Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

The Oscars are tomorrow! Help us predict the winners

February 23, 2019

The Oscars are tomorrow! Help us predict the winners

For decades, I’ve done an Oscar prediction contest, BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness).

We tend to be very accurate: last year, we scored 94% overall.

Why is that?

It’s the wisdom of crowds, and the method I use for people to make their predictions.

You can still make your predictions, and the more people who do so, the better I think we’ll do. Use this form:

https://t.co/AgRAFC30xe

It should just take you a couple of minutes: you rank every nominee in every category.

You have until noon Pacific time on Sunday, 24 February to complete it. I’ll close the voting then.

That will give me time to put out our predictions before the ceremony.

In case you are wondering, I make my own predictions before I receive anybody else’s, so I’m not unfairly influenced. I also don’t make our predictions publicly available until I close the voting.

While so far, I’ve talked about the group value, individuals certainly do compete as well. We announce winners in The Big Six (the acting categories, Best Picture, and Director), the Incredibly Difficult Maven Section (everything else), and Overall (combining the two). We play for that most valuable of human possessions…Bragging Rights. ūüėČ

You also have the option to have your guesses e-mailed to you, so you can play along.

I’d love it if you play, but even if you don’t, you can see our predictions in this blog on Sunday.

See you in the movies!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project (AKA Enwoven)! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. 

 

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Oscar noms: their other 2018 performances (or, how to get an Oscar nom…hint: it helps if you are playing a human being)

January 29, 2019

Oscar noms: their other 2018 performances (or, how to get an Oscar nom…hint: it helps if you are playing a human being)

While we tend to think of Oscar acting nominees as being recognized as the “Best Lead Actor”, it’s actually the specific performance that is being recognized…not that person’s intrinsic acting abilities.

Most actors are inconsistent…sometimes, their performances are better than others (there are some possible exceptions…Vincent Price comes to mind as someone who always had a good performance). Sure, that could have to do with the material or the director or the amount of time that actor has to work on the part.

I always found John Carradine’s approach to that interesting. Carradine (father of David, Keith, and Robert) was a Shakespearean actor who appeared in prestige movies including the Grapes of Wrath, ended up in movies like The Astro-Zombies and Star Slammer. As I recall, he said he’d made it a rule to just always accept the next script that was offered. He thought that waiting for a “good script” and/or a “good director” was cheating…the actor’s job was acting, and they should do the best possible with whatever the situation was.

That’s not how most actors do it in Hollywood, and certainly not what their agents would want them to do. They choose roles in part because of how they will affect their careers (whether that’s because they want to make more money or get offered particular types of parts or work with particular directors).

So, while Melissa McCarthy was nominated for “Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role” for her performance as Lee Israel (in Can You Ever Forgive Me?) that wasn’t her only performance last year. I suppose it was just a coin flip between that and her work as Detective Connie Edwards in The Happytime Murders, a movie with the tagline SEX. MURDER. PUPPETS. ūüėČ

How about the other acting nominees? I’ll deliberately describe the parts in ways that might emphasize their non-Oscar bait qualities…that’s not meant to diminish those movies, it’s just fun to play up the contrast.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Glenn Close nominated for Joan Castleman in The Wife

Close didn’t have another theatrical release in 2018…but The Wife was technically released in 2017. That year, she also appeared as Dr. Caroline Caldwell in The Girl with All the Gifts, an R-rated dystopian horror movie.

Lady Gaga nominated for Ally in A Star Is Born

No other theatrical releases in 2018

Olivia Colman nominated for Queen Anne in The Favourite

No other theatrical features in 2018…small screen roles included Strawberry the rabbit in Watership Down & Marion with Thomas the Tank Engine.

Yalitza Aparicio nominated for Roma in Roma

Only screen acting credit to date.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Bradley Cooper nominated for Jack in A Star Is Born

Cooper appeared as Rocket Raccoon in Avengers: Infinity War.

Christian Bale nominated for Dick Cheney in Vice

Also appeared as Bagheera the panther in Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle.

Rami Malek nominated for Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody

No other theatrical releases, but had a recurring role as Flip McVicker on BoJack Horseman, an animated series about a washed-up alcoholic horse.

Viggo Mortensen nominated for Tony Lip in Green Book

No other credits in 2018.

Williem Dafoe nominated for Vincent Van Gogh in At Eternity’s Gate

Also appeared as Vulko the merman in the movie Aquaman.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Adam Driver nominated for Flip Zimmerman in BlacKkKlansman

As Toby in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, he goes time traveling and is mistaken for Sancho Panza.

Mahershala Ali nominated for Dr. Don Shirley in Green Book

Ali was in another Oscar-nominated movie…voicing Uncle Aaron in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Richard E. Grant nominated for John Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Played the leader of the Land of Snowflakes in Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

Sam Elliot nominated for Bobby in a Star Is Born

I would have loved to have seenElliot’s nomination read out for Calvin Barr in The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot. ūüėČ

Sam Rockwell nominated for George W. Bush in Vice

While uncredited, Rockwell appeared in Mute, set forty years in the future where Cactus Bill helps Leo.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams nominated for Lynne Cheney in Vice

No other theatrical release in 2018.

Emma Stone nominated for Abigail in The Favourite

On the small screen, co-starred with Jonah Hill in Maniac, the comedy-drama involving an experimental drug trial.

Marina de Tavira nominated for Senora Sofia in Roma

Appeared in Cómplices a comedy where a womanizing uncle takes his nephew on a beach trip to meet women.

Rachel Weisz nominated for Lady Sarah in The Favourite

Also appeared in The Mercy…but that’s based on real, serious events, so doesn’t support the premise of this article well. ūüėČ

Regina King nominated for Sharon Rivers in If Beale Street Could Talk

No other theatrical releases in 2018.

What can we determine from this?

Assuming that the actors didn’t have a quantum leap in improved acting ability between movies, it’s safe to say that playing a Homo sapiens is a better bet than another species (raccoon, panther, merman…um, snowflake?), and playing an historical figure (Dick Cheney, Lynne Cheney, George W. Bush, Vincent Van Gogh, Queen Anne, Don Shirley, Tony Lip, Flip Zimmerman, Freddie Mercury…something like half of the total nominated roles) is even better. Definitely being in a geek-friendly movie is a hindrance to get Oscar acting noms. That certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them! I’ve loved the trend of prestige actors appear in GF movie…just, maybe, do more than that in a year. ūüėČ

What do you think? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project (AKA Enwoven)! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. 

 

 

Just published: The Measured Circle’s 2018 Box Office MVPs

January 25, 2019

Just published: The Measured Circle’s 2018 Box Office MVPs

Well, I’ve just finished crunching the numbers and published the

2018 The Measured Circle’s Box Office MVPs

list at IMDb!

