Why I Love The Oscars & 10 Great Oscar Memories
- Written by Matthew Toomey
It feels like I’m always talking about the Oscars and other awards shows. Is there nothing else going on in the movie world? Well, the answer that question is largely no. The number of movies released in January 2010 in Brisbane has been tiny. In fact, there have been just 12 in all. The last time there were such a low number of releases was in January 2002 (also with 12). I don’t why studios aren’t trying to movie a few releases forward to fill the gaps. Here I am, hungry to see and review plenty of movies.
Why I Love The Oscars
Even since I became a movie buff, I’ve always loved the Oscars. People often ask me why. Some see the Academy Awards as a pompous excuse for stars to dress up and pat each other on the back. Don’t forget the parties!
For me, the Oscars are about more than that. I believe that in any profession, recognition of good work is important. It gives us something to strive towards. It sets a benchmark for how high we can achieve. In sport, there are prizes such as the Brownlow Medal, the Allan Border Medal and the Dally M Medal. Outside of the sporting world, I can quickly name of the Booker Prize, the Pulitzer Prize and the Nobel Prizes. I don’t even need to think this broadly. We can be recognised within our own workplace with simple things such as cash bonuses, time off and staff awards. It’s just what we do.
The Oscars are no different. A group of roughly 5,000 people (made up of a wide range of movie related folk) sit down and pick the best films, the best performers and the best craftspeople of the year. Yes, there are some voters who don’t see all of the possible films and that annoys me. It’s a flaw within any such system. But for the most part, the Academy know what they’re talking about.
I often disagree about their choices (such as Crash winning over Brokeback Mountain) but that’s just how it is. You’re best to look at it from a positive perspective - when you scan through lists of previous winners, a lot of great movies and a lot of great performances have been recognised. Winning an Oscar can launch a career and it can also provide a fitting tribute at the end of one. I’d love to be on the list of winners!
I also admit to liking the suspense. Once the nominees have been announced, the actors go to a variety of functions and take advantage of the moment. Everyone wants to know them. Everyone wants to be them. They can take a month to soak it up and celebrate their success. Then, the night arrives. We see all 5 acting nominees in little windows on the television screen. The winner’s name is announced. Four people try to look happy. The other is overcome with emotion. Music is played as the winner walks to the stage and they get just under a minute to say something meaningful to an audience of a billion people. Kind of neat.
Also making the Oscars special for me was a Who Weekly competition I entered in 1995. There were 10 categories and you had to pick the winner of each. The best score won a year’s free movies at Birch, Carroll & Coyle Cinemas. I deliberately didn’t listen to the results during the day so I could watch it when I got home that night – as if it were “live”. I can still remember being at the video store (where I worked) when Restoration won best costume design. That was the first category on my ballet and yep, I got it right. By the time midnight came around and Braveheart won the best picture honour, my entry form was full of ticks – 10 out of 10. I won the year’s worth of free movies and within a year, I had become a “critic”.
10 Great Oscar Moments
I’ve got a lot of great memories from the Oscars. For everything post 1994, I saw it on my television screen at home. For everything else, I’ve scoured the interweb looking for old tapes and footage. Not all of my favourite moments from the Academy Awards are online but I’ve picked out 10 really good ones to share with you. I’ve provided the Youtube link and a little blurb on each. This is why I love the Oscars.
1969 – It’s A Tie For Best Actress!
In the history of the Oscars, there has only ever been one tie in a major category. It happened in 1969 with Katherine Hepburn and Barbara Streisand tying for best actress. Hepburn’s win made her the first actress to win three Oscars for leading role performances. She did not attend the ceremony (she never did actually – with one exception) but Streisand was on hand to collect her prize. I love the look of shock on Ingrid Bergmann face as she opens the envelope and realises it’s a tie.
