Oscar History

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Entries in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (20)


Box: Office - Ghostly Christmas

One of my favorite traditions when I was a kid and later a visiting adult was picking the movie to watch on Christmas day with the family. It was usually me making the final decision since I was the one forcing keeping the tradition alive. My favorite of these as an adult was Titanic (1997) because even my Dad loved it and he never loves movies. This Christmas evening movie-going tradition maybe isn't as strong as it once was with American families since the weekend didn't jingle merrily with box office change.

Nevertheless, it was definitely crowded with new releases, week old releases and all of those frustratingly shy Oscar hopefuls who refuse to go wide enough for audiences to enjoy them. The weekend was won by Ghostocol which you could categorize as a big hit were it not for that super-sized budget. Whose idea was it to give it a budget that was even higher than the domestic gross of its predecessor five years ago?

Box Office Top Fifteen (Estimates)
          ~ over 2000 theaters
01 MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL  $29.5  (cum. $61.9)
02 SHERLOCK HOMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS $20.2  (cum. $79)
03 THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO  $12.7 (cum. $21.1) 
04 ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED $12.6 (cum. $49.5)
05 THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN $9.7 (cum. $17.7)
06 WE BOUGHT A ZOO  $9.4 christmas day only
07 WAR HORSE $7.5 christmas day only [STAGE VS. SCREEN]
08 NEW YEARS EVE $4.9 (cum. $34.2)
09 THE DARKEST HOUR $3 christmas day only 
         ~ under 2000 theaters
10 THE MUPPETS $2.1 (cum. $75.7)
11 THE DESCENDANTS $2.1 (cum. $32.3) 
12 ARTHUR CHRISTMAS $2.1 (cum. $43.5)
13 HUGO $2 (cum. $43.6)
14 THE SITTER $1.8 (cum. $22.3)
15 YOUNG ADULT $1.7 (cum. $7.1)

Talking Points
Pina, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy had the best per screen averages. I was at a Christmas party yesterday and the latter was definitely a movie people were talking about. The conversation frequently swerved to Benedict Cumberbatch (People knew him as the other new Sherlock Holmes -- the not Robert Downey Jr Holmes) and there were at least a couple of "I didn't understand what was going on!"s uttered. But the point is that people are interested in it. They should've opened wider. 

You could finally give the gift of Marilyn. But did the wide release come two weeks too late?Same goes for My Week With Marilyn. It doubled its screen count, finally going wide this weekend for the holiday, but the widening came too late. The movie's moment, if you will, was definitely back around Thanksgiving time when competition was slightly less severe and it had that new girl sparkle in a weekend that was otherwise all about the little kiddies. Now it's competing with other adult appeal movies and it's not entirely fresh news in our fast-paced pop culture. The big expansion five weeks later saw dwindling revenues and it landed on the worst opening weekend chart. Did they not think Marilyn was a brand? Movies are obsessed with selling us the familiar and there's no way that MARILYN didn't have enough branding to open wider earlier. It isn't a French film without dialogue with no stars, after all.

Did you hit the theater and does your family always do this on Christmas?



The Year in Gay Characters

Year in Review... more to come, too.

Though you know I am unfond of J. Edgar, it was super easy to make a list of the best gay characters without the noisiest ones: ol' Hoover and his much abused man Clyde. For my weekly column at Towleroad, I thought I'd wrap the year with a list on the Best LGBT movie characters of the year so click away if you'd like a few notes on Pariah, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Potiche, and even Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Okay, the latter I only imagined but I like to engage with the movies in unexpected ways. Don't let filmmakers box you in; practice freeform movie watching!

Because the holidays are all about spreading oneself thin, I'm also a guest today at AfterElton. I met AfterElton's Brian Juergens at a Madonna event -- it's true, I met the Queen herself (M, not Brian!) but more on that in February when the embargo breaks -- and he was cracking me up with his insane Oscar predictions like "Best Supporting Actor Jim Parsons as Charlotte Phelan in The Help". Hee.

So I had to bring him back to reality, set him... uh... straight. Such a killjoy I am! An Oscar man's work is never done.