That doesn’t mean that it won’t still change…there are certainly 2018 releases (especially those released late in the year) which are making money, and an Oscar bump could have an impact after those awards are announced on February 24th.

Still, it doesn’t look to me like people are likely to be added…more that standings might change.

The Mule is very likely to break $100m dogro (domestic gross), but I think the cast members of that movie who are to make the list have already done so.

The Oscar bump may bring some movies up to $40m which aren’t now but I think what you can see is going to be the vast majority of MVPs.

To briefly explain how you get on the list (the complete explanation is part of the list):

  • You need to be first-billed in a movie which dogros $100m
  • You need to also appear in another movie which dogros at least $40m, but you need not be first-billed

Our #1 MVP this year was…Letitia Wright!

Like several of her co-stars in Black Panther (the top four all appeared in that movie), she also appeared in Avengers: Infinity War. Unlike Chadwick Boseman, Danai Gurira, and Winston Duke, she had a¬†third movie: Ready Player One. That gave her a list total of $1,511.6m ($1,511,600,000…give or take, since we round the numbers to a single decimal digit).

Congratulations, Letitia!

There are a lot of newcomers to the list, probably reflecting the more diverse movies last year.

Here is the list…the amounts are in millions of dollars of dogro for the qualifying movies:

Name 2018
Letitia Wright 1516.6
Danai Gurira 1378.9
Chadwick Boseman 1378.9
Winston Duke 1378.9
Samuel L. Jackson 1287.4
Chris Pratt 1096.5
Josh Brolin 1047.4
Angela Bassett 1038.1
Bradley Cooper 981.5
Benedict Cumberbatch 949.1
Sope Aluko 913.6
Paul Bettany 892.6
Michael B. Jordan 815.4
Sterling K. Brown 751.1
Florence Kasumba 751.1
Daniel Kaluuya 742.4
Chris Hemsworth 724.6
Craig T. Nelson 677.2
Holly Hunter 658.7
Randall Park 524.5
Toby Jones 516.9
Alan Tudyk 513.1
Patrick Wilson 493.1
Alec Baldwin 473.6
T.J. Miller 456.2
Tye Sheridan 456.2
Dolph Lundgren 432.2
Angela Lansbury 431.5
Woody Harrelson 427.3
Hannah John-Kamen 412.6
Carter Hastings 408.0
Emily Blunt 391.4
Judy Greer 375.9
Leigh Whannell 375.6
Michael Pe√Īa 362.9
Simon Pegg 357.9
James Corden 338.7
Mika Kubo 334.4
Walton Goggins 332.9
Kathryn Hahn 329.4
Rashida Jones 325.0
Julie Walters 324.0
Zo√ę Kravitz 320.9
Awkwafina 314.7
Laurence Fishburne 314.4
√ďlafur Darri √ďlafsson 304.4
Andy Garcia 287.0
Meryl Streep 281.8
Colin Firth 281.8
Liang Chang 280.1
Hailee Steinfeld 279.7
Kurt Yue 268.2
Chris Pine 262.4
Michelle Williams 262.3
Aidan Gillen 260.8
Michael Harney 247.2
Mindy Kaling 240.7
Taraji P. Henson 238.1
Henry Golding 228.0
Ken Jeong 221.2
Miles Robbins 219.6
Keegan-Michael Key 218.5
Taissa Farmiga 215.3
Chris Parnell 214.2
Deirdre Goodwin 209.7
Cate Blanchett 208.7
Drew Scheid 206.0
Victor Rasuk 198.2
Jack Quaid 184.3
Rose Byrne 183.0
John Cena 178.1
Omid Djalili 175.5
Dwayne Johnson 169.4
Elizabeth Debicki 157.6
Eric Johnson 153.9
Sakina Jaffrey 149.0
P.J. Byrne 143.9

For more details (such as which movies make up the number), please see that IMDb list at¬†2018 The Measured Circle’s Box Office MVPs.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project (AKA Enwoven)! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. 

2019 Oscar noms

January 22, 2019

2019 Oscar noms

This is preliminary, almost live-blogging…I’ll refine it soon this morning.

Some thoughts:

  • Black Panther got a number of noms, including Best Picture. Kendrick Lamar gets a nomination for song, and this is the first Marvel movie to be nominated for Best Picture
  • No acting noms in GF (geek-friendly) movies: are we back to the Academy thinking that people don’t act in GF movies? They aren’t exceptionally well directed or written?
  • Generally, this year is not as geek-friendly as it could have been. A Quiet Place, which some thought might follow Get Out as an Oscar-nommed horror movie, Mary Poppins Returns, Bird Box, Annihilation, certainly didn’t see much action. AQP was nommed for Sound Editing, but major noms didn’t go geeky…compare that to last year, especially with The Shape of Water, the aforementioned Get Out, and Beauty and the Beast
  • Netflix gets its first Best Picture nom for Roma
  • The Mary Poppins Returns showing (Song, Score, Costume, Production Design) has to be seen as disappointing
  • While not geek-friendly, it was interesting to see Melissa McCarthy get nominated for Leading Actress (Can You Ever Forgive Me?)…congratulations! She was in a geek-friendly movie in 2018…but wasn’t nominated for The Happytime Murders ūüėČ
  • If you want to see the big name movies online, you can shell out for HBO and watch them on Now or Go (or, if you have AT&T for internet, you get it on DirecTV…although I have to say, I find that app particularly difficult to use). For the roughly $10 a month club, it’s definitely Netflix, at least for geeky titles

I’m going to call out the geeky nominees, and I’ll make some comments.