1985 – Geraldine Page Wins Best Actress
In terms of actors, Geraldine Page was Oscar’s biggest loser. She’d been nominated 7 times without success. That changed in 1985. In an incredibly tough category (which included Anne Bancroft and Meryl Streep), Page finally won and received a standing ovation. It took her a while to reach the stage however. Accustomed to losing, Page wasn’t even wearing her shoes when her name was read out. It took her a few seconds to “get ready” and ascend the stairs to receive her prize. It was her final nomination and Page died two years later.
1993 – Marisa Tomei Wins Best Supporting Actress
I don’t think there’s ever been a bigger upset than Marisa Tomei’s win in 1993. It spawned an urban legend that presenter Jack Palance read the wrong name and that no one corrected him. Many wondered how she was even nominated. She didn’t receive a Golden Globe nomination and wasn’t honoured by a single group of critics. She was up against Miranda Richardson (who won the BAFTA), Joan Plowright (who won the Golden Globe), Australian Judy Davis (who won almost every major critics award) and Vanessa Redgrave (a previous winner). How did she do it?
1995 – Anna Paquin Wins Best Supporting Actress
I love a good upset. In 1995 at the age of 11, New Zealand born Anna Paquin upstaged favourite Winona Ryder and won the Oscar for best supporting actress. Her reaction of hearing her name says it all. I love co-star Holly Hunter’s reaction too. It all came as such a shock. Once she composed herself on stage, Paquin gave a short, elegant speech. It was very touching.
1998 – Ben Affleck & Matt Damon Win Best Original Screenplay
They were expected to win but it was still great to see Ben Affleck and Matt Damon take the Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 1998 for Good Will Hunting. They were both struggling for work and had written the screenplay to help land them a job. Studios liked it but were reluctant to let them star in it as well. It look much persuasion but they got their wish. The film earned Gus Van Sant his first nomination for best director and Robin Williams finally won an Oscar after three previous nominations (also a great moment). Affleck and Damon accepted the award from the great Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon (who sadly are no longer with us) and their careers took off in the year’s following their success. Also funny about this clip is the fact that Minnie Driver (a nominee for the film) had recently broken up with Matt Damon. You can see her (in the red dress) looking rather annoyed at their win as they walk to the stage. Sour grapes!
2000 – Michael Caine Wins Best Supporting Actor
Michael Caine won an Oscar in 1986 for Hannah And Her Sisters but was not able to attend the ceremony. In 2000, he was the auditorium to collect his prize for The Cider House Rules and he gave a beautifully moving speech following a long standing ovation. He’s a gracious person and a classy guy. I loved this film and was thrilled to see him honoured.
2002 – Woody Allen Tribute To New York City
Woody Allen is one of my all time favourite filmmakers but despite have received 21 Academy Award nominations, he has never attended the ceremony. It’s just not his thing. He did make one exception though in 2002. He wasn’t nominated that year but he turned up to pay a special tribute to New York cinema in the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001. He was as funny as always. God, I love Woody.
2003 – Adrien Brody Wins Best Actor
I’m particularly fond of this memory since I had a lot of money on Brody at good odds. He was up of best actor against four guys who had all won previously – Jack Nicholson, Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine and Daniel Day-Lewis. The ultimate underdog, his wonderful performance in The Pianist was recognised. As he arrived on the stage, he embraced Halle Berry (who was presenting the award) and it has gone down in history as a classic Oscar moment. An hour later, Roman Polanski won the best director Oscar for the film – still one of the biggest Oscar shocks in recent memory.
2006 – Meryl Streep & Lily Tomlin Pay Tribute To Robert Altman
Robert Altman was a brilliant filmmaker who was nominated 5 times for the best director. Sadly, he never won. In 2006, Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin gave a beautifully funny tribute to Altman and his style before awarding him an honorary Oscar. The moment has an extra poignancy because Altman died later that year. It was the last chance for the Academy to recognise him and they did it in style.
