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Oscar nominations spread among release calendar

February 2, 2010 |  3:15 pm

Oscar Nominations 2009 When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences moved the Oscars up to February six years ago for the 2003 awards, it was thought that films released earlier in the previous year would no longer be forgotten come nomination time. And that idea seemed to take hold. The Oscars' best picture winner of 2005, "Crash," debuted on May 6, and 2006 champ "The Departed" was released Oct. 6. Indeed, of the 2006 final five, only "Letters From Iwo Jima" followed the traditional year-end platform release pattern.

However, of the five entrants in the 2007 Oscars' best-picture derby all left the gate fairly late in the year. "Michael Clayton" was released wide on Oct. 5; eventual winner "No Country for Old Men" got a limited release on Nov. 9 and went wide on Nov. 21; "Juno" went into limited release on Dec. 5 and wide on Dec. 25; "Atonement" was put into limited release on Dec. 7; and "There Will Be Blood" had a limited release on Dec. 26.

And all five of last year's best picture contenders came out in the last seven weeks of the year, with eventual champ "Slumdog Millionaire" first on Nov. 14, followed by "Milk" in limited release on Nov. 26. The other three films in contention were all Dec. releases: "Frost/Nixon" (limited -- Dec. 5); "The Reader" (limited -- Dec. 10); and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (wide -- Dec. 25).

However, this year, as the academy has doubled the number of best picture nominees it is not surprising to find films released earlier in the year in the mix. Of the 10 films in the running for the top Oscar, four were released before Labor Day: "Up" (May 29); "The Hurt Locker" (June 26 ); "District 9" (Aug.14 ); and "Inglourious Basterds" (Aug. 21 ). Another two -- "A Serious Man" and "An Education" -- went into limited release on the first and last Friday of October respectively as did "Precious" on Nov. 6. 

Only three of the best picture nominees opened during the last six weeks of the year: surprise nominee "The Blind Side" (Nov. 20), festival favorite "Up in the Air" (Dec. 4) and sci-fi blockbuster "Avatar" (Dec. 18). Three of the other high profile pictures out at year's end fell by the wayside. "Nine" (Dec. 18) settled for one acting bid as well as nods for art direction, costumes and song while "Invictus" (Dec. 11) earned just two acting nods and "The Lovely Bones" (Dec. 11) landed just one acting nomination. 

Photo: Academy Award statues. Credit: AMPAS

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Glen, I believe the musical NINE is up for Best Art Direction and not the animated movie 9. Tim, you forgot about The Exorcist losing to The Sting (1973).

If anyone wants a good site to manage their Oscar pool, then I suggest they go to It's kind of like Yahoo! Fantasy Sports, only for the Oscars. They do a really nice job of organizing everything.

Weird my favorite animated film nine wasn't nominated in the animation category, but it got a nod in art direction. Up going to win even though I thought it lacked a lot of qualities of other Pixar movies, but it is Pixar so that an automatic win, look it got nominated with 4 other movies for best picture that shouldn't be there.

David vs. Goliath… Who’s the Real Underdog???

Since the birth of the Modern blockbuster (Jaws, 1975), a dozen 200+ Million Blockbusters have been nominated for Best Picture. Only three (25%) of the twelve went on to win the Gold, and Lord of the Rings lost twice before finally proving that third time was the charm. Of course, James Cameron has been here before, and had to add an extra shelf for his haul in ’97. So here’s my question… who’s the real underdog this year, The Hurt Locker or Avatar?

1975 – Jaws loses to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
1977 – Star Wars loses to Annie Hall
1981 – Raiders of the Lost Ark loses to Chariots of Fire
1982 – E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial loses to Gandhi
1990 – Ghost loses to Dances with Wolves
1994 – Forrest Gump beats Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption
1998 – Saving Private Ryan loses to Shakespeare in Love
1997 – Titanic beats As Good As It Gets and L.A. Confidential
1999 – The Sixth Sense loses to American Beauty
2001 – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings loses to A Beautiful Mind
2002 – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers loses to Chicago
2003 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King beats Lost in Translation and Mystic River



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