Awards' 'Serious Season' Gets Underway

By Robert Marich
   Nov 30, 2009—Tis the season for thoughtful and usually dreary films—which line up for Oscar and other awards consideration, notes a Wall Street Journal article.
   The rundown highlights Sony Pictures Classics The White Ribbon (a grim look at growing up in Germany 100 years ago), It’s Complicated from Universal Pictures (Meryl Streep and in a drama role Steve Martin), The Lovely Bones from Paramount (murder drama from Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson), The Last Station from Sony Pictures Classics (about Leo Tolstoy’s final days), musical Nine (from Chicago director Rob Marshall with a strong female cast led by Nicole Kidman), Warner’s Invictus (Clint Eastwood-directed salute to Nelson Mandela), The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus from Sony Classics (Heath Ledger died in middle of production about making a 1950s sci-fi movie) and Fox Searchlight’s Crazy Heart (Jeff Bridges as an over-the-hill country singer).
   In Lovely Bones, the WSJ writes, “Some marketing executives say its dark premise may scare away audiences, but in early test screenings, Mr. Jackson found that viewers actually wanted to see more suffering, not less, according to reports. Mr. Jackson re-edited parts of the film to include more violence (the rating is PG-13). Paramount Pictures will roll the film out slowly in a limited number of theaters, expanding through December.”
   For Imaginarium, footage of Ledger remains in the film and his role is also played by Colin Farrell, Johnny Depp and Jude Law, who stepped in when Ledger died tragically in a drug overdose. “Will this puzzle audiences?” the WSJ asks. “Fortunately for (for director Terry) Gilliam (Brazil, The Fisher King), Mr. Ledger’s unfinished sequences all took place on the other side of a mirror that doubles as a portal into the imagination, giving a veneer of plausibility to the swap.”

   Regarding the season in general, the WSJ article says, “There’s only one time reserved, by big studios and independents alike, for Serious Movies for Grown-ups hoping for a box-office boost: late November until the end of December. The most obvious factor is the many awards—from Oscars to Golden Globes to Independent Spirit—whose eligibility windows generally end with the calendar year.”
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