Note: I used Gold Derby to help me determine “buzz”. I was surprised to see Suspiria show up as much as it did there…

Best Original Song

  • All the Stars (Black Panther)
  • The Place Where Lost Things Go (Mary Poppins Returns)

SFX (Special Effects)

  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Christopher Robin
  • Ready Player One
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • First Man (geek status debatable)

Doc Short

Documentary Feature

Editing

No GF nominees in this category

Sound Mixing

  • Black Panther
  • First Man (geek status debatable)

Sound Editing

  • Black Panther
  • A Quiet Place
  • First Man (geek status debatable)

Production Design

  • Black Panther
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • First Man (geek status debatable)

Live Action Short

Animated Short

Best Animated Feature

  • Incredibles 2
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Mirai
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

 Supporting Actor

No GF nominees in this category

Other geeky movies which had buzz in this category:

  • Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther)
  • John Krasinski (A Quiet Place)
  • Alex Wolff (Hereditary)
  • Hugh Grant (Paddington 2)
  • John Malkovich (Bird Box)
  • Trevante Rhodes (Bird Box)
  • Oscar Isaac (Annihilation)
  • Kyle Chandler (First Man) (geek status debatable)
  • Corey Stoll (First Man) (geek status debatable)

Supporting Actress

No GF nominees in this category

Other geeky movies which had buzz in this category:

  • Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place)
  • Danai Gurira (Black Panther)
  • Lupita Nyong’o (Black Panther)
  • Letitia Wright (Black Panther)
  • Tilda Swinton (Suspiria)
  • Sarah Paulson (Bird Box)
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh (Annihilation)
  • Gina Rodriguez (Annihilation)
  • Meryll Streep (Mary Poppins Returns)
  • Clare Foy (First Man) (geek status debatable)

Makeup and Hairstyling

No geeky nominees in this category

Costume

  • Black Panther
  • Mary Poppins Returns

Other geeky movies which had buzz in this category:

  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
  • The Nutcracker and the Four Realms
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Suspiria
  • Ready Player One
  • A Quiet Place
  • Annihilation
  • Hereditary
  • Bird Box
  • First Man (geek status debatable)

Cinematography

No GF nominees in this category

Other geeky movies which had buzz in this category:

  • Black Panther
  • A Quiet Place
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Suspiria¬†
  • Hereditary
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
  • Bird Box
  • Annihilation

Original Screenplay

No GF nominees in this category

Other geeky movies which had buzz in this category:

  • A Quiet Place
  • Hereditary
  • Isle of Dogs

Adapted Screenplay

No GF nominees in this category

Other geeky movies which had buzz in this category:

  • Black Panther
  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • Bird Box
  • Paddington 2
  • Incredibles 2
  • Suspiria
  • Annihilation
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Original Score

  • Black Panther
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Mary Poppins Returns

Foreign Language

No GF nominees in this category

Directing

No GF nominees in this category

Other geeky movies which had buzz in this category:

  • Ryan Coogler (Black Panther)
  • John Krasinski (A Quiet Place)
  • Rob Marshall (Mary Poppins Returns)
  • Luca Guadagnino (Suspiria)
  • Wes Anderson (Isle of Dogs)
  • Susanne Bier (Bird Box)
  • Alex Garland (Annihilation)

Lead Actress

No gf nominees in this category

Other geeky movies which had buzz in this category:

  • Emily Blunt (Mary Poppins Returns)
  • Toni Collette (Hereditary)
  • Sandra Bullock (Bird Box)
  • Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place)
  • Dakota Johnson (Suspiria)
  • Natalie Portman (Annihilation)

Lead Actor

No GF nominees in this category

Other geeky movies which had buzz in this category:

  • Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther)
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda (Mary Poppins Returns)
  • Ryan Gosling (First Man) (geek status debatable)

Best Picture

  • Black Panther

Other geeky movies which had buzz in this category:

  • Mary Poppins Returns
  • A Quiet Place
  • Hereditary
  • Incredibles 2
  • First Man (geek status debatable)
  • Bird Box
  • Suspiria
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  • Annihilation
  • Isle of Dogs

Where can you legally stream any of these Oscar nominees without paying additional money (subscriptions required)?

Amazon Prime:

Hulu:

Netflix:

  • Black Panther
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story

HBO Now/HBO Go/the HBO Amazon Channel

  • Ready Player One
  • Isle of Dogs

As we saw last year, Netflix is the place to be for the nominated geek-friendly movies. People are thinking of them more for original content, but they still walk the big dogs.

How about streaming if you are willing to piece pay to rent or buy? All links are to JustWatch:

Complete list of nominees from the Academy website:

http://oscar.go.com/nominees

Stay tuned for our annual BOPMadness (Bufo’s Oscar Prediction Madness) if you want to predict the winners!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. 

2018 The Measured Circle’s most profitable movies: looking back

January 15, 2019

2018 The Measured Circle’s most profitable movies: looking back

For years, The Measured Circle has tracked not only box office, but profitability.

We do it at IMDb…this year’s is here:

https://www.imdb.com/list/ls022217945/

I like to take a look at it in the beginning of the following year, even though it will change quite a bit over the next couple of months. Some very big movies open very late in the year, and then there is the phenomenon of the “Oscar Bump”. This tends to benefit “art house” movies more than blockbusters, and that may be through getting a wide release after having a limited release. Still, that can make a difference of tens of millions of dollars.

I’m going to first reproduce the introduction at IMDb, then the values, and finally, I’ll give you some of my thoughts on it.


While tracking a movie’s box office is fascinating, The Measured Circle is also interested in how profitable a movie is.

This list of movies making a domestic gross (“dogro”) of at least $40 million in the USA in 2018 ranks them in order, based on their dogro against their rumored production budgets. Certainly there are other costs (including the not inconsiderable marketing budget) and other income (including foreign box office and merchandising), but this can give us an interesting picture.

Expect studios to look at these types of results, and sometimes greenlight projects based on them (although it’s hard to resist spending a $100 million on a possible blockbuster).

Note that recent releases will typically appear lower on this list than their eventual results. If they were in the top ten the weekend before the list is updated, they will normally be marked with “and counting”.

Movies where the rumored production budget is not available on IMDb (or elsewhere…we prefer using BoxOfficeMojo, which, like IMDb, is owned by Amazon, but which have dogroed at least $40m in 2017 in the USA appear at the bottom of the list. They may be more profitable than many of the movies above them, but we can’t do the math on them.

As a new feature (introduced in 2013), we’ve decided to label movies, to make this clearer. A traditional measure of success is the dogro being twice the production budget. Using that as a starting point…

Dogro 2X production budget = “Money”
Dogro 3X production budget = “Golden”
Dogro 30X production budget = “Platinum” (God’s Not Dead prompted the creation of this new award)

Dogro less than 50% of production budget= “Underperformer”

Starting in July 2017, we added another Measured Circle Award: Road Winner. These movies have at least 2/3rds of their box office from “foreign”, per BoxOfficeMojo. While we specifically focus on US box office, that can help explain why, for example, a sequel might be made to a movie which was an Underperformer. This number is also particularly unstable in the early part of a movie’s release, since movies don’t open in all markets simultaneously. For that reason, not every movie that qualifies may show the award, and it’s possible we’ll award a movie and then the percentages will change.


