Tag Archives: 2010 Oscars

Oscars 2010: The Buzz And The Biz

Okay, you all heard my ramblings about my views of the Best Picture nominees. They all ranged from blockbuster hits to arthouse films. The question is how did they do businesswise? For that I had to check at one of my favorite sites, Box Office Mojo:

-as of this year, we have five movies that have grossed over $100 million, same as last year. Unlike last year, there are two additional movies that have grossed over $80 million as compared to only one additional from last year.

-There is no mammoth record-breaking hit movie like Avatar from last year. That explains in part why last year’s Best Picture nominee average is $170 million while this year’s currently stands at $130.8 million.

-Last year’s Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker, was only the eighth-highest grossing Best Picture nominee from last year and the lowest grossing Best Picture winner since 1960’s The Apartment. This does not appear to be the case this year as the heavy Favorites for Best Picture have all grossed $88 million at the very least.

The post-nomination total gross of the ten Best Picture nominees of this year is almost 10% that of the combined pre-nomination gross; equal to that of last year. However seven of the ten nominees are still in theatres and have not finished grossing in.

-Of the five Best Picture nominees from last year that grossed over $100 million, all of them passed the $100 million mark before the nominations were announced. This year only three had grosses of $100 million before nominations. Black Swan and The King’s Speech surpassed the $100 million mark after their nominations.

-Last year none of the Best Picture nominees was able to get even half of their pre-nomination gross after the nominations. This year, The King’s Speech and 127 Hours grossed $58 million and $11.3 million respectively before nomination day. After the nominations, they grossed and additional $46.7 million and $6.2 million respectively. It’s even possible that both movies could double their pre-nomination gross upon Oscar success.

-This is the fourth year in a row a movie from Focus Features has been nominated for Best Picture. This is also the third year in a row a movie from The Weinstein Company has been nominated for Best Picture. This is also the third year in a row Paramount has a Best Picture nominee.

That’s what I’ve notices from the nominated movies since being nominted. I’m sure there will be more noticeable biz after the Oscars are decided on Sunday. Box Office Mojo also keeps tabs on that too each year. In the meantime, stay tuned!

 WEBPAGES CITED:

“OSCAR:Full Chart of Noms and Grosses” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2011. Box Office Mojo. Owned by  IMDB.com. <http://www.boxofficemojo.com/oscar/chart/?view=allcategories&yr=2010&p=.htm>

“OSCAR: Best Picture Breakdown” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2011. Box Office Mojo. Owned by  IMDB.com. <http://www.boxofficemojo.com/oscar/chart/?view=&yr=2010&p=.htm&gt;

2010 Oscars Best Picture nominee: The King’s Speech

Whew! I never thought I could do reviews of all ten Best Picture nominees. Belive me that it was not easy. Anyways I will end my reviews of the nominees with the heavy frontrunner of this year’s Oscars: The King’s Speech.

The story of King George VI and his speech to England at the start of World War II is the subject of the movie The King’s Speech. What we see throughout the movie is how George had to overcome his stammering to make this speech to all of England. We also see the making of an unlikely friendship.

We start off in 1925 as Prince Albert is to make a speech in Wembley Stadium at the close of the British Empire Exhibition. The speech is to be broadcast to all the nations of the British Commonwealth. He stammers, much to the displeasure of the crowd.

After having no success with the therapists he had seen, his wife the Duchess recommends an Australian emigre Lionel Logue. Albert is surprised at Lionel putting on acting shows for his children. His therapy methods also appear unorthodox. He requests to Albert that they greet each other by their Christian names, a breach of Royal etiquette, and even calls him ‘Bertie’. Lionel also has him say a Hamlet soliloquy while listening to a Mozart record while Lionel records his voice. Albert believes he stammered throughout and quits in frustration. Lionel gives him the record as a keepsake. Years later, Albert listens to the record and is surprised to hear he never stammered.

Albert returns to Logue and resumes therapy. Part of the therapy also includes Albert explaining his past. We learn of his strict father, discomfort of his left-handedness, a nanny who humiliated him in front of his parents, and the death of his younger brother. We also learn his family encouraged mockery of his impediment. As the lessons continue, Alert and Logue develop a friendship. Then Albert’s father, King George V dies. Albert’s brother is heir to the throne and is crowned Edward VIII but Albert is unhappy he plans to marry an American socialite. Edward accuses Albert of wanting to usurp the throne and uses his speech therapy as grounds for suspicion. During the argument, Albert’s stammer returns, as does Edward’s childhood taunt of “B-B-Bertie.” As Albert returns to Lionel following the incident, Lionel makes a joke only to cause Albert to accuse him of treason and mocks Lionel of his humble origins and failed acting career.

