Underworld Awakening had no trouble topping a crowded field of new or expanding releases this weekend. Nine years after the action-horror series launched, Underworld 4 took in an estimated $25.4 million from 3,078 locations for the second-highest opening weekend in the franchise’s history. Red Tails also had reason to be happy with its second-place showing while returns for the week’s three other highly-touted features were more modest.
||Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
||Beauty & the Beast 3D
||Mission: Impossible 4
||The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
I like to see the guild awards, because the specificity allows for nominees that you won’t see on more general lists. The Art Directors Guild is especially interesting because they separate the films into three categories: period, fantasy, and contemporary. The 15 nominees highlight everything from Oscar favorites Hugo and The Artist, to crowd-pleasers Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 and Captain America, to poorly received films like Cowboys & Aliens and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. There’s a similar contrast in the TV nominees between the classy HBO programs you’d expect (Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, and Mildred Pierce) and the critical punching bags American Horror Story and The Playboy Club. The full list of nominees is after the break.
September 11th, like any tragedy, can be easily exploited. It can be exploited for profit, for political gain, and for an easy strike at your emotional soft spots. But it can also be handled in a mature, thoughtful manner like Paul Greengrass‘ United 93. It’s been over ten years since 9/11 and we must start accepting that the event can be used in a story that’s not directly about 9/11. That’s an incredibly tricky proposition because of the easy route to exploiting our national tragedy, and that’s where Stephen Daldry‘s adaptation of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close seems to be going at its outset. Daldry has to scale a mountain of negative expectations as we struggle to see how 9/11 could be absolutely essential to the story. We must also contend with a painfully affected character played by a child actor gives a off-putting, robotic performance. But Daldry’s brilliant direction ultimately brings the 9/11 plot point and the bizarre lead performance together to create an emotional finale.
As the 84th Academy Awards move closer, we’re starting to get a better sense of how things will pan out. We recently shared the 39 songs that will contend for the Best Original Song category, and now the Academy has announced the 97 original scores eligible for the Best Original Score award. AMPAS is notoriously picky when it comes to eligibility in this category, and as we feared the scores for both Drive and Attack the Block have been deemed ineligible. Also disappointing is the ineligibility of Alexandre Desplat’s mesmerizing score for The Tree of Life.
While it’s upsetting to see some of the year’s best work side-lined, there’s plenty to be happy about. I was a huge fan of Howard Shore’s work in Hugo and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s score for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, as well as The Chemical Brothers’ brilliant work in the criminally underseen Hanna. Hit the jump for the full list, as well as who I think will make the cut.
This awards season, the fastest way to a critic’s heart is probably through their passion. Hugo was named the Best Picture by the National Board of Review, and The Artist received the top prize from the NYFCO and BFCA. Both films now lead the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s Critics Choice Awards with 11 nominations a piece. The other nominees for Best Picture were The Descendants, Drive (which looks like it’s not going out of this awards season without a fight), Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Midnight in Paris (thought this would be doing a little stronger, but it’s still hanging in there), Moneyball, The Tree of Life, and War Horse.
Other noteworthy nominations include Andy Serkis for Best Supporting Actor (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), and allowing six nominees in the acting categories allows me to forego anger over most snubs (John Hawkes for Martha Marcy May Marlene deserves as Best Supporting Actor nomination over Nick Nolte for Warriror). Hit the jump for the full list of nominees. Winners will be announced on January 12th.