Oscar History

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Entries in Cowboys and Aliens (5)


Box Office: Hugh Jackman Punches In At #1

I'm sorry I've been away today -- couldn't be helped -- but tomorrow I'll share my thoughts on My Week With Marilyn and update the Oscar charts.

For now, the weekend box office. It's unfortunate and bizarre to recall this or to type it out loud but the surprisingly solid opening to Hugh Jackman's ridiculous-looking Real Steel is actually not his top non-mutant opening weekend. That honor belongs to Van Helsing of all things. 

Box Office (U.S.) Baker's Dozen -actuals
01 REAL STEEL new $27.3 
02 IDES OF MARCH new [capsule] $10.4 
03 DOLPHIN TALE  $9.1 (cum $49)
04 MONEYBALL [review] $7.4 (cum $49.2)
05 50/50 [review]  $5.6 (cum $17.4)
06 COURAGEOUS  $4.8 (cum $16.1)
07 THE LION KING 3D [review] re-release $4.5 (cum $414.5... $85.9 of that in this rerelease)
08 DREAMHOUSE  $4.4 (cum $14.4)
09 WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER? $3.1 (cum $10.3)
10 ABDUCTION [review] $2.8 (cum $23.3)
11 CONTAGION $2.9 (cum $69)
12 KILLER ELITE $2.2 (cum $21.6)
13 THE HELP [review$2.9 (cum $162.6)

King of the Box Office JungleTalking Points
The Help is on its last legs with a low per screen average now. But what strong legs those were. 

• You can tell it's October because the grosses are way down. Despite the typical fall dip family fare is still impervious to seasonal recessions; Real Steel opened big, Dolphin Tale is a hit, and wasn't this Lion King Redux only supposed to play for two weeks? 

Cowboys and Aliens is probably in agony over its gross. Even though the would be blockbuster was a failure in relation to its (very large) budget there's a certain general bragging-rights allowance for all films that crack the magic $100 million mark. C&A's gross currently stands at $99,766,000. But that $244,000 will be hard to bridge when it's only earning $17,000 on weekdays and down to 206 theaters already. Tragedy!

Drive crossed the $30 million mark so at least it doubled its production budget in theaters, despite not truly catching on. I'm not happy to say that we predicted this but at least the prediction came with a silver lining.

What did you see this weekend? I'm sort of dying to know if anyone of you went ringside for Hugh Jackman... or if most of you campaigned with Clooney & Co in the Oscar Primaries.


Hollywood Awards 2011. Something For Everyone (& the Fanboys)

The annual pubicity stunt that is the Hollywood Film Festival Awards have been announced. The ceremony will take place on October 24th, 2011. No publicity is bad publicity so this is good news for all of the recipients, especially since in most cases they are blocking some direct competition from picking up the very same free publicity. (Not that publicity is free but... oh never mind.) Just for fun I've included the past two years of recipients in italics below this year's honor so you can gauge their general behavior (which is erratic in terms of titles of awards, number of recipients, and whether it has any reflection of general awards season hoopla).

A professional working actor for the past 23 years and a famous one for the past 16 wins "BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR" (Hee!)