Title DoGro ProdBud Profit % Intl Award Road Winner
Black Panther 700.1 200 500.1 350% 646.9 Golden
Incredibles 2 608.6 200 408.6 304% 634.1 Golden
Avengers: Infinity War 678.8 300 378.8 226% 1370 Money Yes
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom 417.7 170 247.7 246% 891.8 Money Yes
Deadpool 2 318.5 110 208.5 290% 419.1 Money
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch 269.6 75 194.6 359% 235.1 Golden
A Quiet Place 188 17 171 1106% 152.9 Triple Golden
A Star Is Born 203.6 36 167.6 566% 200 Golden
Halloween 159.3 10 149.3 1593% 94.3 Quintuple Golden
Bohemian Rhapsody 198.5 52 146.5 382% 553.4 Golden Yes
Crazy Rich Asians 174.5 30 144.5 582% 64 Golden
Aquaman 287.9 160 127.9 180% 732.4 Yes
Venom 213.4 100 113.4 213% 642.2 Money Yes
The Nun 117.5 22 95.5 534% 248.1 Golden Yes
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation 167.5 80 87.5 209% 359.8 Money Yes
I Can Only Imagine 83.5 7 76.5 1193% 0 Triple Golden
Ocean’s 8 140.2 70 70.2 200% 157.5 Money
Peter Rabbit 115.3 50 65.3 231% 236 Money Yes
Creed II 114.9 50 64.9 230% 51.7 Money
Book Club 68.6 10 58.6 686% 0 Double Golden
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 147.8 90 57.8 164% 154.6
The First Purge 69.5 13 56.5 535% 67.5 Golden
Ant-Man and the Wasp 216.6 162 54.6 134% 406
Night School 77.3 29 48.3 267% 25.6 Money
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again 120.6 75 45.6 161% 274.1 Yes
Fifty Shades Freed 100.4 55 45.4 183% 271.5 Yes
Mission: Impossible – Fallout 220.2 178 42.2 124% 571 Yes
Breaking In 46.8 6 40.8 780% 4.6 Double Golden
The Mule 90.6 50 40.6 181% 3.6
The Equalizer 2 102.1 62 40.1 165% 88.3
Blockers 60.3 21 39.3 287% 33.7 Money
The House With a Clock in Its Wall 68.5 30 38.5 228% 62.9 Money
Overboard 50.3 12 38.3 419% 40.9 Golden
Truth or Dare 41.3 3.5 37.8 1180% 53.9 Triple Golden
Hereditary 44.1 10 34.1 441% 35.3 Golden
A Simple Favor 53.5 20 33.5 268% 43.5 Money
Tag 55 28 27 196% 23.4
Disney’s Christopher Robin 99.2 72.5 26.7 137% 98.4
Uncle Drew 42.5 18 24.5 236% 2.4 Money
Love, Simon 40.8 17 23.8 240% 25.5 Money
Tyler Perry’s Acrimony 43.5 20 23.5 218% 2.9 Money
Life of the Party 53.1 30 23.1 177% 12.8
Mary Poppins Returns 150.7 130 20.7 116% 137.2
Instant Family 66.7 48 18.7 139% 13.3
BlacKkKlansman 48.5 30 18.5 162% 40.9
I Feel Pretty 48.8 32 16.8 153% 45.7
Ralph Breaks the Internet 190.4 175 15.4 109% 243.7
The Meg 145.4 130 15.4 112% 384.8 Yes
Sicario: Day of the Soldado 50.1 35 15.1 143% 25.8
Den of Thieves 44.9 30 14.9 150% 35.6
Game Night 69.2 55 14.2 126% 69.2
Insidious: The Last Key 67.7 55 12.7 123% 100.1
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween 46.7 35 11.7 133% 46.5
12 Strong 45.8 35 10.8 131% 21.6
Smallfoot 83.2 80 3.2 104% 130.9
Paddington 2 40.9 40 0.9 102% 186.4 Yes
A Wrinkle in Time 100.5 100 0.5 101% 100.5
Widows 42.2 42 0.2 100% 32.9
Maze Runner: The Death Cure 58 62 -4 94% 230.2 Yes
First Man 44.9 59 -14.1 76% 55.6
Sherlock Gnomes 43.2 59 -15.8 73% 47.1
Rampage 101 120 -19 84% 327 Yes
Red Sparrow 46.9 69 -22.1 68% 104.7 Yes
Bumblebee 108.3 135 -26.7 80% 258.1 Yes
Tomb Raider 58.3 94 -35.7 62% 216.4 Yes
The Predator 51 88 -37 58% 109.5 Yes
Ready Player One 137.7 175 -37.3 79% 445.2 Yes
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald 158.2 200 -41.8 79% 486.4 Yes
Skyscraper 68.4 125 -56.6 55% 236.5 Yes
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms 54.8 120 -65.2 46% 118.6 Yes
Solo: A Star Wars Story 213.8 300 -86.2 71% 179.2
Pacific Rim Uprising 60.3 150 -89.7 40% 231.1 Underperformer Yes

The first thing I’ll point out is that, in this group, close to 2/3rds of the money comes from international (61% of it…about a third are Road Winners, but those that are may make significantly more money abroad). That explains why some movies which don’t do that well domestically get sequels. While I haven’t specifically analyzed this, movies with a lot of dialogue don’t tend to do as well internationally as movies with action and visuals, which makes sense (although it’s possible that translation will get better in the future). Comedies tend to suffer from that: a comedy may not do as well in countries outside of its originating one…not just based on language. A joke which works in the USA may not work in the UK, and vice versa.

Within the use, the top ones in terms of gross profit are as you might expect: big budget and geek-friendly.

However, let’s look at this again, but this time, sorting by return on investment…percentages:

