one... two... three... do the release date shuffle ♬
Over the past couple of weeks the last quarter of the year has pulling its usual release date switcheroos, brushing detritus or unfinished masterworks (you decide) from its schedule. We can all act surprised if we so choose but we're only fooling ourselves when we do.
And they say, "Goldfish have no memory"
I guess their lives are much like mine
And the little plastic castle
Is a surprise every time
-Ani DiFranco "Little Plastic Castle"
This happens every year! So no more Foxcatcher in December. No more Grace of Monaco in November. Curiously both films had released trailers seemingly moments before they were pulled from the calendar. (Foxcatcher's trailer was quickly snatched back from view before I even had time to watch it but at least we had time to discuss Grace).
In paradoxically more alarming / less surprising non-news [more]
The Wolf of Wall Street continues to be a question mark. As we remarked before most websites have made rather definitive headline type statements saying it's moved to 2014 but this is not factually true (yet). Unless I missed it Paramount has not made a definitive statement other than that Scorsese is still in post and the inferral that there's no way it's making it original November 15th release date. But, really, why is everyone so fussy/bothered at the idea of a three hour cut? Since when can't Martin Scorsese release a long movie? Do you mean to tell me he doesn't have final cut anymore? I mean *I* prefer my movies half that length (90 minutes is bliss) but Scorsese, according to all available evidence, does not.
All of this leads us to the new joyous conclusion that October might be the new December which is EXACTLY how The Film Experience likes it. I say "might" because, even when things go well for early fall releases at Oscar (see Argo) Hollywood tends to resist, ever drifting back to the allure of Christmas.
How well did previous October releases fare in the past decade?
2012 ARGO (winner and sole October release nominated)
2011 no October releases but a nice spread of months
2010 THE SOCIAL NETWORK (presumed runner up)
2009 AN EDUCATION and A SERIOUS MAN (5 noms between them)
2008 only last gasp of year nominees
2007 MICHAEL CLAYTON otherwise all last gasp of year
2006 THE DEPARTED (winner and sole October release...though THE QUEEN was last weekend of Sept. This was not a December-focused year)
2005 GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK (and CAPOTE was a Sept 30th release ;)
2004 RAY and SIDEWAYS (11 noms and 3 wins between them)
2003 MYSTIC RIVER (presumed runner-up... but also maybe LOST IN TRANSLATION... that release date is so confusing in retrospect. IMDb release date listings are aggravating unspecific and include festival premieres sometimes without indication. And I don't remember this one playing for two weeks in LA before a limited release in NYC?)
Oscars are supposed to be about a specific film year and the Oscar competition is more fun when audiences can play along, having seen the nominees in question. Choosing sides before you've seen a film or performance is common habit these days, an easy temptation to succumb to due to sometimes interminable waits for the Oscar season to get going, but it's really not good for the movie-lover. It makes you less open to experiencing each actual movie (as opposed to your dreams for it) once it arrives. So a slew of major Best Picture players releasing in October is just fine and that's exactly what we're getting this year with Gravity, Captain Phillips, 12 Years a Slave all arriving in the next three weeks... bam bam bam. Your individual mileage will vary on these three (I was technically awed but emotionally unmoved by the first, surprised by the second which features Tom Hanks at his best, though, it should be known that I'm not a fan of either of his statue-winning performances, and wowed by the third) but all three will undoubtedly be major players. They'll maybe even be the top players. Expect five plus nominations each ... and that's a lowball estimate.
I've currently placed them at numbers 1, 2, and 3 on our Updated Best Picture Chart for Oscar 2013* and dropped American Hustle from its previous #1 perch because really, it's a "what if" that no one has seen.
*... which brings me to my Pet Peeve Rant of the Day / All Time.
The one week qualifier and slow rollout Oscar strategy popularized over the past 20 years (but thankfully losing steam now?) combined with the rise of IMDb really messed things up some years ago when they came to prominence in rough tandem. IMDb labelled Oscar years the year in which the ceremony took place right from the start rather than the correct way, by the year which was being honored. Now more and more websites have followed suit, including the otherwise fab In Contention, despite Oscar ceremonies taking place closer to the calendar year they're honoring than they used to decades ago. Unfortunately this is not how its supposed to work and you can see the confusion its caused on Wikipedia and around the web with competing contradictory calendar year lists and titles. FACT: The winner of the Best Picture award for 1991 was Silence of the Lambs, not Dances With Wolves, you know? This year's Best Picture is NOT Argo ... Argo came out last year. We won't know what 2013's Best Picture is until 2014 but that doesn't make it Best Picture 2014. I'm old enough to know that people used to always refer to Oscar night wins by the year the films arrived and not by the ceremony but thanks to IMDB's indoctrination and years of Oscar races where no one could see the films until around the time of the ceremony, people say it wrong.
Now, I wouldn't know what to say if I were miraculously on a gameshow with a chance to win a million dollars and they asked me "Which film won 1972's Best Picture Oscar?" The correct answer is The Godfather (sniffle... sorry Cabaret) even though it won the prize in March of '73. But would that game show expect me to say The French Connection?" In this rhetorical fantasy I maybe just lost a million dollars because I refuse to accept that The Godfather, released on the 3/24/72, is 1973's Best Picture.