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2012 Oscar Season Preview: October

As the pre-Halloween portion of Oscar Season gets into full swing, October is a mixed bag of potential Oscar nominees and films that Oscar would sooner close up shop than honor. Traditionally, Oscar fare gets its biggest push in November and December where Oscar voters' memories aren't so forgetful. Yet, October has its fair share of calibre films coming through and this year seems to be no exception.

Here are the films currently scheduled to hit screens this October:

October 5, 2012


Frankenweenie

Premise: From IMDb: "Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences"
Box Office Prospects: $60 M
Expectations: Mixed. There are two animated films in Tim Burton's past, one of which he didn't even direct. Neither were blockbusters and I don't expect this one to be. However, this film seems a little more accessible than his The Corpse Bride, but may not be as compelling as The Nightmare Before Christmas (the one he didn't direct), so I'm going to err on the side of Bride and keep my predictions low.
Oscar Prospects: I'm sure there will be talk, but unless this is far-and-away his best film made in the last several years, I cannot see the Academy's notoriously picky features animation branch recognizing it. That doesn't mean it won't. They liked Burton enough to give his Corpse Bride a nomination and a lot depends on how the major studios fare this year, but if the critically acclaimed The Simpsons Movie can't crack the race, Burton isn't assured anything.

Pitch Perfect

Premise: From IMDb: "Beca, a freshman at Barden University, is cajoled into joining The Bellas, her school's all-girls singing group. Injecting some much needed energy into their repertoire, The Bellas take on their male rivals in a campus competition."
Box Office Prospects: $20 M
Expectations: Weak. I want it to succeed only because I love Anna Kendrick and it looks like a cute movie. However, the marketplace just doesn't look too kindly on this type of film. Even Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah together couldn't get Joyful Noise above a paltry $30 million finish.
Oscar Prospects: None.

Taken 2

Premise: From IMDb: "In Istanbul, retired CIA operative Bryan Mills and his wife are taken hostage by the father of a kidnapper Mills killed while rescuing his daughter."
Box Office Prospects: $160 M
Expectations: Strong. Neeson has had a stellar late-career burst of action energy, keeping him churning out solid hits. This one, however, is a sequel to the wildly successful Taken. That prior film took in $145 million 3 years ago, I see it doing better this type out.
Oscar Prospects: With The Grey positioned as the film Liam Neeson's Oscar-bait movie, I don't see this sequel helping much.

Also Releasing this weekend: Butter, In small-town Iowa, an adopted girl discovers her talent for butter carving and finds herself pitted against an ambitious local woman in their town's annual contest. (from IMDb); The Paperboy, A reporter returns to his Florida hometown to investigate a case involving a death row inmate. (from IMDb).

October 12, 2011

Argo

Premise: From IMDb: "As the Iranian revolution reaches a boiling point, a CIA 'exfiltration' specialist concocts a risky plan to free six Americans who have found shelter at the home of the Canadian ambassador."
Box Office Prospects: $80 M
Expectations: Decent. Ben Affleck has not only proven himself a capable filmmaker, his last film, The Town nearly surpassed the $100 million mark at the domestic box office and talk of a surprise Best Picture nomination. This time out, he's tackling a period piece, which will certainly elevate his Oscar capabilities, but not box office strengths. I'm going for a sub-Town total thinking the era the film is set in will not pull as many to the theater as the modern The Town.
Oscar Prospects: Word out of Toronto has been amazing and that the film is dealing with a real life event, it could more easily appeal to Oscar voters than The Town. And considering how much the Academy has favored actors-turned-director in the past, I could see this one finally recognizing Affleck in a way that those of us who've appreciated his work since Gone Baby Gone have long expected.

Here Comes the Boom

Premise: From IMDb: "A high school biology teacher looks to become a successful mixed-martial arts fighter in an effort to raise money to prevent extra-curricular activities from being axed at his cash-strapped school."
Box Office Prospects: $75 M
Expectations: Unknown. Kevin James has had a few hits, but his most recent output suggests he's not as popular individually as he is in tandem with others. The modest success of family-oriented Zookeeper and utter bomb of The Dilemma doesn't help make it easier to predict. I'll give him more of a benefit than I might have had he not sold comedy Paul Blart so effectively. I will be disappointed if this thinly-disguised comedy riff on Warrior surpasses that film's total.
Oscar Prospects: None.

Seven Psychopaths

Premise: From IMDb: "A struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster's beloved Shih Tzu."
Box Office Prospects: $20 M
Expectations: Weak. Colin Farrell doesn't sell tickets by himself and this film isn't solely about him. In Bruges was his last film that compares somewhat to this, but it will take strong word of mouth to make this film a hit.
Oscar Prospects: There were positive reviews out of Toronto, but nothing that would make me think it had much of a shot.

