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David Poland

By David Poland

Weekend Box Office

Hide & Seek continues a one of those rare trends that actually might have an effect on the long run at the multiplex. Meet The Fockers, White Noise, Coach Carter, Are We There Yet? ,and now this… five (six, if you count Fockers three times) straight weekends of very specific genre movies topping the charts, the last three of which performed above expectations. 

Yes, genre gets tired and the mediocrity of the films that come from these genres often lead to short legs.  But the key in the film business these days is delivering an opening weekend.  And two thrillers, one feel good urban cross-over drama, one urban cross-over comedy and one flat out comedy sequel. 

How can you not be programming your line-up with the power of these films in mind?

On the Oscar front, Million Dollar Baby came out of the gate strong, with a reported $5800 per screen and a total over $10.5 million.  The fight between The Aviator and M$B is now engaged, especially combining this start of wide release with Clint Eastwood’s DGA win on Saturday.

On the down side, Sideways looks like it may, sadly (for me, at least) be moving out of contention for the win after an expansion to 1694 screen led to only an estimated $6.3 million… which is not bad, but not a power move.  The gross and the per-screen were not far ahead of In Good Company… not good company for a film that wants to win Best Picture.

More to come….

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88 Responses to “Weekend Box Office”

  1. JT says:

    it is unfortunate that Sideways will not be a huge hit, but the audience for it will see it eventually, one wya or the other. I would like to say that I am happy with the take for M$B. I saw it for the first time saturday night, went in completely naked, not knowing about the third act and was quite knocked. Its no Mystic river, but Eastwood hit a grand slam, no doubt about it. i told everyone I knew to see it before the ending becomes a hot topic in the press as the Oscars get closer and closer. I am so happy to not have known. I first heard about the film through David Poland and from then on, I never read so much as an interview with CE. I didnt read reviews or anything. the only way to see it is to see it as I did. Thanks for the restraint, critics (Medved doesnt count!).

  2. Stella's Boy says:

    I was disappointed with Million $ Baby. I’ve seen more subtle white trash on Jerry Springer. Could have also done without the Danger character’s subplot and Freeman’s narration is a distraction. His part is pretty thankless, too. I liked Mystic River a lot more. Swank is fantastic, though, and I liked the music and Tom Stern’s cinematography. But I didn’t like it nearly as much as Sideways.

  3. L&DB says:

    I am shocked Sideways did not get a bump from it’s
    nom this weekend. I guess their honest ads about
    their film, in comparison to the lying and deceiving
    from Warners about M$B, just did not get over with
    the people. Hopefully the American people will
    turn on M$B because really it just needs to happen.
    It’s sad that there are more realistic ZOMBIE
    films in comparison to M$B.
    Do not give up on Sideways yet there Poland. M$B
    should have an 8 mile like second WIDE weekend
    coming. Nothing better than a film that everyone
    should go see that the critics go out of their
    way to sell out the moviegoing public by not
    discussing what the film is really about.

  4. Stella's Boy says:

    Even though I think M$B is massively overrated, I don’t think Warners is necessarily lying about it. I can understand why they’re marketing it the way they are. I don’t want anything ruined for me in advance and wouldn’t want to have known anything about the third act before seeing it.

  5. Chester says:

    I wasn’t completely sure how I felt about “Million Dollar Baby” when I first saw it, but it has grown on me considerably. I now think it’s the subtlest directing job of the year, the only Oscar film that has a director’s stamp all over it. The fact that the Directors Guild has just awarded Clint its top prize made me very happy.
    I can’t say I agree with the complaints about the movie’s depiction of “white trash.” Some of us have actually met those types. For those who haven’t, they’re out there in the open if you are willing to divert your gaze from the cultures of the west and east coasts. You might want to check out some of the recent contestants on “American Idol” who were willing to give up their jobs, marriages and children…just to audition!
    I also don’t agree that Freeman’s role is thankless or that his narration is a distraction. If anything, I found the narration gave the film even more heart than it already had. It’s true that Freeman has done that sort of thing before, most notably in “Shawshank Redemption,” but so what? Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems to me many actors have done narrations in multiple films (Humphrey Bogart comes to mind, but offhand I honestly can’t name the movies).

  6. Barry says:

    So I guess the moral of this weekend is: Horrible reviews + scares + Deniro = box office. Horrible reviews + scares + Slater = bomb. I mean its not like these movies were THAT much different as far as marketing. Tara Reid better start shaving that pussy cause I can hear Vivid pounding down her door.

  7. Stella's Boy says:

    Chester, don’t be so condescending. I live in the Midwest. I realize people like that exist. I have plenty of white trash in my family. I just felt like they were so over the top and one-dimensional in M$B. Just didn’t work for me. And Freeman himself has admitted how thankless his role is. He described his part as “mopping the floor and cleaning the toilets.” His words. And I didn’t find his narration to be anything special, and IMO it was distracting and unnecessary at times.

  8. Chester says:

    You may be right, Barry. Maybe it’s because the DeNiro flick had a lot more marketing behind it than the Slater bomb. They have been running the teaser and trailer for “Hide & Seek” forever, and I think it’s come before every movie I’ve seen for at least three or four months now.
    Also, a lot of the critics who trashed the movie had nothing but praise for DeNiro and Dakota Fanning. I can’t remember the last time DeNiro got this many good reviews for one of his performances.

  9. Stella's Boy says:

    De Niro is really getting good reviews for Hide & Seek? Not in the reviews I have read. I thought he was awful in it. Fox did sell it well, just like Universal did with White Noise.

  10. Barry says:

    chester, you must not read many Deniro reviews. the flick has something like 17% on rottentomatoes, and i’m sure deniros performance is factored into all those horrible reviews.

