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Proving Ground for Early Award Season Hopefuls

September 16th, 2005

It's the best time of the year for quality limited releases as studios try and release films they hope will be contenders for the various award shows coming up. That doesn't mean all of this week's films are high quality, just that there are more high quality films than are usual released in one week.

The Corpse Bride - Reviews
The film gets a prestige opening in 5 theatres tonight before its wide release next weekend. Arguably the best reviewed film of the weekend and should easily win the race for top Per Theatre Average. We will have more information when the film does open wide next weekend, but if you do live in New York City or Los Angeles, this is the film to check out.

Everything is Illuminated - Reviews
The directorial debut of actor Liev Schreiber. The film is yet another quirky film starring Elijah Wood, who has turned his role in the monster hit Lord of the Rings trilogy and parlayed his fame into a successful career without going Hollywood. Everything is Illuminated opens in 6 theatres in New York City and Los Angeles, including the Laemmle's Sunset 5.

Hellbent - Reviews
Billed as the first gay themed slasher film, the film is earning very good reviews for the genre. The real challenge is whether the frank depiction of gay sexuality will turn off a mainstream audience, it's too early to tell. Hellbent opens in 8 theatres tonight, but unlike most limited releases it is not limited to New York City and Los Angeles. Sure, it is playing in those two cities at the Village East Theatre and the Regent Showcase (among others). But it is also playing in Miami at the Regal South Beach Stadium 18 and Seattle at the Landmark Harvard Exit Theatre, and other cities.

Proof - Reviews
Given this film's pedigree, I was expecting a lot more in terms of critical appeal. That's not to say the film it getting poor reviews, but at just 69% positive, its Tomatometer is nearly 20 percentage points below what I was expecting (and the Cream-of-the-Crop critics are even less generous). The is another film that won't become a major player during the award season, but may earn a couple of noms for acting performances. Proof opens in 8 theatres including the Angelika Film Center in New York City and the Arclight Cinemas in Los Angeles.

One Bright Shining Moment - Reviews
A political documentary that traces the 1972 presidential campaign of George McGovern and is one of the best reviewed films opening this weekend. On a side note, the film opens at the Quad Cinema in New York City tonight and the director Stephen Vittoria and Senator George McGovern will be there for a Q&A session after the 6:00 p.m. showing.

Separate Lies - Reviews
Obviously made to be an award season contender, this film's reviews may not be high enough for that; however, certain performances could be singled out. The film opens tonight in two theatres, the Paris Theatre and Loews Theatre Village 7, both in New York City, before expanding in the coming weeks.

The Thing About My Folks - Reviews
Paul Reiser's movie career got off to an amazing start with the incredible coming of age film, Diner and then followed that up with roles in smash hits Beverly Hills Cop and Aliens but has never really been able to carry a film on his own. If the reviews are any indication, this film won't change that. On the other hand, a lot of critics are saying Peter Falk's role is the only praise-worthy aspect of the film. Also hurting the film's chances is its theatre count; 93 theatres is too wide for a targeted ad campaign and too narrow for a nationwide one.

Thumbsucker - Reviews
I've read a lot of reviews for this film and many are praising the acting performances, especially Keanu Reeves'. And I have to say I just don't see it; it looks like he's channeling Ted from the Bill & Ted films and I don't think many people considered that to be an award winning performance. Moving on, the film is another award season hopeful that isn't earning the reviews that it will need to become a major player, but it's a strong coming of age story, especially for a first time director. Thumbsucker opens in 9 theatres, mostly in New York City and Los Angeles including the Laemmle's Sunset 5 in the latter city.

Venom - Reviews
Unlike most limited releases that come out at this time of the year, this film was made to earn mainstream success and not critical praise. However, it looks like it will make neither. The film was expected to open in roughly 1,500 theatres, but managed just 498 and while its Tomatometer reading is more than twice as high as I expected, it will still struggle at the box office and could open with a per theatre average of under $1,000.

The Weeping Meadow - Reviews
The first part of a planned trilogy about the 20th century, this film takes place from 1919 to 1949 and deals with Greek refugees. While the reviews are not overly positive, those that do like the film are showering it with high praise, but even so, this is not a film for everyone. The Weeping Meadow opens tonight at the Lincoln Plaza in New York City.

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Filed under: The Corpse Bride, Proof, Everything is Illuminated, Thumbsucker, Separate Lies, Venom