Early Oscar contenders scarce despite rule change
By Gregg Kilday
LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - As the first half of 2010 draws to a close, serious Academy Awards contenders have yet to emerge.
Admittedly, the 83rd annual Academy Awards ceremony, set for February 27, is a long way off. And traditionally most awards hopefuls arrive during the second half of the year.
But when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expanded its best picture race to ten nominees last year, it opened the door so that commercial hits could be rewarded alongside narrower, specialty fare.
At its March meeting, the Academy's board of governors approved following the ten-best formula again. "It worked out really well last year," Academy president Tom Sherak says. "And, hopefully, it will work out really well this year. Even if it hadn't been as successful as it was, we always felt you had to try it for a couple of years."
Yet despite the Academy's open-door policy, the film industry hasn't been pumping out likely nominees.
"I don't think we're going to look back on the first six months and find anything," says one campaign consultant, who's been stymied in drawing up early tout sheets.
"Robin Hood," given the full red-carpet treatment at the Cannes Film Festival, may have reteamed Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott, but it paled next to their Oscar-winning "Gladiator." With more than $300 million in domestic grosses, "Iron Man 2" has moved ahead of the original's box office at the same point in its release, but the sequel failed to generate the critical enthusiasm that greeted its 2008 predecessor.
Far from championing awards hopefuls, critics have spent the first half of Hollywood's summer movie season competing to see who could deliver the most devastating put-downs of movies like "Sex and the City 2" and "The A-Team." Continued...