  11. Chester says:

    Stella, how was I condescending? Like I said, I’ve met people who are precisely and scarily like Swank’s heartless family, so their portrayal did not strike me as the least bit “over the top.” You yourself admit that people like that exist. If they exist, I see nothing wrong with depicting them in a movie. “White trash” or not, there are coldhearted bastards out there who simply have no feeling at all for their children, family or anyone else. Maybe it comes down to a question of one’s tolerance for an honest depiction versus one that’s weighed down by political correctness.
    Even though I disagree with you, I respect your opinion of the film and the portrayal of these and Morgan Freeman’s characters. On the other hand, calling me condescending just because I expressed an opposing point of view is nothing more than a cheap way to score points by trying to make me seem like a snob.

  12. Chris says:

    Sideways isn’t going to do well at the box office, and Oscar nominations have nothing to do with it …
    In the most basic sense of why, it has zero star power. No one is clamoring to see Paul Giamatti starring in something, no matter how badly critics want to stick him down our throats.
    And here’s the thing too … the audience isn’t stupid. They know a critic film when they see one. I’m 26. I thought Sideways was ok. I thought basically it was Swingers for 40 year old single guys, or more accurately 40 year old critics. This is not a movie people are going to run to see, and I also think that on word of mouth, this is not a movie that is going to get people running to praise it.
    It is what it is … another step backwards for Alexander Payne. Election was unbelievably biting and funny. Then he went mainstream with About Schmidt, which was a total bore. Now this.
    In the end I think box office for the Best Picture candidates is over-rated. The Academy will pick what they think is the best representation of an Oscar film … I haven’t seen Million $ Baby, but have heard nothing but great things about it.
    That being said, The Aviator is almost a natural lock to win Best Pic and Best Director. It’s too much of a natural fit for the Academy to not pick. In fact, I think Sideways is running 4th in the minds of Oscar voters, behind Aviator, Baby and Ray.

  13. Stella's Boy says:

    It seemed to me that the “divert your gaze” comment was a little on the condescending side, but maybe I misunderstood you, and if so, I apologize. I was not trying to score cheap points. Maybe just a simple miscommunication. Yes, coldhearted bastards exist. I guess I just didn’t expect that type of portrayal in this movie. I expected something more, what with all the praise it is getting. They are such stereotypes and so one-dimensionally evil. I’m sorry, but I found it to be rather ridiculous.

  14. Chester says:

    Some top critics’ reviews of the two main performances in “Hide and Seek”:
    “In the downbeat, sufficiently unsettling “Hide and Seek,” Robert De Niro rises to a formidable challenge: he holds his own against a scene-swiping 10-year-old. As a bereft widower, David Callaway, Mr. De Niro turns out to be more than well matched by Dakota Fanning, who plays his young and only child, Emily. One of the most actively employed child actors in the movie business and one of the most gifted, Miss Fanning has both chops and a preternaturally intense screen presence. Even when you don’t believe the setup, you tend to buy what she is selling.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
    “The actor who gave us Johnny Boy, Travis Bickle, Jake La Motta and the young Vito Corleone still has his chops. And in “Hide and Seek” he also has one of his more challenging recent roles as middle-aged writer David Callaway, the troubled father of a little girl traumatized by her mother’s violent death. It’s a part that lets him peel away layer after layer of character and angst while maintaining a calm, stoic, paternal surface. De Niro also has, as his daughter Emily, a stunningly gifted and well-matched costar in 10-year-old Dakota Fanning (of “Man on Fire,” “I Am Sam” and TV’s “Taken”). Fanning is an unusual child actress. Like Margaret O’Brien, she has eerie maturity and a brilliant presence at a young age. Here, she conveys with ease all the complexities of a tormented child who may be delusional, schizophrenic or even a murderous bad seed.” – Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
    “While the final revelation is laughably absurd, DeNiro and Fanning are so far inside their roles that one can’t giggle for long. It’s a fascinating meeting of equals — if the child star challenged the master to a game of stare-down, the legend might very well blink first.” – Chuck Wilson, LA Weekly
    “Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning, as Dr. David Calloway, the father, and Emily, as his pre-adolescent daughter, create characters that seem, within the extremes of their situation, convincing and sympathetic.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
    By the way, Barry, most of these reviewers panned the rest of the movie, hence the low Rotten Tomatoes rating.

  15. Stella's Boy says:

    I knew Wilmington liked it, and there are a few positive notices for De Niro, apparently, but I think that the majority of the reviews for his performance are negative, just like the reviews for the movie. Both are quite bad. He just never seemed committed to the role. Some of his emoting was laughable.

  16. CLay says:

    Million Dollar Baby IS overrated, and the family is laughably one-dimensional (I also disliked the Danger character) but it’s ten times better than the dreck that was Mystic River. Why that film got such praise I’ll never understand. The subplot with Kevin Bacon’s wife alone should earn it a spot in the ‘Unintentionally Hilarious Hall of Fame.’

  17. Barry says:

    Who cares, thats like saying Orson Welles was good in those Pizza commercials, doesn’t mean anything. And another thing, Sideways has already made $40 mill. and will probably finish up with at least $70 or so. I’d hardly call $70 mill. for a Paul Giamatti starrer a box office miss.

  18. Josh Massey says:

    Barry took the words right out of my mouth. “Sideways” already has $40 million in the bank – a movie starring Pig Vomit and Lowell from “Wings” grossing $40 million is NOT a disappointment. I’m pretty sure Fox Searchlight would have grabbed that with open arms a few months back.

  19. Josh Massey says:

    Oh, and as for the “Million Dollar Baby”/”Sideways” argument… both were very good, but I still rank “Collateral,” “The Aviator,” “Friday Night Lights” and “Garden State” above them both.

