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Oscar Watch: Red Carpet, Boxoffice, BAFTAs

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 3, 2009 at 2:37AM

How could Hugh Jackman host the Oscars and not be part of a musical number? And if Slumdog Millionaire's A.R. Rahman is nominated for two songs, we'll certainly get an exuberant Bollywood dance, even if Bruce Springsteen was shut out. The NYT ferrets out as much info as possible about the February 22 Oscarcast, which faces the challenge of fanboy boycotts over Dark Knight and low-boxoffice performances from its top nominees.
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How could Hugh Jackman host the Oscars and not be part of a musical number? And if Slumdog Millionaire's A.R. Rahman is nominated for two songs, we'll certainly get an exuberant Bollywood dance, even if Bruce Springsteen was shut out. The NYT ferrets out as much info as possible about the February 22 Oscarcast, which faces the challenge of fanboy boycotts over Dark Knight and low-boxoffice performances from its top nominees.

While Slumdog is humming along to a decent $67 million gross, and at $116.5 million The Curious Case of Benjamin Button looks like a winner (even if it may not win any Oscars or make its money back), the last of the Oscar pack to widen, Gus Van Sant's Milk and Stephen Daldry's The Reader, did not achieve pre-Oscar b.o. liftoff. The Reader broadened to 1,000 screens and has mustered about $12.6 million to date. Milk, on 882 screens, scored about 1.4.4 million for a total of $23.4 million. And Frost/Nixon actually declined 54% and has earned a mere $14.5 million so far.

Oscar_Luncheon_Downey

Don't worry, this year's Oscar show producers Laurence Mark and Bill Condon aren't about to forgo the glamorous ritual of red carpet arrivals. But some stars avoid going to these affairs, not wanting to run the gauntlet--many of them hurry in late so that they can wave at the stands and pass all the press by, ostensibly to run to their seats. Well, this way, the logic goes, they don't have to do all the things they don't like--they just have to show up on the Oscarcast, as surprise bait for the fans who will presumably tune in worldwide.

UPDATE: On the other hand, everybody likes going to the annual celebratory Oscar lunch, where a hundred or so nominees mingle, take a group photo, and get a lecture from Academy president Sid Ganis on making a short acceptance speech. Peter Bart was there.

One of my fave pre-Oscar events comes up next weekend: The BAFTAs, or British Academy Awards. The Brits usually come up with a witty host with a plummy British accent, like Stephen Fry; they tend to get on with it with humor and well-wrought acceptance speeches. Sunday the 8th, 5 PM, BBC America, PST. Order in some cucumber sandwiches.


This article is related to: Awards, Oscars


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.