Edward does eventually abdicate the throne and Albert is poised to be crowned King George VI. He visits Lionel and apologizes. At coronation preparation, George insists that Lionel be seated in the King’s box. As the Archbishop of Canterbury questions Logue’s qualifications, this prompts another confrontation between the two as Lionel tells of how he treated traumatized soldiers from World War I. Another time, Lionel sits on the throne promoting another confrontation as George criticizes his alleged disrespect to Royal relics, only to have it be a confidence builder for George. The coronation goes well and Lionel compliments George on his speech.

The pressures of World War II start looming as Britain is to go to war against Germany. George has to give a speech to the whole country and Lionel is summoned again. The two go through Lionel’s unorthodox preparations including singing and swearing before going into the studio. Lionel accompanies George in the studio and tells him to go about as if he was talking just to Lionel. As George delivers his speech, Lionel coaches him through every moment. At the end of the speech, George is congratulated by everyone and enters the public balcony as he appears to a cheering crowd.

The movie is more than about overcoming a speech impediment. It’s about a friendship few knew about, and would only be revealed after the men’s deaths. It also includes some surprise facts as well. Just before George makes his speech to the nation, he walks alongside Winston Churchill who tells him “I had a speech impediment myself.” It’s a surprising fact that the two men that gave Britain its most encouraging speeches during World War II had to overcome speech impediments.

 Another thing this film notes is the monarchy’s strictness on order and values. This played into effect how Edward had to abdicate from the throne for marrying a woman who was twice divorced. This comes into important factor now as there will be a royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton this year. Queen Elizabeth is 84 and still on the throne after almost 60 years. She shows no sign of giving it to Prince Charles. Many believe his divorce from Lady Diana Spencer may have something to do with this.

The acting was top notch. Colin Firth definitely gave one of the best acting performances of the year. Playing George with a speech impediment was a huge challenge and he did an excellent job. Helena Bonham Carter was also top notch as the Duchess Elizabeth. Geoffrey Rush was a good scene stealer as Lionel Logue. Guy Pearce and Michael Gambon had small amounts of screen time with their parts but made the most of it.

Director Tom Hooper definitely has to have made his best feature film ever. This is actually his third feature film and is more experienced at directing television. Seeing The King’s Speech, you wouldn’t notice it. David Seidler also did a good job of writing, coming from decades of research. A stammerer as a child, Seidler was inspired by how George VI overcame stammering. The set design and costuming was done to a tee. The music from Alexander Desplat fit the movie well. This was an excellently packaged and very well-produced film.

The big talk is how it will win the Best Picture Oscar, especially since it’s promoted by The Weinstein Company. It has already won the Producer’s Guild, BAFTA, as well as many major guild awards and its twelve total nominations is already making it a heavy favorite. Also if anyone can remember Harvey Weinstein’s Oscar heydays when he ran Miramax, you’d know he knows how to win Academy votes like no other studio exec. His new film company The Weinstein Company, founded not even six years ago, has already amassed two Best Picture nominees in the past two years with The Reader and Inglourious Basterds. It would not surprise me if The King’s Speech won the Oscar for Best Picture. Personally I feel The King’s Speech is deserving of its nominations including Best Picture, but I feel it does not deserve the Best Picture win.  If I had my own ballot, I would vote for The Social Network as it excellent acting, top directing and was excellently-written. That’s my call. However I’m not a registered member of the Academy so I’ll have to wait until then to have my say.

Even though The King’s Speech is not the best movie of the year, it is one of the best and deserves its Oscar acclaim. Even though I feel The Social Network deserves to win Best Picture, I would not be disappointed if The King’s Speech wins. It is deserving with its own merits.

2010 Oscars Best Picture Nominee: True Grit

Personally I feel there are not enough Westerns in the movies nowadays. True Grit is a remake of a past movie starring John Wayne in 1969.With remakes, there’s always a question of will it succeed or will it fail to stack up to the original? Also a question for remaking is if the Coen Brothers are an ideal fit for direction. To the surprise of many,  the Coen brothers do their own version of the movie with excellent results.

The movie is told through the adult Mattie Ross. When she was fourteen, her father was murdered by hired hand Chaney who also made off with his horses and two California gold pieces. Mattie pursues a US Marshall to track down Chaney. Of the three choices, she chooses Rooster Cogburn because he’s the most merciless: with ‘true grit’.

