The Golden Globes nominations — gee whiz

Okay, so we know the Golden Globes are strange.

Nikki Finke will give you a vision of low-rent corruption that, for all I know, is entirely true. It sure seems to match the often bizarre-to-inexplicable nominations and awards at times. One thing is sure, few of us will ever let the Globes live down that infamous 1982 award to Pia Zadora when she won “New Star of the Year in a Motion Picture” award for a movie called “Butterfly.” People make fun of the fact that the less than superb actress won the award, but it’s a lot more shocking when you consider that her competition was probably two of the more exciting movie performances of the entire 1980s, Howard E. Rollins in “Ragtime” and, more famously, Tim Hutton in “Ordinary People.” I guess they split the pro-talent vote. The category was dead within two years.

Meanwhile back here in 2010, the dramatic “Best Picture” list is mostly in line with the movies that are generally getting a lot of awards and nominations, though I’m sure people will have the usual disagreements. (I know I do). Also, no big surprise, “The Social Network” and “The King’s Speech” did very well in the nominations. “The Fighter” and “Inception” also got a bit of a boost that might Academy voters keep them in mind as Oscar dark horses.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in

This year’s “Comedy or Musical” Best Picture category is, however, a real doozy. It really looks like the foreign press thinks that comedies don’t really have to be good to be nominated; it’s a sort of twisted semi-reverse snobbery. I know reviews and awards are not the same, but the critically drubbed “The Tourist” got a “Fresh” rating of 07% from “Top Critics” and 20% from critics overall at Rotten Tomatoes. Could the reactions of Hollywood Foreign Press members be that different from domestic press?

I know there’s been some quibbling about whether it qualifies as a “Comedy.” That doesn’t really bother me. I’m sure it’s trying to be funny and probably has a happy ending. That makes it a comedy in my book, though not necessarily a good one. Also, I have nothing against contrarians who laud movies others deride, but the Hollywood Foreign Press isn’t some group of freethinking cinephiles in the tradition of Pauline Kael and Manny Farber.

Cher and Stanley Tucci dish about awards in As for the other films in the category, only “The Kids Are All Right” has been generating the kind of overall appreciation that makes it awards material. “RED” is a reasonably well-liked, successful film, but this will probably be it’s only award nomination outside of genre-specific groups. “Alice in Wonderland” did very well but got a “meh” critical reaction overall and will probably get some technical Oscar nominations. “Burlesque” is a movie that people barely liked as a sort of guilty pleasure and pretty clearly is only on the list because the Golden Globes people really want Cher and Christina Aguilera to drop by.

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Thanksgiving weekend box office: Harry Potter still rules, but “Tangled” keeps hope alive for Disney princesses

Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint face the future in As we discussed on Thursday, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One” would have had to suffer a truly enormous second weekend drop, or its nearest competitor would have had to be a HUGE over-performer, for it to come in at any spot but #1 this weekend. Still, these last five days were a bit more competitive than expected.

Over just this weekend (Friday-Sunday), the latest entry in J.K. Rowling’s enormous fantasy opus dropped by a hefty but not surprising 59.7% from last weekend with an estimate of $50 million and change for studio Warner Brothers, according to Box Office Mojo. Over at Anne Thompson/Indiewire land, Anthony D’Alessandro reports that the fantasy feature earned some $76.3 over the entire Thanksgiving weekend. (Nikki Finke has a slightly higher figure along with the predictable extra snark.)

Coming up a very healthy #2 was Disney’s “Tangled.” Reports of the death of Disney fairy-tale adaptations and princess tales may be taking a very Mark Twain-worthy turn. The 3D animated musical comedy, which is receiving hearty praise from critics and top grades from Cinemascore, earned a stellar $69 million estimate over the five day period and came within a hair’s breadth of the Potter-plex over the weekend with $49.1 million. Close enough that, when the actuals come out, it’s not impossible that “Tangled” could actually win the weekend. Of course, with this much money involved, neither film could possibly be termed a “loser.”

