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All Signs Point to Awards Season on Limited Releases

December 12th, 2008

Another week, another group of Awards Season hopefuls are being given a limited release. This week we have four films that have already earned nominations, plus a couple others that might later on. Of these, none are guaranteed to walk away winners, but I would be surprised if all of them were shut out.

$9.99 - Reviews
A stop-motion animated film about one slacker's search for the meaning of life, which can be bought for just under $10. There are not a lot of reviews over on Rotten Tomatoes, but so far all three of them are positive. (Last minute update: The first negative review filtered in.) That said, the competition is incredible this week, both in terms of new releases and expansions, and it will take a lot of luck for this film to thrive. $9.99 opens tonight at the Laemmles Music Hall in Beverly Hills for a one-week Oscar qualifying run.

Adam Resurrected - Reviews
Jeff Goldblum stars as Adam Stein, a circus magician who survived the Holocaust and is now in an Israeli mental institute trying to overcome his past. It's an interesting premise, but its This is an interesting premise, and there are some good performances, but the film is sunk by its tone. Adam Resurrected opens tonight at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

Che - The Argentine - Reviews
The first part of a four-hour long biopic of Che Guevara starring Benicio Del Toro. There was Oscar buzz surrounding this film not too long ago, but that has faded, and with it its box office chances. It is still a good movie, but the competition at art house theaters is just too extreme at this time of year to expect a movie that is just good to thrive. Che - The Argentine opens tonight at the Ziegfeld Theater for one week for its Oscar Qualifying run.

Dark Streets - Reviews
A Jazz-infused Film Noir musical that most critics are calling a mess. It appears to have all of the ingrediates of a great movie, except a story. Additionally, its one of the wider releases this week, perhaps too wide, and add in a number of possibly Oscar contenders, and it is unlikely this film will do well during its opening weekend. Dark Streets opens tonight in 17 theaters in select cities nationwide.

Doubt - Reviews
One of the big players when it comes to Golden Globe nomination. However, its reviews overall are not great. There are a number of amazing performances, but that's appears to not be enough for all critics. That said, with five nominations there's little skepticism with regards to the film's box office chances this week. Doubt opens tonight in 15 theaters in select cities nationwide.

Gran Torino - Reviews
This could be Clint Eastwood's final acting role, and depending on who you talk to, he's going out on a high note, or he's merely playing a geriatric version of Dirty Harry. So far over on Rotten Tomatoes, the reviews that reflect the former outnumber the latter by a considerable margin and it did pick up a Golden Globe nomination, which should help with its buzz, probably enough to warrant serious expansion later on. That said, I don't think it will be the biggest hit on this week's list. Gran Torino opens tonight in six theaters in select cities nationwide while it opens wide in January.

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi - No Reviews
An Indian film opening this weekend, and like most Hindi language film, it has no review, no advance buzz, and no chance at crossover appeal. However, it is opening in 100 theaters and could do very well for a limited release.

The Reader - Reviews
This is shaping up to be one of the major players during awards season after earning four nominations yesterday when the Golden Globes were announced. However, its reviews are weak for an Awards Season player. In fact, at just 57% positive, they are weak for a limited release regardless of its Awards Season ambitions. That said, the buzz is strong enough that it could still do very well when it opens this weekend. The Reader opened on Wednesday in one theater, while it expands to 8 on Friday.

Wendy and Lucy - Reviews
This film was recently nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards, including one for Best Feature and one for Michelle Williams for Best Actress. This should give it an edge at the box office, or at least help it tread water and not go under. Wendy and Lucy opens tonight in two theaters: the Film Forum in New York City and the Laemmles Sunset 5 in Los Angeles.

What Doesn't Kill You - Reviews
Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke star as two friends who work for a organized crime but are looking for a way out. Reviews are mixed, which is bad news at the best of times, and with multiple Award nominated films opening this week, it's a death blow. What Doesn't Kill You opens tonight three theaters, two in Los Angeles and the other in New York City.

Where God Left His Shoes - Reviews
John Leguizamo stars as Frank Diaz, a former boxer who, along with his wife and kids, are evicted forced to try and find an apartment on Christmas Eve. So far the reviews are overall positive, but there's not enough of them to suggest this film can find an audience during such a competitive time of the year for limited releases. Also, this is the second John Leguizamo Christmas movie opening today, and chances are people will go see Nothing Like the Holidays instead.

While She Was Out - Reviews
The latest Anchor Bay theatrical release, most of which have not worked out. This company is mostly known for its home market division, and its attempts to produce a theatrical hit have not worked so far. And given this film is a thriller, it is unlikely to be the first. The limited number of reviews are mostly positive, but this is not the kind of film that does well in limited release. While She Was Out opens tonight in 5 theaters, 2 in New York City, 2 in the Los Angeles Area, and the final one in Mesquite, Texas.


Filed under: Awards Season, Gran Torino, The Reader, Doubt, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Wendy and Lucy, $9.99