(Photo by Sony Pictures Classics)
There isn’t a whole lot that can be consistently counted on to deliver in this crazy modern world, but Cate Blanchett movies come pretty close. From Elizabeth to Carol, the Lord of the Rings franchise to Blue Jasmine (for which she won the Best Actress Oscar), she’s tackled a preposterously eclectic list of roles — and she’s nailed pretty much all of them, consistently imbuing her characters with enough inner life to elevate even subpar material and earning a mantel full of awards along the way.
By just about any criteria, Blanchett has put together one of the most widely acclaimed careers enjoyed by any actor working today — which makes it only natural for us to celebrate all that success by taking a fond look back at all the steps she took along the way. From her first major role to her most recent release, here’s Cate Blanchett’s complete filmography, ranked from worst to best.
(Photo by Wilson Webb / © The Weinstein Company / courtesy Everett Collection)
It’s been a few years since Cate Blanchett’s had an Oscar nomination — don’t you think it’s time again? Ever since Blanchett’s international breakthrough — 1998’s Elizabeth, which got her nominated for her first Best Actress nod — she’s been a regular fixture at the Dolby Theater for the Oscar ceremonies, where she’s frequently recognized for the good-humored elegance she brings to her most iconic roles. She was double-nominated in 2008 for I’m Not There and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, while 2005 and 2014 got her Oscar wins for The Aviator and Blue Jasmine, respectively.
Blanchett got her start in native Australia, where steady stage and television roles eventually landed her in films Paradise Road and Oscar and Lucinda, both 1997 releases. It was only a year later that Elizabeth put her on the road to household name status, which was followed up with a mix of comedies (Pushing Tin), literary thrillers (Talented Mr. Ripley), and dramas (Charlotte Gray). Blanchett’s brief but highly memorable appearances as Galadriel in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy meant fanboy cineaste goodwill for decades to come. Roles in the likes of Indiana Jones, Thor: Ragnarok, and The Aviator are just more on top.
Blanchett teams up with director Richard Linklater for Where’d You Go, Bernadette, based on the best-seller about an agoraphobic woman who goes missing. Is another awards contender imminent? Or is this something to show up on an “underrated gems” list on the internet somewhere in the future? Before we find out, we’re ranking Cate Blanchett’s best movies (and her worst) by Tomatometer!
It’s not yet lunchtime, but Patrick Marber looks exhausted. Today’s international press junket for Notes on a Scandal is clearly taking its toll on the Oscar nominated screenwriter.
Nevertheless he’s keen to welcome Rotten Tomatoes UK warmly into the room – thrilled to be chatting to the staff of one of his favourite Web resources, or so he says. We’re touched. So warm is his welcome that when his publicist brings a plate of biscuits in for him he wastes no time in insisting we take a couple. And let this be a lesson to budding journalists the world over; talking with a biscuit in your mouth is not the easiest task in the world.
And talk is what we’ve come here to do and we’re keen to get on with it. Over half an hour, Patrick Marber takes Rotten Tomatoes UK exclusively through the process of shaping Notes on a Scandal.
RT-UK: How did you become involved originally with the adaptation?
Patrick Marber: I was sent the book, originally, by the producer Scott Rudin. I read the book and pretty much accepted right there. I thought the book was fantastic; very funny, very odd and I thought Barbara was an amazing character. She was an unusual movie character, potentially. It’s very rare you get such a tough, bitchy, funny older woman driving a film. It’s not On Golden Pond! I thought she’d be fun to write.
I thought Sheba needed a bit of work to make her a fully-realised movie character because in the book she’s only seen from Barbara’s point of view. She doesn’t fully come alive as an entity.
RT-UK: I guess when she’s referring to Sheba you’re actually learning more about Barbara.
PM:Exactly. Yeah, so I knew that in the film I needed a way to access who Sheba was and invent scenes with her and the kid and the family that weren’t necessarily in the book.
RT-UK: I get the impression from the novel that it wasn’t an easy task to make that dynamic work in a different medium.
PM: It was a difficult job to do; I did many, many drafts and I think we shot the twelfth draft. But it was quite rewarding. Not financially, but artistically! It was a fun job but it was tough.
RT-UK: As challenging as it was to write, it had to be the sort of material writers would just jump to adapt; it’s controversial and charged but at the same time not a bit hackneyed or formulaic.
PM: That’s the most exciting thing; the story didn’t play out as a genre piece should. I don’t quite know what the story would be if it was predictable but it was a completely unpredictable series of events. I suppose you know that it’s all going to end horribly on some level – it can’t all work out – but it’s a story where you’re waiting for the car crash to happen. And then when it does happen it’s quite satisfying but it happens in a way that you hadn’t quite predicted.
RT-UK: Its real strength is that it handles its controversial aspects without ever judging its characters. You leave with whatever you put in; Barbara’s ultimately no more the villain than Sheba is.
PM: That’s right, and I think that Fox Searchlight were very encouraging of what we were doing. They never said, “Make it clearer that the film is condemning Sheba.” They just trusted us and they encouraged and let us get on with it; they were really brilliant with this film, I’ve got to say.
RT-UK: Which has got to be pretty risky for a big studio like Fox, even if it is going through its independent production wing…
PM: Yeah, well this is the thing; however many times Fox Searchlight says it, and no matter how many examples of it you see, you find it hard to believe that they’d be so willing. And they genuinely want to make challenging films that, in Hollywood parlance, “Push the envelope.” And you think, “Yeah, yeah, but they don’t really,” but they really do. So you keep waiting for the call that goes, “No, no, no, we’re cutting all this stuff.” And it never comes.
But it was the same with Closer and Sony. I kept thinking, “When’s the call going to come when, ‘F*ck off and die you f*cked-up slag,’ gets cut? Or the internet scene gets toned down?” And it never came. I think because the studios are realising that there is an audience who want to see this stuff. And that, for years, Hollywood has made assumptions about who the audience is. They’re just copping to the fact that there is another audience; a film like Borat just wouldn’t have been made ten years ago.
RT-UK: Perhaps an audience that’s a little less politically-correct than their mainstream audience.
PM: Yeah, but I think that audience is becoming their mainstream audience. The gross for Borat is a sort of mini revolution. I knew it would happen because I know who that audience is – I’m part of that audience. It’s the audience who turn out for comedy gigs and movies like Closer; I know those people.
RT-UK: There’s a school of thought that says the Fox Searchlights and the Warner Independent Pictures and the Sony Classics of the world aren’t about independent film; they’re as interested in making money as their mainstream wing.
PM: Perhaps but I think the majors are going to absorb the niches and it’s all going to change. Sony made Closer; that was a major and they made it without skimping on it. Logically that would have been a Sony Classics or a Fox Searchlight or a Paramount Vantage but the major wanted it. It did have Mike Nichols and Julia Roberts and that really helped, but I think it’s pretty clear that there are the high-end boffo-budget films that are going to make money but then there’s also films like Closer, Notes on a Scandal, Little Miss Sunshine, Sideways… The sort-of fifteen to twenty million dollar films and they’re making money too. I think it’s the midrange films – the films that, as it were, are “good for you” – that are going to find it hard. Those forty-million-dollar, get-a-couple-of-movie-stars, crank-out-some-bullsh*t-script movies.
I think the way it’s going is that people either want the authentic real thing that is low-budget, or the authentic big thing that knows what it is and says, “I’m an effects movie, and I’m a ride.” It’s one or the other and everything in between will die! [Laughs] And the studios get it. They are there to make money, they’re not there to be nice to filmmakers, but vicariously they are by making those low-budget films.
RT-UK: As hands-off as they were though, did you manage to avoid the test screening process?.
PM: No, we still had tests but fortunately the tests went well. I mean, listen, we could be having a totally different conversation if the tests had been bad because then the studio might have reacted in a different way.
RT-UK: Was that the same on Closer?
PM: Closer tested badly. But nothing happened! [Laughs] They released the film and it did well. It did more than $150 million worldwide, it was a great big movie. But then it did have movie stars in it!
The thing about the test screening, though, is that it must mean something because it’s human beings watching your film and telling you what they think of it. You’ve gotta learn from that. Whether you want to accept what they tell you is a whole other board game! Generally speaking, when friends of mind have tested movies and they’ve tested badly they’ve gone, “Test are bullsh*t, they don’t mean a thing,” but when their films test well they go, “Oh yeah, great test. Fantastic.”
