Monday, June 29, 2009

roadcheck: hollywood mid-year review

when the academy of motion of motion picture arts and sciences announced last week that the field of nominees for the top award in the annual oscarcast will be increased from five to ten, it was met by a mixture of excitement and apprehension by showbiz denizens.

many in hollywood rejoiced with the thought that the move could benefit many movies that gets unceremoniously thrown out every year into the sidelines because of the restricted number of allowable best picture nominees. last year’s biggest casualties include the mega-blockbuster “the dark knight”, “doubt”, and “revolutionary road”.

yet as much as there are people celebrating the change, not too few voiced out their concerns that the expansion of the list could backfire and may dilute the perceived quality of the top films of the year. many fear that the likes of “transformers” could get nominated just to bring in the much-needed viewership ratings. i sure hope that doesn’t happen – oh dear… please! lol…

i am still ambivalent myself about this development. i was thinking, why don’t they just make a flexible list with a minimum five nominees and a maximum of ten? that way, if there are less qualified movies, they could always have just five or six, or seven! nominees.

this early, though, i am forecasting the following films to make it to next year’s list. most of the films in my list have not screened yet and i am only basing my forecast on the advance buzz and online chatter it has generated.

#1 up (i saw this film and even before the nomination change, i already called this the frontrunner for next year’s race – this is visual filmmaking at its most imaginative and impressive. the evocative images of a life-long dream coming true is something that will leave adult viewers enthralled while at the same time teaching young kids the sacrificial nature of love and the constant adjustment we do to our lives as we pursue our childhood dreams and fantasies)

#2 the hangover (ask me what my favorite film this year is - come on!!! hahaha)

#3 nine (the principal cast consists of academy award winners daniel day-lewis, nicole kidman, marion cotillard, penélope cruz, judi dench, and sophia loren plus academy award nominee kate hudson. rob marshall directs this musical based on the great italian director federico fellini’s autobiographical film 8 ½ - need i say more?)

#4 avatar (four words: james cameron after titanic)

#5 the lovely bones (based on alice sebold’s audacious novel of a girl and her story of rape and murder as she narrates it from heaven. peter jackson directs and saoirse ronan, academy award nominee for “atonement”, stars)

#6 shutter island (martin scorsese, leonardo di caprio, mark ruffalo --- the teaser poster alone makes you want to run to the theater to see what really happened to patient 67!)

there are many other titles being thrown in, including eastwood’s “invictus”, “the hurt locker” – featuring possibly a best actor contender next year in jeremy renner, soderbergh’s “the informant”, “sherlock holmes” – with robert downey jr. and jude law, jane campion’s “bright star”, ang lee’s “taking woodstock”, stephen frear’s “cheri”, and terrence malick’s “the tree of life”.

it's still too early in the year to call the nominees. i would be lucky to have at least half of next year's ten final nominees in my list above. but i have to say my list is pretty solid... :)

on the box office front, there’s a noticeable and very interesting trend this year: star-driven movies are not performing as well as expected. eddie murphy had his nth bomb with “imagine that”. ditto with will ferrell and jack black whose pre-historic comedies, “land of the lost” and “year one”, respectively, flopped as well.

julia roberts and russell crowe were both trounced by miley cyrus and zach efron in early spring while tom hanks’ “angels & demons” didn’t do as well as the “the da vinci code”. last year’s box office hero christian bale and his “terminator” flick got knocked out by the unlikely threesome of relatively unknown actors in the year’s biggest sleeper hit “the hangover”.

here’s the year’s top ten box office tally as of june 28 according to online tracking website box office mojo:

#1 up -- $250,234,554
#2 star trek -- $246,331,182
#3 transformers: revenge of the fallen -- $200,077,255
#4 monsters vs. aliens -- $195,984,055
#5 the hangover -- $183,054,267
#6 x-men origins: wolverine -- $177,836,819
#7 night at the museum: battle of the smithsonian -- $163,391,192
#8 fast and furious -- $155,022,220
#9 paul blart: mall cop -- $146,336,178
#10 taken -- $144,989,009

except for hugh jackman's "x-men" and ben stiller's "night at the museum...", all movies in the top ten feature no big name stars. no, i don't consider vin diesel nor shia lebouf that big a star --- i am being mean again, lol

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