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Oscar Watching: So, FOXCATCHER Isn’t Happening…

Another twist hit awards-watchers last week as Sony Pictures Classics bumped Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher out of its 2013 lineup – and not too long after an impressive teaser leaked. Maybe SPC simply wants its potential Oscar pony to avoid the current best picture front-runner. As Sasha Stone of Awards Daily puts it, “Why do I get the feeling every movie is getting out of 12 Years a Slave’s way?”

For me, the Foxcatcher move brings Joe Wright’s The Soloist to mind. Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx looked like solid actor and supporting actor contenders, respectively… until Universal Pictures pushed its release from late 2008 to early 2009. The Soloist was also set to play at its year’s AFI Fest. Regardless, we have to wait until next year to see Steve Carell showcase his dramatic chops.

Speaking of AFI, Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace, and Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty get centerpiece spots; Bruce Dern, a major contender for the best actor Oscar for Nebraska, gets a tribute as well.

For what it’s worth, the Hollywood Film Awards announced some more of its winners. Julia Roberts was announced as the supporting actress winner for August: Osage County. (Let the category fraud begin, I suppose, though some are reluctant to judge it as such right now) Jared Leto will receive the breakout performance award for his turn in Dallas Buyers Club. 12 Years a Slave nabs the breakout director and new Hollywood awards for Steve McQueen and Lupita Nyong’o, respectively.

Moving over to the weekend box office, Cloudy with a Chance of Meataballs 2 – in all its punny glory, I suppose – dominated the U.S. box office with $34 million – more than its predecessor and enough for Sony’s fourth-biggest U.S. opening. The nationwide expansion of Ron Howard’s Rush saw the racing flick gross a less-than-impressive $10 million – less than Prisoners, which nabbed $10.9 million in its second weekend.

Meanwhile, good reviews and aggressive marketing couldn’t push Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut, Don Jon, past an $8.7 million opening. Even the Paula Patton-led Baggage Claim sneaked past it with $9 million despite dismal reviews. Say goodbye to the possibility of a Scarlett Johansson nod, I guess.

Regarding holdovers, Instructions Not Included became “the highest-grossing Spanish-language film ever in the U.S.” according to Variety. Still, weak notices from the critics mean it’s going nowhere near the Oscars. Internationally, Despicable Me 2 became the second highest grossing film of 2013 and second highest grossing film ever distributed by Universal Pictures. The critical divisiveness and lack of Oscar love for its predecessor, though, keep the film far from the Oscar conversation.

Since we’re discussing the box office, Grantland’s Mark Harris compared the limited debuts of Rush and Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said, the latter trumping the former on its debut weekend in terms of acclaim and box office. That should have been enough to get it into picture, director, actress, and original screenplay contention last week. Consider the mistake amended. By the way, Enough Said claimed the highest per-theater average of the weekend.

This weekend, we’ll see how audiences take to Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. Will they scoff at this take on the sci-fi genre (using it to explore isolation) and dismiss the film as “boring,” or will they flock to theaters at the mention of box-office queen Sandra Bullock? I imagine the latter, but either way, Runner, Runner with Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake makes for its only new competition.

Last but not least, theaters across the U.S. will play sneak peeks of Paul GreengrassCaptain Phillips on Saturday.

Check out my predictions on the next page, and feel free to chime in with a comment >>

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The Author

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren loves the wonderful world of film and all that comes with it. He specifically loves long takes, fabulous actresses, and keeping up with the Oscar season - even when it's far too early to make sense of anything.