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Oscar Momentum: Bright Star vs. Young Victoria

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 3, 2010 at 3:40AM

In the Oscar derby, what went wrong with Bright Star, which earned one Oscar nomination (for costume), and right with Young Victoria, which grabbed three?
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Thompson on Hollywood

In the Oscar derby, what went wrong with Bright Star, which earned one Oscar nomination (for costume), and right with Young Victoria, which grabbed three?

It's the same reason The Blind Side outstripped Invictus and Crazy Heart pushed ahead of a pack of other small Oscar wannabes.

Momentum.

Thompson on Hollywood

With Bright Star, new indie distributor Apparition wanted to start out with a strong quality movie with Oscar written all over it: a Brit period Oscar romance, gorgeously mounted by a world-renowned Oscar nominated-director, Jane Campion. Back in 1993-4, after Campion's The Piano played the Cannes and New York Fests, it opened November 2 and grossed $40 million domestically, scoring eight Oscar noms and three wins (Holly Hunter, Anna Paquin, and Campion's screenplay).

When I heard at Cannes that Apparition's Bob Berney was planning a late September Bright Star release, I wondered, "Is it too early?" The risk: if a movie doesn't take off and hang on to screens, it loses luster. Bright Star was impeccably-reviewed, but topped out in November at $4.3 million. And year-end critics groups ignored it. Why? It just never took off.

Meanwhile, Apparition's more modest crowd-pleaser The Young Victoria opened well December 18 (with less stellar reviews), nabbed a Golden Globe nom for Emily Blunt and three Oscar nominations. It's possible that if Sandra Bullock and The Blind Side hadn't wowed Academy voters, Blunt might have slipped into a best actress nod. In three more weeks, Young Victoria should pass $10 million.

This article is related to: Awards, Genres, Independents, Oscars, Golden Globes, Period, Biopics, Romance, Apparition


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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.