  20. gombro says:

    “On the Oscar front, Million Dollar Baby came out of the gate strong, with a reported $5800 per screen and a total over $10.5 million.”
    I actually thought the 10.5 mil for BABY seemed disappointing. After all, THE AVIATOR earned over 11 mil on its second weekend of wide release. Considering M$B had been kept out of most markets week after week in an attempt to wait for a less competitive frame and opened wide only once the Oscar nominations were out and demand for the film was peaking, I would have expected something closer to 20 mil. At this rate, I doubt it will reach the level of THE AVIATOR or RAY at the box office, unless, of course it wins Best Picture.
    I think the controversy might keep some of the Righties away and, on the other hand, the so-called “Leftoisie” crowd might stay away out of animosity toward Eastwood that goes back to Pauline Kael calling DIRTY HARRY a Fascist movie in the early 70s. I’d guess that by Oscar night M$B will be hovering around 50-60 million (while AVIATOR will be over 80), and that the major Oscars will be split between Scorsese’s film and Eastwood’s much like the CHICAGO/PIANIST split a couple of years ago.

  21. Filipe says:

    The Aviator was 100m film with Leonardo Di Caprio in the lead that was released in the hollydays. Million Dollar Baby is 25m little drama released in a date with small businnes that stars Eastwood and Hilary Swank ( I know media still threats Eastwood as a big star but he stopped being a good opener years ago, actually MDB has already grossed better than both True Crime and Blood Work his last two films without co-starring with another big name and special effects). There’s no way to compare the two, 90m for Aviator and will be regard as solid performance but nort great performance, 50m for MDB and its a big winner. MDB now must waits next week, it will all depends on how much it will drop.
    Sideways is a winner from a financial perspective, nobody would desagree here. But the expansion certainly was below FoxS expectations. People overrated oscars importance on BO nationwide (it metters more for overseas business).

  22. Chester says:

    Gombro, I agree that “the controversy might keep some of the Righties away.” On the other hand, I find it impossible to believe that people on the left still discriminate against Eastwood based on his old “Dirty Harry” films. Eastwood has evolved into the type of moralist artist that most on the left appreciate. His films now tend to have a striking anti-violence message, and they all aspire to attain a level of authentic American tragedy.

  23. Stella's Boy says:

    I think it’s fascinating to juxtapose the movies Eastwood starred in during the ’60s and ’70s to the movies he directs and sometimes stars in now. Compare the Dirty Harry series to Unforgiven, A Perfect World, Mystic River and now M$B. I agree with your assessment Chester.

  24. gombro says:

    Hey, I, personally, am with you guys about Eastwood’s value, and I love his recent films. But I do hang out, by and large, with a left-wing academic group (College teachers, people with advanced degrees, types.) And many of them are NOT going to go see MDB. I know this because I’ve been trying to get a friend to go with me all weekend! A couple friends I called counter offered with FLYING DAGGERS, THE WOODSMAN, HOTEL REWANDA, even THE BIG RED ONE or any of the other big critically acclaimed films that are playing in my city, but both just said “no” to “the Eastwood flick.” (Before anyone jumps in and says “look at the left being prejudicial about movies!,” I should say these are people who only see about a film a week, and that they DO have a right to see what they feel like seeing and skipping what they don’t.)
    As for Filipe’s claim that “There’s no way to compare the two [AVIATOR and BABY], the fact is they are both being compared to each other ruthlessly right now by the Academy as to which one should win Best Picture, right? I think David Poland is right that it’s basically neck and neck between those two in the Oscar derby at this point with SIDEWAYS falling back.

  25. Stella's Boy says:

    I had no idea there are people who refuse to see Eastwood movies. That is pretty silly. I’m a proud lefty, but to boycott everything he does now because of what he did back then seems rather ridiculous.

  26. Sandy says:

    Even though I liked Sideways, not for one moment did I think it could win Best Picture. Box office numbers count for something, but Sideways just doesn’t have what it takes to reel in the masses. I got the same feeling with Lost In Translation. Critical darling, but boring for the average moviegoer.

  27. Chester says:

    As far as Oscar momentum goes, “Sideways” just feels comatose and I don’t see any way to revive it. It won’t go empty-handed because it will most likely win Best Adapted Screenplay and has a great (but not unbeatable) shot at Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. But as far as Best Film or Best Director, there’s no air left in its tires. With the critics’ awards and 10-best lists now a distant memory, the film just doesn’t have any steam to propel it back into the consciousness of the Academy members. The outrageous Paul Giamatti snub seems to have been the final nail in its coffin.

  28. l&db says:

    I just love looking at that M$B poster now. The
    comments one can make are awesome. Anyone saying
    this film resonates or what not really does love
    the ache or something. Uwe Boll would not dare
    try to pass that third act on the moviegoing
    public. And he’s Uwe Boll; that’s saying something.
    Aviator should win just so Scorcese can get some
    mad props attached to thim that do come with the
    title of “Thalberg Lifetime Achievement Award.”

  29. jon s says:

    It’s not really boycotting as such, Stella’s,at least as I see it. =) I worked at a video store when I was in college, and there were people who seemed to be on the right who wouldn’t watch, say, a Merchant/Ivory film because they just couldn’t imagine liking it. They aren’t being particularly closed minded and they aren’t “boycotting” anything. They just don’t think they’d like it, and life’s too short to see everything. I think it’s the same with some people on the left with sports films, Eastwood films, horror films. I noticed that some of the Lefty types who rented films from me at that video store couldn’t be talked into watching horror films like “Dead Ringers” or “Silence of the Lambs” no matter how many good reviews they got, no matter how intellegent you said they were.
    We just have to understand that right OR left, there just aren’t many people like us who will go to all kinds of film just as long as it’s supposed to be a good effort of its type.
    Hey, I even knew a guy who refused to go to black and white movies because he claimed they gave him headaches! LOL!

  30. Filipe says:

    Gombro, but I think it’s important to think that BO importance for oscars is related to perspective. Doesn’t matter that Aviator’s numbers are silghtly better than MDB, it costs 4 times more, so sligtly better is not enough; voters who take BO into account will take this into account too (had Sideways still be a serious contender, I wouldn’t think that a final tally around 55m would hurt it). Also the films final numbers were closer to 12m that 10m, suggesting that word of mouth has been really good. I’d say that 25% drop next week combined with Eastwood DGA win would made it the frontrunner again.
    As for some lefties still seem Eastwood as Dirty Harry just gave a look on David Walsh very stupid review on The World Socialist Web Site.

