"X-Men Origins: Wolverine" took out Hugh Jackman's claws and slashed through those vicious film critics' reviews (only 37 score at RottenTomatoes, 44 at Metacritic), making a penetrating impact at the box office. "Wolverine" snared $87 million this weekend in the U.S., $170 million worldwide.
Whew. That's an impressive rally, which E! Online credits with being an "Oscar bump." The New York Times had growled over "Wolverine:" "It is the latest evidence that the superhero movie is suffering from serious imaginative fatigue." Fending off those kinds of savage attacks early on, "Wolverine" looked like it may be up for Razzies and I worried that poor Hugh Jackman may be kudos cursed. Just a few months ago, his thrilling "Australia" got cheated out of deserving Oscar love by grumpy critics, some of whom were the same assassins who went gunning for him after Hugh did a masterful job rescuing the Oscar ceremony as host.
I have a theory about why these critics predictably take aim at him — it's all about testosterone-blinded nerds furious over his metrosexual appeal — but let's move on. Let's weigh the other awards potential of "Wolverine." The first "X-Men" (2000) flick earned noms at the MTV Movie Awards for best film, on-screen team and breakthrough male performance (Hugh Jackman) but lost to, respectively, "Gladiator," the "Charlie's Angels" gals and — yikes — Sean Patrick Thomas ("Save the Last Dance"). Halle Berry lost best actress to Drew Barrymore ("Charlie's Angels"). "X-Men" was nommed by the sound editors' guild but lost to "Gladiator" and competed at the costume guild but lost to "Erin Brockovich." Usually, films that get recognized by industry guilds break through with corresponding noms at the Oscars, but "X-Men" didn't.
"Wolverine" may contend at some of those kudos again. What about other possibilities? Its music-score composer, Harry Gregson-Williams, was nominated at the Golden Globes for "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" (2005) and at BAFTA for "Shrek" (2001). Its cinematographer, Donald McAlpine, was nominated at the Oscars for "Moulin Rouge!" (2001).
Photo: 20th Century Fox