RT-UK: You said you shot the twelfth draft of the script; how much changed during production? Were you involved once you’d handed in the shooting script?
PM: Yeah I was on set and there was a lot of writing work in post-production. The film always had voiceover in it from the first draft but the voiceover changed depending on the picture. Richard would cut a scene and I’d have to rewrite a voiceover. That shifted a lot. There was a lot of extra work in the end.
RT-UK: Is there something harrowing about opening up the script having been so isolated before production?
PM: No, I’m used to it. I’ve gotten used to it over the years with plays and I’ve travelled abroad and seen foreign productions of my work so I’m very used to seeing something I wrote get done in lots of different ways and it’s really nice.
I like the varying rhythm of being a writer that you have a period of being in complete isolation where it’s just you and the book and your screenplay and no-one can read it. I love that time, but I also love the period where it becomes public and suddenly a hundred people have read it and they’ve all got opinions. As long as you hold your nerve and you listen to those you think are authentic it’s great. That can be difficult but that’s where experience helps. Experience doesn’t help the writing but it really helps the handling of the notes and the handling of the input which I wasn’t good at handling ten years ago. I’ve gotten better at handling it now.
RT-UK: I guess working with Richard Eyre anyway, who you’ve worked with numerous times in the past, helps.
PM: He’s very respectful and he knows me – we go back years – so that really helps. When he expresses a strong opinion about a line or a scene I take it very seriously.
RT-UK: Is it still exciting to see your work brought to life by tremendously talented people like Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett?
PM: Really exciting. I mean that’s kind-of what it’s about. I’ve got a play on in London at the moment that Rhys Ifans is starring in – Don Juan in Soho – and he’s giving this amazing performance. There’s no greater pleasure than writing a scene or a line and then seeing an actor do it and it’s exactly what you wanted but better. It’s fantastic; it makes you feel as a God! Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett doing it was one of the biggest thrills of my writing life; they’re amazing.
I’ve been really lucky with the actors that have brought my work to life. I hope some of it is talent too; but what it is is that I’m a bit of an actor myself so I write parts for actors. The one thing I know is that they don’t want parts where the character tells you who they are. The actor wants to give a performance; to have good things to say while the writer has trusted them to understand who the character is without having to do a speech. And so I write minimally for them and I think they feel respected that their job is to bring the character to life; not mine. I think I give them a certain amount of freedom.
RT-UK: Which I should imagine is largely where the attraction lies for them…
PM: The upside is you get good actors, the downside is people say that there are too many loose ends, “What are you saying? What is this?” Nothing I write presents the audience with the little gem at the centre of it that is the meaning of it all. I hate that kind of writing. This film doesn’t tell you what to think or what to feel; it just says, “This is what happened, now do with it what you will.”
And Nichols did that with Closer; he absolutely honoured the sort-of mess at the heart of my writing. Though I must admit when I watch other films that come from a similar place to my own I do sometimes get frustrated. I sort-of think, “Why am I watching this? Come on, what’s the thing?” [Laughs] I’m not elusive to kind-of pose, it’s just the way I am. I think I’m a writer because I don’t know exactly what I think about a whole range of things so I want to explore it. I don’t necessarily come to a conclusion.
RT-UK: Are you still doing comedy writing?
PM: Well, I’m sort-of having semi-regular meetings with Steve Coogan to talk about an Alan Partridge film. We talk about and… we’re still talking about it.
RT-UK: And how long has that been going on for?
PM: A couple of years! [Laughs] But we’re never in the same country for long enough to sit down and get any work done.
I think we’re quite enjoying, and will continue to enjoy, years of speculation about it without actually having to actually do anything about it!
RT-UK: Lovely… We’re all just dying to see something happen!
PM: Is the world really desperate for an Alan Partridge movie? It’d have to be something spectacularly surprising for it to be anything other than a disappoint. And we’re conscious of that so we don’t want to do it unless the idea is so compelling that it has to be done. And Steve has had a brilliant movie idea for the character. So, you know, it may happen.
RT-UK: It must be difficult to break out of the half-hour format TV comedy… It certainly didn’t work for Ali G…
PM: It worked for Borat though! But it’s really hard. But we know that about Alan and in a way I think you can make it a strength. There is a way of saying to an audience, “It is ludicrous that this man is on the big screen. He shouldn’t be; what’s he doing there?” He doesn’t belong there – we know that, but he doesn’t know that! I think there’s a way of making that part of the fun of it.
RT-UK: Hopefully soon…
PM: Anticipation is half of the fun of it! [Laughs]
RT-UK: Steve seems to be all over the place; he popped up in Night at the Museum!
PM: Yeah! [Laughs] Talk to his agent! I still think he’s at his best when he works with Michael Winterbottom. I suppose it’s important – if you want to have a career – you have to work with lots of people, but I think they work brilliantly together.
RT-UK: Have you thought about working with Winterbottom before?
PM: Oh yeah, I know him, I’ve sat down with him and talked about doing stuff together. I’d love to write something for him. We’ve had long, long chats and nearly done stuff but he’s someone I’d absolutely love to work with.
RT-UK: Watching his films you do get the impression that the writer/director collaboration is very important to him.
PM: Absolutely. Usually one absorbs the other. But you never know until you get in a room with someone and start writing; people will amaze you!
RT-UK: As far as the comedy goes; is it good to keep your toes dipped in that water?
PM: It is, and in fact the play that I’m doing with Rhys is essentially a comedy. And, actually, I think Notes on a Scandal is comedy. In the end I think it’s comedy because I define comedy as something in which the world sort-of rights itself; a natural order and a natural justice. It sort-of affirms itself at the end and life goes on. Whereas I think a tragedy is something where the natural order of things is completely interrupted and doesn’t right itself. I’d say Notes on a Scandal is a black comedy.
RT-UK: Accepting that Alan Partridge is a maybe; what’s next on the agenda?
PM: An adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel, Saturday. Not many laughs in that one; but a great story and it’s a ridiculously difficult thing to do. I was offered it quite a while ago and I can’t get it out of my head as a piece of material that I want to work on. The idea of a story set on a day in which London marched on the Iraq War seems to be to be increasingly more potent with each dreadful day and I’m very intrigued to write a protagonist who is by-and-large contented. I’ve never done that before; to have a guy who is happy with his lot at the centre of a story. Plus I think it’s so ridiculously difficult to adapt. It’s a novel set on one day in 2003; it’s about this guy who’s a brain surgeon with his family and chaos enters his life on this particular day. It’s a sort-of life-in-a-day story.
Sir Richard Eyre is starstruck – albeit in a way befitting a Knight of the Realm – and yet he’s the biggest draw in the room. As Rotten Tomatoes UK shakes hands with Eyre we discover he’s a regular visitor to the site. “It’s much more accessible than IMDb,” he gushes, “I like it because you can see reviews at a glance. I don’t like to read reviews in detail, to be honest, because you just can’t get rid of them!”
But enough about us, we’re here today to find out about one of the best reviewed films to arrive in UK cinemas so far this year, the Certified Fresh masterpiece that is Notes on a Scandal. Adapted from the popular book by Closer scribe Patrick Marber, it tells the tale of Barbara Covett (Judi Dench) and her obsession with a new art teacher at her comprehensive school, Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett).
It’s Eyre’s sixth feature film, following on from the critical successes of Stage Beauty and Iris. In the second of our Director’s Masterclass special features, Eyre goes behind the scenes exclusively with Rotten Tomatoes.
RT-UK: How did your involvement in Notes on a Scandal come about?
Richard Eyre: I’d read the book and Scott Rudin, the producer, called me not long after we’d done Iris. Scott was one of the producers on Iris. He said he’d bought the rights to the book and that he thought it was a great part for Judi. He also said he was going to get Patrick Marber to write the screenplay. I’d sort-of started Patrick off as a playwright when I was running the National Theatre. I commissioned Dealer’s Choice and Closer at the National. In fact I’d let Patrick direct his own plays! [Laughs] But I’d always wanted to direct his work so it was great, it was a very happy marriage really.
About two years later the script turned up.
RT-UK: Having been so aware of the book, what did you think when you read the script?
