The nascent awards season finally got a big shot of adrenaline this past weekend with the record-breaking limited debut of Woody Allen‘s latest, Blue Jasmine and the strong expansions of The Weinstein Company’s Fruitvale Station and Fox Searchlight’s The Way, Way Back. It’s beginning to look like Fall in July as it is clear the appetite for some serious Oscar fare is heating up. After a steady dose this summer of monsters, zombies, superheroes, guns, garbage and Adam Sandler, things are looking up and names like Fruitvale’s Ryan Coogler, Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer and Way, Way Back’s Sam Rockwell and writer/directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash might have reason to celebrate if they can keep the heat of their mid-summer splash going throughout the next few months.
But no one has started 2013 Oscar talk quite like Cate Blanchett‘s unanimously acclaimed performance in Blue Jasmine. The film’s huge weekend opening in six theaters in LA and NY has now only fueled the buzz with the Sony Pictures Classics release grabbing the best per screen average of the year and for any Allen film, even eclipsing his Oscar juggernaut of two years ago, Midnight In Paris to soar over $100,000 per screen. Oscar voters also got to see the film this weekend and turned out in droves to the Academy in Beverly Hills on Saturday afternoon with a near-capacity crowd that, according to my spies, gave the film a strong reception. “Lots of good chatter on the way out. The woman next to me said, ‘well there’s an Oscar nomination for sure’,” said one who was there. SAG Nominating Committee voters also sparked to the film and Blanchett at a packed special screening at Harmony Gold Thursday night where Blanchett, appearing for a Q&A with co-stars Andrew Dice Clay and Peter Sarsgaard, received a standing ovation. The film has a strong 85% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes just to put a cherry on top for SPC.
It’s probably always risky to make a bold prediction about anything Oscar-related in the middle of summer but Blanchett seems a cinch for a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her role as a New York socialite in the midst of an emotional freefall after losing everything in a Madoff-like financial scandal perpetrated by her husband. It’s the kind of complex stuff awards are made of. In fact if the film, a more serious outing for Allen, can maintain the pace it’s setting Allen himself along with co-stars Sally Hawkins and Bobby Cannavale could be contenders.
I talked to SPC’s Michael Barker the other night about the strategy of going out in summer and he said audiences, particularly adult audiences, are ready at this point. He’s absolutely right as the turnout in theaters and the Academy proves. Also being a fresh quality picture before the glut of Fall releases all start cannibalizing each other for Oscar attention seems like a very smart move – if you have the goods. (more…)