Sinister

Premise: From IMDb: "Found footage helps a true-crime novelist."
realize how and why a family was murdered in his new home, though his discoveries put his entire family in the path of a supernatural entityBox Office Prospects: $20 M
Expectations: Weak. The marketing for this film has been virtually non-existent so far. Horror isn't a guaranteed hit these days, so I'm not expecting much out of this if anything.
Oscar Prospects: None.

Also Releasing this weekend: Atlas Shrugged, Part 2, With the global economy on the brink of collapse, Dagny Taggart discovers what might be the answer to a mounting energy crisis and races against the clock to prevent the motor of the World from being stopped for good. (from IMDb).

October 19, 2012

Alex Cross

Premise: From IMDb: "A detective is told that a member of his family has been murdered. He vows to track down the killer."
Box Office Prospects: $60 M
Expectations: Unknown. Can Tyler Perry sell a film that he didn't make? He hasn't even been able to sell films he's made of late, but the novelty of the concept and the broad appeal and familiarity of the source material might make it a smallish success.
Oscar Prospects: None.

Paranormal Activity 4

Premise: From IMDb: "The plot is undisclosed at this time."
Box Office Prospects: $100 M
Expectations: Strong. Much to observers' chagrin, the Paranormal Activity craze hasn't abated yet. Although the second film took a noticeable drop from the first, the third film came very close to matching its predecessor (in non-adjusted dollars, of course). The advertising this time around isn't great, but I see little reason not to expect this to put millions more in its makers' pockets.
Oscar Prospects: None.

The Sessions

Premise: From IMDb: "A man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity contacts a professional sex surrogate with the help of his therapist and priest."
Box Office Prospects: $10 M
Expectations: Weak. The bizarre premise could get a few people into the theater, but it will be a tough sell for a wide release, thus why it's only releasing in a limited number of markets to start. A platform release can only help the film.
Oscar Prospects: There's talk of Oscar winner Helen Hunt making her first Oscar appearance in 15 years. The question is in what category? Those who've seen the film say she's a co-lead, but competition in that category is heating up meaning a push down to support could be in the offing. Hunt is frequently cited as one of the least deserving winners in the last two decades, which could push some Academy voters into giving her another nomination to silence her critics. The only reason that has worked for Marisa Tomei (shock winner for My Cousin Vinny) is that she's actually churning out good work. Hunt...not so much so. The rest of the film probably won't appeal to the group of voters who kept the significnantly deserving Shame out of all categories, so we'll see if anything materializes...even for Hunt.

October 26, 2012

Chasing Mavericks

Premise: From IMDb: "When young Jay Moriarty discovers that the mythic Mavericks surf break, one of the biggest waves on Earth, exists just miles from his Santa Cruz home, he enlists the help of local legend Frosty Hesson to train him to survive it."
Box Office Prospects: $35 M
Expectations: Weak. It has been a long time since a major studio released a surfing-themed movie. There have been a couple of independents, but they seem to be testing the waters with this (pun entirely intended). Gerard Butler might be considered box office poison considering several of his failed projects, so I wouldn't expect too much out of this one with no other major box office draws to help sell it.
Oscar Prospects: None.

Cloud Atlas

Premise: From IMDb: "An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution."
Box Office Prospects: $150 M
Expectations: Strong. Other than The Matrix films, the Wachowskis haven't done much. Their last film, the ill-received Speed Racer was a $43-million dud in the Summer of 2008. Cloud Atlas seems a bit different. The big name stars on screen combined with the fantastical elements in the film (unlike Speed Racer, these effects look realistic), I imagine the Wachowskis will have a sizable hit on their hands.
Oscar Prospects: I'm doubtful the film will do well in the top tier categories, but the creative categories should have little issue recognizing the film. It could even end up one of the most nominated films in Oscar history not to also receive a Best Picture nomination.

Fun Size

Premise: From IMDb: "Wren's plan to attend a huge Halloween party thrown by the guy she likes goes awry when she's put in charge of her oddball little brother, who quickly wanders off on his own."
Box Office Prospects: $20 M
Expectations: Weak. A comedy that almost no one is talking about. That can't be a good sign. The movie has a few notable names, but none that scream box office hit. It will try to capitalize on Halloween and teen demos and likely come up short with both.
Oscar Prospects: None.

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D

Premise: From IMDb: "When her father disappears, Heather Mason is drawn into a strange and terrifying alternate reality that holds answers to the horrific nightmares that have plagued her since childhood."
Box Office Prospects: $30 M
Expectations: Mediocre. For those of you who don't remember (and who does except fans of the original), 2006 saw the release of the film Silent Hill based on a popular video game. Six years later, they're finally getting around to making a sequel. The first film didn't do badly among horror films ($46 million), but this many years doesn't sem like a wise idea. If the film has become a cult phoenomenon (nothing I've heard indicates this), it could be big success. My inkling is that people will have forgotten it and will be still catching up on Paranormal Activity 4 over the Halloween weekend instead.
Oscar Prospects: None.

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