RE: I thought the big, big challenge, having read the novel, was how to tell the story on screen. The novel is in the first person and it’s a classic unreliable narrator character. The technical challenge of how you translate that into film was what I was most interested in. There was a certain amount of voiceover – probably more than there is now – but voiceover and flashback and I thought he’d used both in an incredibly inventive way.
RT-UK: It must be very difficult to adapt a book like this without resorting to cinematic clichés to spell things out that are perhaps simply implied in the book.
RE: Yes, but you have to remember that the what you see on screen is not necessarily the screenplay as written or as directed! [Laughs] By which I mean that there was an awful lot in the script – and that we shot – that we thought was absolutely essential to the story and that we discovered later wasn’t at all.
RT-UK: Does that happen a lot or was it just this project?
RE: I think it’s true of most films. The trouble is, when you read a published screenplay, it’s the edited screenplay. What would be more interesting would be to read the screenplay before shooting and the screenplay when the film is finished. But it was no less good but there was an awful lot of stuff that we discovered was either repetitious or going in the wrong direction or a cul-de-sac.
RT-UK: Is there a feeling of happy accident when you discover something that you’d planned differently actually turns out better?
RE: Yeah; there’s happy accident and unhappy accident. Sometimes you think it’s absolutely perfect that you’ve put this scene next to that and then you put them together and they’re just less than the sum of the parts. And sometimes you move things and you say, “Well, let’s try that scene there and move that,” and then there’s some wonderful accumulation effect.
RT-UK: At the same time does that ever lead to a situation of doubt when you realise you hadn’t shot something you wanted to?
RE: Oh sure but there was, shrewdly, money in the budget for us to shoot some additional material.
RT-UK: Now that the film is finished, are there any regrets?
RE: [Laughs] I look at things and I think, “I could have done that differently…” I mean, I really love the film, but I can’t allow myself to think, “Oh, I wish I’d done that,” otherwise it’d just be torture. If I watch it now, I just like to get the pleasure out of the good luck I had that things worked out well. It always seems to me a bit of a miracle when a film comes together; it’s so hard to get a film made and when a film is made it’s so hard to make it good! [Laughs]
RT-UK: I guess I ask because I can imagine you become so invested in the project for such a long time and there’s always a clear end to your involvement because the film eventually has to come out; it must be very, very difficult to be able to switch off and just enjoy it.
RE: It is, and I’m still at the stage of marvelling that it turned out well and grateful that it did. It was hard – everything about it was hard – because I think the subject matter was difficult. It wasn’t easy to film and I’m sure Patrick will say it wasn’t easy to write. It wasn’t easy to find its final form. So I’m all the more delighted that it turned out well!
RT-UK: The talent involved in the film is just incredible; does it make life easier for you when you’re working with such talented and experienced actors?
RE: Yes, I mean, a lot of directing anyway is making choices that you are encouraging people, coaxing them along that direction – and it may be the direction they’re going anyway – but it’s about those choices and saying, “Can you try that rather than that.” But most directing is not loud-hailer stuff. It’s not, “DO THAT! YOU’VE GOT TO DO THAT!” It’s more a question of acting like a poultice that you’re saying, “More of that, more of that; please don’t do that – when you do that it looks X, Y or Z or the character becomes more unsympathetic or that doesn’t seem truthful.” It’s adjusting.
Cate and Judi are fantastically well prepared and they’re prepared both in very different ways. Judi prepares in a sort-of invisible way and relies very much on informed instinct whereas Cate is more systematic. She makes tremendous amount of study of the script and gives a great deal of thought and makes notes and research. In the end, though, both of them have this great gift to put all that aside, as it were, and when the camera’s turning they’re spontaneous. They appear to be making it up as they go along.
RT-UK: What’s interesting about the project is there seems to be no ego involved at any stage; it’s not Judi’s film or Cate’s film or your film, it’s very collaborative and that’s a very good thing.
RE: Right, but it’s important not to forget about the contribution of the producers, Scott Rudin and Robert Falks. Scott who had the vision to buy the book and to put the project together and was very, very much involved during pre-production, shooting and post-production. So it is collaborative – it has to be – and ultimately very, very few films are auteuristic in the way that an Ingmar Bergman film is unquestionably his film.
RT-UK: There’s also something between Judi and Cate that elevates both performances; a chemistry that really sells the relationship they have.
RE: They’re just very, very bright performers. Also we had two weeks of rehearsal just with the two of them, Patrick and myself. I think that helped enormously.
RT-UK: Did you ever have anyone else in mind? They’re both greatly in demand; did you have a fallback?
RE: Absolutely not. Judi was always in mind, from the moment I got the book. Cate always seemed perfect.
RT-UK: You also found a young actor in Andrew Simpson who was able to share the screen with these phenomenal actors and never get drowned by them; where did he come from?
RE: We saw an awful lot of actors. I thought it was going to be easy. [Laughs] I thought we were going to go into a North London school and find the new Gary Oldman. And it was just really, really hard. We must have seen about three-hundred boys. He came through the recommendation of an agent in Belfast. He’d been in one film before, which was about brutality in a Jesuit seminary, when he was fourteen I think. And he’s genuinely good. Again, the big thing with him was just sort-of managing his confidence; just making him feel he could do it. Cate was brilliant with him, in terms of endowing him with a sexual allure, that’s so much her generosity.
RT-UK: The weight of the taboos that the film is tackling is a lot to put on the shoulders of a young actor.
RE: He was just sixteen when we started and he’s just quite grown-up about it. He’s a bright boy; he’s not a silly boy at all. He’s really quite impressive.
RT-UK: His character isn’t Irish in the book, is he?
RE: No, he’s called Stephen Connelly so he might be first generation. But the school we were filming in he would have fitted in perfectly because virtually everybody in the school was a first generation immigrant. From Bosnia, from Bulgaria, Ukraine, Bangladesh, Sudan, I mean all over; this very, very mixed community.
RT-UK: Is it still exciting to hear talk of awards?
RE: Yeah, it’s pretty good! [Laughs] No, it’s great!
RT-UK: But you’re not so keen on reading the reviews in full…
RE: Well the truth is, if the reviews are good I think, ‘What a relief!’ And if they’re bad, I find them really upsetting. I’ve been directing films, and before that in the theatre and on television, for a long, long time and it doesn’t get any easier. I don’t get any more confident. If anything I get more disturbed by bad criticism.
RT-UK: The arts, I guess, is one of the few fields in which you can get away with criticising another’s work so publicly. It must be hard to have to deal with criticism all the time, even sometimes if it’s positive criticism…
RE: Yeah, and occasionally you do things that are universally liked and you think it’s safe to read them and you’ll always find one review saying bad things. It’s just like a shard of ice in the heart.
RT-UK: Ultimately you’re always going to find a dissenting voice.
RE: That’s right, that’s the thing. The last film I did was Stage Beauty, and all the advance reviews were wonderful. And then the dailies were pretty bad. I was so shocked because I loved the film!
RT-UK: I’ve often found the dailies tend to hit a consensus which I think is the product of them all seeing the film at the same time.
RE: Yeah, and it’s usually on a cold Monday morning at 10:30. [Laughs]
Known as a big predictor of what’ll go down Oscar night, the Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremony took place last Sunday to a rapturous Hollywood crowd without a hitch (or surprises or upsets). Check out the full winners list below, along with analysis on how the SAG results affect the Oscar nominees’ chances.
The SAG Awards frequently mirror Oscar nominations and wins. And this year, they’re more similar than in recent memory. Of the 25 Acting and Best Picture nominations, the SAG and Oscar disagree only twice: the SAG reserved a Supporting Actor nom spot for Leonardo DiCaprio, while the Academy has eyes for Mark Wahlberg (both for "The Departed"). And in the Best Picture category, the SAG had "Bobby" whereas the Oscars have "Letters from Iwo Jima."
"There appears to be a developing unanimity about the year’s best actors," writes Hollywood Reporter’s Gregg Kilday. Indeed, who doubted that Forest Whitaker (Male Actor winner for "The Last King of Scotland"), Jennifer Hudson (the Supporting Female Actor winner for "Dreamgirls"), or Helen Mirren (Outstanding Female Actor for "The Queen") wouldn’t be going home empty-handed? They’ve dominated all the other awards shows prior to the SAG Awards.
"The Queen": Helen Mirren phones it in.