2006 – Crash Wins Best Picture
I hate to end on a bad note but this is a memory which will stick in my head for a long time. Brokeback Mountain won almost every single lead up award. It was the only horse in the race. Then, Crash came along. The film had come out earlier in year, received lukewarm reviews and made a so-so amount at the box-office. It wasn’t even nominated at the Golden Globes. Very few people cared about then. The studio then launched a massive publicity blitz. They sent 130,000 screeners to every person they could think of and launched a wave of “For Your Consideration” ads in major publications. It still didn’t look to be enough after Ang Lee won the Oscar for best director. But in one of the big upsets in recent memory, Crash pulled off the impossible. A clearly stunned Jack Nicholson read the name the envelope and the rest is history.
2010 Golden Globes Wrap: Star Power Triumphs
- Written by Matthew Toomey
Our first big award show of the season has been run and won. The Golden Globes do not always line up with the eventual Oscar winners but let’s just say, winning a Globe can’t hurt your chances. They are the second most important lead up award (behind the Guilds).
Before I get to that, a quick farewell to my good friend Sam Dagan who made a big career move on Saturday. He jetted off to London and will be working there for a few years. If there are any London readers out there, make sure you hire him! Sam’s been my movie buddy since 2001 and he’s even tougher to please than me. I’ve learned that one of the best ways to review a film is to “talk it out” afterwards. Having a healthy debate about it for 5-10 minutes usually gives me plenty of ammo to write an insightful review. Anyway, best of luck to Sam in London and I’ll hopefully get his exclusive reviews on all those films which sneak a release in the UK before they do here.
Money Down The Drain… Glug, Glug, Glug
With my Golden Globe bets, I went 0 for 3 and lost $250. That’s just how it goes. I am a little irritated at myself for not weighing into consideration the “star power” factor which seems to woo the Hollywood Foreign Press (who pick the winners). If it comes down to two films or two actors, they will usually pick the person or film with the higher profile. It doesn’t always work this way though (e.g. Sally Hawkins winning last year for Happy-Go-Lucky).
All my 3 bets were on the lesser name – Carey Mulligan (An Education) to beat Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side). 500 Days Of Summer to beat The Hangover. The Hurt Locker to beat Avatar. All went the other way. Lesson learned.
The good news is that I have wagered $500 on Avatar to win the best picture Oscar at $3.00 odds to return $1,500. Hopefully I’ll recover my Globe losses then. I’m feeling even more confident following James Cameron’s surprise win for best director (over Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker) and the fact that Avatar won best picture – drama. We’ll see.
Here’s a quick look at the winners and my analysis of the awards race going forward…
Best Picture (Drama) – Avatar
Best Picture (Musical/Comedy) – The Hangover
Best Actor (Drama) – Jeff Brides (Crazy Heart)
Best Actor (Musical/Comedy) – Robert Downey Jr (Sherlock Holmes)
Best Actress (Drama) – Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
Best Actress (Musical/Comedy) – Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)
Best Supporting Actor – Christolph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds)
Best Supporting Actress – Mo’nique (Precious: Based On The Novel Push By Sapphire)
Best Director – James Cameron (Avatar)
Best Screenplay – Up In The Air
Avatar now leads the race for the best picture Oscar. Up In The Air picked up the best screenplay award but has lost momentum after being favoured to win best picture at the Globes. The Hurt Locker won nothing and whilst its still the critics’ darling, it’s going to need to work hard to defeat Avatar from here. I’ve been declaring Avatar as the winner for a while and I’m sticking with it.
Best actor is now a coin flip between Jeff Bridges and George Clooney. Perhaps Bridges has the edge but be careful, this race is eerily similar to last year. Sean Penn was a previous winner and starred in a best picture nominee (Milk). Mickey Rourke was the sentimental favourite but was in a much smaller film with fewer nominations (The Wrestler). Penn took the prize and I lost some money. It’s the same here. George Clooney will be the previous winner and will feature in a best picture nominee (Up In The Air). Jeff Bridges (aka The Dude) will be the sentimental favourite in a film which will probably only receive one nomination (Crazy Heart).
