Gold Derby nuggets: 'Precious' shatters box office record; Taylor Swift soars on 'SNL'; still mad for 'Mad Men'
• Greg Ellwood analyzes the boffo box office of "Precious" and observes that the Oscar contender, "made box office history this weekend by posting the highest per screen average for a film in more than 10 theaters. The acclaimed drama made $1.8 million in only 18 theaters for an eye-popping $100,000-per-screen average." As Greg notes, "Historically, the only live action films to ever have a bigger per screen were 'Dreamgirls' and 'Brokeback Mountain,' but both those films debuted on only three and five screens with averages of $126,000 and $105,000 respectively." Writing about the upcoming wide release of the picture on Nov. 20 against "New Moon" -- the "Twilight" sequel -- Greg says, "In many ways it's a very smart decision on Lionsgate's part. The film can dominate the African American and upscale audiences that aren't 'New Moon's' primary demographic as well as siphon off older audiences that may not be inclined to see the 'Twilight' sequel. Moreover, because of all the buzz and word-of-mouth, 'Precious' should be one of those 'three times a year' pictures that finds infrequent moviegoers making their way to the neighborhood multiplex." Hit Fix
• Dave Karger wonders who was the best host of the Oscars this decade. Analyzing the ratings for each Oscarcast, Dave says, "part of me thinks it’s more about the movies than the host. Steve Martin drew almost 10 million more viewers when the blockbuster 'Gladiator' emerged victorious than when 'Chicago' waltzed away with the prize. My hunch is that Billy Crystal is the populist choice, and while his opening songs are always chuckle-worthy, I’ll take Martin’s deadpan style any day." Entertainment Weekly
• Ken Tucker thought teen singing sensation Taylor Swift "proved to be this season’s best 'Saturday Night Live' host so far. Whether shrewdly letting her Kate Gosselin wig do most of the acting during a typically pungent parody of 'The View,' or gleefully screeching while wearing braces in a public-service commercial satirizing texting-while-driving, Swift was always up for the challenge, seemed to be having fun, and helped the rest of the cast nail the punchlines." Could such strong reviews land Swift in the Emmy race for guest actress in a comedy series? Another singer -- Justin Timberlake -- made Emmy history this year as the first "SNL" host to win when he took the prize for guest actor in a comedy series. Entertainment Weekly
• Among the tasty tidbits in Lane Brown's interview with "Up" director Pete Docter is the helmer's response to the questions, "How much are awards on your mind right now? Will you be disappointed if 'Up' is not one of the ten Oscar nominees for Best Picture?" Replied the four-time Oscar bridesmaid, "Well, I'm trying not to think about it too much, because I really can't affect anything one way or another. My work is done, the film is completed. I mean, it's been really gratifying to see it play so well all around the world, so I'm mostly focused on the next film that I have in development already. New York
• "Mad Men" ended its third season on a high note, writes Robert Bianco. "In Sunday's swiftly paced, wildly enjoyable third season finale, we saw more of the real Don than we ever have, driven by a performance from Jon Hamm that combined his usual subtlety with a more open, passionate exuberance." Robert does note, "No season is perfect, and this one wasn't either. The show missed having Joan and Sal around, even if their departures made real-world sense. Some of the plot twists were a bit heavy-handed (the death of Betty's father springs to mind) and some of the dialogue could be gratingly opaque." However, he concludes, "overall, it was a terrific season, capped by a suitably terrific and surprising finale. I can't wait to see what lies behind the next one." USA Today
Photos, from top: Lionsgate, NBC, AMC