However, it’s hard to say that "Dreamgirls‘" Eddie Murphy, who took home the Outstanding Supporting Male Actor award, is guaranteed the same Oscar reward. According to OscarWatch, every actor nominated for the Supporting Actor Oscar have won roughly the same number of awards as he has.
The same can be said for the Best Picture Oscar. "Little Miss Sunshine" won Best Ensemble Acting (the SAG’s Best Picture equivalent), but the other Best Picture Oscar nominees have just about the same number of accolades. And "Little Miss Sunshine’s" directors snub from the Academy can be another problem. Risky Biz Blog points out that only twice has a Best Picture winner not also have its director(s) nominated (1932’s "Grand Hotel" and 1989’s "Driving Miss Daisy").
Eddie Murphy is SAGacious in "Dreamgirls."
Kilday also notes that "no one film has dominated the best picture race this awards season." Oscar nominess "The Departed," "Babel," "Little Miss Sunshine," and "The Queen" have all been accumulating accolades at about the same rate. "Letters From Iwo Jima", however, lags far behind.
The cast surveys the scene in "Little Miss Sunshine."
And in the case of "Little Miss Sunshine," it can also be said that comedies almost never win the Best Picture. Then again, stranger things have happened. Remember when a neurotic little dude single-handedly took down the Death Star?
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Proving that there’s always money in spoof comedies, Fox’s "Epic Movie" shot straight to number one over the weekend in its debut frame beating out three other new releases plus a handful of expanding Academy Award contenders. In fact, the immature laugher outgrossed all five Oscar nominees for best picture combined.
The crime drama "Smokin’ Aces" and the Jennifer Garner dramedy "Catch and Release" both enjoyed good results in their opening weekends, however the new horror flick "Blood and Chocolate" failed to even make the top ten. Most holdovers remained strong as the overall marketplace bounced back from last weekend’s dismal results.
Matching the numbers it posted a year ago with "Date Movie," Fox struck again with "Epic Movie" which topped the charts with an estimated $19.2M from 2,801 theaters. The PG-13 film lampooned several recent box office action hits and averaged a solid $6,855 per site. "Date Movie" skewered numerous romantic comedies and bowed to a similar $19.1M last February over the three-day portion of the Presidents’ Day holiday weekend. Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, whose writing credits include "Date Movie," "Spy Hard," and the entire "Scary Movie" series, wrote and directed "Epic." Teenagers made up a large portion of the audience and both genders were well-represented. Critics who did bother to review it trashed the film.
Opening in second place with impressive results and similar per-theater success was Universal’s mob thriller "Smokin’ Aces" with an estimated $14.3M from 2,218 locations. Averaging a commendable $6,430 per site, the frame’s only new R-rated pic connected with young men as its primary audience. According to studio research, 59% of the audience was male and 57% was 25 or older. "Smokin’" stars Jeremy Piven, Andy Garcia, and Alicia Keys and cost less than $20M to produce which should make it a profitable venture when all worldwide rights are exploited. The film also opened at number one in Russia this weekend with $1.7M and has grossed an additional $5.3M from the United Kingdom after its third weekend.
The unstoppable blockbuster comedy "Night at the Museum" enjoyed yet another small decline sliding only 21% in its sixth weekend to an estimated $9.5M. The Ben Stiller–Robin Williams smash has pumped its cume up to $216.7M and will soon join the top 50 domestic blockbusters of all-time.
Jennifer Garner generated respectable results for her latest film "Catch and Release" which was not given a very wide release, but still sold an estimated $8M in ticket stubs. Averaging a solid $4,932 from 1,622 playdates, the PG-13 film about a woman rebuilding her life after her husband’s death played heavily female. According to Sony’s research, an overwhelming 75% of the crowd consisted of women and 58% was 25 or older. "Catch" cost $25M to produce and opened smaller than her previous headlining efforts "13 Going on 30" ($21.1M in 2004) and "Elektra" ($12.8M in 2005). Reviews were mostly negative.
Sony’s "Stomp the Yard," 2007’s top-grossing new release, slipped only 37% and took fifth with an estimated $7.8M. Total stands at an impressive $50.7M.
A quartet of Oscar-nominated films followed. Paramount’s musical "Dreamgirls," which led all films with eight Academy Award nominations, expanded from 2,214 to 2,785 sites and grossed an estimated $6.6M. That represented a slim 17% drop in sales from last weekend but a steeper 34% fall in the per-theater average which was $2,376. Cume to date is $86.7M. Despite not earning a best picture nomination, "Dreamgirls" is still holding up well and posting relatively low declines.
Also showing durability was Will Smith‘s "The Pursuit of Happyness" which earned the box office star an Academy nod for best actor. The Sony blockbuster dipped only 21% to an estimated $5M pushing its sum to $152.9M. "Pursuit" did not have any expansion, but instead lost 378 theaters and still witnessed a decline similar to that of "Dreamgirls" which scored many more Oscar nominations and added hundreds of playdates to its run.
The fantasy tale "Pan’s Labyrinth" widened from 609 to 823 sites and grossed an estimated $4.5M equaling its gross from last weekend. Nominated in six different categories, the Mexican film saw its per-theater average dip 26% from last weekend to a still-solid $5,474. Total is $16.3M for the Picturehouse release.
"The Queen" saw a healthy bump in sales and ranked ninth for the weekend with an estimated $4M, up 18%, for a $41.2M sum to date. Miramax added 244 additional venues and saw its average inch up 2% to $2,186.
Rounding out the top ten was a film that has approximately zero chance of earning any Academy Award nominations a year from now. The horror film "The Hitcher" tumbled 54% in its second weekend to an estimated $3.6M giving Focus only $13.4M to date. A $16-18M final seems likely.
Opening poorly outside of the top ten was yet another horror film, the werewolf thriller "Blood and Chocolate," which bowed to only $2.1M according to estimates. The PG-13 film attacked 1,200 theaters and averaged a weak $1,753 per venue for MGM.
With last Tuesday’s Academy Award nominations putting several films into the media spotlight, distributors took the opportunity to expand their contenders and saw increased weekend grosses, even though averages were mostly not very impressive. Best picture candidate "The Departed," which was near the end of its theatrical run after opening in early October, went back into national release and grossed an estimated $3M. Averaging $2,096 per site in 1,453 locations, the Martin Scorsese crime saga upped its cume to $124.9M. Its best picture rival "Babel" widened to 1,090 playdates and grossed an estimated $2.6M for a $2,368 average. Sales were up 25% from last weekend while the average inched up 2% with the total reaching $27.2M.
Clint Eastwood‘s "Letters From Iwo Jima," which has been holding back much of its release in anticipation of Oscar nods, added 55 theaters to its run and surged 26% to an estimated $1.7M. The Warner Bros. release averaged a decent but not spectacular $4,120 from 415 locations. The average increased a healthy 9% from last weekend and the subtitled film has collected $4.9M to date as "Letters" remained the lowest-grossing best picture nominee by far. But much potential could still be ahead of it.
Among films with high profile acting nominations, Fox Searchlight’s "Notes on a Scandal" more than tripled its run to 640 theaters and grossed an estimated $2.5M as the weekend take doubled. The Judi Dench–Cate Blanchett pic averaged $3,978 per playdate and has taken in $9M thus far. The distributor’s Forest Whitaker drama "The Last King of Scotland" remained mostly steady with its theater count and saw its gross inch up 3% to an estimated $1.7M for a $7.7M total. Sony Classics more than quadrupled the run of Penelope Cruz‘s "Volver" and took in an estimated $1.2M from 689 sites. The average was diluted down to just $1,671 as the total climbed to $8.9M.
The industry often looks at a film’s box office boost on the weekend after Academy Award nominations are announced to determine how much gold an Oscar nod is worth. But what is often overlooked is the additional marketing and distribution expense that is invested by a distributor to create new marketing materials, buy more advertising, and ship extra prints out across the country. Expanding these films in a crowded marketplace is not cheap, but studios do believe that there are long-term benefits to be gained by the added attention like extra momentum in overseas and video markets, plus possibly some added votes from Academy members. In addition, it is difficult to separate the sales that are due directly to the Oscar attention from those that would have occured anyway even if no nominations came through.
Three films dropped out of the top ten over the weekend. Paramount’s high school drama "Freedom Writers" dipped 33% to an estimated $3.5M in its fourth session. The Hilary Swank pic has grossed a respectable $31.3M to date and should finish with about $36-38M. The MGM family release "Arthur and the Invisibles" dropped 46% to an estimated $1.7M for a $11.5M cume. A disappointing $14M final seems likely.