Title DoGro ProdBud Profit % Intl Award Road Winner
Halloween 159.3 10 149.3 1593% 94.3 Quintuple Golden
I Can Only Imagine 83.5 7 76.5 1193% 0 Triple Golden
Truth or Dare 41.3 3.5 37.8 1180% 53.9 Triple Golden
A Quiet Place 188 17 171 1106% 152.9 Triple Golden
Breaking In 46.8 6 40.8 780% 4.6 Double Golden
Book Club 68.6 10 58.6 686% 0 Double Golden
Crazy Rich Asians 174.5 30 144.5 582% 64 Golden
A Star Is Born 203.6 36 167.6 566% 200 Golden
The First Purge 69.5 13 56.5 535% 67.5 Golden
The Nun 117.5 22 95.5 534% 248.1 Golden Yes
Hereditary 44.1 10 34.1 441% 35.3 Golden
Overboard 50.3 12 38.3 419% 40.9 Golden
Bohemian Rhapsody 198.5 52 146.5 382% 553.4 Golden Yes
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch 269.6 75 194.6 359% 235.1 Golden
Black Panther 700.1 200 500.1 350% 646.9 Golden
Incredibles 2 608.6 200 408.6 304% 634.1 Golden
Deadpool 2 318.5 110 208.5 290% 419.1 Money
Blockers 60.3 21 39.3 287% 33.7 Money
A Simple Favor 53.5 20 33.5 268% 43.5 Money
Night School 77.3 29 48.3 267% 25.6 Money
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom 417.7 170 247.7 246% 891.8 Money Yes
Love, Simon 40.8 17 23.8 240% 25.5 Money
Uncle Drew 42.5 18 24.5 236% 2.4 Money
Peter Rabbit 115.3 50 65.3 231% 236 Money Yes
Creed II 114.9 50 64.9 230% 51.7 Money
The House With a Clock in Its Wall 68.5 30 38.5 228% 62.9 Money
Avengers: Infinity War 678.8 300 378.8 226% 1370 Money Yes
Tyler Perry’s Acrimony 43.5 20 23.5 218% 2.9 Money
Venom 213.4 100 113.4 213% 642.2 Money Yes
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation 167.5 80 87.5 209% 359.8 Money Yes
Ocean’s 8 140.2 70 70.2 200% 157.5 Money
Tag 55 28 27 196% 23.4
Fifty Shades Freed 100.4 55 45.4 183% 271.5 Yes
The Mule 90.6 50 40.6 181% 3.6
Aquaman 287.9 160 127.9 180% 732.4 Yes
Life of the Party 53.1 30 23.1 177% 12.8
The Equalizer 2 102.1 62 40.1 165% 88.3
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 147.8 90 57.8 164% 154.6
BlacKkKlansman 48.5 30 18.5 162% 40.9
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again 120.6 75 45.6 161% 274.1 Yes
I Feel Pretty 48.8 32 16.8 153% 45.7
Den of Thieves 44.9 30 14.9 150% 35.6
Sicario: Day of the Soldado 50.1 35 15.1 143% 25.8
Instant Family 66.7 48 18.7 139% 13.3
Disney’s Christopher Robin 99.2 72.5 26.7 137% 98.4
Ant-Man and the Wasp 216.6 162 54.6 134% 406
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween 46.7 35 11.7 133% 46.5
12 Strong 45.8 35 10.8 131% 21.6
Game Night 69.2 55 14.2 126% 69.2
Mission: Impossible – Fallout 220.2 178 42.2 124% 571 Yes
Insidious: The Last Key 67.7 55 12.7 123% 100.1
Mary Poppins Returns 150.7 130 20.7 116% 137.2
The Meg 145.4 130 15.4 112% 384.8 Yes
Ralph Breaks the Internet 190.4 175 15.4 109% 243.7
Smallfoot 83.2 80 3.2 104% 130.9
Paddington 2 40.9 40 0.9 102% 186.4 Yes
A Wrinkle in Time 100.5 100 0.5 101% 100.5
Widows 42.2 42 0.2 100% 32.9
Maze Runner: The Death Cure 58 62 -4 94% 230.2 Yes
Rampage 101 120 -19 84% 327 Yes
Bumblebee 108.3 135 -26.7 80% 258.1 Yes
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald 158.2 200 -41.8 79% 486.4 Yes
Ready Player One 137.7 175 -37.3 79% 445.2 Yes
First Man 44.9 59 -14.1 76% 55.6
Sherlock Gnomes 43.2 59 -15.8 73% 47.1
Solo: A Star Wars Story 213.8 300 -86.2 71% 179.2
Red Sparrow 46.9 69 -22.1 68% 104.7 Yes
Tomb Raider 58.3 94 -35.7 62% 216.4 Yes
The Predator 51 88 -37 58% 109.5 Yes
Skyscraper 68.4 125 -56.6 55% 236.5 Yes
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms 54.8 120 -65.2 46% 118.6 Yes
Pacific Rim Uprising 60.3 150 -89.7 40% 231.1 Underperformer Yes

Doing that, the top ones tend to be lower budget (under $50m, certainly), and with horror movies (and faith-based, often) being the best investments. You need to get down to #15 before a movie which cost $100m to make gets our Golden award (profit three times production budget). Black Panther and Incredibles 2 (both Disney) are in that rarefied stratum: movies which cost over $100 to make (they both have reported estimated production budgets of $200m) but still got our Golden award.

Pacific Rim Uprising is an Underperformer (it’s too soon to make that call on Nutcracker), but it’s also a Road Winner, with hundreds of millions of dollars and close to 80% of the box office coming outside of dogro…so don’t be surprised if there is a third PacRim.

With so many other sources of income (streaming services, for one major one), movie studios seem to be figuring out how to keep from having big losers much more reliably.

See you in the movies!

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

2019 Critics’ Choice Awards geek-friendly results

January 14, 2019

2019 Critics’ Choice Awards geek-friendly results

AWARD SPOILER ALERT

Congratulations (again) to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for its

Critics’ Choice award

win last night as Best Animated Feature!

This follows its groundbreaking first Marvel (but not MCU) Golden Globe win

AWARD SPOILER ALERT: Marvel wins 1st Golden Globe as all other geek-friendly movie nominees shut out

Unlike the Globes, though, other geek-friendly movies and TV shows did go home with trophies.

Black Panther picked up three technical/design awards, which I think presages possible Oscar nominations (it could also get nominated at the Academy for other categories, including Best Picture…a nomination it got from the CCs as well):

  • Best Production Design (Hannah Beachler & Jay Hart)
  • Best Costume Design (Ruth Carter) (I think it’s a serious contender to win at the Oscars in this category…brilliant design)
  • Best Visual Effects (I haven’t seen that they name individuals for this…sigh)

The Critics’ Choice Awards has a category specifically for Sci-Fi/Horror, and A Quiet Place took that one.

For TV, it’s really significant that Thandie Newton won as Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for Westworld. That’s an equal-playing field category for GF and mainstream…congratulations!

Best Animated Series went to BoJack Horseman, beating out Archer, Adventure Time, Bob’s Burgers, and veteran shows The Simpsons & South Park. I’d congratulate them, but somehow, I think BoJack would find that distressing. ūüėČ

Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert (starring John Legend) was the Best Movie Made for TV winner.

If we count First Man (which I haven’t seen) as geek-friendly (as I’ve said before, I’m not sure on that…geek-friendly is usually fiction for me, but it can include geek-friendly non-fiction about makers of geek-friendly fiction), we’d up it to include Tom Cross for Editing and Justin Hurwitz for Best Score.