  31. gombro says:

    I think you’re right that BO’s importance for Oscars is related to budget, expectations and the like. But I still think that given all it’s acclaim, if BABY doesn’t hit 60 million or so in the last days of voting, it will be seen as something of an under-achiever even for it’s type. That could actually work in it’s favor, I suppose. If people like it enough, they might want to give it the push that goes with awarding a film some major trophies. But then the same could be said of AVIATOR if the Academy thinks it deserves a bigger audience. That’s why, ultimately, I think it’s bascially a neck-and-neck horse race between these two films.

  32. JT says:

    Sorry folks, but I smell a split in the Best Picture and Director races. It is going to be Gladiator all over where a less than great film wins, but then they give the Oscar to someone else (Eastwood).
    Aamazingly, even though Mann didnt get a nom for Collateral (which he should’ve!), he is going to probably win an Oscar for producing “The Aviator.” How strange is that.
    I don’t understand people knocking “Mystic River,” but to each his own. I thought it was a lovely, sad little flick.
    I do think that Payne misstepped with “Schmidt,” but I think that “Sideways” is a VERY bold return to form for him, and then some. I just look forward to an original screenplay from him. That will be an interesting feat for he and Jim Taylor.
    I still think “Sideways” is the most entertaining film of the year and I thik that M$B is one of the more thought provoking films i have seen in a while. As Roger Ebert has said before, any film that gets you talking abut it and the issues it raises can never be all that bad. This just happens to be a rather well made good one at that.

  33. L&DB says:

    I can understand people knocking people. It’s easily
    one of the dumbest movies ever made. It also should
    have been titled LAW AND ORDER: BOSTON since it
    played like a very R-rated, special sweeps, episode
    of any Law and Order. The funniest part of the
    whole film remains Laura Linney’s speech about
    Sean Penn’s love towards his family. A love so
    strong that he killed an innocent guy, but he
    SO LOVES HIS KIDS! Watch out! Dick Wolf is about
    to sue somebody!
    M$B or The Champ; if The Champ really sucked.

  34. L&DB says:

    I can understand people knocking MYSTIC RIVER not
    people. Just a point of clarification. Excuse
    me as I, a person with extraordinary footwork needed
    for my profession, fall on me head.

  35. Geek, Esq. says:

    Sideways was probably never a BP threat because it was not a film that would appeal to mainstream audiences. A film about wine snobs? Most people will reach for a Rolling Rock instead. Still, the film has been an incredible success financially and critically.
    M$B’s next weekend will be more interesting than this weekend. The Aviator is showing very nice legs and is beginning to float, i.e. keep about the same weekly gross.
    Though, I think the DGA awards indicate that box office really doesn’t matter this year. The industry was solidly behind M$B even before it cleared $10 Million total. M$B has done enough to win BP, and it will.

  36. KamikazeCamel says:

    1. “I think the controversy might keep some of the Righties away and, on the other hand, the so-called “Leftoisie” crowd might stay away out of animosity toward Eastwood that goes back to Pauline Kael calling DIRTY HARRY a Fascist movie in the early 70s.” — I swear you must have that in a word document ready to copy and paste. You’ve used that exact paragraph before!
    2. Sideways’ audience is definitely out there seeing it. It’s just that it probably doesn’t appeal to that many rural cinemagoers. It’s nothing against rural cinemagoers it’s just that they’re not known for latching on to these sorts or movies.
    3. L&DB, WB are not “lying” about Million Dollar Baby they are merely promoting a movie by NOT GIVING AWAY THE ENDING!!! How many times do people complain that trailers give away too much in movies.
    “Nothing better than a film that everyone
    should go see that the critics go out of their
    way to sell out the moviegoing public by not
    discussing what the film is really about.”
    If they did discuss what it was about people would be on their ass for giving it away. God, you’re stupid.
    4. “I am shocked Sideways did not get a bump from it’s
    nom this weekend.” der… it DID get a jump. It improved its take by something like over 100%. I think that’s pretty damn good for a movie about 2 ordinary schlubs driving around wine country…
    5. One thing about the Aviator costing $100 thing and M$$B being $25… I think it’s safe to say that The Aviator has a MUCH better chance of making money outside of the US, what with that cast, Scorcese, the story and so forth. Aviator actually has a pretty good shot of making the same overseas that it does in the US. M$B I would think wont be able to make that much overseas.
    6. As someone who actually liked M$B and didn’t think the final act was a horrible waste of celluloid, I think it is downright disgusting what some people are saying and doing. It’s a fricken movie for crying out loud. As Roger Ebert said, it’s characters doing stuff that he believes they would do in a situation. People (read: annoying conservative righties) have no right to blast the film or its makers for a simple plot development. I’m sure wine-tasters aren’t gonna go around picketing Sideways because it portrays “their kind” as snooty, schlubby assholes…
    and lastly…
    7. Comparing ANYONE to Uwe Boll is the lowest form of insult imaginable. Nobody is as bad as Uwe Boll. NOBODY. Even George W. Bush!

  37. KamikazeCamel says:

    And also, Lost In Translation actually did connect with a lot of non-cineaphiles that I know. I turned them onto it and they loved it.

  38. Stella's Boy says:

    jon, you’re right, people are free to see whatever they want to, and it’s not necessarily boycotting anything. I just didn’t realize that some people refuse to see Eastwood’s movies for political reasons. Maybe his recent work is atonement for his Dirty Harry movies. He doesn’t seem hard core right wing like another action movie star who recently turned to directing. And either way, it just seems silly and pointless to me to refuse to see a movie because of the director’s personal politics.

  39. Stella's Boy says:

    Unless it’s a documentary of course.

  40. bicycle bob says:

    problem with million dollar baby and box office is that it just have the mass appeal. maybe if it takes home some oscars it will but the way they’re selling it, it just doesn’t have the entertaining appeal. usually with boxing movies they’ll show some fights. some good montages in the previews. with this nothing. with sideways u know ur getting some off beat comedy and a great story. they need to do a better job of selling baby.