Universal’s futuristic drama "Children of Men" scored three Oscar nominations, but it meant little to its ticket sales. The R-rated drama fell 46% to an estimated $2M lifting the sum to $30.7M. The Alfonso Cuaron-directed film should conclude with around $35M.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $82.4M which was down 12% from last year when "Big Momma’s House 2" opened at number one with $27.7M; and down 16% from 2005 when "Hide and Seek" debuted on top with $22M.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
Sound the alarms! Tonight’s telecast (8pm EST) of the 64th Annual Golden Globes Awards signaled the real start of Oscar mania, so check out our list of winners…and weigh in with your own two cents on who won, who should’ve won, and who definitely should not have worn what. RESULTS IN NOW!!
Royal thesps Helen Mirren and Forest Whitaker took home Best Actor nods (for "The Queen" and "The Last King of Scotland," respectively) as expected, and "Dreamgirls" re-cemented its still-potent Oscar power with three wins (Jennifer Hudson for Best Supporting Actress, Eddie Murphy for Best Supporting Actor, and "Dreamgirls" for Best Picture – Comedy/Musical).
"The Departed" director Martin Scorsese capitalized on his recent Awards Season favor by nabbing Best Director, while fellow nominee Clint Eastwood collected a Globe for Best Foreign Film (the Japanese-language "Letters From Iwo Jima").
The show’s capper — presented by the Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger (he used to be in the movies, right?) — awarded the Best Drama trophy to surprise pick "Babel," instantly renewing that film’s chances come Oscar time.
Find out who else won the hearts of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Monday night [scroll down for full list of winners and nominees]…
And check out Rotten Tomatoes’ Awards Tour for winners and nominees of this season’s other film awards and critics’ group picks (plus our handy-dandy Buzz chart combining Tomatometer, Awards Won, and Box Office numbers into an Oscar guide for you prognosticators)!
And the nominees for the 64th Annual Golden Globes Awards are (Winners in bold):
Best Supporting Actress, Drama
Best Animated Film
Best Supporting Actor, Drama
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Original Score
Sacha Baron Cohen for Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Johnny Depp for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Aaron Eckhart for Thank You For Smoking
Chjwetel Ejiofor for Kinky Boots
Will Ferrell for Stranger Than Fiction
Best Motion Picture, Musical/Comedy
Best Actress in a Drama
Best Actor in a Drama
Best Motion Picture, Drama
Best Television Series – Drama
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama
Patricia Arquette for "Medium"
Edie Falco for "The Sopranos"
Evangeline Lilly for "Lost"
Ellen Pompeo for "Grey’s Anatomy"
Kyra Sedgwick for "The Closer"
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama
Patrick Dempsey for "Grey’s Anatomy"
Michael C. Hall for "Dexter"
Hugh Laurie for "House"
Bill Paxton for "Big Love"
Kiefer Sutherland for "24"
Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Marcia Cross for "Desperate Housewives"
America Ferrera for "Ugly Betty"
Felicity Huffman for "Desperate Housewives"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus for "The New Adventures Of Old Christine"
Mary-Louise Parker for "Weeds"
Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy
Alec Baldwin for "30 Rock"
Zach Braff for "Scrubs"
Steve Carell for "The Office"
Jason Lee for "My Name Is Earl"
Tony Shalhoub for "Monk"
Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
"Bleak House" (PBS)
"Broken Trail" (AMC)
"Elizabeth I" (HBO)
"Mrs. Harris" (HBO)
"Prime Suspect: The Final Act" (PBS)
Best Performance By An Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Gillian Anderson for "Bleak House"
Annette Bening for "Mrs. Harris"
Helen Mirren for "Elizabeth I"
Helen Mirren for "Prime Suspect: The Final Act"
Sophie Okonedo for "Tsunami, The Aftermath"
Best Performance By An Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
André Braugher for "Thief"
Robert Duvall for "Broken Trail"
Michael Ealy for "Sleeper Cell: American Terror"
Chiwetel Ejiofor for "Tsunami, The Aftermath"
Ben Kingsley for "Mrs. Harris"
Bill Nighy for "Gideon’s Daughter"
Matthew Perry for "The Ron Clark Story"
Best Performance By An Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Emily Blunt for "Gideon’s Daughter"
Toni Collette for "Tsunami, The Aftermath"
Katherine Heigl for "Grey’s Anatomy"
Sarah Paulson for "Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip"
Elizabeth Perkins for "Weeds"
Best Performance By An Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Thomas Haden Church for "Broken Trail"
Jeremy Irons for "Elizabeth I"
Justin Kirk for "Weeds"
Masi Oka for "Heroes"
Jeremy Piven for "Entourage"
Stephen Frears’ drama "The Queen" came out on top with 10 nominations for this year’s Orange British Academy Film Awards, including Best Actress for Helen Mirren and nods for both Best Film and Outstanding British film. The other top-nominated films are the latest James Bond adventure, "Casino Royale", with nine nominations, and the Spanish thriller "Pan’s Labyrinth", with eight.
The awards ceremony will be held on Sunday, 11 February, at the Royal Opera House in London.
"The Queen" is up against Kevin Macdonald’s Idi Amin drama "The Last King of Scotland" for both Best Film and Outstanding British Film. Also nominated for Best Film are Martin Scorsese’s mob thriller "The Departed", the multi-strand international drama "Babel" and the ensemble comedy "Little Miss Sunshine". While the other British Film nominees are Casino Royale, "Notes on a Scandal" and the acclaimed 9/11 thriller "United 93".
Helen Mirren’s competition for Best Actress includes two fellow Brits: Judi Dench for "Notes on a Scandal" and Kate Winslet for "Little Children". They’ll be contending against Meryl Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada" and Penelope Cruz in Pedro Almodovar’s "Volver".
Meanwhile, in the Best Actor category, Daniel Craig is the first James Bond to be nominated for the award. His competitors are British actors Peter O’Toole for "Venus" and Richard Griffiths for "The History Boys", as well as Forest Whitaker for "The Last King of Scotland" and Leonardo DiCaprio for The Departed.
And Bond Girl Eva Green has also been nominated — in the Orange Rising Star category alongside Emily Blunt (also nominated for Best Supporting Actress in "The Devil Wears Prada"), Naomie Harris, Cillian Murphy and Ben Whishaw. The winner will be decided by a public vote.
