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Possible Oscar Battle on the Limited Front

November 30th, 2007

With the official beginning of award season happening earlier in the week, it should come as no surprise that there are a couple potential Oscar winners among this week's films. It's a close battle between The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and The Savages for the most glory, but there are a few other films worth checking out as well.

Aaja Nachle - No Reviews
Yet another Bollywood film opening with no review, no advanced buzz, no real shot at crossover appeal. On the other hand, these films have proven to be solid performers on the limited market and this one should be the same. Aaja Nachle opens tonight in 66 theaters in major cities nationwide.

Badland - Reviews
An epic film, but not in terms of quality or the ability to move an audience, but merely epic in terms of it length. Jerry is a Iraq war vet who doesn't like his life, so he kills his pregnant wife, his two sons, and is only prevented from killing his daughter because of a jammed gun. So he takes her on a road trip and starts a new life. This is the protagonist; this is the guy we are supposed to cheer for. It just doesn't work, none of it works. Not the script, not the directing, not the acting (Jamie Draven is a fine actor, but his accent needed work while Grace Fulton as his daughter probably faired the best in an underwritten role). Badland opens tonight in New York City and Los Angeles, but that's likely as far as it will go.

Chronicles of an Escape - Reviews
This thriller is about a goalie for a small Argentinean soccer team who is abducted by government agents under the suspicion of being a terrorist. After being kept in a make-shift prison, he and three other men plot their escape. The film is earning good reviews, but not great reviews, and with two possible Oscar contenders on this week's list, they probably are not good enough for it to survive. Chronicles of an Escape opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Reviews
The first of our multi-Independent Spirit Award nominees on this week's list. It earned four nominations, but it shares three of those four with The Savages, so not only do we have a battle at the box office, we have a battle for the hardware as well. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly does have a slight advantage with critics, but it is too slight to be a strong indicator. Since you can't vote for a movie you haven't seen, how well it does at the box office might be a better predictor. However, we will have to take into account the foreign language aspect. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly opens tonight in three theaters, two in New York City and the other in Los Angeles.

He Was A Quiet Man - No Reviews
Christian Slater stars as Bob Maconel, an office worker who is on the edge and is about to snap, and when he does he's going to take a lot of people with him. However, one of his co-workers snaps first and instead of becoming a monster, he becomes a hero. The film features good performances, not only by Christian Slater, but also by William H. Macy and Elisha Cuthbert, and John Gulager, as the voice of Bob's goldfish. The dark comedy isn't for everyone, but it is worth checking out. He Was A Quiet Man opens tonight in three theaters in the Los Angeles area.

Oswald's Ghost - Reviews
A documentary about the Kennedy assassination and the psychological scars that remain today. It's actually a well-known psychological phenomenon. Conspiracy theories are built on the fallacy that a great effect must come from a great cause. Avalanches can start from just a few rocks falling at the right time and under the right circumstances without anyone orchestrating the whole thing. Oswald's Ghost is an interesting movie, but there's not a lot new here. Oswald's Ghost opens tonight in two theaters in New York State before running on PBS in January.

The Protagonist - Reviews
A documentary that uses puppets and the work of 5th Century B.C. Greek dramatist Euripides to help tell the story of four men, including an ex-terrorist, an ex-bank robber, an ex-Ex-Gay Preacher, and an ex-martial artist. Despite the vast differences between the men, they all have something in common, not only with each other, but with the works of Euripides, who lived 2,500 years ago. Certainly an interesting film, though I'm not sold on its box office chances. The Protagonist opens tonight at the IFC Center in New York City.

The Rocket - Reviews
A Canadian film about the legendary hockey player, Maurice "The Rocket" Richard. The film has already been released on DVD here in Canada and it is certainly worth checking out for all fans of hockey in the United States... All three of you. The Rocket opens in one theater tonight before coming out on DVD on the 11th of December.

The Sasquatch Gang - Reviews
An indie comedy that relies too much on quirky characters to overcome its failings in other areas. It's being compared to Napoleon Dynamite by a lot of people, both as a compliment and as an insult. It might do reasonably well on the home market, but its theatrical chances are limited. The Sasquatch Gang opens tonight in a number of theaters, none in New York City and only two in the Los Angeles area, so it is a chance for people in places like Seattle to see a limited release during its opening weekend.

The Savages - Reviews
Writer / director Tamara Jenkins returns for the first time since 1998's Slums of Beverly Hills, and her return has been a triumph. Not only did the film earn four Independent Spirit Award nominations, she picked up two of those. Additionally, the film opened in four theaters on Wednesday and has already earned more than $32,000 in two days. This suggests a strong opening weekend and great potential for expansion. The Savages is currently playing in four theaters, two in New York City and two in the Los Angeles area.

Tears for April: Beyond the Blue Lens - No Reviews
A Canadian documentary that looks at the poorest neighborhood in Canada and the toll that drugs are taking on the people trapped there. It's a follow-up to Through a Blue Lens, which came out in 1999. Tears for April: Beyond the Blue Lens opens tonight at the Tinseltown Cinemas in Vancouver, Canada and plays for the next week.

Tony and Tina's Wedding - Reviews
It's been three years since this movie was made, and it is finally getting a theatrical release. And it's not even a full release as it is only playing at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays at the IFC Center. It is also coming out on VOD, which will further reduce its box office chances.

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Filed under: The Savages, Le Scaphandre et le Papillon, Aaja Nachle, Protagonist, The Sasquatch Gang, He Was a Quiet Man, Crónica de una fuga, Badland, Oswald's Ghost, Maurice Richard, Tony N' Tina's Wedding