Lack of love for Ryan Gosling, Dianne Wiest and 'I Am Love' is unjustifiable
It's easy to assume that the Independent Spirit Awards just recognize films the general public haven't heard of, but that's rarely been the case. Previous best film winners include recognized classics such as "Platoon," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Brokeback Mountain," "Pulp Fiction," "Fargo" and "Lost in Translation." So, it's no surprise that for the most part this year's Spirit nominees will be pretty recognizable to moviegoers when the awards ceremony is held on Feb. 26.
'Winter's Bone' wins best film and best ensemble
It was clearly "Winter's Bone's" night at the 20th Anniversary Gotham Awards. The Sundance Film Festival dramatic jury prize winner won both the best film and best ensemble awards. The Gothams certainly have a place in the heart of New York's independent film community, but you could easily argue the Independent Spirit Award nominations themselves (not even the winners) have a bigger impact on most of the year end races. Here's a rundown of this year's list of winners and some quick reaction.
FESTIVAL GENIUS AUDIENCE AWARD
"Waiting for Superman" - WINNER
Analysis: Beating out "Winter's Bone" is no easy feat. Nice coup for the Paramount Sundance pickup that's hoping to win the best doc award at the Oscars.
Duo should bring fresh energy to the 83rd Academy Awards
And now for something completely different…youth. Yes, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took a bold and very intriguing step today by announcing that James Franco and Anne Hathaway will host the 83rd Academy Awards this February. And after last year's dismal turn by Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin all we can say is a big old "whew."
Admits he was embarrassed by how long it took to make the picture
Mark Wahlberg is a sports fan. And he's a big Boston sports fan. So, while speaking to the press a few weekends ago for his new spirited drama "The Fighter," Wahlberg made sure there was a flat screen TV eyesight so he could keep track of a very close Patriots and Colts game. I was lucky to get Wahlberg's complete attention because of a commercial break, but it was endearing to hear him scream for joy when the Patriots sealed the deal. He was so loud you could probably have heard it on either floor above and below his room. It's that personal passion that fueled Wahlberg's four-year journey to get "The Fighter" made.
Best picture contender lands the highest per screen of the year
"The Kids Are All Right" had a stellar run, but the Focus Features indie hit has officially abdicated its title as highest per-screen opener of the year. Best picture contender "The King's Speech" had a knockout debut this weekend with $349,791 in four theaters or $87,448 per screen to take the crown. And yes, it looks like The Weinstein Company has a hit on their hands…at least in limited release.
"King's" mark surpasses "Kid's" per screen of $70,282 on seven screens in July. It's more impressive when considering another best picture player, the much buzzed about "127 Hours," grossed $66,213 per screen in four theaters earlier this month. In fact, when considering the all time limited openers "Speech" fared better than "Up in the Air's" $78,763 per on 15 last year and was just behind "There Will Be Blood's" $95,370 per in 2007.
The anointed best picture frontrunner since its stirring debut at the Telluride Film Festival and winning the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, "King's Speech" has kept a low, but steady profile as the awards season race has slowly heated up. The film will get it's share of critical end of year accolades, but The Weinstein Company knows nothing will help cement its odds at defeating "The Social Network" or "Inception" for the best picture Oscar more than impressive box office. The mini-major plans to aggressively expand "Speech" over the next month so chances are if you live outside of New York or Los Angeles you'll find it at your local multiplex way before the Golden Globes air on January 16.
As for "127 Hours," the inspirational Danny Boyle drama had a solid Thanksgiving run with $1.7 million from 293 theaters for a new gross of $4.4 million. The picture hasn't been the twentysomething phenomenon many expected, but awards heat -- especially for Franco's performance -- should eventually get it to a $12-15 million gross. Any more will be dependent on year end accolades and a big showing at the Globes and Oscars.
A number of other awards contenders are still in theaters including the aforementioned "Social Network" which hit the $90 million mark today. Expect Sony Pictures to keep the film in theaters as long as possible to try and hit that "magic" $100 million mark. Other potential contenders such as "Black Swan," "The Fighter, "True Grit" and "Another Year" will hit theaters over the next few weeks.
Also notable, potential best documentary winner "Waiting for 'Superman'" has grossed an admirable $6.2 million so far and is closing in on "Babies'" $7.3 million summer take for the largest doc gross of the year.
Plus: Reminders for all the big nomination announcements next week
Another funny thing has happened in the best animated feature category. First, animation and Oscar fans everywhere were disappointed to learn earlier this month that only 15 films qualified for this year's award. By Academy rules, that means only three pictures can be nominated in the category. Last year, five films made the cut and it was expected 2011 would duplicated that feat. No dice. Not when you don't have 16 qualified films. Yep, that's right - just one additional qualifying picture would have bumped it up to five.
When that news broke, most pundits and animation industry watchers made "Toy Story 3" and "How To Train Your Dragon" locks for two of the three nomination slots. The third? That would most likely be a battle between Universal Pictures' monster hit "Despicable Me" and Sony Classics' "The Illusionist." That was, however, until this past week.
Watch: Producer and Disney prez Sean Bailey talks 3-D
When pre-release polling hit studio E-mail in boxes this past Monday, Sean Bailey no doubt took a huge sigh of relief. Along with Walden Media and 20th Century Fox's "The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader," Bailey's pet project "Tron Legacy" is tracking as though it will hit theaters like a monster. Both films should be two of the biggest openings since the summer season. Considering how much the studio has invested in production and marketing the film for over three years, that's very good news.
What screeners are in Oscar and SAG members viewing pile?
Thanksgiving isn't just a time for friends, family and quieter Southern California highways. For Academy and SAG nominating committee members, it's the first extended period to really start digging through the always daunting screener pile.
Any consultant and serious Oscar aficionado will tell you there is arguably nothing more important than timing the delivery of your screener. Many nominations have been won or lost by getting copies of contending movies in front of voters when they actually have time to watch them (or not).
Prime Oscar player opens in limited release on Friday
Moviegoers in New York and Los Angeles are going to get a late Thanksgiving treat on Friday as Tom Hooper's "The King's Speech" is finally coming to theaters. Ever since it debuted at Telluride in September, "Speech" has been the buzz of awards pundits and the industry. Not only is the historical drama a prime contender for a number of key Academy Awards categories including best picture, best actor (Colin Firth), best supporting actor (Geoffrey Rush) and best director (Hooper), but it's also The Weinstein Company's biggest potential hit since "Inglourious Basterds" in the summer of 2009.
Two Brits make the most of new historical drama
Whew, Sally Hawkins isn't going to be a one movie wonder. The 2009 Golden Globe winner for her charismatic role in Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky," Hawkins' hasn't been embraced by Hollywood yet, but the Brit is making it increasingly difficult for filmmakers stateside to ignore her. After two supporting roles in "An Education" and "Never Let Me Go," Hawkins has returned with another impressive turn in the new drama "Made in Dagenham" and was almost revelatory in the Toronto Film Festival comedy "Submarine" which will be released next year.