The full list of nominees:
BABEL – Alejandro González Iñárritu/Jon Kilik/Steve Golin
THE DEPARTED – Brad Pitt/Brad Grey/Graham King
THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND – Andrea Calderwood/Lisa Bryer/Charles Steel
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE – credits to be confirmed
THE QUEEN – Tracey Seaward/Christine Langan/Andy Harries
THE ALEXANDER KORDA AWARD for the Outstanding British Film of the Year
CASINO ROYALE – Michael G Wilson/Barbara Broccoli/Martin Campbell/Neal Purvis/Robert Wade/Paul Haggis
THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND – Andrea Calderwood/Lisa Bryer/Charles Steel/Kevin Macdonald/Peter Morgan/Jeremy Brock
NOTES ON A SCANDAL – Scott Rudin/Robert Fox/Richard Eyre/Patrick Marber
THE QUEEN – Tracey Seaward/Christine Langan/Andy Harries/Stephen Frears/Peter Morgan
UNITED 93 – Tim Bevan/Lloyd Levin/Paul Greengrass
THE CARL FOREMAN AWARD for Special Achievement by a British Director, Writer or Producer in their First Feature Film
ANDREA ARNOLD (Director) – Red Road
JULIAN GILBEY (Director) – Rollin’ with the Nines
CHRISTINE LANGAN (Producer) – Pierrepoint
GARY TARN (Director) – Black Sun
PAUL ANDREW WILLIAMS (Director) – London to Brighton
THE DAVID LEAN AWARD for Achievement in Direction
BABEL – Alejandro González Iñárritu
THE DEPARTED – Martin Scorsese
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE – Jonathan Dayton/Valerie Faris
THE QUEEN – Stephen Frears
UNITED 93 – Paul Greengrass
BABEL – Guillermo Arriaga
LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE – Michael Arndt
PAN’S LABYRINTH – Guillermo del Toro
THE QUEEN – Peter Morgan
UNITED 93 – Paul Greengrass
CASINO ROYALE – Neal Purvis/Robert Wade/Paul Haggis
THE DEPARTED – William Monahan
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA – Aline Brosh McKenna
THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND – Peter Morgan/Jeremy Brock
NOTES ON A SCANDAL – Patrick Marber
FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
APOCALYPTO – Mel Gibson/Bruce Davey
BLACK BOOK (ZWARTBOEK) – Teun Hilte/San Fu Maltha/Jens Meurer/Paul Verhoeven
PAN’S LABYRINTH – Alfonso Cuarón/Bertha Navarro/Frida Torresblanco/Guillermo del Toro
RANG DE BASANTI (PAINT IT YELLOW) – Ronnie Screwvala/Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
VOLVER – Agustín Almodóvar/Pedro Almodóvar
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
CARS – John Lasseter
FLUSHED AWAY – David Bowers/Sam Fell
HAPPY FEET – George Miller
ACTOR in a LEADING ROLE
DANIEL CRAIG – Casino Royale
LEONARDO DICAPRIO – The Departed
RICHARD GRIFFITHS – The History Boys
PETER O’TOOLE – Venus
FOREST WHITAKER – The Last King of Scotland
ACTRESS in a LEADING ROLE
PENELOPE CRUZ – Volver
JUDI DENCH – Notes on a Scandal
HELEN MIRREN – The Queen
MERYL STREEP – The Devil Wears Prada
KATE WINSLET – Little Children
ACTOR in a SUPPORTING ROLE
ALAN ARKIN – Little Miss Sunshine
JAMES MCAVOY – The Last King of Scotland
JACK NICHOLSON – The Departed
LESLIE PHILLIPS – Venus
MICHAEL SHEEN – The Queen
ACTRESS in a SUPPORTING ROLE
EMILY BLUNT – The Devil Wears Prada
ABIGAIL BRESLIN – Little Miss Sunshine
TONI COLETTE – Little Miss Sunshine
FRANCES DE LA TOUR – The History Boys
JENNIFER HUDSON – Dreamgirls
THE ANTHONY ASQUITH AWARD for Achievement in Film Music
BABEL – Gustavo Santaolalla
CASINO ROYALE – David Arnold
DREAMGIRLS – Henry Krieger
HAPPY FEET – John Powell
THE QUEEN – Alexandre Desplat
BABEL – Rodrigo Prieto
CASINO ROYALE – Phil Meheux
CHILDREN OF MEN – Emmanuel Lubezki
PAN’S LABYRINTH – Guillermo Navarro
UNITED 93 – Barry Ackroyd
BABEL – Stephen Mirrione/Douglas Crise
CASINO ROYALE – Stuart Baird
THE DEPARTED – Thelma Schoonmaker
THE QUEEN – Lucia Zucchetti
UNITED 93 – Clare Douglas/Christopher Rouse/Richard Pearson
CASINO ROYALE – Peter Lamont/Simon Wakefield
CHILDREN OF MEN – Geoffrey Kirkland/Jim Clay/Jennifer Williams
MARIE ANTOINETTE – K K Barrett/Véronique Melery
PAN’S LABYRINTH – Eugenio Caballero/Pilar Revuelta
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST – Rick Heinrichs/Cheryl A Carasik
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA – Patricia Field
MARIE ANTOINETTE – Milena Canonero
PAN’S LABYRINTH – Lala Huete
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST – Penny Rose
THE QUEEN – Consolata Boyle
BABEL – José García/Jon Taylor/Chris Minkler/Martín Hernández
CASINO ROYALE – Chris Munro/Eddy Joseph/Mike Prestwood Smith/Martin Cantwell/Mark Taylor
PAN’S LABYRINTH – Martín Hernández/Jamie Bashkt
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST – Christopher Boyes/George Watters II/ Paul Massey/Lee Orloff
UNITED 93 – Chris Munro/Mike Prestwood Smith/Douglas Cooper/Oliver Tarney/Eddy Joseph
ACHIEVEMENT IN SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
CASINO ROYALE – Steve Begg/Chris Corbould
CHILDREN OF MEN – Frazer Churchill/Tim Webber/Michael Eames/Paul Corbould
PAN’S LABYRINTH – Edward Irastorza/Everett Burrell
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST – John Knoll/Hal Hickel/Charles Gibson
SUPERMAN RETURNS – Mark Stetson
MAKE UP & HAIR
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA – Nicki Ledermann/Angel De Angelis
MARIE ANTOINETTE – Jean-Luc Russier/Desiree Corridoni
PAN’S LABYRINTH – credits to be confirmed
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN’S CHEST – Ve Neill/Martin Samuel
THE QUEEN – Daniel Phillips
SHORT ANIMATION FILM
DREAMS AND DESIRES – FAMILY TIES – Les Mills/Joanna Quinn
GUY 101 – Ian Gouldstone
PETER AND THE WOLF – Hugh Welchman/Alan Dewhurst/Suzie Templeton
CARE – Rachel Bailey/Corinna Faith
CUBS – Lisa Williams/Tom Harper
DO NOT ERASE – Asitha Ameresekere
HIKIKOMORI – Karley Duffy/Paul Wright
KISSING, TICKLING AND BEING BORED – David Smith/Jim McRoberts
THE ORANGE RISING STAR AWARD (nominees announced on 8 Jan 2007)
Report by Rich Cline.
The final weekend of 2006 will see moviegoers catch up on a jam-packed slate of holiday leftovers as no new films open on Friday.
Look for the top ten to be filled with all the same movies as last weekend, although the award-winning musical "Dreamgirls" which opened nationally on Monday should climb higher on the charts in its first full weekend of wide release. With Christmas activites finished and New Year’s Eve celebrations only affecting late shows on Sunday night, ticket sales should be robust with most films seeing either small declines, or modest boosts in their four-day grosses.
Paramount and DreamWorks are enjoying their ride to the $100M mark with the critically acclaimed "Dreamgirls" which has just entered its second stage of release. The PG-13 musical began its run with an exclusive ten-day engagement in three theaters with $25 tickets that resulted in a lucrative $852,000. Then on Monday, the Jamie Foxx–Beyonce Knowles pic expanded into 852 locations across North America for the Christmas holiday. Moviegoers rushed out and spent $8.7M for a stunning one-day average of $10,242 per theater. Tuesday saw sales drop 34% to $5.8M which still led to a remarkable two-day start of $14.5M and $17,051 average.
Thanks to strong reviews, solid starpower, Oscar buzz, and five Golden Globe nominations, "Dreamgirls" looks ready to make an even bigger splash this weekend with the long four-day holiday weekend. With the 1960s storyline bringing in older adults and young stars like Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson attracting teens and younger adults, the Bill Condon-directed film is bringing in business from all sectors. Competition for the African-American crowd will continue to come from Will Smith‘s "The Pursuit of Happyness," but the extended holiday period is giving fans the time to eventually see both. Long-term strength looks promising too as Paramount will expand the pic on January 12 into more than 2,000 theaters for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday frame. The expansion will also make the film easily accessible in all markets when Golden Globes are awarded on January 15. For the final weekend of the year, "Dreamgirls" may sing to the tune of about $22M and propel its cume to $47M with much more to come.
For those who are naughty and not nice, MGM offered up the horror remake "Black Christmas" on Monday. The R-rated pic about a killer who preys on a sorority house during the holidays bowed to a respectable $3.3M on Christmas Day and followed that up with a 46% drop on Tuesday to $1.8M for a two-day start of $5.1M from 1,258 theaters. Fright flicks usually do not do well at this time of year, but Wes Craven‘s "Scream" hits a decade ago made many studios wonder if they could also tap into riches when the target audience is on vacation and horror competition is low. "Black Christmas" should burn through much of its audience of high school and college kids during the week and have one last weekend of decent biz before fizzling away. A four-day tally of $7M could await giving the slasher flick $15M in eight days.
After directing the third "Harry Potter" extravaganza, Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron returns to the screen with a much more mature film in "Children of Men." The futuristic drama takes place in London in 2029, eighteen years after the human race lost its ability to reproduce, and tells of a man who protects the only pregnant woman in existence. The R-rated drama starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine opened on Christmas Day with a powerful $180,000 from 16 theaters for a sensational $11,250 one-day average. Reviews have been strong for the Universal release which will add some more dates on Friday. "Children" has already grossed $32M overseas since its top spot debut in the U.K. in September and subsequent openings in Mexico, Europe, and other parts of the the world.
