From the Inauguration to the Oscars: The Hollywood and the Box-Office segue from Inauguration Fever to Oscar Fever was seamless, one historic event simply flowing into the other. Leading up to January 20, Hollywood was All About Obama. As of January 22, and the announcement of Oscar nominations, the Box-Office has returned the spotlight to itself.
Hollywood loved the recent Inauguration.
On the morning of Thursday, January 22, as Secretary Hillary Clinton received a standing ovation from her welcoming State Department team, a sleepy Hollywood awakened to the freshly-announced Oscar nominations.
With 13 nominations, THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON led the Oscar pack, with SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, a fairly close second with 10 Academy nods.
Immediately, the media expressed puzzlement that SLUMDOG had received 10 nominations, yet not a single nod for acting performances. "How can this be?" News anchors and field reporters mused. Here's how: the Motion Picture Academy smiles upon actors who fill a character's shoes completely. In SLUMDOG,
three different actors played each of the three principal characters as the characters aged from childhood to young adulthood.
But the Box-Office loves Oscar even more.
The media also expressed surprise that Kate Winslet's Oscar nomination came for THE READER, and not for REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, for which she was highly Oscar promoted. Comedian Ricky Gervais nailed that call at the Golden Globes when, after Kate's Supporting Actress win for THE READER, he quipped, "Well done, Winslet. I told you, do a holocaust movie and the awards come, didn't I?"
We add, "Well done, again, Winslet. This past Sunday, Kate walked away with the Screen Actors Guild Best Supporting Actress Award for THE READER. Others believe it is more than Winslet's great performance and the holocaust theme that are causing perennial Awards Bridesmaid to become Oscar's Best Actress Maid of Honor.
Based on Bernhard Schlink's bestselling novel of the same name, THE READER has had a long, winding, and hazardous twelve-year road from the printed page to the silver screen – and its
five Oscar nods. Just for openers, Kate Winslet won the role only after the originally cast Nicole Kidman dropped out due to pregnancy. Then, THE READER'S two guiding producers, Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack, died during production.
READER halted till co-star Kross turned 18.
As if that weren't enough, production was temporarily halted to allow Winslet's teenaged co-star, David Kross to turn 18 before filming his nude and sex scenes. All in all, getting THE READER done was a trial by fire, even by motion picture-making standards. The industry at large was aware of this difficult film-making, and its award-givers may be rewarding THE READER with nominations and awards for "a job well done under the most difficult of circumstances."
An ironic twist to the nominations, the late Heath Ledger's Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod for THE DARK KNIGHT, came one year to the day after his untimely passing.
One year ago, the Box-Office was not only mourning the death of one of its brightest young stars, it was also reeling from the Writers Guild of
America strike. At this time last year, there was talk that the 80th Annual Academy Awards might be postponed, or even cancelled. Fortunately, the strike was settled just in time for Hollywood's Biggest Night to play out as scheduled. This year, clouds were again forming over Oscar's Parade, via a possible Screen Actors Guild strike. Once again, Match-Flickers were on the side of the angels. On the very same day that Oscar nominations were revealed, the 120,000-member actors union announced that it had given up its strike vote plan. Instead the movie studios' final contract offer is being sent to SAG's membership for a vote.
A rare posthumous Oscar for Heath?
Will Oscar transform Kate Winslet from Maid of Honor to Bride? Will fallen young-star Heath Ledger be awarded his industry's highest accolade posthumously? Will Oscar wins spike the thus far recession resistent box-office for the winning flicks? These and other Oscar-worthy questions will be answered when ABC-TV broadcasts the 81st Annual Academy Awards on Sunday, February 22, 5 PT/8ET.
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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.
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.
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