  41. bicycle bob says:

    i think bobby deniro is making up for turning down everything in the 70’s and 80’s. i think he’d act in a student film for 50 bucks and a free dinner.

  42. gombro says:

    KamikazeCamel wrote: “I swear you must have that in a word document ready to copy and paste. You’ve used that exact paragraph before!”
    KC, I have not. But since DP archives all of these postings going back at least four months, you could always prove me wrong just by finding it and telling us when I’m supposed to have used it before. Sorry, but it was a fresh comment.
    Look, we’ve had a whole night of respectful and engaging postings. Let’s try not to ruin it, huh?

  43. Mike says:

    To jump back to the argument about the “white trash relatives”/”monsters” I think a good point to keep in mind is that this story is told from a point of view – in this case the Morgan Freeman’s character. They represent his feelings and rembrances of those people. So of course they don’t get any sympathy or scenes revealing their depth of character, because he didn’t have any sympathy for them. Maggie was also white trash, but she was awful sympathetic, and had plenty of depth, because that’s how he remembered her. It’s him telling her story. But he’s telling it as he remembers it/heard it from Frankie and Maggie.

  44. Stella's Boy says:

    There are legitimate defenses of her white trash family. I can’t say that you or anyone else who wasn’t bothered by them is wrong. But I can’t help it. Their portrayal bothered me. I think it’s a weakness, one that I couldn’t ignore while watching the movie. Maybe I just expected more out of Eastwood. I can turn on the TV any afternoon and see people like that. I didn’t expect to see them here.

  45. Stevie Boy says:

    I love M$B and Sideways, but the true masterpiece of the year is KINSEY. If people want to know how to make a biopic, go to Bill Condon, the best screenwriter in the business. He makes people flesh and blood and he gives is context.
    AVIATOR will sweep the Oscars because it’s about Hollywood and it “looks” like an Oscar film.

  46. Mike says:

    Don’t know about that sweep for Aviator Stevie Boy. I’m not sure where I read it, but no movie ABOUT Hollywood has ever won the top honor. And while it may look like an oscar movie, so did Cold Mountain. Both were awful and hopefully Aviator will end up as forgotten as Cold Mountain.

  47. Chester says:

    I agree with the “Cold Mountain” analogy. There’s a very basic question that I think gets swept aside in these discussions: Has anybody read or heard anything from anyone truly raving about “The Aviator”? While it has gotten positive reviews, as did “Finding Neverland,” how many individuals consider it the best film of the year? Films like “Million Dollar Baby” and “Sideways” may have divided audiences but they certainly have their die-hard cheerleaders. I don’t think “The Aviator” does. All of its favorable Oscar predictions seem to be based on the scale of the production and the Scorsese pity factor. I just don’t see those elements influencing anyone to vote against their personal favorites – and “The Aviator” doesn’t seem to be anybody’s personal favorite.

  48. gombro says:

    But Chester, as you know, many people end up voting for something that’s not their favorite as a compromise since their favorite hasn’t been nominated.
    Let’s say 22 percent of the Academy likes MDB the best of last year’s film, 19 percent like SIDEWAYS the best, 10 percent like THE AVIATOR the best, and 4 each loved RAY and FINDING NEVERLAND most. That’s 59% of the Academy. The other 41 percent loved HOTEL REWANDA, SPIDER-MAN, PASSION OF THE CHRIST, whatever. That 41% then goes to their second or third choice. It seems to me that there’s a huge group of people out there who fit that category (especially this year) and they’ll end up picking the winner. THE AVIATOR is the perfect kind of film for those types, in that it’s big, splashy, entertaining, and doesn’t have any of the negatives associated with the other nominees. (And believe me, tech people often vote for best picture based on which one seems the most technically dazzling. If they didn’t respect that side of it, they wouldn’t be film technicians, right? And all of them are going to be most impressed with THE AVIATOR.)

  49. Chester says:

    Gombro, your excellent analysis is well taken, but I just don’t get the sense that “The Aviator” is even second or third choice to that many people. Although it (debatably) may have been technically and visually impressive, it just left too many viewers cold. Also, while you may be right about the tekkies, it is my understanding that the overwhelming vast majority of voters are above the line.

  50. gombro says:

    Your right about the “over the line” voters, C. And that’s an important thing to remember. The biggest block is the acting block, which is why actor/directors always seem to win over non-actor/directors (Kevin Costner, Mel Gibson, Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Eastwood for UNFORGIVEN).
    Still, are they going to want to give it to Eastwood TWICE? Isn’t THE AVIATOR, in part, a big smoochy Valentine to actors and showbiz? Many of those movies about the movie industry that lost in the past, and are are brought up to predict that THE AVIATOR will too, are pretty negative about the industry, stardom, and Hollywood itself (SUNSET BLVD., A STAR IS BORN).
    Having not yet seen MDB, I can’t really comment on it, but I do know that most the people I know really liked THE AVIATOR, if not to the same degree they loved THE GODFATHER, or SCHINDLER’S LIST. They do seem to like it it about as much as CHICAGO or LORD OF THE RINGS, though…

  51. Chester says:

    Gombro, like I said earlier, my personal opinion is that “Million Dollar Baby” is the only nominee that has a director’s personal stamp all over it. If Academy members agree with me, as the DGA apparently did, they will likely reward Eastwood for a second time. But it is also possible that the “Dirty Harry” factor may finally rear its ugly head there: That is, will voters recognize the Artist Formerly Known as Harry Callaghan as enough of a genuinely deserving auteur to hand him a second trophy over the still-awardless Scorsese?
    Finally, you may think they were nuts, but I know people who were gaga about “Chicago” and “Lord of the Rings.” Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t know anyone who feels that way about “The Aviator.” Also, those movies had far greater significance within the industry than “The Aviator” does. “Chicago” seemed to herald a welcome revival of audience interest in the dead movie musical genre, and “Lord of the Rings” (like “Titanic” before it) was a daring budget-busting spectacular that succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. “The Aviator” by comparison seems par for the course at best.

