I’ve been spending my time watching old and obscure movies. It’s good for the palette. As it were. A Foreign Affair, The Red Ball Express, Play Dirty. Films like this.


This week The Reader expands to a thousand screens. It would have last week if anyone involved thought it would get the nominations it did. Oscar nominations usually happen on Tuesday, don’t they? I guess everything felt so locked that it was a safe bet there would be no upsets or surprises, and yet there was upset. Dark Knight fanboys, I know I’m all late on this shit, but TDK is two million shy of having a billion dollar gross and as upset as you might be that the academy that is right about 10% of the time snubbed your masterpiece , realize that they also loved As Good As It Gets, and STFU.

The interesting question of The Reader‘s nominations is this: Will Kate Winslet campaign for her Oscar? I haven’t heard anything yet, but she was dead set on Revolutionary Road being her horse – seeing as how it was directed by her husband. The Academy roundly rejected that title, and so now if she wants the Gold dude in her life, she’s going to have to get that dirt off her shoulder (ladies are pimps too). Which is why I would wager that Anne Hathaway has a clearer shot at it. Meryl Streep has so many awards (and Doubt isn’t the picture), while Angelina Jolie just got the nom because she’s a good actress, but that film was laughed at. Melissa Leo is this year’s Amy Ryan, so she should just be happy with the nomination. Like most races, like most multiple choice questions, the right answer is usually  between two (though sometimes three) choices, and it strikes me this is all about Hathaway – who will have no problems selling herself – and Winslet. It also strikes me that the Academy making the decision they did is actively suggesting Winslet get divorced. Buyer’s remorse on American Beauty perhaps?

An interesting comparison year is 1990, when the nominees were Awakenings, Dances with Wolves, Ghost, The Godfather Part III, and Goodfellas. I can’t imagine if 1990 happened again that we’d have those nominees with people like David Poland and Jeffery Wells working against titles like Awakenings (then again, those guys might be championing something like that). And Ghost was more audience-friendly than something like The Dark Knight. Ghost is such a strange best picture nomination – all I remember about the film is the haircut – though I feel like it got all the nominations it did so the academy could feel good about giving an Oscar to Whoopi Goldberg I feel like The Reader partly got all of those nominations so the academy can feel good about giving Winslet a statue, but you know who won in 1990? Kathy Bates, for a film that had one major nomination as well (Misery).

But when people get upset at Oscar, it’s all about money. It’s about helping pictures that need it, and that’s partly why TDK got left out. People don’t need pushing to see that film, and though every once in a while a film like that wins, the Academy is more about helping films than it is about rewarding blockbusters. Usually. And so The Reader will get at least an additional $20 million out of these noms. And the effect on Button and Slumdog is already apparent. Such is this race.


The most memorable Super-bowl weekend picture I saw was Eye of the Beholder, starring a very naked Ashley Judd and Ewen McGregor, from the director of Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. I remember walking out and saying “now that is the best film I’ve seen in the last two hours.” This weekend you get Taken, which is out on DVD internationally, I believe, counter-programming with Renee Zellweger in New in Town, and a horror movie starring the hardest working actress in show business, Elizabeth Banks, and the twenty year old Emily Browning (perverts, at least she’s legal now). That movie is The Uninvited. But the main event this weekend with be the TV spots for summer movies (and Watchmen) which will play in between dudes getting up close and personal for the world. This is usually an off weekend, though it’s had its moments. I think the Zellweger picture should eat it, and we may see these pictures falling to Paul Blart: Mall Cop. And Gran Torino, which is a huge-ass hit.

So let’s do it:
1. Taken - $15 Million
2. Paul Blart: Mall Cop - $14.5 Million
3. The Uninvited – $13 Million
4. Gran Torino – $12.8 Million
5. New in Town – $9.5 Million

I have zero faith in the New in Town. So if it’s taken by Hotel for Dogs or Underworld, there’s that.