We Need To Talk About Tweet Length Reviews

December (sigh)... it defeats me every year. In 2012 I'm going to start training for it like it's the marathon. Because it is! Maybe I'll try to write one December 2012 article each week all year long so that when the time comes I'll have plenty of time for all the events / screenings / interviews / awards articles. "too many things too many things too many things" to quote Boogie Nights. So here are some things I've been seeing that I have no time to talk about. But let's carve out a teensy bit anyway. None of these will make much of a dent on my "best" or "worst" lists so let's cross them off the eternal to do list with tweet length reviews... (I use to try for seven to ten words but that ends up being a series of adjectives. Giving myself a few more characters now.)

Dear Mr. Spielberg. Jamie Bell is very nice to look at. Were you not aware of this? Thanks.

In which Tintin and his dog Snowy seek out a pirates treasure through a series of infinite setpieces
Review: Oft described as "endlessly fun" and the endless part is true. Inventive and spectacular looking but utterly exhausting. Pirates again? B-/C+
Oscar? The Animated branch might reject it under the umbrella of "mo-cap is not animation!" disdain. Me I have no problem whatsoever with mo-cap but I prefer it when it looks less realistic (like in Monster House). If you're aiming for real-looking human characters, just let me see the actual actors. Jamie Bell is very nice to look at and hiring him only to hide him away is a disservice to eyeballs everywhere.

Will a child be left without a gift on Christmas? Three generations of Santas spring into action.
Review: Gimmick thoroughly mined for madcap fun though it's a shade too busy. Wonderful voice work. Plenty of heart, too (which Tintin lacks). B
Oscar? Given the generally anemic animated film race, it will be a real shame if this one from Aardman doesn't score a nomination. But I think it will. 

In which Po realizes he was adopted and fights the peacock who is trying to end Kung Fu and conquer China.
Review: Disposable with uneven humor but the palette is pure wow. I was as hypnotized as Po whenever the peacock fanned those white and red feathers. B-/C+
Oscar? Though it's the second highest grossing animated film of the year, I don't expect it to score with Oscar voters. The Globe snub is telling but depressing. If you have to have a sequel in the lineup why Cars 2? KFP 2 is better looking and funnier and has a better story and a better hero and villain. Better on all counts.

In which a group of 1%ers and financial analysts predict / cause the economic apocalypse
Review: This involving horror film about our powerlessness and corporate greed is boosted by perfect timing though not quite above telefilm level. B
Oscar? Given the multiple "first film" prizes J.C. Chandor has won, I'm guessing this has a really solid shot at an Original Screenplay nomination. But if any of the actors were going to have found favor yet, I think we would have seen some SAG interest... at least in Ensemble

In which... no, I don't know what happens and I really truly was paying attention.
Review: Super handsome filmmaking, ace score, gifted ensemble but too restrained to feel, too info-crowded to follow: B
Oscar? Even when a movie has incredible craft elements, it rarely gets nominated if voters don't love the film as a whole. I'm doubtful this one will pick anything up. But maybe one nomination, two max in visual categories or screenplay.

In which a woman gives birth to a bad seed and suffers greatly for it.
Review: Miscast and weirdly art-film parodic in its repetitions / obviousness. Tilda's eyeballs feel the horror, though. B-/C+
Oscar? I'm more surprised than you are that Tilda gained traction for this one. I thought the film too inaccessible but apparently that Julia, I Am Love momentum finally pushed her over some kind of art goddess edge and she's back in the Oscar conversation where she nearly always belongs.

Tilda and her demonic boy(s)

I would also like to note that I really was rooting for this film before seeing it because I think Lynne Ramsay's previous feature Morvern Callar (2002) is ten kinds of amazing but I was sorely disappointed. I hope it doesn't take her 9 more years to deliver film #4.

I'm still trying to get full reviews out for Iron Lady, War Horse, Albert Nobbs, Extremely Loud and Melancholia (lol. Hi several months later!) cuz I got shit to say. We shall see. I need to stop time for one week to catch up. Perhaps I should call up Hamish Linklater from The Future and get on that?