Best actress is shaping up as Meryl Streep vs. Sandra Bullock. Meryl is overdue for a win and I think she’s the frontrunner here. I’m yet to see Bullock’s performance but I couldn’t think of anyone less deserving after some of the films she’s churned out in the past decade. I’d like to think Carey Mulligan still has a shot but I’m doubtful. She’s my personal pick but I think the Oscar is going Meryl’s way.
Best supporting actor is Christolph Waltz. Best supporting actress is Mo’nique. No further discussion necessary.
I’m happy with my Avatar bet but I think I might sneak a few dollars on the great Meryl Streep in the next week. Maybe Jeff Bridges too. Will keep you posted.
As for the ceremony itself, I’ve just finished watching a replay and I think Ricky Gervais did a nice job as host. Not brilliant but still good. Best speech belonged to Meryl Streep (would you expect anything less).
Golden Globes Competition
Thanks to everyone for entering my Pick The Golden Globes competition.
I deliberately went with some tricky categories and the results reflect that. We had 5 people finish on top with a score of 3 out of 6.
They were Paul Nelson, Leon Barry, Peter Johns, Dan Barrett and Angela McCabe.
It came down to the tie-breaker question which was the age of the last presenter. Julia Roberts did the honours and she’s currently 42.
So, we ended with a tie. Both Leon Barry and Dan Barrett were closest to the mark with a prediction of 43. I’ll be in touch with them both to sort out prizes.
Thanks to everyone who entered!
I didn’t think much of the film but given its cast and a strong marketing campaign, Bran Nue Dae opened with a juicy $1.6m at the Australian box-office. It’s a great result – the second biggest opening for a local film in Australian film in the past 12 months (behind Mao’s Last Dancer). There’ll be more good news ahead with Daybreakers released in 2 weeks (which I spoke about in last week’s blog).
Avatar is still going ridiculously strong. It made another $7m over the past week in Australia and now has a total of $75m to its name. In the United States, Avatar is number 1 for the fifth week in a row. It made $41.3m (that’s just crazy for a film’s 5th week) and now has a total of $491m. Titanic’s record will probably only last a few more weeks.
Something light to finish on this week.
Here’s a funny story where director Oliver Hirschbiegel is asked about all the spoofs which have been made of his famous bunker scene in the 2004 film Downfall (which was terrific I might add).
I’ve seen plenty of these but that’s the first time I’ve seen the Billy Elliot ticket spoof. Loved it! It’s also great to see the director’s got a good sense of humour about the whole thing.
Golden Globe Bets & Avatar's Stunning Run Continues
- Written by Matthew Toomey
Plenty to talk about this week so let’s get right to it.
Golden Globes Competition
The 2010 Golden Globe Awards are being held next Monday (Jan 18) around lunchtime Brisbane time. They’re always an important lead up to the Oscars. Generally, the winners take on front-runner status… particularly if they make a good acceptance speech (tears never hurt).
I have an Oscars competition each year but to make things a little more interesting in 2010, I’ve put together a Golden Globes competition too. I've picked six tricky categories (including one in the TV field) for you to chew over. Simply pick who you think will win and you're in with a chance. There's also a tie-breaker question in case it's required - you must guess the age of the presenter of the Best Motion Picture Drama award.
The prize is a double movie pass to the film of your choice (I'll even try to get you along to a preview if I can). As an alternative (and this will be useful for those not in Brisbane), I'll buy you a DVD that you’ve always been after.
Entries close on Sunday night, January 17 and you can enter by visiting the Film Pie website right here - http://www.thefilmpie.com.
Golden Globe Bets
I usually have a bet or two on the Golden Globes (as well as the Oscars) and this year is no exception.
I’d like you to think that I have some credibility when it comes to this sort of thing so you can check out my history right here. I’m up just over $4,500 for the past 14 years and that ain’t bad.
That said, I’ve found things quite tough this year at the Globes. There are obvious winners (Waltz, Mo’nique) but some categories are wide open. That being the case, I’ve gone for value in the two big categories…
$100 on The Hurt Locker at $5.50 to win best drama to return $550.
