Ten years from now; twenty — well into the future — film buffs, historians, critics and the even the casual observer will look back and ask the question: “What were they thinking?”
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, that entertainment group that hands out the Oscars each year, is — year-by-year — digging both an ethical and creative hole that will some day be so deep that the brand (the Academy Awards) that they nurtured over years will soon be meaningless.
The current group of actors, directors, producers and artisans have devolved into a collection of self-centered narcissists who hold little regard for an ever-tightening circle of theatre-goers (people that buy tickets and pay the bills). They have managed to produce a telecast — that fewer and fewer are watching — which hands out awards (of merit) to the underserving.
Such is the case with this year’s Best Picture winner, which should have been Warner Bros. release of filmmaker Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper. They managed to turn a film that out-grossed all of the other seven Best Picture contenders combined — you read that right, COMBINED ($346.4 million versus $318.5 million) — into a political issue and in the process selected the one film that best reflected their own pathetic insecurities, Birdman.
This isn’t the first time that the Oscar has gone to the wrong film. Let’s see, can anyone argue that Saving Private Ryan has stood the test of time over the frothy, lightweight selection of Shakespeare in Love? Chariots of Fire was a nice film, but Raiders of the Lost Ark has held up far better … and even though Annie Hall was one of Woody Allen’s best film efforts, the Oscar for Best Picture should have gone to Star Wars. There are more — The Greatest Show on Earth (really).
Yes, you can argue that popularity shouldn’t be the deciding factor. And that is true … there are plenty of films each year that gross hundreds of millions of dollars that aren’t worthy of anything (a Razzie, maybe), but when a film connects (emotionally) with an audience, the “Hollywood elites” should be wary of rejecting such films for political, ethical (yes, questionable “block voting” practices) and snob-related reasons.
Some years it’s a dartboard guess (The Artist?) with no standouts. Other years you can live with at least two films being selected Best Picture (Titanic and L.A. Confidential in the same year, that’s a tough choice … ditto for Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption all in the same year). But this last year the members of the Academy of Motion of Pictures Arts and Sciences thumbed their collective noses at the patrons that put the food on their tables … and they will regret that as time passes.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced this past week that the “Best Picture” of 2014, director Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, will be released as both DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack offerings (both SKUs feature UltraViolet) on May 19 (positioned in time for Memorial Day).
This is a film, lead by the performance of Bradley Cooper as Navy SEAL and elite sniper Chris Kyle, brought an emotional response from its theatrical audiences over and over again. Tears, respect, stunned silence and spontaneous applause were all common … can you say the same for Birdman?
The ARR is 144 days and domestic ticket sales stand at $346.4 million.
Bonus features appear to be limited to the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack edition and are a pair of featurettes titled “One Soldier's Story: The Journey of American Sniper” and “The Making of American Sniper.”
In other release news from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment this week, June 2 will be the street date for two additional recent theatrical hits.
First in line is the directing team of Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s con/caper thriller, Focus, teaming Will Smith with Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street). DVD and Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack (with UltraViolet) editions will be available.
The ARR is 95 days and box office receipts totaled $52.8 million.
Bonus features include deleted scenes, an alternate opening sequence and a trio of featurettes — “Masters of Misdirection: The Players in a Con,” “Will Smith: Gentleman Thief” and “Margot Robbie: Stealing Hearts.”
Teamed with Focus on June 2 is directing/writing team of Andy and Lana Wachowski’s (aka: The Waschowskis) sci-fi flick, Jupiter Ascending.
There are three SKUs planned for home entertainment. There will be a stand-alone DVD, a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack with both 3D and 2D viewing options (the Combo Pack SKUs feature UltraViolet).
Loaded with CGI, and starring Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis, the Brothers Waschowski have not quite returned to their Matrix days of filmmaking — Jupiter Ascending needed to be a much bigger film (think: Dune) or simplified somehow … the middle ground left audience wanting more (or confused).
The ARR is 116 days and domestic ticket sales were $46.7 million.
A pair of featurettes are common to all three editions — “Jupiter Jones: Destiny Is Within Us” and “Jupiter Ascending: Genetically Spliced” — while the Blu-ray SKUs sport four additional production featurettes.