EW’s Dave Karger takes a look at Precious’ opening numbers and comes up with the possibility, I think for the first time in the mainstream press, that this film could be the frontrunner. However, he doesn’t come out and says he thinks it is – just that the possibility is there:
Playing in just 18 theaters, Precious grossed a phenomenal $1.8 million, according to studio estimates. If those numbers hold, Precious will become only the third live-action to score a per-theater average of over $100,000, following in the heels of multiple Oscar nominees Dreamgirls and Brokeback Mountain. Considering all of this was accomplished by a film by a relatively new director with no big movie stars in it, it‚Äôs an amazing achievement. It was well on its way to becoming a Best Picture nominee already, but now Precious is seeming more and more like a front-runner. The question now: Can it distinguish itself from¬†Dreamgirls (which missed out on a Best Picture nod) and Brokeback Mountain (which lost to Crash) and actually win? Between Invictus, The Hurt Locker, The Lovely Bones, Up in the Air, and Nine, it certainly seems to have some stiff competition.
Up in the Air is really the crouching tiger, hidden dragon here. The studio has done a great job of quieting the film’s hype – and Jason Reitman has been traveling all over the US and abroad giving q&a’s and screenings of the film. He is one hard-working dude. But as Karger says, the race is starting to look more solid.
No matter what anyone says, no matter how much they want to believe it isn’t true, no matter how many times people tell you that the National Board of Review doesn’t matter — they do matter and they will especially matter this year. The NBR and the Critics Choice are the two groups that will deliver a solid top ten of best pictures that could start to help the Academy’s daunting task of finding ten. I do suspect that one or two titles will sneak into the Oscar race that none of us sees coming (there will always be that person who steps up and says “I saw it coming.”)
The Golden Globes will offer ten but they will be split between comedy/musical and drama.¬† The American Film Institute will also offer ten, as will the many critics’ groups. The NBR is usually first and therefore it can have significance. You can get mad about it if you’d like but it doesn’t change what I’ve seen over the past decade of doing this.
It is perhaps too soon to know about the films that no one has seen. They will have to start screening them to get on some of these early lists, unless their strategy is to avoid the many pre-Oscar awards.