That, however, is not the case for the weekend’s other two new releases. The musical’s new lease on life took a small hit this weekend with a disappointing run for “Burlesque.” The poorly reviewed pic earned an $11.8 million weekend estimate for Screen Gems/Sony in the #4 spot after “Megamind,” and somewhere in the neighborhood of $17 million over the five day period, perhaps $7 million below the expected take. Still, D’Alessandro reports a very good Cinemascore rating, which may indicate strong legs or at least that people who really wanted to see a movie with Cher and Christina Aguilera got what they wanted.

Bringing up the rear after #5 “Unstoppable,” which is holding very nicely indeed in Week 3 with an estimated $11.75 for Fox, was Edward Zwick’s “Love and Other Drugs.” How Nikki Finke could describe Zwick’s first attempt at a romantic comedy/drama, 1986 near-crime against humanity (and David Mamet) “About Last Night,” as “now classic” is a mystery to me. Less of a mystery is the fact that a poorly reviewed attempt at Oscar bait is a movie with no place to call home. So, those $9.85 weekend and $14.5 holiday weekend estimates are absolutely no surprise.

The Dwayne Johnson action fest “Faster” also lost its personal race this weekend, with a rather slower $8.7 and $12.2 million estimate. La Finke notes that the marketing budget on the film was kept modest (so that’s why director George Tillman, Jr. talked to me?) and, at least, CBS Films prexy Les Moonves seems committed to the long haul with his fledgling film company.

Meanwhile, in limited release-land, the big news was the big weekend for “The King’s Speech” which earned by far the weekend’s biggest per-screen average with a king-size $87,500 average on four screens. Considering this film is both reportedly extremely good, stars English actors portraying royalty, and from the Weinsteins, its heavy Oscar presence seems assured alongside “The Social Network” (which I finally saw last night and was absolutely floored by) and “The Black Swan” (which I haven’t seen yet, but seems to floor everyone who sees it).

The-Kings-Speech-International-Trailer

  

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Box office preview: “Harry Potter” to smash strong competition like so many horcruxes

Even though we have four major releases hitting theaters tomorrow for this five day Turkey day weekend, I’m going to keep it short. Especially as, in some respects, this weekend is a foregone conclusion.

On the heels of its boffo $125 million opening weekend, Warner Brothers’ “Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows: Part One” would have to drop by what I’d think is an unprecedented percentage in its second weekend to get anywhere even close to the $40 million or so jolly Carl DiOrio expects for this week’s new CGI animated comedy based on the fairly tale “Rapunzel,” “Tangled.” The film, which Disney has seemed slightly nervous about, marks the final bow for the Disney princess brand and fairy tale adaptations for some time, we’re told, and the studio has been trying hard to sell it to males.

Though I might personally prefer my princesses 2D and traditionally animated, the tale has enraptured most critics and our David Medsker is rather sweet on it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it over perform — not because the people listen to critics but because the critics are (mostly) people. Maybe it’s a bit early to retire the whole fairy tale princesses thing.

Also looking strong and with definite female appeal — though plenty of PG-13 level under-clothed attractive women are on offer for ogling males — is the apparently deliberately hoaky musical, “Burlesque.” Though the film is getting some guilty pleasure semi-love from Jason Zingale, it’s not getting the guilt-ridden love of critics over all, not that it will matter for a movie, fans of Cher and Christina Aguilera and glitz will show. Fans of rom-coms, however might not show as  much for Edward Zwick’s attempt at something a bit more biting than the usual in the genre, Fox’s “Love and Other Drugs.” Any Oscar hopes for the Jake Gyllenhaal/Anne Hathaway pairer seem beyond remote in the face of unimpressive reviews. and I suspect this is the kind of movie that actually needs to be good to do terribly well. Still, the considerable charisma of its two stars and the lack of adult-skewing date-type movies might help it achieve its rather modest expectations.