$50 on 500 Days Of Summer at $6.00 to win best comedy/musical to return $300.
$100 on Carey Mulligan at $2.50 to win best actress (drama) to return $250.
With Up In The Air at $1.80 (ridiculously short) and Avatar at $3.75, I think there’s good value in The Hurt Locker’s $5.50. Any of these three films could win but for the awards darling (Hurt Locker) to be at such long odds is too good to resist. Considering that Kathryn Bigelow is $1.65 to win the best director prize, I’ll take $5.50 any day of the week!
Nine is the front runner in the best picture drama category but never has a film looked so vulnerable. It flopped at the box-office and it didn’t even make the top 15 at the British Academy Awards shortlist. Whatever the Golden Globes folk were smoking when they submitted their nominations, will surely have worn off by now. I see 500 Days Of Summer and The Hangover as the two big dangers. Given my love for the former, I’ve taken a punt at the odds of $6.00.
I wanted to have one bet amongst the acting categories and have singled out Carey Mulligan in a wide open race. I think she’s wonderful in An Education but is up against Sandra Bullock (my arch nemesis) for The Blind Side and Gabby Sidibe for Precious. She’s won quite a few awards already and I think she’s got the smooth English charm to woo the Hollywood Foreign Press (who run the Globes). If Bullock wins, it will give me yet another reason to dislike her (aside from her last 40 movies).
The Hurt Locker
While speaking of The Hurt Locker, I can now answer a question which people have been putting to me – will we ever see it here in Brisbane? It’s a serious Oscar contender and it was released more than 6 months ago in the United States. What’s going on???
The good news is that film will be released in Brisbane on February 25. It will be showing at the Hoyts Regent, Palace Centro, Balmoral, Southbank, Chermside and Gold Coast Arts Centre cinemas. Excellent news about the release (although very close to the Oscars themselves) and I can’t wait to see it.
I discussed Avatar in great detail last week but as a quick update, it is now the highest grossing film in Australian box-office history. Last Friday night, it had taken an estimated $58.8m which defeats Titanic’s record of $57.7m. Yes, the 3D prices are higher and yes, there’s been inflation but it’s still phenomenal when you consider that the 12 year record was defeated by Avatar in just 22 days. Who knows how much it will end up making??? Also of interest is the fact that 78% of all customers here in Australia have seen it in 3D (which is great).
Avatar now has $429 million in the bank in the United States and $1.3352 billion from worldwide takings. Titanic’s record will not last for much longer.
A new Australian vampire movie shot here in Brisbane called Daybreakers opened in the United States last week with a nice $15m. Many have been critical of the Australian film industry in recent years (because we make films which aren’t marketable) so it’s good to see local product making a mark internationally. I’ve seen the film (which is quite good) and I’ll publish my review when it’s released in early February.
Here’s a link to an article on the Inside Film website which shows all the 2009 Australian films and how much they made at the box-office. For some films, the news wasn’t good but it’s not easy competing against overseas product. And I can assure you that there are plenty of good films around the world which make no money (just go to the Sundance Film Festival for example). My point is that it’s not just in Australia where people won’t see decent movies.
I have to laugh though at Prey, which sits at the bottom of the list. I remember seeing it on a Saturday night at the Palace Barracks (in a big cinema I might add) and I was the only soul in the theatre. But the fact that it made just $744 is dreadful. Considering I paid $10 for my ticket, I can now proclaim that I contributed 1.3% of the total box-office of a movie. That’s funny for me but not so funny for the film’s producers. It was a terrible movie though (featuring in my worst 10 of the year list).
Margaret Pomeranz – A Good Sport
At The Movies with Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton is one of my favourite shows on the television. I try not to miss it each week. The way they interact is hilarious.
For fans of Margaret, you’ll hopefully find this clip very amusing – an on-line ad for the new Triple J Breakfast show. She’s a great sport.