Hollywood Career Achievement Award: GLENN CLOSE - Albert Nobbs
2010 -Sylvester Stallone; 2009 - 
Hollywood Actor Award: no one announced yet
2010 -Robert Duvall -Get Low; 2009: Robert DeNiro -Everybody's Fine
Hollywood Director of the Year: no one announced yet 
2010 Tom Hooper -The King's Speech; 2009 Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker
Hollywood Actress Award:MICHELLE WILLIAMS - My Week with Marilyn
2010 - Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right; 2009 -Hilary Swank -Amelia 
Hollywood Supporting Actor Award: CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER - Beginners
2010- Sam Rockwell, Conviction; 2009 -Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterdss 
Hollywood Supporting Actress Award: CAREY MULLIGAN - Shame
2010- Helena Bonham-Carter, The King's Speech; 2009 -Julianne Moore, A Single Man
Hollywood Breakthrough Actor Award: JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT - 50/50
2010- Andrew Garfield, The Social Network; 2009 - Jeremy Renner The Hurt Locker; 
Hollywood Breakthrough Actress Award: JESSICA CHASTAIN - The Tree of Life; The Help; Take Shelter; Coriolanus
2010 - Mia Wasikowska; 2009-Carey Mulligan
New Hollywood Award: FELICITY JONES -  Like Crazy
*** strange note *** According to the IMDb Felicity Jones won this prize last year, too, for the same film. But there is no "New Hollywood" prize for 2010 listed on the Hollywood Film Festival Site; 2009 Gabby Sidibe, Precious
Hollywood Ensemble Cast Award: "THE HELP" CAST 
2010: "The Social Network" Cast; 2009: n/a
Hollywood Screenwriter Award: DIABLO CODY -Young Adult
2010: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network; 2009 Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber -500 Days of Summer
Hollywood Breakthrough Director Award: MICHEL HAZANAVICIUS - The Artist
2010 -n/a; 2009 -n/a
Hollywood Producer Award: LETTY ARONSON - Midnight in Paris
2010: Danny Boyle & Christian Colson 127 Hours, 2009 Ryan Cavanaugh (not sure which movie. he had several) 
Hollywood Cinematographer Award: EMMANUEL LUBEZSKI - The Tree of Life
2010 Wally Pfister -Inception; 2009 Roger Deakins -A Serious Man
Hollywood Film Composer Award: ALBERTO IGLESIAS - Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
2010 Hans Zimmer -Inception;
Hollywood Editor Award: STEPHEN MIRRIONE - The Ides of March
2010 Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter -The Social Network; 2009-Dana Glauberman - Up in the Air
Hollywood Production Designer Award: JAMES J. MURAKAMI - J. Edgar
Hollywood Visual Effects Award: "TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON" - Scott Farrar
2010 Iron Man 2; 2009 -n/a
Hollywood Animation Award: "RANGO" directed by Gore Verbinski
2010: Toy Story 3; 2009 -n/a
Hollywood Comedy Award: no one announced yet 
2010 Zach Galifianakis; 2009: Bradley Cooper (they're working their way through the entire cast of The Hangover)
Hollywood Spotlight Awards: SHAILENE WOODLEY - The Descendants
2010: Mila Kunis, Milla Jovovich, Leighton Meester, and Noomi Rapace; 2009 Paul Schneider and Melanie Lynskey  

Their "Movie of the Year" prize (won by Inception last year and Star Trek the year before) you can vote on yourself since they do this in conjunction with Yahoo Movies. The nominees are...

  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Cowboys & Aliens
  • Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part Two
  • The Help
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
  • Rango
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Super 8
  • Transformers Dark of the Moon
  • X-Men First Class

Movie of the Year is short for Fanboy Film of the Year since, despite the weird anomaly of The Help, they go strictly boy-appeal f/x driven blockbusters. They lean that way so hard that they're willing to toss out a big hit like Bridesmaids in order to include a movie virtually nobody likes to drive the target-audience point home (hi, Cowboys and Aliens!). 



Take Three: Paul Dano

Craig from Dark Eye Socket here with Take Three. Today: Paul Dano

Take One: The King
Disgruntled discharged Navy man Gael García Bernal rules the roost in James Marsh’s dark religion-themed indie The King. But Dano, as the dutiful square peg brother/son in the family Bernal infiltrates, does attempt a one-man, god-fuelled backyard coup, much to his own expense. The film is partly a hothouse take on Cain & Able and partly a nod to bad-couple movies like Badlands (brooding Bernal and Sissy Spacek-a-like Pell James doing bad things in cars). Dano’s Paul Sandlow, a pastor's son, sings and plays guitar in a Jesus-heavy, quality-light church rock band. That’s when he’s not pressuring the school heads into accepting his curriculum on Intelligent Design over Evolution. Paul’s doe-eyed sappiness appears to hide a certain cleverness yet, oddly, he’s one of the most sympathetic personalities in the film.

Dano’s performance is savvy. His dorky, modest Jesus freak teeters around the periphery of the action – spouting glassy-eyed school speeches about Him upstairs, defining smugness in a four-wheel-drive graduation gift – until emerging prominently as the plot hots up. Dano plays it all with a calm curiosity. By intuitively holding back, he manages to convey more, swerving cliché to deliver a turn replete with discomforting nuance. He may be a timid teen in a Christ crisis, but the threat of censure glints in his eye. He shouldn’t have banked on the promise of a “brother’s” honour. After his fateful face-off with Bernal halfway in, Paul’s merely a face on a missing poster and the subject of Bernal’s less-than-guilty conscience. But he makes each scene count before being sent down the river.