Also in limited release, Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, and Emily Watson star in "Miss Potter," a new biopic on the author of children’s book author Beatrix Potter. MGM is releasing this PG-rated film from Chris Noonan who has not directed a film since 1995’s "Babe." Zellweger nabbed a Globe nod in the Best Actress – Drama category.
Acclaimed actresses Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett both earned Golden Globe nods for their performances in "Notes on a Scandal" which Fox Searchlight platformed on Wednesday. Also opening is the R-rated fairy tale "Pan’s Labyrinth" from Spain which is a Globe nominee in the foreign language category. Directed by Guillermo del Toro ("Hellboy," "Blade II"), the Picturehouse release bows on Friday and has already won other foreign lingo awards from various critics groups.
The wide releases are the ones that hope to give the holiday season a boost over last year. The top five films from the crucial November-December corridor, as of the end of Christmas weekend, have grossed a combined $574M which is a considerable 25% drop from the corresponding films of 2005 which had tallied $766M at this point.
The limited release newcomers won’t be making much of a dent on the national scene. Among wide releases, last week’s champ "Night at the Museum" should remain in the number one spot for a second weekend in a row with Ben Stiller welcoming in 2007. The Fox comedy’s powerful $42.2M four-day debut was better than expected and pulled in significant business from the non-family crowd. With fantastic midweek grosses and "Dreamgirls" being the only new element of competition this coming weekend, "Museum" should easily continue as the most popular attraction. The PG-rated comedy followed up its stellar Xmas frame with a hefty $13.5M haul on Tuesday and hopes to get close to the $80M mark by the end of its first full week in theaters. The four-day New Year’s weekend could bring a gross of around $40M which would give the effects-driven pic a towering $120M after only 11 days.
Will Smith will try to hold onto the number two spot and fend off what should be a strong challenge from "Dreamgirls." "The Pursuit of Happyness" was bumped down to number three on Christmas Day thanks to the national opening of the acclaimed musical, but rose back up to the runnerup spot on Tuesday with $7.1M beating the $5.8M of "Dreamgirls." "Pursuit" raked in $68M in its first dozen days and will try to smash the century mark by the end of the holiday frame. Jamie Foxx and company will, however, provide some direct competition for African-American patrons. Feel-good movies should still be in demand so Smith could find himself with about $25M this weekend for "The Pursuit of Happyness" which would boost the cume to $106M.
In its first full week of release, Sylvester Stallone‘s underdog hit "Rocky Balboa" has punched up a solid $31.2M for MGM defying all odds. The PG-rated drama saw its biggest gross on its opening day last Wednesday as the built-in fan base came out early, but it still has been posting solid daily numbers of around $4-5M ever since. This weekend, "Rocky Balboa" might score another $16M over four days and see its winnings climb to $55M.
Universal has counterprogrammed all the feel-good family-friendly films with its espionage thriller "The Good Shepherd" and has been banking some respectable numbers. With $18.3M in its first five days from just over 2,200 theaters, the Matt Damon–Angelina Jolie drama has been holding its own as the adult alternative for serious moviegoers. A $13M gross over four days could await "The Good Shepherd" which would raise its sum to a decent but not spectacular $38M after 11 days.
LAST YEAR: The New Year’s frame looked suspiciously like the Christmas one with the notable musical chairs played by the top two pics. Disney’s "The Chronicles of Narnia" reclaimed the number one spot in its fourth weekend grossing $33.7M over four days inching up 6% from the prior session. After two weeks on top, Universal’s "King Kong" settled for second place and took in a four-day tally of $31.8M which was off 4% from the Santa frame. The combined cumes by the end of the weekend totaled a mammoth $401M. The two comedies that opened in third and fourth remained in their respective spots. Jim Carrey‘s "Fun With Dick and Jane" slipped 2% to $21M while Steve Martin‘s kidpic sequel "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" climbed 23% to $18.9M. Rounding out the top five was Jennifer Aniston‘s "Rumor Has It" which collected $11.8M over four days in its first full weekend of release. It bowed on Christmas Day which fell on the previous Sunday. Moviegoers spent a staggering $188.8M on the Top 20 over four days to close out the 2005 movie year.
Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com
This week at the movies, we’ve got the rise and fall of a girl group ("Dreamgirls," starring Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, and Eddie Murphy) and some yuletide splatter ("Black Christmas," starring Michelle Trachtenberg). What do the critics have to say?
At the height of its powers, Motown was described by label head Berry Gordy as "the sound of young America." "Dreamgirls" is a musical about a fictional (but loosely based upon the Supremes) girl group’s rise and fall during the heady days when black pop first became the soundtrack for kids across the racial divide. An early Oscar favorite, "Dreamgirls" largely lives up to the hype, according to the pundits, with quality songs and strong performances from Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, and especially "American Idol" castoff Jennifer Hudson. At 77 percent on the Tomatometer, "Dreamgirls" is Certified Fresh.
Ah, the holiday season: a time for reflection, goodwill toward others… and piles of dead sorority girls. Nothing makes spirits bright quite like a remake of the 1975 proto-slasher "Black Christmas," which wasn’t screened for critics before hitting theaters on (surprise!) Christmas day. Well, since it opened, a few reviews have trickled in, and they’re not very nice. The plot: a group of sisters trapped inside a sorority house are picked off one-by-one by a prank-calling madman. While some critics say the film has flashes of sick wit, others say it’s too generic and too short on tension to generate scares. At 15 percent on the Tomatometer, "Black Christmas" is on the critics’ "naughty" list.
Also opening this week in limited release: the Spanish period comedy "Unconscious" is at 100 percent; Guillermo Del Toro‘s eerie magic realist fantasy "Pan’s Labyrinth" is at 98 percent; "Children of Men," Alfonso Cuaron‘s dystopian sci-fi actioner starring Clive Owen, is at 94 percent; "Notes on a Scandal," a cat-and-mouse thriller starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench, is at 82 percent; "Miss Potter," which explores the inner life of children’s author Beatrix Potter and stars Renee Zellweger, is at 71 percent; "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer," Tom Tykwer‘s visually sumptuous serial killer film, is at 58 percent; and "The Dead Girl," a dark, multipart drama starring Toni Collette and Brittany Murphy, is at 50 percent.
Recent Film Musicals:
"Babel"’s back in the game as this year’s Golden Globes nominations were announced, including many expected Oscar pics — and a few smaller surprises.
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu‘s multi-lingual drama had been praised by critics (and stands Certified Fresh at 70 percent on the Tomatometer) but had not been thought of an obvious contender for awards season, let alone the nominations leader with seven Golden Globes nods. Among the noms, "Babel" is in contention for Best Picture – Drama, Best Director (Innaritu), Best Actor (Brad Pitt) and two Best Supporting Actresses (Rinko Kikuchi and Adriana Barraza).
Also representing in force this year is Martin Scorsese‘s gangster pic, "The Departed," which nabbed the second-most nominations with six, including Best Picture – Drama, Best Director, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and two competing Best Supporting Actors (Mark Wahlberg and Jack Nicholson).
DiCaprio is one of the year’s double-nominees, as he faces off with himself for Best Actor for his performances as an undercover cop in "The Departed" and a mercenary in "Blood Diamond."
Another filmmaker competing with himself for Golden Globes honors is Clint Eastwood, who is nominated twice for Best Director — first, for helming his World War II drama "Flags of Our Fathers," and again for its Japanese-language companion piece, "Letters From Iwo Jima." "Letters" is also an entrant in the Best Foreign Language category, qualifying because it was filmed in Japanese, much like another American-made film in the running — Mel Gibson‘s Mayan-language "Apocalypto."
But for all of these expected big-budget nominees, there were a few surprise picks from the film festival set. "Sherrybaby," for which Maggie Gyllenhaal is nominated for Best Actress, might be the smallest pic in the running; the film debuted at Sundance and played theatrically in only thirteen theaters during its release.
Tobacco industry send-up "Thank You For Smoking," a $6.5 million project which built momentum from last year’s Toronto and Sundance fests into $38 million gross worldwide, is in the running for Best Picture – Comedy and Best Actor (Aaron Eckhart). The feature-film debut of director Jason Reitman scored well with critics and stands at an impressive 87 percent on the Tomatometer.
