Oscar winners slipping at the box office — 2014

americansniperI devoted posts to this subject in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013 — so here’s the post for 2014.

2005 marked the first time since 1996 that the Best Picture winner did not gross at least $100 million, the first time since 1985 that not one of the Best Picture nominees grossed at least $100 million, and the first time in living memory that the Oscar did not go to one of the Top 25 films in North America. In fact, the winner that year — Crash — grossed a mere $54.6 million and ranked way, way down at #49.

Ever since then, the Oscar for Best Picture has alternated between relatively big hits and somewhat smaller box-office performers. But that trend could end this year, as the Academy now seems poised to reward two small films in a row.

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Oscar nominations — my own two bits, and a complete list

grandbudapesthotelIt is extremely rare for a film to win Best Picture without also being nominated for its director, its film editing, and its screenplay. So it looks like this year’s top Oscar will go to one of three films: Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Imitation Game. But there are exceptions to every rule, and we can’t entirely rule out Birdman, which is tied with The Grand Budapest Hotel for the most nominations of any film this year; Birdman was snubbed in the film-editing category, but that could be because the film was seamlessly edited to look as though it was all filmed in one long take.

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He played Xerxes in 300, now he’s Jesus in the new Ben-Hur

rodrigosantoroContinuing the trend whereby actors of Portuguese and/or Latin American descent play Jesus in movies produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, The Hollywood Reporter revealed today that Brazilian actor Rodrigo Santoro has been cast as Jesus in Timur Bekmambetov’s upcoming remake of Ben-Hur, which Burnett and Downey are co-producing.

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Watch: The trailer for animated film Ooops! Noah Is Gone…

oopsnoahisgone2Yet another animated film about Noah’s Ark, told from the point of view of the animals, is in the works. In fact, according to Variety, it is already pretty much finished, and will premiere in Germany this summer before going elsewhere.

The film is called Ooops! Noah Is Gone… and it concerns two creatures called Nestrians — a father and a son — who are not allowed on the Ark but sneak aboard anyway with the involuntary help of a mother and daughter called Grymps. The kids end up falling overboard, and it’s up to their parents to turn the Ark around and save them from all the predators out there.

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Christianity Today speaks to the director and star of the indie Jesus film Last Days in the Desert

lastdaysinthedesert-51253The film won’t premiere at Sundance for another 13 days, but Christianity Today’s Alissa Wilkinson posted an exclusive interview tonight with Last Days in the Desert director Rodrigo Garcia and his star Ewan McGregor, who plays both Jesus and Satan in the low-budget film — and along the way, she offers a few review-ish opinions of the film itself, all of them positive.

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Newsbites: The Dovekeepers meet the press! Ben-Hur gets another actor! And A.D. gets a new TV spot!

dovekeepers2Today was a big day for news about movies and TV shows set in first-century Judea and produced (or co-produced) by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

1. First, Downey and several actors from The Dovekeepers met with reporters to promote their miniseries, which concerns four Jewish women who live through the Roman siege of Masada.

The presentation, which took place at the Television Critics Association’s Winter TV Press Tour in Pasadena, was covered by Deadline, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, The Wrap, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Associated Press and others.

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