BIFA Noms: "Tyrannosaur" Triumphs, "Weekend" Wobbles

Herewith a few comments about the just-announced British Independent Film Awards. You may recall that last year they heavily favored The King's Speech and strangely snubbed Mike Leigh's Another Year in Best Film.

BIFA loved "Kevin" but wasn't crazy about "Weekend"

I should warn you up front that I'm apt to spend the whole time bitching about the strange snubbing of Weekend in all but one category. 

British Independent Film
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
We Need To Talk About Kevin

They unfortunately snubbed the acclaimed gay romance Weekend (Dear reader, I did warn you. DEAR NOTE, I SHALL HIT THEE FREQUENTLY!) which was a perfect fit given the "British" and the "Independent"... not to mention that it's a better film than some of these titles. But then, that's award season for you. Right from the start there will be winners and losers and unexpecting favoring of certain titles that nobody was expecting major awards runs from. Not sure what to make of the lineup other than that the deep preferencing for Shame, Tyrannosaur, and Kevin reminds us that when seeking kudos, ambitiously arty but thunderously grim depression can be an easier path to glory than optimistic and delicately carved miniatures. Again, where is Weekend?

Best Director
Ben Wheatley, Kill List
Steve McQueen, Shame
Tomas Alfredson, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Paddy Considine, Tyrannosaur
Lynne Ramsay, We Need To Talk About Kevin

Best Debut Director (The Douglas Hickox Award)
Joe Cornish, Attack the Block
Ralph Fiennes, Coriolanus
John Michael McDonagh, The Guard
Richard Ayoade, Submarine
Paddy Considine, Tyrannosaur 

Paddy Considine directs Olivia Colman to greatness in "Tyrannosaur"

I am of the opinion that when one separates directing categories one should not be eligible for both. More direction and acting nods after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Pressing Oscar Questions / New Predictions

If you haven't yet noticed, I updated all the Oscar charts yesterday to reflect the latest shifts in buzz. As ever I am not totally enslaved by immediate buzz but try to project forward from it. I don't believe, and past experience backs me up here, that the first word from festivals is the last word on consensus. Festival audiences have, in many cases, different needs than Academy voters and the general public and even mainstream-leaning film critics.  These differing needs range from subject matter to tone to emotional and intellectual content. So there is much we still don't know about the new films winning raves. To win Oscar's heart you generally have to first master or at least make peace with three other audiences (all of which can or do overlap with each other and with Oscar but let's not complicate the matter): Critics (i.e. reviews/perceptions of quality), public (box office), media (are they interested? are their editorial angles or movie stars to keep them engaged). Festivals are the gun going off but never the finish line. So here are some questions I'm pondering.

Won't you join me in answering them?

Michael Fassbender OR Ryan Gosling? I've already pitted them against each other publically/mentally as "The Future of the Movies: Male Division" (do they have any competition?) and perhaps it's a natural evolution from that question but aren't they in direct conflict for an Oscar nod this year? Both have had amazing years with multiple films, some artistically minded, some for commerce but all of which they've been excellent in. Ryan has the more Oscar-friendly fare (Ides of March/Drive) compared to Fassy's kink (Shame/A Dangerous Method) but Fassy may have the more Oscar-friendly personality in terms of his ease with self-promotion (supposedly Gosling is unburdened by the typical Oscar dream).

I don't think there's room for both given the Best Actor field... do you?

What of Alexander Desplat?
His score for The Tree of Life seems likely to be axed for eligibility given all the other music in the film. His score for Carnage is supposedly only heard for a few minutes. His scores for the new Harry Potter and Twilight are both within long running franchises which generally don't show up in the score category since such scores tend to mix old and new themes and there's a been there/done that feeling even if the score is entirely new. Will they stiff their new favorite composer or will it be enough for them to have their all time favorite back? 79 year old John Williams has two Spielberg scores this year (Tin Tin and War Horse) after a long absence and if there was ever a time they wanted to hand him a sixth Oscar, it's probably now.