Overall, this is a pretty good showing! I think it’s possible that the Oscars will be even more geek-friendly than these earlier awards have been, but we’ll know soon! Voting is wrapping up and nominations are announced in about a week (22 January) with the ceremony on 24 February.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

AWARD SPOILER ALERT: Marvel wins 1st Golden Globe as all other geek-friendly movie nominees shut out

January 7, 2019

Marvel wins 1st Golden Globe as all other geek-friendly movie nominees shut out

Congratulations to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for winning Best Animated Feature at last night’s 76th annual Golden Globes!

That is Marvel’s 1st win at the Golden Globes…although notably, this movie is not part of (now) Disney’s MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) movies, but produced by Columbia and Sony in association with Marvel.

As I noted in

The Geeky Golden Globes 2019

there were certainly other geek-friendly movie nominees (including the MCU’s Black Panther and Mary Poppins Returns…A Quiet Place was nominated for score, as was Isle of Dogs). However, Spidey got the only win…counting TV nominees as well, provided that we don’t count First Man (which won Best Original Score). Generally, we count as geeky fiction which depicts things which can’t happen in consensus reality…and non-fiction about those works or about people who produce those works (as long as those works are part of the non-fiction). First Man is non-fiction about an astronaut, which certainly is something about which many geeks are passionate, but doesn’t fit the rule of thumb.

Does this bode ill for geek-friendly works at the Oscars?

I think we’ll still see quite a few nominations, although winners may be a different story. Some of the noms I think could happen (I’m leaving off animated movies, since they are almost all geek-friendly, and Visual Effects):

  • Black Panther: Best Picture (probably one of 10), Costume, Hair, song, score, maybe Ryan Coogler for Director, sound awards, Design
  • Mary Poppins Returns: Best Picture, Rob Marshall for Director, score, maybe song, Meryl Streep for Supporting Actress, Lin-Manual Miranda for Supporting Actor, maybe Emily Blunt…be interesting to see Dick Van Dyke and/or Angela Lansbury nominated, lots of technical awards
  • A Quiet Place: maybe script, maybe John Krasinski for Director
  • Bird Box: maybe script

There are likely more than that in the Maven categories (we count the acting categories, director, and Best Picture as the Big Six), but that should give some sense. I’d love to see acting nominations for Black Panther, but those may be more for A Quiet Place of Bird Box.

Do you have opinions on any of this? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

The Geeky Golden Globes 2019

January 6, 2019

The Geeky Golden Globes 2019

The

Golden Globes

which I’ve described as the “The Bizarro World version of the Oscars and the Emmys!” are tonight (6 January).

The Measured Circle’s Golden Globe posts

In the past, they could be more geek-friendly than the Oscars…but I’m not sure that will be the case this time.

When we look at the nominations (these are for movies released in 2018), the GGs really don’t have that many geek-friendly ones this year:

  • Best Motion Picture – Drama: Black Panther
  • Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy: Mary Poppins Returns

That’s two out of ten…we’ll see how many the Oscars have.

Best Motion Picture – Animated

  • Incredibles 2
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Mirai
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (winner)

Not much of a comparison…animated movies are almost always geek-friendly. ūüėČ

Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda: Mary Poppins Returns

Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

  • Emily Blunt: Mary Poppins Returns

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

  • All the Stars from Black Panther (Kendrick Lamar, Anthony Tiffith, Soundwave, SZA, Al Shux)

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

  • A Quiet Place (Marco Beltrami)
  • Black Panther (Ludwig Goransson)
  • Isle of Dogs (Alexandre Desplat)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman)

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

  • The Good Place

Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series – Drama

  • Caitriona Balfe (Outlander)
  • Elizabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series – Musical or Comedy

  • Kristen Bell (The Good Place)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role TV

  • Thandie Newton (Westworld)
  • Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Special awards are going to Jeff Bridges (Tron, Starman) and Carol Burnett (Once Upon a Mattress, Annie).

I won’t say I’ve covered absolutely everything…I haven’t seen Jim Carrey’s Kidding yet…might be geek-friendly.

So, looking at this list, there are quite a few noms in TV, and women get nominated more for geek-friendly acting than men do.

Still, doesn’t feel especially GF for movies…we’ll find out how it goes tonight! Oscar nominations will be announced January 22nd!

Snubdate: ūüėČ I meant to mention a couple of snubs…

  • Rob Marshall for Mary Poppins Returns: this was a very complicated movie, combining live action, physical effects, and animation, and working with kids, a dog, seniors…and a lot more baggage than Mary Poppins’ carpet bag! There was a definite vision and consistent acting tone throughout (which is a strong indicator of good direction)
  • I was also a bit surprised that none of the songs from Mary Poppins were nominated (although the score was). Sure, I would honestly say they weren’t as memorable as the one from the first movie, but still…not in the same class as the songs from Dumplin’ or A Private War?

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

 

Prime Geek (video) Thanksgiving week 2018

November 17, 2018

Prime Geek (video) Thanksgiving week 2018

You already have

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

right?

You’re a geek, right?

You’re a geek who watches TV, right?

If those three things are true, you are in luck!

There are thousands of hours geek-friendly TV included in your Prime membership at no additional cost.

There are so many, in fact, that as is often the case with content nowadays, the challenge is discovery, not availability. Well, The Measured Circle hopes to help you out with some recommendations…


It’s Thanksgiving week (in the USA)! While that certainly can mean time with the family, it also can mean travel time. Whether your on a plane, a train, or a passenger in a car, video can be a good way to pass the time. Personally I’m an omnivorous media consumer:¬† I usually have video, books, magazines, old time radio shows…just for one trip. ūüėČ

Of course, you may also have “downtime” at your location, especially if you are in a different time zone (you might wake up earlier than the household…or stay up later). If you aren’t traveling, you could still have time, maybe while waiting in line on Black Friday. ūüėČ

Note that some of the videos may not be downloadable:: you may need to be connected to wi-fi or through cellular. That has gotten to be increasingly easy, even on airplanes.

Also, titles could hypothetically leave Prime after you read this, but you’ll be able to tell if it’s included at no extra cost.

I’ll feature a few movies (Amazon has, in my opinion, recently gotten a much better geeky selection), then list a bunch, then feature a few bingeable TV shows, and then list more of those. ūüôā

Westworld (the original movie)

  • 1973, 1 hour 28 minutes, downloadable
  • Key geek names: Michael Crichton (a known author at this point, he wrote and directed this movie); Majel Rodenberry (Nurse Chapel/Number One on Star Trek: The Original Series)
  • Legacy: HBO series inspired by it, sequel, TV series
  • Premise: luxury resort with human-like androids where guests can live out their fantasies
  • at TMCGTT

I consider this one essential to a quality geek education. ūüėČ It’s rather different from the HBO series…don’t go into it expecting that. This is from the point of view of the guests, not the robots. There is implied (but not shown) sexual activity, violence but not gore…and quite a bit of humor. It was influential: seeing the point of view of a robot (with a different visual system), and an “unstoppable” are elements that have occurred in later movies/TV. Yul Brynner is great playing a gunslinger robot which is (unofficially) modeled on his The Magnificent Seven character.