Take Two: Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
Dano must love dust. He’s sure seen enough of the stuff on screen in recent years. He saw blood and oil spilt in it in There Will Be Blood (see below) and stomped soil on the pioneer trail for Kelly Reichardt in Meek’s Cutoff earlier this year. And in theatres over the past few weeks he’s been kicking up a fuss in the stuff in genre mashup Cowboys & Aliens. Dano pops up early on as Percy Dolarhyde, the troublesome drunk son to local grump-on-horseback Harrison Ford. Their rocky filial relationship is a part of the background to the alien-busting action. But when Percy is lassoed by the rootin’ tootin’ extra terrestrial braggarts, and whisked away for some probably dubious shenanigans, it allows Ford’s character some plot momentum.

I missed Dano’s slapdash spoiled and cowardly presence, though, and wished he’d stayed for the duration. The movie required a dependable human villain throughout, to split the difference between the ramshackle townsfolk and the interstellar menace. A late, cheeky crowbar plot device means that we can’t resume our hiss-boo heckles at Percy’s clumsy tomfoolery, but at least he re-enters the movie. In his meagre handful of scenes Dano shoots it up then shrieks it up with barmy abandon. Percy is ultimately sold short, but Dano adds another fine small performance to his filmography. As a now well-established yet still young character actor he’s continuing to pay his dues in often largely peripheral roles. Cowboys & Aliens shows, alongside Meek’s Cutoff, that he’s cornered the market in sly and sheepish movie-dust slingers.

Take Three: There Will Be Blood (2007)
It took two roles (brothers Paul and Eli Sunday) for Dano to go up against maniacal oil plunderer Daniel Day-Lewis (as Daniel Plainview) in Paul Thomas Anderson’s explosively oily There Will Be Blood. The religion theme is again present but here Dano’s graduated to fully-fledged preacher. The role very nearly wasn’t his, however. Dano only had a few days to rehearse his role as Eli, the bigger of his two parts. Kel O'Neill was originally cast, but was replaced with Dano (who was only originally down to play the smaller role of Paul) two weeks into the shoot; a total of three weeks of scenes featuring Eli and Plainview had to be re-shot with Dano instead of O'Neill. However, any casting interruptions don’t at all impede him on screen. If anything, the immediacy adds to the fevered vitality of his performance.

Paul Sunday's polite staccato-voiced calm is miles away from the disingenuously bilious bluster of Eli Sunday. Dano expertly differentiates his roles, but also allows small drip-fed shreds of doubt to enter into both Plainview’s and the audience’s minds: are they both the same brother? Neither we, nor Plainview, ever truly know. Eli’s scenes of evangelism, his casting devils out of the congregation with screams that seem to break his voice and weird, fierce strain-faced air grabs, are riveting. He’s scarily good, too, in the epilogue, when he visits Plainview with an offer. When Plainview asks “I want you to tell me you’re a false prophet,” Dano’s unblinking, knowing gaze is priceless; one expression reveals the core falsity of Eli’s faith. His opportunism and barely-concealed weakness, here as elsewhere in the film, tells us just as much about what Anderson was striving for as Day-Lewis’ performance does. Dano didn’t strike gold like Day-Lewis did, but he mined the film for all its worth – and, through one means or another, he made good on the promise of that title.

Three more films for the taking: L.I.E. (2001), Little Miss Sunshine (2006), The Extra Man (2010)


Box Office: Rise of the Change-Up of the Apes

The relaunch or prequel or whatever you'd like to call it to the 43 year old Planet of the Apes franchise was buoyed by... well, we're not sure what it was buoyed by exactly. The film is unexpectly good but given that neither reviews nor "quality" generally factor in to first weekend grosses, it must be the familiar brand appeal. Perhaps enough time has passed since Tim Burton's awful remake that people were interested again? Expect the prequel to hold really well next weekend. Second weekends are when quality or perceptions thereof are much more influential. Word of Mouth, you know. I'll demonstrate: Go see it!

box office top ten (actual grosses)
02 THE SMURFS $20.7 (cum $75.9)
03 COWBOYS AND ALIENS $15.7 (cum $67.3)
04 THE CHANGE-UP new $13.5
05 CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER [review$13 (cumulative $143.2)
07 CRAZY STUPID LOVE [your take $12 (cum $42.1)
08 FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS $4.6 (cum $48.5)
09 HORRIBLE BOSSES $4.5 (cum $105.1)

Discussables: The Smurfs held fairly well reminding us once again that parents just don't read reviews and leave it up to the kids. That 56% drop for Cowboys & Aliens, though not uncommon for a film's second week, is not good news for a film that was supposed to be a very big deal this summer. The huge budget, nearly double the size of say Planet of the Ape's is more weight on its shoulders. (Here's some theorizing on what went wrong.) Crazy Stupid Love had the best legs of the top ten, barely taking a hit with only a 35% drop. In other words: people like the film. Ryan Reynolds continues to have a lackluster summer. Green Lantern underperformed and The Change-Up wasn't really packing them in either on opening weekend. That said, those two openings are still better than what he usually gets out of the gate, when it's his name as the principal draw. Not that he's actually been the principle player all that often. Time for a reteaming with Sandra Bullock, right?