  52. bicycle bob says:

    don’t look too much into the number of noms the aviator got. gangs of ny got a lot too and that did nothing come oscar night. too much momentum right now for million dollar baby. even for clint for best actor. he could sweep the three top awards

  53. lazarus says:

    Yeah, Gangs of New York had 10 and won nothing, but Chicago was nominated for 13. The Aviator is still the leading title this year. As someone who greatly enjoyed it, I’m going to have to take issue with Chester’s comments. I don’t know what people you’ve been talking to, what websites you’ve been on, or what reviews you’ve read, but there is a lot of enthusiasm for this film. Just because most people don’t feel it’s one of Scorsese’s best doesn’t mean they don’t think it’s one of the YEAR’S best. It’s not about pity for Scorsese, even if it’s clear he’s been wrongly overlooked in the past.
    The film is really entertaining, and considering all the glitz and glamour delves pretty deeply in the darkness of the character’s mental state. Your claim that M$B is the only film with a director’s personal stamp is laughable. While the project may have been developed by DiCaprio, and originally intended for Michael Mann, obsession and madness aren’t exactly new territory for Scorsese, and his visual fireworks are on display here as it is in most of his films. How you could view the red capret scene and the screening room meltdown and say it’s not pure Marty is beyond me. Exactly what does Clint’s personal stamp look like?
    If you don’t appreciate The Aviator, so be it. But don’t speak for the rest of the public or the Academy about its effect, its connection to the director, or most laughably its lack of “significance”. These are all assumptions that you can’t possibly verify, even if it loses in the end.

  54. Mark says:

    It may not be Scorsese’s best but it certainly is one of the years best. Still think Sideways deserves it most but no nom for Paul G means its running third.

  55. Jerricurl says:

    Off topic but…I would love to see Don Cheadle win….not only is he one of the finest actors around, but he truly deserves the honor. Why does Clint need an actor prize anyway? He’s got the directors in his pocket.

  56. Chester says:

    Lazarus, I never claimed to speak for the rest of the public. I was only conveying my own perceptions, which I freely admit may be wrong.
    As for your response to my comment about “The Aviator’s” “significance”: (a) I only spoke about the film’s significance WITHIN THE INDUSTRY; but (b) I think it’s fair to say that, whatever merits “The Aviator” may have, lasting “significance” is certainly not one of them.
    Finally, I want to respectfully disagree that anything about “The Aviator” was “pure Marty.” I found the movie was a generic big-budget biopic from the first frame on and could have been directed by any number of directors. To me it just seemed like a sluggish attempt at Spielbergian grandiosity, not something you’d associate with someone of Scorsese’s calibre. Again, that’s just my own opinion. I’m curious, though, about how many people here honestly believe that someone watching “The Aviator” without prior knowledge of who directed it would guess Scorsese.

  57. Stella's Boy says:

    I really enjoyed The Aviator and think that the direction is very good. I would argue with anyone who claimed it’s not a well-directed film. However, it is not Scorsese’s best work, and I don’t think it’s “pure Marty.”

  58. Barry says:

    Dont you assholes ever go outside and fuck a chick in the backyard?

  59. Clay says:

    Mike… your comments about the family being seen through Morgan Freeman’s perspective is interesting, because Freeman’s character never met them (not that I can remember, anyway).
    That’s one problem I had with the narration … he tells us things he can’t have known, such as Swank’s put-down of the big-shot manager in the diner. Sure, he knows she turned him down, but if we’re seeing his version of events, he can’t know how it happened.

  60. Stella's Boy says:

    Maybe he’s supposed to be God?

  61. Mark says:

    Lets be fair. We’re comparing Marty’s best work, Mean Streets, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, etc, to this film. Aviator is good but not much can stand up to those all time classics. He has a high standard to live up to.

  62. gombro says:

    But if he’s God would he have such a judgemental subjective memory of the “white trash” family?

  63. Stella's Boy says:

    Yeah I feel like both Scorsese and Eastwood have done much better work, and for Eastwood, that’s in front of and behind the camera.

  64. Stella's Boy says:

    I don’t really think he’s God. That was just a joke, albeit not a very good one.

  65. lazarus says:

    Maybe it’s sloppy writing that’s been largely uncriticized because of late-film histrionics and plot twists that sucker the audience. But hey, that kind of magically omniscient narrator crap got Saving Private Ryan pretty far, didn’t it (at the beginning you’re under the impression it’s Tom Hanks’ character’s POV, then at the end you find out it’s Damon’s, who appears 3/4 into the film).
    Of course, there are viewers that are bothered with this kind of thing, rightfully so.
    Back to The Aviator, I never implied that the whole film was “pure Marty”, something two of you repeated back. I was referring to two specific segments to show that the Scorsese we know (and some of us love) is definitely present in the film. Is the rest of it tamer compared to something like GoodFellas or Casino? Sure, but if he kept making overly-kinetic, violent films we’d be calling him redundant. As has been stated by many, this is a valentine to the studio system, but Scorsese managed to “smuggle” (a term MS coined in his Turner Classic Movies doc) a dark study of a visionary with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder into the mix. I’d say that’s a pretty neat trick.
    By comparison, Spielberg couldn’t get anywhere near that kind of combination, because he always pulls back at the last minute from challenging his viewers, or questioning their beliefs. He doesn’t have a monopoly on grandiosity. Not to mention the fact that Spielberg hasn’t shown himself capable of making an epic centered around a character study. It’s not something you see too often.
    Regardless, I think it’s incorrect to say that anyone who is familiar with Scorsese’s style wouldn’t be able to identify this blindly as one of his films, especially if given a multiple choice between him and the “number of directors” whom you and David Poland seem to think could have made this film just as well.
    The Pianist certainly wasn’t very representative of Polanski’s style, yet it earned him an Oscar for directing. Of course, I don’t think his exercise in restraint was worthy of the award (possibly the least worthy of the nominees), but it serves as an example of something considered by many to be great work.

