Art and Entertainment


Small Films Shine at the Oscars

February 24, 2008 12:16 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The Oscars are no longer dominated by big-budget hits. This year’s best picture nominees prove money doesn’t guarantee quality.

30-Second Summary

Big-budget films such as the “Lord of the Rings” series and “Titanic” have certainly had their place in Oscar history.

But filmmakers and movie fans alike are noticing a growing trend for smaller, quirky movies to pick up coveted awards. More people than ever have been wondering whether mammoth budgets can actually hurt movies.

According to a recent article in USA Today, Hollywood is so in tune with America’s love for the independent film that “every major film studio has specialty departments designed to create offbeat, smart contenders for the awards.”

While blockbuster movies used to rake in millions at the box office on their first weekend, the story suggests that the new model for success is the relatively low-budget film that receives critical acclaim, followed by Academy Award recognition, and then triumphs commercially.

Bob Burnett
picks up on the changing trend in best picture nominees in his blog in the Huffington Post, pointing out that not only are the successful films smaller in budget, but also darker in tone.
Burnett calls all the nominees this year, bar "Juno," "relentlessly grim." The ultra-serious films “Atonement,” “Michael Clayton,” “There Will Be Blood” and “No Country for Old Men“ may be popular because of the national mood, he says. Recent polls suggest that 67 percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Big-budget films will never go away. But filmmakers now understand that you can't buy artistic merit, says Andrew O’Hehir in a Salon piece. “It's not that the Oscar voters have suddenly embraced finely honed upscale tastes and left multiplex America behind. At least, it isn't just that,” he writes. “It's more that Hollywood, in the corporate oligopoly sense of the word, has left the older, affluent, movieland-insider demographic of the Academy behind.”

Headline Link: 'Box office: Modest Films, Niche Marketing Change Landscape'

Opinions & Analysis: Best picture nominees becoming darker, as well

Related Topic: Scripts are getting smarter

Historical: The best in Oscar history

Related Links: Big money doesn’t always mean success


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