In a year of unusual multiple nominees, some performers racked up Globes noms with their television work as well. Helen Mirren, long-though to be the Best Actress front-runner for Brit biopic "The Queen," is up for two additional awards in the Best Actress in a Mini-series or TV Movie category where she’ll compete against herself (for performances in "Elizabeth I" and "Prime Suspect: The Final Act").
Mirren will also face off against another dual nominee, Annette Bening, in this category (Bening’s up for the TV pic "Mrs. Harris" and her film "Running With Scissors"). Thesps Chiwetel Ejiofor, Toni Collette, and Emily Blunt are also competing for both film and television Globes.
Further surprises came at the inclusion of devastatingly rotten films like the super-budget bomb of the summer, "The Da Vinci Code" (24 percent on the Tomatometer), which can now boast a Golden Globe nomination thanks to Hans Zimmer’s Original Score.
Emilio Estevez‘s ensemble piece "Bobby" is also rotten at 43 percent, yet will inexplicably vie for the Best Picture award against "Babel" (70 percent), "Little Children" (83 percent), "The Departed" (92 percent) and "The Queen" (98 percent).
Darren Aronofsky‘s sci-fi romance "The Fountain" split critics at 50 percent on the Tomatometer, but its score courtesy of "Pi" and "Requiem for a Dream" composer Clint Mansell captured the attentions of HFPA voters in the same category.
And that other unknown film in the running for Best Original Score? "Nomad," a Kazakh language, Kazakhstan-set historical epic starring Jason Scott Lee and Jay Hernandez that has only yet been released in Switzerland and — yep — Kazakhstan.
The 64th Golden Globes Awards will take place January 15, 2007. Read on for the full list of film nominees.
Best Motion Picture – Drama
Best Performance By An Actress in A Motion Picture – Drama
Best Performance By An Actor in A Motion Picture – Drama
Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
Best Performance By An Actress in A Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
Best Performance By An Actor in A Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical
Sacha Baron Cohen, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan"
Johnny Depp, "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest"
Aaron Eckhart, "Thank You For Smoking"
Chiwetel Ejiofor, "Kinky Boots"
Will Ferrell, "Stranger Than Fiction"
Best Animated Feature Film
Best Foreign Language Film
Best Performance By An Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Adriana Barraza, "Babel"
Cate Blanchett, "Notes on a Scandal"
Emily Blunt, "The Devil Wears Prada"
Jennifer Hudson, "Dreamgirls"
Rinko Kikuchi, "Babel"
Best Performance By An Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Best Director – Motion Picture
Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
Best Original Score – Motion Picture
Best Original Song – Motion Picture
Helen Mirren‘s astoundingly successful biopic "The Queen" is getting some serious competition from Pedro Almodovar‘s latest, as "Volver" has emerged a frontrunner for the box-office returns (and Awards Season affections) of the artsy crowd.
"The Queen," directed by Stephen Frears, was picked up in October 2005 by Miramax, who then cited the pick-up as the desire to build "an eclectic, wide-ranging slate of specialty projects." With a good-sized (at least for a studio indie) budget estimated at $15 M, it seems Miramax’s acquisition of the quiet Brit royalty drama was a stroke of genius; since debuting in a scant three-theater limited release at the end of September, the film has built unrelenting momentum into a domestic gross of $10.1 M.
Of course, box-office recognition for "The Queen" has mirrored the response of critics, making it both a successful money-maker and a deserving prestige pic. That wave of laurels can be traced back to September, when it debuted to great acclaim at the Venice Film Festival and went on to win three of that festival’s awards (for Best Screenplay, Best Actress, and the FIPRESCI Prize; Frears lost the Golden Lion to Zhang Ke Jia‘s "Still Life").
"The Queen" is currently Certified Fresh and sitting pretty at 98 percent on the Tomatometer, only three out of 120 critics having disliked it (including Stella Papamichael of the BBC, who wrote of it "The tabloid appeal is obvious, but Morgan’s script is tomorrow’s chip paper."). Most critics, however, agree with the Toronto Star‘s Peter Howell that the picture is "led by Mirren in a title role that demands Oscar glory."
But on the whole the critics are raving; it’s no surprise, then, that Helen Mirren has been pegged for months as a shoe-in for Best Actress. She knows it, too; her steely, powdery visage on the film’s poster screams confidence — "It’s mine, all you other actresses get out of my way!" — a statuette finally in her hands, after two previous unrealized nominations (for "The Madness of King George" in 1995, and "Gosford Park" in 2002). Plus, Mirren’s on a royal roll, having just won an Emmy for playing another Elizabeth, Elizabeth I, in the acclaimed 2005 HBO miniseries.
But last weekend a contender emerged to threaten Helen Mirren’s near-lock on the Best Actress award. And her name is Penelope.
Penelope Cruz, carrying an equally strong ensemble piece, is simply luminous in "Volver," a quasi-magical tragicomedy by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar released by Sony Pictures Classics last week. Like "The Queen," "Volver" has reaped praise from critics the world over. And although it only just opened in limited release in the U.S., it’s also poised to make big bucks — and make it’s leading lady a strong candidate for Oscar.
A foreign film after all, "Volver" premiered in Almodovar’s native Spain last March and proceeded to rake in the dough on its tour across Europe, Latin America, and other markets. It also hit up the festival circuit — Almodovar is a certified auteur, and proved so by nabbing a Best Screenplay award at this year’s Cannes, (although he lost the Palme d’or to Ken Loach‘s IRA drama "The Wind That Shakes the Barley"). His film also won the festival’s Best Actress prize — a shared honor awarded to the six female leads of "Volver."
"Volver" is no slouch when it comes to the Tomatometer, either; it’s currently at 93 percent, with 60 reviews. And what of the numbers?
Since debuting this spring overseas, the Almodovar film has grossed $61.5 M worldwide; last weekend it posted "Queen"-like numbers, averaging $40,400 per screen in only five theaters (when "The Queen" debuted in three theaters this fall, it took in a similar $40,671 per site). On November 22 "Volver" will hit 20 more theaters, with more and more playdates as its platform release continues — and, you can be sure, as it keeps filling seats.
All of this is has set Oscar-watchers abuzz, as Cruz — certainly known to American audiences, albeit for eye-candy roles and the spectacle of a Spanish beauty circulating in Hollywood — seems a compelling Best Actress alternative to Mirren. As the beleaguered yet beautiful young mother Raimunda, Cruz’s performance is revelatory; IGN Movies critic Todd Gilchrist muses "she is strong, weak, tender, tough, sexy, and maternal, often all at once." Slant Magazine writer Ed Gonzalez writes "‘Mildred Pierce’ won Joan Crawford an Oscar, and Almodóvar’s quaint riff on the Michael Curtiz classic may do the same for Penélope Cruz."
The LA Times’ Gold Derby columnist Tom O’Neill calls Mirren "the Best Actress frontrunner" but also that "Penelope Cruz has The Babe Factor in a race crowded with older gals." And while these two are certainly reigning over awards contention right now, a handful of other names have been thrown into the ring, including four-time nominee Kate Winslet for "Little Children," multiple-time nominee and twice-winner Meryl Streep for "The Devil Wears Prada," and three-time nominee Annette Bening (for the critical dud "Running With Scissors."
But there’s plenty of time left in the year for more nominees, and a trio of forthcoming flicks have more potential Best Actress-worthy thesps: Dame Judi Dench, for "Notes on a Scandal" (December 25), her co-star Cate Blanchett for Steven Soderbergh‘s "The Good German" (December 15), and — surprise, surprise — Chinese actress Gong Li for "Curse of the Golden Flower," the forthcoming period epic from Zhang Yimou (December 22).
Li’s entrance into the speculative arena is the most recent, and the most interesting; with turns in her first two American movies within the last year ("Memoirs of a Geisha," "Miami Vice") Li has certainly bumped up her exposure stateside. Plus, anyone remotely familiar with Chinese cinema knows she has the skills to be in contention (see "Raise the Red Lantern," "Ju Dou," or any other films she made with director Yimou). But "Curse of the Golden Flower," to be released by Sony Pictures Classics, will have the barriers of language and culture to overcome, and while the same can be said of Almodovar, Cruz, and "Volver," it will certainly be a bigger hurdle for Yimou, Li, and "Flower."