Now, if only some of these were in theatres

Monday, 13 December 2004 — 5:28pm | Film

Film awards season is well under way by now with today’s announcement of the Golden Globe nominees. By no means is the Hollywood Foreign Press much of a legitimate critical body, but I follow them for the same reason everyone else does – because the Globes usually turn out to be a pretty good barometer for how things turn out around Oscar time, and also because they have a good track record of giving Pixar’s features the recognition they deserve.

The big story, as it stands right now, is Sideways with seven nominations as well as a sweep across the board in critical circles (including two of the big ones, New York and Los Angeles). Make no mistake – this year is shaping up to be between Sideways and Scorsese’s The Aviator, with the former being the frontrunner. The two aren’t going head-to-head in the Globes, but by the nomination count alone, it’s clear taking their respective categories.

Sideways is currently in limited release at the Uptown in Calgary and City Centre in Edmonton, but I have yet to catch it. It looks very much like the post-examination holiday is going to consist of a lot of catching up; Finding Neverland and Closer are already making a splash, while The Aviator, Million Dollar Baby and Hotel Rwanda are well on their way.

Part of why the various shortlists are so full of movies that have not seen wide release is that this is the second year where the awards season has been bumped up a month, with the Oscars now in February instead of March, and everybody else moving accordingly – but with the eligibility deadlines staying in place. It’s also the first year that this has mattered, since last year was an unstoppable The Return of the King sweep (with a tear shed for the under-awarded Finding Nemo). The only real factor left is the act of seeing some of these films perform, and get a vibe from critics and audiences en masse. It’s usually because of these considerations that independent, small-market releases have never made much of an impact at actually winning the Oscars for which they were nominated.

The first thing I observed in the recent gaggle of awards is that things do not bode well for The Phantom of the Opera. It picked up three Globe noms – one for the new Lloyd Webber number (hardly unexpected), one for Emmy Rossum’s performance as Christine (positively delightful news), and a nomination for Musical/Comedy where it is up against a very tough field including Sideways, The Incredibles, Ray and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. David Poland, who called Phantom a frontrunner upon seeing it last month, is still standing by it – somewhat. However, its absence on this year’s AFI Top 10 is worrisome. (Of course, they did shaft The Pianist back in 2002.)

As far as the AFI list goes, I’m glad to see both The Incredibles and Spider-Man 2 make the cut. Hopefully Phantom‘s on-and-off showing in awards circles so far is more a result of its not having penetrated the market, and it does turn out as well as we hope it will. In the end it’s not about awards, but what these awards tell us about what we can expect from Schumacher and company.

Back to the Globes: House of Flying Daggers and A Very Long Engagement are among the Foreign Language five. Jeunet’s latest collaboration with Audrey Tautou is a wildcard indeed – it could score big in the technical categories that the Globes ignore but the Oscars reward, and its ineligibility in the Foreign Language category could push it into contention.

Speaking of which, I am appalled that A Very Long Engagement has yet to play in Alberta – but at this time of the year, the arthouse screens can only handle so many major-league releases at a time.

Michael Giacchino’s work on The Incredibles did not recieve a nomination in the Score category. This is a crime, a baby-killing shame of a crime.

Other observations: Million Dollar Baby has yet to open in this province either, but I do wonder how it will stack up against Eastwood’s last release, Mystic River – a great film in many respects, albeit standard in others. As for The Aviator, let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be another Gangs of New York – an awards darling early on that heralded the end of the Scorsese slump, only to undergo zero-for-ten Oscar shutout when everybody realized that it was only two-thirds of a good movie. And while I am not one to think awards should compensate actors and directors for previous robberies (see: Nicole Kidman and Renée Zellweger both receiving their Oscars a year late), it’s good to see both Leonardo DiCaprio and Paul Giamatti place so well. (This would be in reference to their breakouts in Catch Me If You Can and American Splendor, respectively.)

Kevin Kline is rightly recognized for De-Lovely, but what Ashley Judd is doing there is anyone’s guess. Uma Thurman is once again nominated for Kill Bill; judging by that and Eternal Sunshine‘s presence, at least the HFP hasn’t totally forgotten everything prior to the month of November.

In summary – Phantom, please don’t flop.

The Return of the King, Extended Edition, sees release tomorrow. Regrettably, unlike the past two Extended Edition releases, I am not able to be the first on the scene this time; a review in excruciating detail will have to wait at least another week.

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