Galaxy Quest

  • 1999, 1 hr 42 mins, downloadable
  • Key geek names: Sigourney Weaver (Ghostbusters, Alien, Avatar), Tim Allen (Toy Story, The Santa Clause), Alan Rickman (Harry Potter)
  • Premise: years after a Star Trek like show has gone off the air, aliens arrive believing it was all real

Fun comedy (with some heart) with a quotable script, special effects, and a strong cast…not just in the principles, but also from the always reliable Sam Rockwell, Tony Shalhoub, and Missi Pyle.

Carrie

  • 1976, 1 hr 28 mins, downloadable
  • Key geek names: Stephen King (It, The Dead Zone…well, lots of stuff), Brian De Palma (Phantom of the Paradise, The Fury), William Katt (Greatest American Hero)
  • Premise: bullied sheltered teen is telekinetic
  • at TMCGTT

First Stephen King adaptation (from his first novel), has a stand-out performance from Sissy Spacek, for which she was nominated for an Oscar. Great horror movie, which has had a sequel and a remake. As visually stylish as any De Palma movie, it also features John Travolta, Amy Irving, and Piper Laurie.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

  • 1984, 1 hr 42 mins, downloadable
  • Key geek names: W.D. Richter (Big Trouble in Little China), Peter Weller (RoboCop, Star Trek Into Darkness), Jeff Goldblum (The Fly, Thor: Ragnarok), John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun)
  • Premise: Multi-hyphenate (a la Doc Savage) Buckaroo Banzai and his friends face aliens from another dimension

I loved the premise of this movie, and there was some really clever writing…but many people found it, well, confusing. I’m still a fan, and I’m not alone.

  • Hot Tub Time Machine: raunchy comedy
  • Lifeforce: Tobe Hooper directed, with lots of nudity
  • Night of the Comet: very 1980s apocalyptic comedy
  • Donnie Darko: cult weirdness
  • Star Trek: the first of the reboot series with Chris Pine
  • Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
  • Logan’s Run: turning 30 is fatal…stars Michael York and Jenny Agutter. Pair this with The Island of Dr. Moreau (also starring Michael York)
  • Robot & Frank: critically-acclaimed comedy with Frank Langella
  • Soylent Green: great 70s social sci-fi which still gets quoted, with Charlton Heston. Pair this with The Omega Man with Heston (a version of I Am Legend). They also have my favorite adaptation of I Am Legend: The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price. I recommend that one!
  • Saturn 3: Stanley Donen directs Kirk Douglas, Harvey Keitel, and Farah Fawcett…like a cop thriller in space
  • Mad Max (the first of the movies…The Road Warrior is a lot more accessible, this one more thoughtful)
  • ¬†A Clockwork Orange: Stanley Kubrick with a star-making performance by Malcolm McDowell
  • Child’s Play (and 2&3…have a Chuckython!)
  • THX 1138: George Lucas’ first
  • Arrival: lots of significant Oscar noms. Not to be confused with The Arrival (1996) with Charlie Sheen…which you can also watch with Prime
  • Attack of the Crab Monsters: like a lot of other Roger Corman movies, cleverer than you might think from the title
  • Demon Seed: oh, I’ve been hoping they would get this! It’s a great warning about Smart Homes…from 1977! Tacky, goofy, sure, but I’ll watch it again to see if it is relevant as I remember
  • 4D Man: 1959 low-budget but worth seeing movie from Jack H. Harris with Robert Lansing and Lee Meriwether
  • Horror Express: Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and…um…a caveman on a train. It’s much more atmospheric than that suggests
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space: considered by many to be the worst movie of all time…I could suggest others, but it’s certainly sincere. Pair this with popular parody of 1950s low-budget sci-fi, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
  • Kick-Ass: 2010 superhero movie with a remarkable performance by then 12-13 year old¬†Chlo√ę Grace Moretz
  • Things to Come: serious science fiction, based on H.G. Wells, from William Cameron Menzies
  • Liquid Sky: cult trippy 1980s movie
  • Get Out: Oscar-recognized…pair this with The Stepford Wives
  • Dreamscape, The Cell, Devil (character-based horror), Let Me In, Dog Soldiers, The Fog
  • The Wasp Woman, The Giant Gila Monster, Varan the Unbelievable,
  • Paranormal Activity
  • The Girl with All the Gifts (Glenn Close in a zombie movie…really)
  • Flatliners
  • Candyman
  • Tales from the Crypt
  • Vampire’s Kiss: Nic Cage
  • The Hunger: David Bowie
  • Q: The Winged Serpent…don’t be misled by the title, this is much more sophisticated than it sounds
  • Ghoulies
  • The Raven
  • The Fall of the House of Usher
  • Nosferatu
  • Blacula (blaxploitation, but a solid performance from William Marshall)
  • Dracula A.D. 1972
  • The Fearless Vampire Killers, Vampire Circus
  • Frogs
  • Squirm
  • Dr. Phibes Rises Again (wish they had the original…I don’t like to watch things out of order)
  • 5ive: low budget but all about the script and acting
  • Night of the Living Dead: pair this with The Crazies, also by George Romero
  • The Blair Witch Project
  • House on Haunted Hill: Vincent Price
  • Attack of the Giant Leeches
  • Countess Dracula
  • Phantom from Space
  • The Monster Club
  • Carnival of Souls
  • Turbo Kid: really fun 1980s homage. Laurence Leboeuf is terrific, and so nice to see Michael Ironside in a significant role
  • The Toxic Avenger
  • The Phantom of the Opera (Lon Chaney)
  • Little Shop of Horror (the original, restored in black and white)
  • Piranha
  • Trilogy of Terror: I saw it again in the past few years, and I was even more creeped out!
  • Dementia 13
  • The Nun
  • The Beast of Yucca Flats
  • The Ghoul: rediscovered lost Karloff movie
  • Caltiki: The Immortal Monster
  • Legend: Tim Curry, Tom Cruise, directed by Ridley Scott
  • Weird Science
  • Highlander
  • Angry Red Planet

Well, really! I could keep going, but I’ve given you plenty on movies for now!

I’ll switch to TV shows, but I’ll have to make it another seed catalogue, like the bottom section of the above:

I might add to this, but feel free to add your own Prime Video suggesstions in the comments!

Have a great holiday!