Among this week's limited release big market happenings transgendered drama Gun Hill Road had the fullest houses with the reportedly epically misogynistic Bellflower just behind. Miranda July's The Future and Dominic Cooper objectification-fest The Devil's Double both added several theaters to their count. Are they open near you? I don't know why I haven't seen them yet but I keep falling further and further behind. Must spend entire day in theater soon.

What did you see this weekend?


Box Office: Cowboys, Smurfs, Soldiers, Aliens, Beginners

Confession: I loved The Smurfs when I was young though I knew that they drew scorn from many corners. I would sing "la la laLALALA la la la la la" loudly whenever I wanted to annoy my older brother. That said, the movie looked a-tro-cious so I felt roughly zero in the way of nostalgic pull. I don't know how you cast talents as comedically strong as Hank Azaria and Neil Patrick Harris and then rely on fart jokes but apparently they did since "Who smurfed?" is supposed to be a joke therein. I was discussing this on Twitter last night with strangers lamenting that their kids liked it and Miyazaki would have to wait. I just returned from a vacation week with close friends and their children (including my goddaughter) and I'm happy to report that Miyazaki is well loved by the tween / early teen set. So there's hope for all disheartened parents of toddlers out there! Some of your children will grow out of their bad taste. Some of them won't and will grow up to rush to movies like Zookeeper wtih Kevin James on opening weekend. It's not the end of the world. It only feels like it to the devoted cinephile.

Weekend Showdown. Cowboys vs. Tiny Blue Aliens

box office top ten
02 THE SMURFS new $35.6
03 CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER [review$25.5 (cumulative $117.4)
05 CRAZY STUPID LOVE [your takenew $19.1
06 FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS $9.2 (cum $38.1)
07 HORRIBLE BOSSES $7.1 (cum $96.2)
09 ZOOKEEPER $4.3 (cum $68.8)
10 CARS 2  $2.3 (cum $182.1)

Items of Note: HP 7.2 passed the difficult $300 million barrier domestically and the even rarer billion mark globally placing it at the #2 position for 2011 just behind #1s Transformers 3 (domestic) and Pirates of the Caribbean 4 (global). Given that "It All Ends!" has only been in release for two weeks, it'll easy defeat both of those films any day now. In ten days Captain America has earned about $116 here in its home country which means its already falling behind Thor despite a similar opening weekend draw. Thor was an even bigger hit across the Atlantic which doesn't seem likely for Cappy due to his homeland hero specificity. Cars 2 is running out of fuel, and may become the first Pixar release since A Bug's Life to fall short of $200 million domestically. Ah well, they'll always have their merchandising bonanza. Wasn't that the whole point of the sorry film to begin with?



other films we thought we'd check in on...
18 SARAH'S KEY $.3 (cum. $.5)
20 THE TREE OF LIFE [overheard / thoughts$.3 (cum. $11.6)
25 BEGINNERS [review]  $.2 (cum. $5)
39 THE DEVIL'S DOUBLE new $.09
53 THE FUTURE new $.02 

Sarah's Key a Holocaust drama starring TFE favorite Kristin Scott Thomas has been surprisingly robust with ticket sales thus far at only 33 theaters. Should we have been considering this one long ago?

I included The Devil's Double and The Future because I missed critics screenings but I'm totally curious about both (would love to hear your thoughts if you've seen them). Plus, we hadn't checked in on the lower ranks of the charts in some time. Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life, keeps puttering along in arthouses (widest release peaked at 237 theaters) and it might even eventually gross as much as the first two days of Zookeeper (!) which, as one friend soberly notes, '...is why we can't have nice things.'

'Sarah's Key' and 'Beginners' are arthouse hits

Beginners has been a small and sturdy arthouse attraction itself, roughly akin to Winter's Bone at this point in its life (2 months) in terms of both gross and theater count. But can a 5 million grosser summon up enough energy to grow legs and stride through the often brutal precursor awards season without, one presumes, a lead performance and director with similar awards hopeful traction? Do you think Christopher Plummer has a good shot still or did the film need to catch on with more fervor for what might be a lone supporting bid?