The Ice Storm
I almost didn’t know about it but last Wednesday I was able to see a screening of The Ice Storm at the Gallery Of Modern Art. It’s part of a retrospective of the films of Ang Lee (which include Sense & Sensibility – my favourite romantic film and Brokeback Mountain). Former premier Wayne Goss was in the crowd so I give him a thumbs up for having good taste.
The film is 12 years old and yet I can remember seeing it with my younger sister on Boxing Day in 1997 at the now defunct Village Twin. It’s such a great film and if you haven’t seen it yet, keep an eye out for it in DVD stores (or on television).
It was great seeing it on the big screen again but the final 20 minutes was ruined by the inattentive projectionist. The lens was too low and as a result, the bottom of the screen was cut off and we could see the odd boom mike at the top. There were plenty of laughs in the audience which ruined the emotional ending.
That does it for another week. Don’t forget to enter the Golden Globes competition!
Gabbo, Gabbo, Gabbo! Avatar, Avatar, Avatar!
- Written by Matthew Toomey
Saddle up. The 2010 movie year is underway! I hope everyone had a great break and were able to catch up on a few movies. There wasn’t much for me to see at the cinemas (I’d seen most of them in previews) but I had fun catching up on some old classics on Foxtel.
Before I continue, I do need to reminisce. In 1996, I started grading every film I saw (on an A+ to C- scale) and kept all the results in a spreadsheet. In 1999, I started up a simple website and sent out a weekly e-newsletter to a few friends to let them know what was worth seeing. In 2000, I started writing up full length reviews at the rate at roughly two per week. In 2005, I started reviewing on-air for 612ABC helping further spread my learned / warped opinions.
Time does fly. It is now 2010. According to my database, I’ve seen and graded 2,751 films in the past 14 years. I’ve also written 1,080 full length reviews. If you’d have said I’d still be doing this back on 1 January 1996 when I graded my first two films (Operation Dumbo Drop and Copycat), I’d have had a quiet chuckle. It’s funny how the world works. The unanswerable question is – what would have done with the all the spare time from the past decade if DIDN’T have such a love for movies???
2009 – A Fantastic Year
We’ll all have our own perspectives on “the year that was” but I have to say that 2009 was a pretty damn good one for me. The highlights included:
|-||Hosting an hour long Q&A with Anthony LaPaglia and others involved with Balibo (view the photos here).|
|-||Interviewing Paul Hogan and Shane Jacobson on the red carpet at the Gold Coast premiere of Charlie & Boots (view the photos here).|
|-||Managing the Queensland Colts golf team (ages 18 to 23) for the annual inter-state series competition in Melbourne (and I made a video which you can see clips of here).|
|-||Starting a new DVD review show on ABC Southern Queensland every Friday morning with David Illife (where I get to speak about both current and classic movies).|
|-||Creating a brand new website (which took some self-teaching) and converting over 1,000 old reviews (this took months).|
|-||Attending what is likely to be the last Brisbane International Film Festival at the Regent and getting to meet Oscar favourite Carey Mulligan in person.|
|-||Finally making an effort to attend more theatrical productions (I saw four in 2009 and am looking to increase that this year).|
|-||Meeting a bunch of cool people through the creation of my Film Pie Facebook group and Twitter account (which now has me hooked).|
|-||Winning money by gambling on the Oscars and the Golden Globes for the eighth year in a row.|
See, told you it was a good year (I hope that doesn’t sound like I’m bragging… not meant to… just exciting). The downside is that it’s going to be hard to top in 2010 but we’ll see.
Over the holidays, I was able to tweak the website a little. There’s now a live Twitter feed on my front page (where you can see me rambling on about a whole bunch of movie and non-movie things) and I’ve also improved the search engine functionality.
2010 – Looking Forward
I honestly surprise myself by how much I am able to squeeze out of my life. I am a busy, busy man and I can easy stress / freak out. So I need to try to not bite off more than I can chew in 2010 – but I’m sure I will anyway. J But one resolution I do have is to attend a major international film festival (Cannes, Toronto, Berlin, Venice) in the next 2-3 years. I think it’d be a fun experience so I need to set it as a goal now so I don’t let it slip off the radar.
