Oh my, what is this? One of the most anticipated movies of the year seems to be causing a bit of a stir if the early responses are an indication of what’s to come when everyone sees it (and certainly everyone from Awards Circuit will/has)…
That’s right; Ridley Scott’s long awaited sort-of-Alien-prequel-but-not thriller Prometheus is finally upon us! Is it the sci-fi masterpiece that fully lives up to the standard Sir Scott set with Blade Runner and Alien? Well…depends on who you ask. While the majority of critics are leaning positive overall for its visual wizardry and performances, some frustrations have been raised about the film’s script, including our own Mike Ward’s mostly positive take. Frankly, I welcome the debate. Even if it’s as flawed as some of its harshest detractors are saying, I’d rather watch a misfire with huge ambitions than a proficient example of assembly-line filmmaking.
Having said that, the massive hype leading up to its release may doom Prometheus in the Oscar race, as nothing short of a euphoric critical response would have given it a shot at Best Picture. With the amount of notices toward its visuals and use of 3D, Best Visual Effects is easily its best bet right now, and yes, barring some sort of concerted, expensive push by 20th Century Fox, I am still standing by my original assertion that the acting will be ignored by the Academy, unanimous praise for Michael Fassbender’s impish performance be damned. He is probably brilliant and maybe even Oscar-worthy as David, but genre is going to be the unfortunate ball and chain attached to him in the awards race. Only six actors in the past thirty years have actually succeeded in getting nominated for a performance in a science fiction film, and only one (in one of the worst wins in that category’s history) has actually walked away with an Oscar. Maybe if Prometheus was a critical darling he would have a fighting chance, but with some voters destined to hate the film his chances are still very low. Moving on from that to a different kind of number-crunching, the only thing keeping Prometheus from being a slam-dunk box office smash is its R-rating. Luckily, its anticipation is at critical mass and the marketing has been nothing short of brilliant, which has already paid off with its successful overseas ticket sales. I’m going with $50-55 million strong.
Not that Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted won’t put up a hell of a fight, though, if only by virtue of it being the sole family-friendly release of the weekend. The celebrity voices of Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Arrogant Dickhead and Jada Pinkett-Smith return to another romp with the conga-dancing lemurs. The last film in this franchise scored $63 million in its first weekend, and the longer turnover between that and this installment shouldn’t be too much of a hindrance on its way to a $6-51 million debut frame. The Academy has never really cottoned to the Madagascar series, and with competition from the likes of Brave and FrankenWeenie that probably won’t change this year.
Quite a few limited releases opening this weekend, including Bel Ami, which I had actually considered placing somewhere in my own Oscar predictions. Costumes are still in the cards, I suppose, even with reviews being pretty harsh on the film’s execution and Robert Pattinson’s performance.
The excellent actress Greta Gerwig headlines Lola Versus and her performance impresses the hell out of Joey in the process. Sadly, most critics are less impressed with the film itself, accusing it of being mean-spirited and extremely predictable. Oh Greta, when will you get that Oscar nomination you deserved for Greenberg?
Safety Not Guaranteed, on the other hand, has been receiving a fair amount of acclaim, and while it may be too “small” to be a major Oscar player, the story of three Seattle reporters answering a classified ad written by a man claiming to have discovered time travel could garner some under-the-radar year-end recognition.
Todd Solondz returns to depress us with unpleasant characters and cutting social satire with Dark Horse, about a man-child who falls in love but can’t seem to grow up in his thirties. While such a premise is dishearteningly relevant in this day and age, reviews say haters of the director won’t be converted by this one.
Finally, could Jane Fonda get a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her acclaimed performance in Peace, Love & Misunderstanding? About a straight-laced city woman who takes her two teenage daughters on a family vacation to her free-spirited mother’s farmhouse, Fonda got a lot of praise from both Joey and John, but reviews have been so deadly that even if I agree with my colleagues on Fonda her road to Oscar is almost certainly DOA save for an unprecedented drought in the category.
All these new releases and only one will be talked about all weekend, I guarantee it. So where do you stand on Prometheus? Love it? Hate it? Let us know!
Tags: Ben Stiller, Best Animated Feature, Best Supporting Actress, Best Visual Effects, Bruce Beresford, Catherine Keener, Chris Rock, christina ricci, Christopher Walken, David Schwimmer, divisive films, Greta Gerwig, Idris Elba, Jane Fonda, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lola Versus, Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Martin Short, Mia Farrow, Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Oscar hopefuls, Peace Love & Misunderstanding, Prometheus, Ridley Scott, Robert Pattinson, sacha baron cohen, Safety Not Guaranteed, Selma Blair, Uma Thurman, Weekend Openings