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Oscar Starts His Engine
by Christopher Stone

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It's All About Oscar

It's All About Oscar
As of the January 23 announcement of the 79th Academy Award nominations, here in relentlessly sunny Southern California, it's All About Oscar at the box office, and it will remain All About Oscar until well after the Gold Statuettes are dispensed to the winners on Sunday, February 25, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. That's because Los Angeles and environs is a company town, and the motion picture industry is the company.

No matter where Southern Californians turn: the Los Angeles Times, Eyewitness News, or the Internet, Oscar, not GREASE, is the word. We simply can't get enough of the minutiae of Hollywood's big and most egocentric night. It happens every year.

It doesn't matter whether you're a motion picture industry insider, or a customer service rep at LAX, if you live in Southern California, Oscar is the name of the game.

Exhibitors are booking as many of their screens as possible with the major Oscar nominees (DREAMGIRLS, BABEL, THE QUEEN, THE DEPARTED). Each nominee will see an upward box office surge as a result of its nomination(s). Academy voters are racing to take a second look at their favorites before marking and mailing their final ballots. The audience is rushing to see the contenders because it was buying tickets for BORAT, JACKASS, and other lightweight fare, when the cream of last year's crop was first released. Around the great California Southland, hosts and hostesses are planning Oscar parties and menus.

AMC is trying to both spike box office sales and make it easier for film fans to see all five of the Best Picture nominees. On
BABEL ON

BABEL ON
Saturday, February 24, the multiplex giant will offer a one-day $30 pass that will allow its purchaser to see all five of the Best Picture nominees under one roof in one day. The $30 pass will also include free popcorn and beverages. The offer will be valid at six selected AMC Southern California multiplexes.

In between your Oscar box office visits, please take time to see my beautiful friend Rae Dawn Chong, and the always interesting Billy Dee Williams in the compelling generational drama CONSTELLATION, opening today.

But what's up with Oscar in his 79th Year? Is Hollywood's ultimate Party Boy becoming senile, outdated, or simply out-of-touch? Last year, the Old Boy shot a fair amount of his credibility and cache out the head of his gold statuette when he bypassed BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, worldwide, the most awarded and honored motion picture of 2005, in favor of the violent, but less controversial CRASH. The industry, and the world-in-general, gasped. Apparently the members of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences still can't really get their heads around the subject area of boys kissing. Shame on you, Oscar. And you wonder why your television ratings continue to erode.

This time around, Oscar bestows its most nominations on DREAMGIRLS, yet fails to nominate the musical for either Best Picture or Best Director. Oscar, you need an analyst's care.

Instead, the Academy gives Best Picture nods to the well-reviewed, but not well-loved, BABEL, and THE DEPARTED. Even many industry pundits were unable to comfortably stomach either of these choices. Of course,
Oscar Will Likely Pass on THE DEPARTED

Oscar Will Likely Pass on THE DEPARTED
THE DEPARTED won't win. Hollywood snubs New Yorker Scorsese even when he is Oscar-worthy. In this pillar's opinion, the finest Best Picture choices are the funny, quirky LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, or the British born and bred THE QUEEN.

This year gives us an Oscar race devoid of passion. TITANIC, CHICAGO, even BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, made large segments of Oscars' fans and voting members passionate. Even though movie-goers recognize the value of 2006 Oscar-nominated Best Pictures such as BABEL and THE DEPARTED, they may not have really enjoyed them. I've already heard a number of industry people dub these nominees "convoluted," and "difficult to follow."

SHOO-INS? Are there any shoo-ins for Oscars? I see three.

Jennifer Hudson's performance in DREAMGIRLS literally had movie audiences breaking into spontaneous applause: a rarity for any screen perfomance. The AMERICAN IDOL loser looks like an Oscar shoo-in to me.

I'll have the biggest surprise of my Oscar-watching life if Helen Mirren loses the Best Actress Oscar.

Finally, Hollywood liberals literally swooned over AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, Al Gore's stunning Documentary Feature Warning about Global Warming. Gore's powerful, cautionary tale is a virtual shoo-in for Best Documentary Feature.

Each Oscar winner will set the box office cash registers to humming. The major winners will most likely add millions to their box office grosses.

Whether or not you watch Oscar's Big Night, the chances are that the names of the winners, what they wore and said, will not escape you. In Southern California, it's a virtual certainty.

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The Business of Show
Every other Friday

Does advertising, public taste, or overindulged stars determine a movie's box office fate? Christoper Stone explores what's going on behind the box office.


Other Columns
Other columns by Christopher Stone:

The Cautionary Box-Office

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up. Part Two

Box-Office Holiday Season Heads Up, Part 1

Quality Is Independent

Oh, the Horror!

All Columns


Christopher Stone
Christopher Stone is the author of the international best seller Re-Creating Your Self. With Mary Sheldon, he co-authored three highly successful hardcover books of guided meditations.

He is a member of the Writers Guild of America, West.


Contact
If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Christopher Stone by clicking here.


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