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

The Oscars new unpopular popular film category

September 3, 2018

The Oscars new unpopular popular film category

Oh, my.

It’s rare that an organization makes a decision and I just have an immediate, visceral reaction that it’s wrong.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced in a

tweet

tweet post recently that it is going to give out a new award for “achievement in popular film”.

Creating a new category is rare for the Oscars…people have argued for new categories for years, such as one for stunts, but the last major addition was Best Animated Feature, first awarded in 2001.

With any carefully considered change (especially an institutional one), it is reasonable to ask this question: why?

The first obvious requirement is that the new category is comprised of something different from the old category (unless it contains entirely novel items, which is not the case here). After all, imagine this conversation:

You: “What’s in category A?”
Them: “Polka dots.”
You: “What in category B?”
Them: “Polka dots.”
You: “What are the differences between them?”
Them: “There aren’t any.”

At that point, you’d no doubt be left wondering why there were two categories.

So, what makes a popular movie different enough from other movies that it needs a separate category?

We can assume by “popular” they mean that more people went to see it in the theatres, and the easiest measurement of that is box office (probably specifically domestic box office, what I call “dogro” for domestic gross). We have a category on this blog for that

Box Office

and keep quite a close eye on it.

Let’s just arbitrarily set the dividing line at $100 million dogro. That or above and the movie falls into the “popular” category, below, and it stays in the main categories (unless they are going to create an “unpopular” category, which seems unlikely). ūüėČ

If we look at last year’s Best Picture nominees and their dogros, we can perhaps discern a pattern:

  • The Shape of Water | $68.0m
  • Call Me by Your Name | $18.1m
  • Darkest Hour | $56.5m
  • Dunkirk | $188.0m
  • Get Out | $176.0m
  • Lady Bird | $49.0m
  • Phantom Thread | $21.1m
  • The Post | $81.9m
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri | $54.5m

It’s obvious that the vast majority (80%) of the Best Picture nominees made under $100m, and some have suggested that has something to do with declining viewership of the Oscars telecast. Wouldn’t more people watch the Oscars if they were familiar with the movies in the category that gets the most coverage? They might want to see if one of their favorites wins…and it’s hard to have a personal favorite amongst movies you most likely haven’t seen.

That 80% figure…how does that compare to the movies which were released?

According to

Box Office Mojo

33 movies released in 2017 dogroed more than $100m, out of 740 movies.

That’s about 4.5% meaning that $100m+ movies are disproportionately more often nominated for Best Picture…something like five times as much as would be expected.

However, that assumes that all movies released are intrinsically equally good…and that seems unlikely. Is it possible that movies which are equally as good as those which do get nominated do not get nominated because of a prejudice against popular movies?

For this, we’ll use the critical review scores from the

Movie Review Query Engine

We’ll look at the ten nominees, then the ten highest dogroing features:

  • The Shape of Water | 79
  • Call Me by Your Name | 85
  • Darkest Hour | 75
  • Dunkirk | 85
  • Get Out | 80
  • Lady Bird | 83
  • Phantom Thread | 79
  • The Post | 80
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri | 86

Average: 81.3

Highest dogro (may have been released in 2016, but was on this table for 2017):

  • Star Wars: the Last Jedi | 82
  • Beauty and the Beast | 68
  • Wonder Woman | 74
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle | 64
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | 70
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming | 72
  • It | 66
  • Thor: Ragnar | 71
  • Despicable Me 3 | 55
  • Justice League | 54

Average: 68

The average doesn’t suggest an anti-blockbuster bias. However, The Last Jedi does average out high enough to be a nominee…but there are obviously more factors than just what the critics think.

If such a prejudice did exist, that might be a reason to create a separate category. Arguably, that was the purpose of introducing the Best Animated Feature category…an animated movie might not be nominated for Best Picture, because of reluctance to recognize “a cartoon”. Only one (Beauty and the Beast) had been nominated prior to the introduction of the category (although there had been other special recognition).

Some people have suggested that the purpose of creating the Best Animated Feature category was to make it less likely that they would be nominated for Best Picture…and the same argument is being made for a possible “Popular Film” category.

It may be worth noting that two animated features (Up and Toy Story 3) have been nominated for Best Picture since the introduction of the Animated Feature category…twice as many. Certainly, arguments can be made that some others “should” have been nominated (notably WALL-E, which has an 88 at MRQE), but contrary to my initial gut feeling, I’m not seeing clear evidence of prejudice in my admittedly small sample.

I don’t think the pushback I’ve seen would all have come about because the category simply wasn’t needed, though.

There is also this:

It smacks of elitism, with the idea that the general populace doesn’t like the best movies…perhaps because they prefer less challenging movies?

That one is harder to analyze, but it seems like that would be flawed logic on the Academy’s part. Great movies can never be box office hits? The King’s Speech won a lot of Oscars, and eventually dogroed close to $140m. The two categories of “Best Picture” and blockbuster don’t appear to be self-exclusive.

I do think the point of creating a category like this would be more about increasing viewership (and other public acceptance) than genuinely recognizing value. It’s not like blockbusters are particularly unrewarded. I mean, gee, if there was only some way we could reward movies based on how many people see them. You know, like have each person who goes to see a movie could indicate that somehow…maybe by paying some money? I don’t know what we might call that, but that seems like that’s “the ticket”. ūüėČ

Is there some advantage to the Academy in appearing to be the elite? Perhaps, yes…there are other awards more based on popularity, so it might remove some of the Oscars’ uniqueness if there was also a popular film Oscar.

The Oscars already expanded the possible number of Best Picture nominees from five to ten, starting with the awards given in 2009, again, presumably to increase viewership by providing more diversity in the titles.

Personally? I don’t think an “achievement in popular film” Oscar is a good idea…I also didn’t like the expansion of the number of nominees. It does seem to dilute¬†the value of the award.

I would like to see some changes. I’d like to go back to five nominees for Best Picture. I’d like to see that Stunt category happen, which certainly might interest the general populace.

I’d like to see the elimination of gender separation in the acting categories (which MTV has done). It doesn’t really make sense to me. Is the argument that Gal Gadot’s lauded (but not nominated) performance as Wonder Woman is more comparable to, say, Katharine Hepburn in On Golden Pond because they have a similar chromosome structure than it is to Chris Evans’ performance as Captain America, another principled, fish out of water superhero? If the thought there is that prejudice (again) would keep women from being nominated for Best Actor, why aren’t there separate acting categories for other protected employment groups? People would definitely not be happy if those were introduced! That’s a topic for another time, though…

What do you think? Would it be a good thing for the Academy to recognize achievement in popular films? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


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