I’ve already penned a few reviews for 2010 films which should easy my load over the next month. There’s some great movies coming out – as tends to be the case during Oscar season. I look forward to telling you all about them.
Films due to be released in the next few months which I’m very keen to see are A Single Man, The Hurt Locker, Precious and Percy Jackson & The Lightening Thief (call that one a guilty pleasure – the trailer looks cool).
Late last year, I gave a huge thumbs up to Avatar and declared it my second best movie of 2009. It looks like a lot of people have agreed.
Avatar has been a stunning hit at the box-office. I have spoken to so many people who have been annoyed to be going along and then finding the session they’re after sold out. Demand has been huge and cinema owners must be loving it.
I must confess that it’s going to be a shame to see Titanic’s long standing records defeated. I know there are a lot of Titanic bashers but I stand by my original review – it’s one of the great films ever made. Titanic spent an incredible 15 consecutive weeks atop the U.S. box-office chart. My memory is a little hazy but I don’t think another film has spent more than 4 weeks on top since that date. That’s impressive!
Titanic made $600 million in the United States (second best is The Dark Knight with $533m) and $1.835 billion worldwide (second best is The Return Of The King with $1.129 billion). When you consider inflation over the past 12 years (which I estimate as being around 40% - that’s the accountant nerd in me coming out), it’s even more impressive that Titanic’s record still stands – and by such a wide margin!
But as the saying goes, records are meant to be broken. The irony is that after 12 years of waiting, it’ll be James Cameron’s next film which will unseat Titanic.
In just 17 days, Avatar has made $352.1m in the United States and $1.022 billion worldwide. Word is still spreading and I think the international total could end up topping $2 billion. I admit these numbers can be a little distorting because the ticket prices for Avatar have been higher than your average movie (as its in 3D) but you can balance that up against the global financial crisis which you’d think would have had a small downward impact on sales. Still, I must say wow! James Cameron has done it again. Despite all the doubters before the films release (who focused on the huge cost), he’s proven himself as one of the great filmmakers of all time. Whether you like his movies or not, majority opinion rules.
Not long after I published my final blog of 2009, the Golden Globe nominations were announced. To quickly recap, the best picture nominees were:
Best Picture (Drama) – Avatar, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, Up In The Air
Best Picture (Musical / Comedy) – 500 Days Of Summer (yay), The Hangover, It’s Complicated, Julie & Julia, Nine
Both races are going to be very close and I’d hate to have to pick a winner at this point. The winners are announced on January 18 (Brisbane time).
The other big lead-up awards are the guilds. The Screen Actors Guild have already given their nominees for the best performances. The Producers Guild announces their nominees on January 5 and the Directors Guild on January 7. These two are particularly important since they almost mirror the Oscar nominees.
At this point in time, the race for the best picture Oscar is down to 4 films – Avatar, Up In The Air, The Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds. I’m confidently picking Avatar at this point. The box-office is phenomenal and everyone is talking about it. I know the Academy does not tend to embrace science-fiction but I think the film is too big to ignore and the competition is too weak. The Hurt Locker made a meagre $12m at the box-office in the United States and Up In The Air is struggling to get a lot of momentum.
Some have been critical about the weak plot or even weaker dialogue in Avatar. I disagree with those criticisms (to each their own though) but when it comes to awarding a best picture prize, witty dialogue doesn’t usually count for much. How else can you explain the wins of films such as Braveheart (over Sense & Sensibility, Apollo 13), Titanic (over L.A. Confidential) and Gladiator (over Traffic).
Anyway, I’ll have more in coming weeks on the race to the Oscars (which are held this year on March 7). My annual pick the winners competition (now in its 10th year) will also keep you guessing.
That’ll do me for the first week. I’ll now start thinking about stuff to ramble on about for the next 51 weeks.