  66. Kamikaze_Camel says:

    Gombro, I would try and find the other place you have used that comment but, gosh darn it, I really don’t care enough! funny that…
    And, anyway, for anyone who is doubting The Aviator’s appeal just head over to geninn and you’ll realise that it actually polled better than Million Dollar Baby on critic top 10 lists.
    And, you’ve also got to remember that the actors are the largest portion of the academy voters and they gave the film 3 acting nominations (it wouldn’t be that interesting (considering Baby also got 3) BUT it got one for Alan Alda who is apparently not even in it that much and he had pretty much ignored this season up until the announcement). And also the film has wide tech support (unlike Baby and Sideways) plus I really do think that the Academy will want to honour Scorcese. They DID honour Eastwood just 10 years ago, why is he “Due” all over again?
    And, lastly, do we REALLY want Martin Scorcese making the same type of movie over and over again? Why is it so bad that Marty wants to, ya know, try something different. I love Marty’s earlier stuff but I’m glad he’s going different ways. It makes him interesting again (after that mid-90s lull). However, Gangs was awful.
    (PS; I haven’t seen The Aviator, i just think certain people are being dumb)

  67. bicycle bob says:

    how can u say enjoy martys recent output then say u think gangs is awful? kinda defeats ur whole point. gangs was just missing something. maybe it was the 45 minutes miramax made him leave on the floor. but it wasn’t awful

  68. D says:

    Saying that MDB came out of strong isn’t really true at the very least. David you should have checked sites like Box Office Mojo or Box Office Prophets and you would see that everybody was predicting a 13+ for Million Dollar Baby. Aviator made 11 million in its second weekend and Ray made almost 20 million in its first weekend. MDB did just fine or maybe even just alright if we consider all the HUGE hype for it. Meanwhile The Aviator was this weekend’s real winner. It has been in wide release for over 7 weeks and it increased 56% from last weekend, grabbing 7.5 million. That’s really good.
    PS: David I take this chance to ask you why the article written by Michael Wilmington about why Martin Scorsese and The Aviator should win isn’t linked in MCN’s homepage. You sure didn’t take long to link Ebert’s article praising M$B and a few others too…

  69. Jon S says:

    Kamikaze_Camel wrote: “Gombro, I would try and find the other place you have used that comment but, gosh darn it, I really don’t care enough! funny that…”
    “i just think certain people are being dumb”
    Why act the part of such an angry, sarcastic little snot, KC?

  70. bicycle bob says:

    jon boy, why do u always copy and paste what people posted? why do u always start trouble for no reason? if u had anything meaningful to say or ever had a point i’d copy and paste urs, slugger. but sadly, u don’t

  71. bicycle bob says:

    how can u say theres huge hype for million dollar baby? because of a few noms? thats not hype. thats fact. hype is seeing every star on every talk show, tv ads run 9 times a day on every channel, and magazine covers every month. and thats usually before the movie comes out. with this movie its just plain fact. they’re not selling hype here.

  72. jon s says:

    I just thought, jon, that after a couple of days of us all getting along, even with our differences, that suddenly KC was getting all insulting and sarcastic on us. If he’s going to accuse Gomby of something he should put up or shut up about it. I, personally, hope we do stay civil. And remember, I’m not the one who called the other posters on this thread “stupid” earlier today…

  73. Chester says:

    Jon, you didn’t put in the beginning of Kamikaze’s final statement, which only makes him extra-ridiculous: “I haven’t seen The Aviator, i just think certain people are being dumb” He strongly assailed people here for their opinions about a movie he hasn’t even seen. Talk about the height of vicious arrogance.
    I also found it interesting that he referred to “The Aviator”‘s ranking on the geninn website to support his pro-“Aviator” position. It’s true that “The Aviator” ranked higher than “Million Dollar Baby” on the overall number of top-10 lists counted there, but what Kamikaze conveniently fails to mention is that geninn has another more important list which separates out the nation’s top critics, who are listed there as “The Cream of the Crop.” Among those critics, “Million Dollar Baby” ranked as the #2 film of the year while “The Aviator” ranked at #6. This matters a lot because the majority of critics tend to be sheep who suck up to whatever the studios, their corporate bosses or their readers/viewers expect them to say. They’re the ones who all too often are suckers for the lavish junkets and the Miramax campaigns. The Cream of the Crop, on the other hand, are far more independent and are less susceptible to these influences – and consequently have more reliable opinions and taste. To me, the only real question is whether the Academy will prove to be sheep or the cream of the crop on Oscar night. Judging by his flagrantly uninformed diatribe, Kamikaze is happy to be counted among the sheep. He deserves to be shorn.

  74. Mark says:

    The Aviator is not better than Million Dollar Baby or Sideways. It won’t win any of the big awards. It’ll run away with some makeup and tech stuff but thats it. Eastwood has a real chance to sweep it here.

  75. Chester says:

    BTW, I should have mentioned that “Sideways” ranked as #1 among geninn’s Cream of the Crop critics, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” was #3, “Before Sunset” was #4, and “The Incredibles” was #5 – all ahead of “The Aviator.”

