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Pete Hammond Analyzes the Oscars by Studio

As I roll out my first predictions of the year, one of the best analysts in the awards industry asks an important question: will budget be a major indicator of this year’s Oscars? In recent years, the Academy has made a sizable shift away from awarding Best Picture to big budget studio films and giving credence to smaller projects with big themes and touching stories. “The King’s Speech,” “The Hurt Locker” and “Slumdog Millionaire” all had budgets of 15 million dollars or less. Quite a change from the days of “Lord of the Rings,” “Gladiator” and “Titanic,” which had a combined budget of nearly 400 million.

So now the question is will the Academy continue to show love for David in the fight against Goliath, and if they do, will the public continue to care about the Oscars at all? I do believe it’s healthy for low budget indies to get noticed by an organization like the Academy, for in turn, the public begins to open their eyes to them, as well. Yet, overall, I wouldn’t feel bad if the studios fought their way back into the fray, especially if they’re packing as much potential as they seem to be.

Hammond has written two pieces on the subject, outlining a heavy portion of this year’s contenders and mapping them out by studio. Here’s an excerpt about which company may have the strongest potential:

“Sony (Pictures) is a partner on Spielberg’s “Adventures of Tin Tin” as well, distributing internationally where the property is much better known. The studio has its own domestic animated entry this fall with “Arthur Christmas,” a holiday-themed ‘toon that I hear from at least one animation uber-expert could be a real spoiler in that race. We’ll see. On the live-action front, Sony is coming back strong with a slate of potential contenders to avenge its “Social Network” Best Picture loss, starting with “Network” director David Fincher’s apparently very intense English-language version of the Swedish phenomenon “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. That doesn’t get unveiled until Dec. 21. Sony’s three other hopefuls are all hitting the fall fest circuit beginning with the Venice fest opening of George Clooney’s political drama “The Ides of March” co-starring Ryan Gosling. Buzz is already major on this Oct. 7 release, and Clooney is an Academy darling (and just a few weeks later, he’s back starring in Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants”). Brad Pitt, who has earned some Oscar talk earlier in the year for “The Tree of Life,” is back in the baseball yarn “Moneyball,” which debuts at Toronto and will try to overcome Oscar’s aversion to most things baseball. Soderbergh was originally to direct but came to a parting of the ways with Sony and “Capote”’s Bennett Miller took over. Finally there’s Roland Emmerich’s 17th century costume drama “Anonymous,” opening Oct. 28 but playing Toronto first. It already sounds like a front-runner for Costumes at least.”

Here are the links to Hammond’s articles about Big Studio Fare and Independent Film Potential. You can also find them at Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood.


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