“Inglourious Basterds” tops SAG Awards (updated)

The win for “Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture” for Quentin Tarantino‘s high-spirited war picture was the closest thing to a surprise for the Screen Actors Guild awards last night. Considering the genuinely outstanding performances “Inglourious Basterds” contains from such non-multiple award winners or nominees as Melanie Laurent, Michael Fassbender, Daniel Brühl, and Brad Pitt among others, this gives me a happy.

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Otherwise, however, these awards getting almost as repetitious as our May and June weather forecasts in Southern California. (Say it with me, L.A. residents: “Late night and early morning low clouds followed by hazy sunshine in the afternoon.”)

So, guess what…The Best Supporting Actor trophy went to basterd par excellance Christoph Waltz, who at this point pretty much owns the category with his uber-first class bad-guy performance as the “Jew hunter” Colonel Hans Landa. Similarly Mo’Nique from “Precious” once again took the Best Supporting Actress for her work as the abusive mother of the title character in the lauded but controversial drama. The only thing likely to be more dramatic than her Oscar acceptance award would be the howls of disappointment if she somehow doesn’t win.

Jeff Bridges, too, is looking like a lock for a Best Actor Oscar for his performance as a down at heel country musician in “Crazy Heart,” as he picked up another trophy tonight. Apparently, everyone just decided this was Jeff Bridges’ year. It’s about time.

One award SAG has that the Oscars don’t, and probably should, is for stunt ensembles and that went to “Star Trek.” Well, that’s a refreshing change of pace.

A complete list of the SAG awards, which also covers television (three cheers for “Mad Men” and the great Betty White!), is viewable courtesy of the New York Times.

UPDATE: Oh by gosh by golly! I forgot to mention the one acting award where there will be some suspense at this year’s Oscars, and that’s Best Actress, which is shaping up to be a real battle between Meryl Streep’s interpretation of Julia Child in “Julie and Julia” and Sandra Bullock‘s red state Samaritan in “The Blind Side.”  Chalk the SAG awards as one up for Team Sandra.

  

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Box office victory for “G.I. Joe”; “Julie and Julia” attracts many ladies of a certain age

Not a lot of big surprises at this weekend’s box office. “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” apparently did even better than some expected in the “flyover” or “heartland” areas (this is supposedly where “real Americans live,” which is nice to know as a coastal fictitious American). As per the trades, it made an estimated $56.2 million this weekend, several million better than $45-50 million number I repeated last time.

For those of us (me!) seeking a cloud in Paramount’s silver lining, Nikki Finke does offer that the studio actually predicted a round $60 million earlier and that the film’s $175 million budget is just a tad on the high side. (That’s a minimum of 17 smallish budget studio films that could have been made for the same price tag.)

Finke has some doubts that the movie will hit $300 million or be profitable all on its own, though merchandising here is obviously a possible financial bonanza for toy maker Hasbro. She also has some doubts about the foreign market in light of sentiment abroad opposed to U.S. militarism. It might be tempting to say then, that Barack Obama is the best friend Paramount has here, but Finke points out that “G.I. Joe” came in at #2 in Australia, once the third most enthusiastic member of “the coalition of the willing” under Bush-esque rightwinger John Howard. She also expects it to be blown out of the water by the apparently entirely non-brainless “District 9” next weekend. I never thought I’d say this, but from Nikki Finke’s mouth to God’s ears.

Meryl Streep and Stanley TucciMeanwhile, the culinographic “Julie and Julia” also performed pretty much precisely according to expectation and pulled in a satisfactorily satiating estimate of $20.1. According to a “rival exec” Finke quotes, the dual memoir dramedy had one of the oldest demographics he or she had ever seen, which I guess makes sense considering you have to be over a certain age to have watched Julia Child regularly on television. Finke also says the audience was almost exclusively female, despite the fact that we all like food that tastes good. In any case, those whose dating preferences includes middle-aged and older women now know their next film-going destination.

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“G.I. Joe” to enforce age (and gender?) apartheid at box office (updated)

It’s hard to tell from the wilds of deepest North Orange County, but I’m guessing that Hollywood’s in a mild state of shock following the very unexpected death of John Hughes, without a doubt one of the most influential writers and directors of the past two-and a half decades. Nevertheless, life goes on and the box office is the fact of life in the film business.

And so it is that, Lord help us all, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” seems poised to take this coming weekend’s chase for the green fairly effortlessly. Indeed, the always jovial Carl DiOrio of The Hollywood Reporter expects something in the neighborhood of $45-50 million. As mentioned here before, the actioner hasn’t been screened for critics, an increasingly common studio ploy that is nevertheless still somewhat rare for a film as high profile as this one.

Variety‘s Pamela McClintock, though not setting any numbers out for us, remarks that the action/sci-fi flick and toy/game marketing device is:

…sparking strong interest among both young and older men, as well as some curiosity among younger femmes, according to tracking.

Why any sensible young person of either gender should be interested in this film eludes me, but I guess we’ll have to see if there’s enough insensible ones from both to make this film more than a young male bastion. I should also add that some critics in the online and foreign press have managed to somehow see the film despite Paramount’s non-screening decision, and the Rotten Tomatoes numbers are less dismal than you would expect. Still, in my estimation, the best reviews lack all conviction while the worst are filled with passionate intensity, though the rough beast we call the teenage populace will not be stopped from slouching towards the Plex-ville. (My profoundest apologies to Mr. Yeats.)

Intriguingly, while both Variety and THR say “Joe” will be deploying to 3,500 screens, Box Office Mojo has the film in over 4,000 theaters. The cinematic Powell doctrine, anyone?

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