  76. KamikazeCamel says:

    I never said I enjoyed Scorcese’s latest stuff (like Gangs), I merely said I’m glad he’s not making the same sort of films we was 20 years ago. People move on from phases on their life. Let Scorcese.
    And, the whole thing about Cream-of-the-crop Critics being less-susceptible to outside influences really did make me laugh. How else then that the same homogenous group of movies continued to win at every critics award outside of a skant few (like San Diego who went all the way with Vera Drake and Eternal Sunshine). Not many of these critics seemed to have their own mind this year.
    What happened to movies such as Dogville, Eternal Sunshine, Before Sunset, Vera Drake, The Motorcycle Diaries, Closer, etc, that critics RAVED about. Yet they barely showed up at all this award season. Outside of one catagory (whether it be screenplay or actress, or just none at all) those films were just nowhere this awards season in major critics awards. It was strange, they all just latched onto Sideways, Million Dollar Baby and The Aviator, in a clear way of saying they’re trying to predict the Oscars.
    How come almost every award for Best Actor went to the same 2 men (Jamie and Paul). I’m sure I read gushing notices for Jim Carrey, Gael Garcia Bernal (for 2 movies!) and Jeff Bridges saying it was their best work ever and so forth… yet, nobody seemed to care. Except San Diego and The Online Film Critics (who, i’m assuming are not part of the Cream-of-the-Crop). I also seem to remember hearing great things about Nicole Kidman (for 2 movies!), Kate Winslet, Laura Dern, etc yet… surprise surprise…
    Here’s a question: If Million Dollar Baby had been released in, oh say, March, would it still be winning awards from both critics and major awards shows or would it get a couple of nom’s and have the ubiquitous “It was released too early” shit thrown around?
    Critics awards, this year, were a bunch of crap. As a lot of people have said, they all seem to be trying to become the newest reliable Oscar predictor. Hell even the “Independant” Film Spirit Awards are a load of bull this year. 1 nomination for Before Sunset? Sideways getting all those nominations despite it costing anywhere between $16-$20mil. Jamie Foxx getting a nomination for a TV movie. Door in the Floor and We Don’t Live Hear Anymore being ignored in the acting. What a load…
    Even the Golden Satellite Awards, which have, ya know, a million nominees (yeah, i know they don’t but some can’t assume sarcasm) seemed to forget about them.
    Oh, but then there WERE the BAFTAs, but apparently they dont matter because they had an opinion that wasn’t the exact same as everyone else’s…

  77. KamikazeCamel says:

    2 other things.
    1. Kinsey is another movie that got RAVES yet didn’t do very well after people realised it wasn’t a very Oscary type of movie.
    2. And there were those “cream-of-the-crop” critics who somehow mistook Jamie Foxx’s performance in Collateral as, er, a Supporting role… *coughcough* I don’t think we’ll ever know what stuff (and how much of it) those guys were smoking when they somehow got that assumption into their minds…

  78. bicycle bob says:

    kamikaze u have a lot on ur mind. kinsey didn’t get universal raves. a lot of reviews called it boring and weak. and the studio sold foxx’s role in collertal as a supporting role. why compete against yourself for best actor when u cab get 2 nom’s?

  79. D says:

    They are not selling hype and not promoting it? LOL When I see Hilary Swank in every single talk show talking about how hard was her life when she lived with her mom on a rail park and that her mum travelled to LA to become an actress I call that promotion (shameless promotion) and that leads to hype!

  80. Mike says:

    As far as Morgan Freeman’s character and talking about things he didn’t personally witness, I took it as him recollecting things that Maggie and Frankie told him. He mentions that he went to the hospital when Frankie wasn’t there and I’m sure they had to talk about something during all of her nights of training. He also could have heard the story of what she told the manager through the manager himself, as they seemed to know each other reasonably well.
    I have no problem with a narrator telling things he/she hadn’t seen, as long as the viewer realizes that these are probably recreations of what he heard or imagined. This isn’t a court of law – who cares if he is speaking heresay and supposition?
    That’s why I have no problem with the characters being portrayed so simply. He hated them for what they did to Maggie, so he imagined them/portrayed them without humanity.

  81. NathanielR says:

    This ones for Chester
    just so you know the ‘Cream of the Crop’ critics are the ones with wide distribution who work with the major sites and papers and magazines –the “name” critics or columnists. Some of them obviously deserve their prominence. But you’re still making a bizarre illogical leap in your statements about their defiance of external forces.
    IF (again it’s an if… not trying to accuse) anyone is sheep that has corporate or studio pressure to write or review or vote a certain way –it’s them. The online critics and the smaller critics, etc that are polled on these top ten gathering sites have NO corporate connections so accusing them of being the sell-outs is a totally misinformed reading of the situation.
    It’s quite rude to the little guys to assume that they are somehow swayed by these imaginary editors and imaginery industry connections and the continuation of these imaginary salaries. These kinds of pressures do not exist for the people without large readerships.
    If you believe it’s the little guys and not the big dogs who are swayed by corporate pressures and Miramax style hype/Oscar baiting, why is the BFCA (filled with big dog ‘cream of the crop’ voters) so much more Miramax and Oscar-like in its voting results than the OFCS? You are not making ANY sense.
    Time to wake up. Corporate pressures only happen for the people who are part of those corporations. It’s only the “Cream of the Crop” who are ever expected to kowtow. Whether or not they do is an individual thing.

  82. Stella's Boy says:

    I gotta stick up for Kinsey. 87% out of 156 reviews are positive, and when you only count the cream of the crop critics, the percentage jumps up to 92%. I would say that is pretty much universal raves despite one’s personal feelings about the movie.

  83. Mark says:

    Kinsey just didn’t get the traction with the public. Neeson just cannot open a movie. Hes a supporting actor.

  84. Stella's Boy says:

    I agree with you there. It didn’t do very well at the box office, even by art house standards. But, it did receive universal raves. Unfortunately, that didn’t help much.

  85. Mark says:

    It is just a real tough movie to sell to the public. Needed someone in the lead role that can cross over and thats even harder when hes a real life person and has to stick to a type of actor (tall, goofy etc)

  86. bicycle bob says:

    reason why kinsey didn’t break out was because it wasn’t a good movie. case closed

  87. Stella's Boy says:

    bob, does thinking hurt your head? Do you just not enjoy it? Prefer to keep everything real simple. Kinsey is an excellent movie and its quality has nothing to do with its box office. By your warped logic, every great movie would be a huge box office smash, and every bad movie would be a huge box office flop. Is that reality?

  88. bicycle bob says:

    why are u in the kinsey fan club? what made it good? it was a borefest. why must u defend every boring and lame movie that comes out? what happend in kinsey? nothing. was his research important? yes. was a movie needed about it? no

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