Captain America or Thor?
I've been asking this question all summer and I suspect very few people care. But hear me out: Isn't one of them going to win multiple Oscar nods? The technical fields are often hugely competitive but they're also friendlier to genre fare than the big eight. Captain America:The First Avenger has the distinct advantage in that it takes place during World War II and thus gets to show off period piece beauty in costuming (for Jeffrey Kurland and Anna B Sheppard who have both been nominated previously but never won)  and art direction (Rick Heinrichs has 3 noms / 1 win to his name) ... but Thor has a more Oscary team in costume designer Alexandra Byrne (4 nods, 1 win) and production designer Bo Welch (4 nominations) and whether or not you think that the ice planet or the mythical realm of Asgard are way too bombastically gaudy in design... Oscar loves overkill in just about any category. See last year's results for Eyesore in Wonderland and every time any pundit ever joked about "Best" being code word for "Most".


 Aren't "Restrained" and "Chill" Four Letter Words?
One review called Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy "marvelously chill" and the word "restrained" gets tossed around a lot for both that film and Glenn Close's Oscar bid Albert Nobbs. It's not without precedent that Oscar would embrace the chilly or the restrained but it's also not exactly the wormiest hook for AMPAS to swim towards as history indicates. What does all this mean for Gary Oldman (who our Venice correspondent claimed only raises his voice once in his film) or for Glenn Close both of whom will be waging campaigns based half on these new performances and half on their reputations as important thespians who've endured inexplicable golden snubbings.

Category Placement. To Fraud or Not To Fraud?
This question will never die and is ever a concern since modern cinema doesn't have the same clear divisions of labor as classic Hollywood in terms of "star vs. character actor". What's more many pundits, fans and agents now regularly and actively promote fraud to insure better golden opportunities for their beloved star or meal ticket. The feeling of demotion is largely a thing of the past, an Oscar being an Oscar. The unfortunate and long lasting side effect of this trend (more a tradition than trend now actually) are that real supporting players and character actors have less and less opportunities as genuine stars now rob them of their already scant opportunities for the spotlight on a very regular basis. It's almost impossible to imagine that we'll ever see another Thelma Ritter for example (sniffle). So we'll just have to wait and see how Viola Davis (The Help), Keira Knightley (A Dangerous Method), the entire Carnage cast and any of the young male leads (War Horse, Hugo, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) play it this year since all of them could theoretically opt for either lead or supporting categorization.

What the hell with the Best Animated Film category this year?
The (relative) failure of Cars 2 has left a gaping Pixar sized hole in the category that was arguably specifically designed just to honor Pixar. Rango, an early visually stunning hit, seems to have no real competition whatsoever. It's hard to see any of its competition as nominees, isn't it? There are sequels no one seems particularly excited about yet (Happy Feet 2, Puss in Boots, Kung Fu Panda 2), films that were hits that no one seems particularly excited about (Rio). Arthur Christmas is a question mark but is anyone excited about it? What's more the only event movie that's still to come (The Adventures of TinTin: The Secret of the Unicorn)  should theoretically be disqualified given past AMPAS decisions declaring motion capture ineligible. Is it time to shutter this category or do they just have to hope that it's exciting again next year and the year after? 

The Nomination Is Theirs To Lose. Will They?
Just about every pundit worth his/her salt agrees that The Tree of Life, The Help and Midnight in Paris are the three biggies with Best Picture potential to have already hit theaters. Then there are those stubbornly holding on to hopes for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two (I readily admit bias that I don't think it's deserving even as a cumulative honor) or The Rise of the Planet of the Apes though history suggests that it won't happen since sequels are only ever nominated when their predecessors were. Though I adamantly doubt that either has a good shot at the most coveted of all nominations, there is a first time for everything and it's true that modern franchise culture is a relatively new ubiquitous Hollywood reality and thus Oscar history might not be the best indication of how the Academy will view or soon view franchise efforts.

Should all of these films or even just three of them be nominated... well, that doesn't leave much room at all for the Christmas time films that are still withheld from eager eyeballs or the films that are on everyone's lips having just debuted at this festival or that one.

Which leads us to the final question...

Which of the unseen films will tank?
J Edgar, War Horse, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Iron Lady, Hugo? That's a lot of unseen fare still that even long lead festival audiences haven't gazed upon. Which do you suspect will deliver and which won't?