartic or queasy to American audiences with the worst storm to ever hit the East Coast so fresh in the memory? And is there really room for two Oscar hopefuls that have audiences free-associating with natural disasters; Will the Academy prefer the lyrical moving Beasts of the Southern Wild or the Hollywood-like gloss of The Impossible

I'm surely overthinking it. Whatever will be will be when The Impossible begins its Oscar-qualifying release in December.

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Reader Comments (16)

Interesting thoughts about the hurricane effect. That's probably not going to help, but ever since Toronto, this has been my pick for the "gets lost in the December crush" movie. There's one every year.

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz N.

I heard it's amazing and moving. And the tsunami scenes are so realistic that they made people dizzy.

It broke all box office records in Spain, it's the highest grossing national picture ever, and three all-time (behind Avatar and Titanic) in just 3 weeks. even Skyfall's first weekend couldn't top The Impossible's third.

Avatar (2009) 74.557.143,35 €
Titanic (1997) 41.159.984,40 € (Including Titanic 3D)
The Impossible (2012) 33.000.000 € (In 3 weeks)
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) 32.930.860,72 €
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) 31.330.091,7 €
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) 29.791.539,1 €
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) 28.272.304,54 €
Shrek 2 (2004) 28.207.540,55 €
Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) 27.691.316,44 €
The Others (2001) 27.254.163,38 €

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZizo Abul Hawa

Good point.

It is one of those movies I will probably never watch again. Might have a chance in the makeup, sound and visual effects categories.

PS I don't pay much attention to numbers anymore. Movie tickets keep increasing year after year.

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Sorry but I guess your are not informed, Spain in past September suffered a terrible over flood because huge storms, a lot of people had to be evacuated from the roof of their houses, they houses have been covered for the water, people dead or disappeared, Murcia, Malaga and Almeria were very affected, was terrible to watch the desperation of people during the evacuation.
All of this were just a month before The Impossible premiere in Spain with the consequent succeed of the movie, this weather disaster was major than Sandy.

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCamila

I had a hard time watching it because (a) it was hard to watch and (b) I was wondering why it had to be made in the first place. It's uplifting/inspirational and the story is true - and that's amazing in itself. But did we have to make it?

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Camila -- not even close to Sandy. Let's be fair.

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Peggy Sue (got married): You do not have to believe me, just inform by your self, anyways it is not a competence between storms, I was talking about that Nathaniel is overthinking paranoid theories and I guess I gave a graphic example that crumble his theory, to make an article to say hypothetical theories with out any substance is not serious

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCamila

Not sure how it will impact The Impossible, but the themes of Beasts of the Southern Wild could help boost Wallis and her film. There will be some members, though, who have no desire to watch anything related.

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Unless it does major business at the box office (which seems unlikely, but who knows), I doubt it will be a big player. It will, however, provide Naomi Watts with momentum as we head into 2013 when her Princess Diana biopic will be released. If the movie is good and her performance well received, she'll be a huge threat next year.

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Some of the bloggers here (or who have visited here) have clobbered this movie because of the blonde white privilege thing. But as you said, a shooting is not a storm and a hurricane is not a tsunami. There's this triumphalist aura to this movie that I think fits in well with what's happening now. And this natural disaster movie doesn't seem as distasteful as the swagger of shoot 'em up movies so I think it's going to be fine.

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaolo

Paolo, you are so original talking about " white people" in this movie, someone started that topic and sheep follow the shepherd, anyone has talked about "Argo" and his unilateral point of view about Iran, also it is a very white American point of view.
About Sandy, oh yes, it was huge, all the things that happen in US are bigger, they have bigger hamburgers, bigger sodas, bigger stars and of course bigger arms and bombs.

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCamila

Suffering cannot be measured.

Anyway, I don't think that a Christmas release is the proper thing. Despite being an ode to family, I would never recommend it during holidays.

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Is there some kind of Internet corollary to Godwin's law that replaces "Nazis" with "sheep" or "sheeple"? Seriously, there's nothing that could possibly make me ignore a commenter faster than the use of that tired old saw.

Camila, get a grip.

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz N.

All I can say is I saw in a packed cinema (and lately with the bloody economic crisis cinemas have been pretty empty here in Spain) and at the end people spontaneously broke out in applause. Think about it: it's been out for almost a month and it still outsells JAMES BOND!!! (which I know isn't saying that much once word of mouth gets out as to how bad this 007 film is)

And I can't recommend it highly enough!

I don't think Sandy will affect it other than perhaps in the immediate area that was most affected.

And Camila's right! Don't downplay Spain's Fall storms and flash floods just because a Hurricane wasn't involved! We're talking about towns having to be evacuated, crop fields destroyed, lives lost, people with no homes to return to... and sadly this wasn't the first -nor will it be the last- time! With Nature going haywire the "Gota Fría" (our Fall storm phenomenon which happens every several years) is getting more severe and unpredicatble.

I think it will depend on distribution and publicity. Waiting 'till Christmas sounds stupid to me, too much super tough competition! But I guess they want to play on the fact that it mostly takes place on Boxing Day?

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrazyCris

So far, I've heard little buzz about the film but perhaps that'll chance when December rolls by. I hope it does well (box-office wise) and delivers (reviews) if only because I'd love to see Naomi Watts nab her second Oscar nod and Ewan McGregor finally get his first. I kinda get the feeling of the Halle Berry/Benicio Del Toro film "Things We Lost in the Fire" which opened during the California wildfire season.

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P.

I can not believe that Ewan Mc Gregor did not get any nomination¡¡¡¡ well, Gary Oldman got his first last year and Penelope Cruz (worst actress ever) got a win + a nomination ha ha ha

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCamila

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