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Awards Season Starts Early

September 29th, 2006

It's a great week for fans of limited releases. Among the seven limited releases coming out this week, two are being singled out as early Oscar favorites. Not only that, but most are earning overwhelming positive reviews.

Be With Me - Reviews
This was at one time Singapore's contender for best foreign language film until it was disqualified for having too much English. (Of the four languages spoken in the movie, English is the most common, but the majority of the film is not in English. Seems like a technicality rather than a substantive complaint.) Three stories of love are told in this movie, and while it is slow at times, it is a great film for connoisseurs of art house films. Be With Me opens tonight at the ImageAsian in New York City.

Broken Sky - Reviews
This movie sets itself apart from others in a number of ways, including its gay themes and an almost total lack of dialogue. The lack of dialogue was done for aesthetic reasons, but it seems likely that it will backfire as it makes getting to know the characters much more difficult, and that will prevent people from becoming engrossed by the film. Broken Sky opens tonight at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

Facing the Giants - Reviews
The only film on this week's list not to earn overall positive reviews (not counting The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which has no reviews.) This is mainly due to the fact that it is a message movie, and as such cares more about its message than any narrative value. This means the film will end up preaching to the choir, and even then many well be disappointed in the entertainment value the movie possesses. Facing the Giants opens tonight in more than 400 theatres and with that wide of an opening I would be surprised if it made less than $1 million at the box office. On the other hand, I would be equally surprised if it does well enough to warrant any significant expansion over the coming weeks.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints - Reviews
An autobiographical look at writer / director Dito Montiel's life growing up on the crime-ridden streets of Astoria, Queens. This film was a major winner at the Sundance Film Festival and looks like it could be the major winner on the per theatre charts this weekend. The film has the most likely popular appeal, and a strong cast as well. The only downside is its theatre count. It opens tonight in 8 theatres and that is more than double The Queen's; since it will be competing with itself in many cases, it could reduce its per theatre earnings enough to prevent it from coming out on top on that chart. However, it should be in a great position to expand over the coming weeks.

The Last King of Scotland - Reviews
The first of the serious Oscar contenders coming out this week. Forest Whitaker portrays Idi Amin, the brutal dictator of Uganda, and is said to be the best performance of his career. Oscar voters tend to reward portrayals of real life individuals, and having a political touch won't hurt either. The Last King of Scotland opened in four theatres on Wednesday, half in in New York City and the other half in the Los Angeles area.

The Queen - Reviews
For the second time in less than a year, Helen Mirren plays royalty as she is the titular character in The Queen. Amazing reviews center on her performance and many are saying she is the early frontrunner for Best Actress Oscar. And while it's a little early for her to be writing her acceptance speech, it would be somewhat of a shock if she wasn't at least nominated. The Queen opens tonight in three theatres and the longer it can last the better shot it has at Oscar glory.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - No Reviews
Shot for just $750,000, this low-budget re-telling of the classic book is opening in plenty of theatres, but not in the usual places limited releases open in. But those in Memphis and Nashville Tennessee as well as Norfolk Virginia can get a chance tonight to see it. However, with no reviews or national exposure (including no reviews on Rotten Tomatoes), the odds are it will struggle to find an audience over the weekend.

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Filed under: Awards Season, The Queen, The Last King of Scotland, Facing the Giants, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, Broken Sky, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Be With Me