Monday, May 20, 2024

Oscars: 2 Months Left and No Clear Leader As Season Reflects This Year’s Box Office Malaise


You never know what kind of year it will be in movies. For the last couple of years, it’s been good times. The box office numbers were high, and the critics’ movies were in abundance. There was cross over, too. So the Academy Awards were really a  contest, with lots of nail biting. Prognosticators were in full force.

But 2014? Not so much. We are now two months away from the end of the year, and the big deadline. For the first time in a long time, we’ve seen a lot already. Only a few movies remain serious question marks: Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper,” Rob Marshall’s “Into the Woods,” Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken.”  Another film with a lot of promise, “Selma,” from Ava Duvernay, isn’t ready. It’s so not ready that only 30 minutes of it will be shown at the AFI fest next week.

For once, there is no last minute Harvey Weinstein addition. His films have all been seen. There will be no drama over  “wet print” screenings. We complained about them. Now we miss them.

This year, unlike last, we don’t have a big important movie like “12 Years a Slave.” There’s no “Gravity” (“Interstellar” does however talk about gravity a lot). “American Hustle” for 2014? Closest would be “Foxcatcher.” And so we wait and see. Could it be JC Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year”? That would certainly make up for Roadkill Attractions destroying his “All is Lost.”

I don’t know why, it’s just a feeling, but the importance of “Boyhood,” how people feel when they see it, and how it was made could come back if it has the right campaign. Will Josh Sapan spend the money to make it happen? Could be, he’s very smart.

So, to paraphrase Sting from his new musical, what have we got? This is it:

1. Foxcatcher

2. Boyhood

3. The Imitation Game

4. The Theory of Everything

5. Whiplash

6. The Grand Budapest Hotel

7. St. Vincent

8. Birdman

9. Wild

10. Mr. Turner

What we don’t have: realistic Best Picture nominations for “Gone Girl,” “Inherent Vice,” or “Interstellar.” Elements of these films may wind up with nominations, but the totals are less than the parts. Julianne Moore is a shoo in for “Still Alice,” but the movie is slight.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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