If you’ve been in a coma, and wonder “who the fuck is Damon Houx? And why the fuck is he doing Andre Dellamorte’s column?” I am Andre Dellamorte. Cue Fight Club scene: “Andre’s not here. Andre went away. Andre’s gone.”


Short answer: Money.

Though for the first time in a while, this seems expressly beneficial to the films out theatrically. Five of the films are on DVD, but the other five best picture nominees are in theaters. True Grit is currently at $140 domestic. By end of run, there’s likely another $40 million dollars for the film, though the film winning much more than best cinematography is unlikely. Black Swan is at $85 Million, and it will do over a hundred, and perhaps get past $120 Million when/if Natalie Portman wins the best actress Oscar. 127 Hours will get its widest release this weekend, and the film’s current $11 Million total may double if not more so, though the film will need to get real buzz that it’s a contender for any of its awards. The Fighter is at $74 Million, a hundred’s happening, and it should be in a good place for Christian Bale and likely Melissa Leo’s wins. And The King’s Speech is at $60 Million, and will be making it to $100 partly because Colin Firth is ordained to win, and there’s a good chance the film will get the best picture Oscar. I say this partly because often the system likes to reward films that feel immediate, and it seems the hang-up for The Social Network is that it’s on DVD and Blu-ray already.

But where in 2008, all of the academy nominees were playing theatrically but films like The Reader or Frost/Nixon didn’t seem to benefit that much, this year either these five films (or at least four of them) appeal more to the general public, or the art house has changed enough that films that used to be big studio efforts have the odor of independents, while actually not really being that independent. The only picture listed above that comes across as “pure” art house would be The King’s Speech, but this is partly because it has all the bonafides of a Miramax production from ten years ago. Helena Bonham-Carter, Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush aren’t star names – they’re actors – whereas James Franco, Natalie Portman, Matt Damon and Christian Bale have starred in the some of the biggest franchises of the last fifteen years (I could say ten, but The Phantom Menace came out in 1999). Perhaps that also helps The King’s Speech come across as more authentic or whatever.

But this is a curious balance, and speaks to a shift in how independents are made.

Of the other five, Inception and Toy Story 3 were runaway smashes, and it’s doubtful that the nominations will move the ball one direction or the other for them – and whatever they win seems preordained (tech awards for Inception, best animated feature and song for TS3), but for The Kids are All Right and Winter’s Bone, this definitely will pick them up some heat on their Netflix rentals and purchases. The issue is with ten nominees, the acting awards will likely have more of an effect than being a best picture winner in the short run. Being in an Academy nominee collection in the long run might be helpful if people go back to buying more DVD’s and such. Julie Taymor’s barely released The Tempest got a nomination, as did Salt, but these were for tech awards, so it shouldn’t make a different.

Unknown is how well it will help The Social Network. The film did modestly well theatrically, but did not crack $100 domestic. International looks solid, but it also looks like it may have finished most of its run. In some ways not being in the face of the academy might help as much as it hurts. David Fincher has gotten a mixed reaction from the academy in the past, and Zodiac was D.O.A. long before the award season. But this seems Fincher’s year for best director. Critics have overwhelming supported the picture, but the Academy is also considered loaded with older voters, who may favor a more classical storytelling structure. Whichever wins will be the drama of the night.

But winning is as much a reward as it is a slight. Over the last couple years, Crash’s and Million Dollar Baby’s estimations seem to have been lowered. They were of the moment. I would imagine more people regularly watch Galaxy Quest or Eyes Wide Shut than they do American Beauty. But Silence of the Lambs and Unforgiven are classics, while Gandhi and Out of Africa are not.  The academy is usually more a barometer of the moment than a great judge of a film’s ability to endure the test of time. As it will always be.


Palate cleansers, assemble. New Statham, new horror film. The Rite is at the (oh dear god no) right place, right time for a great opening weekend. AMIRITE? Punch. Punch me. Statham is a solid but unremarkable performer. Oscar boosting all around, this means not dropping more than 40% from last weekend. Watch out, The King’s Speech is hot.

1.      The Rite – $24.7 Million

2.      The King’s Speech – $12.5 Million

3.      No Strings Attached – $10.3 Million

4.      The Mechanic – $8.9 Million

5.      The Green Hornet – $8.5 Million

Could be going low on Mechanic, could be going his on Speech and Rite. Sunday it will become selfish evidence. Or, that is to say, self-evident.