Bringing up the possible rear, or maybe not, is the relatively lowish budget actioner starring Dwayne Johnson, “Faster.” Though I enjoyed interviewing director George Tillman, Jr., the movie has received little critical applause, not that it particularly needs it. It’s possible, however, that considering the lack of action-fare right now, males might want to smell what Tilman, the ex-Rock, and a strong supporting cast are cooking. I’m sure CBS Films would find that delicious.

Dwayne Johnson is going

  

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Trailer time: Dumb knows no gender

I’m behind and quite busy and there’s really not anything all the compelling going on to my mind in terms of movie news. You know what that means…trailers, trailers, trailers all weekend long. And maybe a clip or a mash-up. The theme for this post: stupid.

Via Movieline, when you’re talking “Jackass: 3D” stupid is matter-of-factly the name of the game. I understand this movie fully exploits the gimmicky side of 3-D and I actually enjoy that stuff, though I don’t call it filmmaking. Nevertheless, being Mr. Squeamish, I’m not really up for fecal material and urine and God-knows-what-else they’re semi-literally likely to throw at me. That’s probably why I’ve never even seen the show on TV, much less plunked down money to watch at the local multiplex. On the other hand, I’ve got to admit that this trailer made me laugh and, as far as it goes, this would probably be a blast to watch in 3-D, especially after a beer or two.
Jackass 3D

Trailer Park Movies | MySpace Video

And now for something completely different, except in terms of gray cells. An apparent musical of sorts, “Burlesque” seems to borrow heavily from everything from “42nd Street” to “Flashdance” and with an emphasis on the sheer dumbness that made the latter movie work for millions and the combination of streetwise brass and complete naivete that still makes the Busby Berkeley classic tick along for movie geeks. Anne Thompson says I should never underestimate the savvy of Screen Gems “topper” (I prefer the term “prexy”) Clint Culpepper. When you’ve got Cher and Christina Aguilera being anchored by Stanley Tucci and Kristin Bell, she may be right. This movie looks as dumb as a doorstop to me, but we all know that in show business, dumb can be smart.

  

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Red Carpet Chatter: Mike Nichols Gets His AFI Lifetime Achievement Award

nicholsenhance

Born in 1931 in what was very soon to become Hitler’s Germany, young Michael Peschkowsky was living in Manhattan by 1939. It was great luck both for the future Mike Nichols and for the country that accepted him.

Nichols is, of course, one of the most respected directors in Hollywood, and for good reason. He’s the original, craftsmanlike, and emotionally astute directorial voice responsible for such sixties and seventies classics as “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,”  “Carnal Knowledge” and, of course, “The Graduate” (the source of his only directorial Oscar so far) as well as such eighties, nineties, and oughts successes as “Silkwood,” “Working Girl,” “The Birdcage,” and “Closer.” Even if some of the later films are not on the same level of quality as his earlier films — and several, especially his 1988 box office hit, “Working Girl,” stray into mediocrity — it’s still one of the most impressive and diverse careers of any living director in Hollywood.

That’s just on the big screen. On television, Nichols has rebounded in the eyes of many critics, directing two of the most acclaimed television productions of the last decade, 2001’s “Wit” with Emma Thompson, and the outstanding 2005 miniseries adaptation of Tony Kushner’s brilliant and mammoth epic play, “Angels in America.” With his 80th birthday just a year and a half away, he’s still working hard with two thrillers movies planned, including an I’ll-believe-it-when-I-see-it remake of Akira Kurosawa’s “High and Low” currently being rewritten by the decidedly counter-intuitive choice of Chris Rock.

Before he directed his first foot of film, Mike Nichols was a noted theater director. That in itself is not so unusual a root for directors to travel. What is different is that, before he was a noted theater director, he was half of one of the most influential comedy teams in show business history, Nichols and May. (His comedy partner, Elaine May, went on to become an important, if less commercially successful, writer and director in her own right.)

Still, from the moment he directed his first major play, Neil Simon’s “Barefoot in the Park,” Nichols mostly abandoned performing. Today, his highly regarded early work is mostly known only to fairly hardcore comedy aficionados.

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