Cogburn frequently rejects Mattie’s requests to be hired. At the boarding house where Mattie is staying, she meets Texas Ranger Laboeuf who is pursuing Chaney for his own reason: a murder in Texas. He proposes that he, Mattie and Rooster team up in pursuit because they know of his whereabouts in Chocktaw terrain. Mattie rejects because he wants Chaney tried for the crimes against her, instead of against Laboeuf. After Cogburn finally agrees, he tells Mattie to meet him in the morning to start the pursuit, only to leave Mattie behind with a note saying he’s after Chaney and for her to go home.

Despite it all, Mattie is determined to catch up to Laboeuf and Cogburn. She even rides her swimming horse across the river when refused onto a ferry. Upon learning the two men plan to split the reward, Mattie threatens Cogburn with arrest for fraud because the agreement was that she come with them.  He reluctantly allows Mattie to come along but Laboeuf disagrees and splits to pursue Chaney alone. Mattie and Cogburn spend overnight in an isolated shack, only to come across two outlaws who suddenly turn on each other. Cogburn kills the older outlaw and the dying younger outlaw reveals that ‘Lucky Ned’ Pepper were planning to return later that night. Cogburn and Mattie stay in the shack, expecting Chaney to be with Pepper’s gang.

Laboeuf however rides up to the shack ahead of the gang.  Once they arrive, they lasso him and drag him behind a horse. Cogburn then shoots three to death and accidentally wounds Laboeuf. He ends the night getting drunk on whiskey. The next night, he and Laboeuf have another argument and Laboeuf departs on his own again. The following morning, Mattie spots Chaney. She shoots Chaney but is unable to kill him. Chaney drags her back to the gang whom Ned plans to use as a hostage to get Cogburn to ride off. She’s hostile to Ned at first but calms down when he promises he doesn’t hurt children. Riding off to pursue Cogburn, Ned leaves Mattie in care of Chaney so that he can drop her off in a safe colonized land later.

Chaney does try to attack Mattie but Laboeuf knocks him out with his rifle end. He explains he encountered Cogburn the night before and hatched a plan. Both watch above a cliff as Cogburn takes on Ned and three other gang members. He shoots two dead and mortally wounds Ned, but his horse is shot from under him. As the dying Ned tries to shoot Cogburn, Laboeuf shoots Ned dead. Chaney tries to kill Laboeuf but Mattie shoots Chaney dead, only for the recoil to knock her into a rattlesnake-filled mineshaft where she is bitten in the arm. Cogburn rescues Mattie and carries her off for help. He arrives at a village late in the night and in time.

The movie fast forwards to Mattie: 25 years later and her bitten arm amputated from the acquired gangrene. She received an invitation from Cogburn to see him perform at a travelling Wild West show, only to learn at the site he died three days earlier. She has his body moved to the family plot. A final honor to the man that helped her.

The direction and writing of the Coen brothers is top notch. You’d think that doing a Western movie isn’t something to expect from the Coen brothers but they do a surprisingly excellent job. You could tell they put in a lot of detail into this. The movie captured the Wild West environment well. It portrayed the lawlessness of the times well. It also showed things like public hangings in excellent detail. Even the police system and courts of law were done to a tee. Those who never grew up during a time when Western movies were frequent would be surprised at the times and the happenings. Even frequent references to God in people’s speech would surprise many that these were a time when referring to God meant something.

As for the acting, Jeff Bridges did an excellent job as Rooster Cogburn. Matt Damon did a good job with a pretty lightweight role as Laboeuf. However the true star of the movie has to be young Hailee Steinfeld. Although she’s nominated in the Supporting Actress category, there’s no question that she was the lead performance and she was excellent. While all the other adult characters were foolish, she was one that meant business and she could put those foolish adults to shame.

The technical aspects of the movie were also excellent. Roger Deakins always does a top job of cinematography and this was no exception. The sets, both natural and constructed, were top notch and fit the time frame well. Costuming was also top of the line. Carter Burwell’s music fit the movie perfectly. Overall this was a masterpiece of a Western.

Some people might compare this version to the original 1969 version, directed by Henry Hathaway and starred John Wayne and Glen Campbell. I don’t want to compare it with the original in terms of its quality. Some notable differences are: the new version left out the murder of Frank Ross at the hands of Chaney; Mattie is still fourteen in the original but is played by Kim Darby who was 20 at the time of filming Laboeuf dies from head injuries in the original; and Cogburn is still alive at the end of the original when he agrees to Mattie about being buried next to the Ross family plot. The most I’ll critique in terms of quality is say that Jeff Bridges is no John Wayne. Interesting that the 1969 version wasn’t nominated for Best Picture and John Wayne won Best Actor.

The remake of True Grit goes above and beyond expectations. John Wayne fans may not be completely pleased but fans of Westerns will be delighted. The Coen brothers were given a heavy task when they took this on and they delivered.