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Limited Releases: Awards Season Cools Off This Week

December 23rd, 2011

There are only seven films on this week's list of limited releases; however, five of them were earning at least some measure of Awards Season buzz. This is hardly unusual for this time of year. What is unusual is that almost none of them are earning overall positive reviews. The one exception is Pina, which has 93% positive reviews, but as a documentary / concert film, it might struggle to find an audience outside of fans of modern dance. On the other hand, while Albert Nobbs' overall reviews are merely mixed, it has a chance to find a sizable audience, thanks in part to its numerous early nominations.

Albert Nobbs - Reviews
Glenn Close stars as the titular Albert Nobbs, a woman living in Ireland in the 1800s, but who lives as a man. The film's reviews are below 50% positive, but even most of the negative reviews are praising the performances of Glenn Close, Janet McTeer and others. It will likely earn an Oscar nomination in at least one acting category, while it might win a technical award or two for sets and costumes. Albert Nobbs has a special Oscar qualifying run starting on Wednesday in New York City and expands to Los Angeles on Friday, while its theatrical release begins in full at the end of January.

Don 2 - Reviews
The widest release of the week is a Bollywood film. There are not a lot of reviews online, so it is really hard to tell if it will connect with its target audience, or find crossover appeal. It should earn the most money over the weekend, but like many similar releases, it will likely collapse quickly after that.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Reviews
A film about a family dealing with the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Thomas Horn plays a young boy whose father, Tom Hanks, was killed in the towers. Now he and his mother, Sandra Bullock, are growing distant. Critics are split on the film with half complimenting Thomas Horn's performance and the emotional impact the films have. The others are calling it emotionally manipulative and describing it as Oscar bait is in the lowest sense of the word. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close opens on Christmas day in six theaters for an Oscar qualifying run before starting its regular theatrical run on January 20th.

The Flowers of War - Reviews
China's official selection for this year's Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Given its reviews, that's not going to happen. In fact, it is the weakest film on this week's list. The combination of brutal story line (it deals with war crimes committed by the Japanese in China at the beginning of World War II) and the melodramatic storytelling leaves a sour taste in your mouth. The Flowers of War opened on Wednesday for an Oscar qualifying run, while the $90 million movie hopes to open wide in 2012. I'm not sure it will.

In The Land of Blood and Honey - Reviews
Angelina Jolie's directorial debut had a lot of buzz going in, but the reviews are nowhere near where they needed to be to thrive in limited release. Many critics are complaining that while the story the film wants to tell is important, it's not being told in a very compelling way. In The Land of Blood and Honey opens tonight in three theaters, two in New York City and the other in Los Angeles.

Miss Minoes - Reviews
Carice van Houten stars as a cat that has turned into a woman, mostly. (She still acts a lot like a cat.) She then helps her new human friends stop an evil business man, with the help of her old cat friends. It's not Awards Season fodder. It's not the kind of movie that normally thrives in limited release. Perhaps families will discover it on the home market. Miss Minoes opens tonight in three theaters, two in New York City and the other in Chicago.

Pina - Reviews
This is the only film on this week's list earning overwhelmingly positive reviews. It's a 3D documentary / concert film about modern dance, specifically the work of choreographer Pina Bausch. Many critics are praising the film saying it has crossover appeal, but whether or not it can capitalize on that appeal is another matter. Pina starts its Oscar qualifying run in three theaters tonight, two in New York City and one in Los Angeles, before its regular theatrical run begins on January 20th, next year.


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Filed under: Awards Season, Albert Nobbs, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jin líng shí san chai, Pina, Don 2, Miss Minoes, In The Land of Blood and Honey