Those keeping up with the continuous roll out of awards circuit nominations have, by now, come to notice a trend. Despite the wide variety of organizations offering recognition of film achievement, each year there are bound to be some mainstays: specific movies that top every venue's list.
So far, 2012's nomination championship falls in the lap of Lincoln, Steven Spielberg's beloved biopic about America's 16th president. The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has revealed its nominations, cementing Lincoln as the past year's most impressive spectacle. The historical drama earns 10 nods from BAFTA, including the top honor of Best Film. In Lincoln's company are other unsurprising entries: Les Miserables and Life of Pi each take in nine nominations (both Best Film candidates as well), and Argo ropes in seven (another top honor hopeful). Check out the full list of nominees below.
LIFE OF PI
ZERO DARK THIRTY
OUTSTANDING BRITISH FILM
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
OUTSTANDING DEBUT BY A BRITISH WRITER, DIRECTOR OR PRODUCER
BART LAYTON (Director), DIMITRI DOGANIS (Producer) — The Imposter
DAVID MORRIS (Director), JACQUI MORRIS (Director/Producer) — McCullin
DEXTER FLETCHER (Director/Writer), DANNY KING (Writer) — Wild Bill
JAMES BOBIN (Director) — The Muppets
TINA GHARAVI (Director/Writer) — I Am Nasrine
FILM NOT IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
RUST AND BONE
SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN
WEST OF MEMPHIS
MICHAEL HANEKE — Amour
BEN AFFLECK — Argo
QUENTIN TARANTINO — Django Unchained
ANG LEE — Life of Pi
KATHRYN BIGELOW — Zero Dark Thirty
AMOUR (Writer: Michael Haneke)
DJANGO UNCHAINED (Writer: Quentin Tarantino)
THE MASTER (Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson)
MOONRISE KINGDOM (Writers: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola)
ZERO DARK THIRTY (Writer: Mark Boal)
ARGO (Writer: Chris Terrio)
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (Writers: Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin)
LIFE OF PI (Writer: David Magee)
LINCOLN (Writer: Tony Kushner)
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (Writer: David O. Russell)
BEN AFFLECK — Argo
BRADLEY COOPER — Silver Linings Playbook
DANIEL DAY-LEWIS — Lincoln
HUGH JACKMAN — Les Misérables
JOAQUIN PHOENIX — The Master
EMMANUELLE RIVA — Amour
HELEN MIRREN — Hitchcock
JENNIFER LAWRENCE — Silver Linings Playbook
JESSICA CHASTAIN — Zero Dark Thirty
MARION COTILLARD — Rust and Bone
ALAN ARKIN — Argo
CHRISTOPH WALTZ — Django Unchained
JAVIER BARDEM — Skyfall
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN — The Master
TOMMY LEE JONES — Lincoln
AMY ADAMS — The Master
ANNE HATHAWAY — Les Misérables
HELEN HUNT — The Sessions
JUDI DENCH — Skyfall
SALLY FIELD — Lincoln
ANNA KARENINA (Dario Marianelli)
ARGO (Alexandre Desplat)
LIFE OF PI (Mychael Danna)
LINCOLN (John Williams)
SKYFALL (Thomas Newman)
ANNA KARENINA (Seamus McGarvey)
LES MISÉRABLES (Danny Cohen)
LIFE OF PI (Claudio Miranda)
LINCOLN (Janusz Kaminski)
SKYFALL (Roger Deakins)
ARGO (William Goldenberg)
DJANGO UNCHAINED (Fred Raskin)
LIFE OF PI (Tim Squyres)
SKYFALL (Stuart Baird)
ZERO DARK THIRTY (Dylan Tichenor, William Goldenberg)
ANNA KARENINA (Sarah Greenwood, Katie Spencer)
LES MISÉRABLES (Eve Stewart, Anna Lynch-Robinson)
LIFE OF PI (David Gropman, Anna Pinnock)
LINCOLN (Rick Carter, Jim Erickson)
SKYFALL (Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock)
ANNA KARENINA (Jacqueline Durran)
GREAT EXPECTATIONS (Beatrix Aruna Pasztor)
LES MISÉRABLES (Paco Delgado)
LINCOLN (Joanna Johnston)
SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN (Colleen Atwood)
MAKE UP & HAIR
ANNA KARENINA (Ivana Primorac)
HITCHCOCK (Julie Hewett, Martin Samuel, Howard Berger)
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (Peter Swords King, Richard Taylor, Rick Findlater)
LES MISÉRABLES (Lisa Westcott)
LINCOLN (Lois Burwell, Kay Georgiou)
DJANGO UNCHAINED (Mark Ulano, Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti, Wylie Stateman)
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (Tony Johnson, Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick, Brent Burge, Chris Ward)
LES MISÉRABLES (Simon Hayes, Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson, Jonathan Allen, Lee Walpole, John Warhurst)
LIFE OF PI (Drew Kunin, Eugene Gearty, Philip Stockton, Ron Bartlett, D. M. Hemphill)
SKYFALL (Stuart Wilson, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell, Per Hallberg, Karen Baker Landers)
SPECIAL VISUAL EFFECTS
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Peter Bebb, Andrew Lockley)
THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R. Christopher White)
LIFE OF PI (Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer)
MARVEL AVENGERS ASSEMBLE (Nominees TBC)
PROMETHEUS (Richard Stammers, Charley Henley, Trevor Wood, Paul Butterworth)
HERE TO FALL
I’M FINE THANKS
THE MAKING OF LONGBIRD
THE VOORMAN PROBLEM
Click here to read about BAFTA's Rising Star Award nominations, which include Elizabeth Olsen and Juno Temple.
[Photo Credit: David James/20th Century Fox]
Next Up, Oscars? Spielberg, Affleck Crack the Directors Guild's 2013 Nominations
'Amour' Named Best Picture By National Society of Film Critics
'Zero Dark Thirty', 'Lincoln', 'Argo', 'Looper' Among WGA Award Nominees
From Our Partners:
Megan Fox’s 12 Hottest Moments (Moviefone)
’Texas Chainsaw’: Top 5 Leatherface Kills (Moviefone)
Looks like people were ready for more Middle-earth action.
As if anyone is truly surprised, the second installment of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy dominated the box office this weekend with its continuing tale about some good-hearted Hobbits who want to destroy an evil Ring, while a bunch of nasty Middle-earth denizens try and stop them.
Over the three-day weekend, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers took in a whopping $61.5 million*, towering over the number two spot captured by the new Sandra Bullock/Hugh Grant film Two Weeks Notice. The romantic comedy only managed to take in about a quarter of The Two Towers' haul at $14.4 million.
Other openers this week included another epic saga, Gangs of New York, which came in fourth with $9.1 million and the animated The Wild Thornberrys Movie, which opened strong at number six with a respectable $6.1 million.
THE TOP TEN
New Line Cinema's PG-13 rated The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers opened with an amazing three-day weekend total, ESTIMATED at $61.5 million at 3,6 22 theaters ($16, 980 per theater) and also taking in almost half of the weekend's box office (46.4 percent). Since its Wednesday, Dec. 18, opening, the film has brought in an ESTIMATED $101.5 million in total over five days.
Directed by Peter Jackson, it stars Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom and Liv Tyler.
The middle part to J.R.R. Tolkien's literary fantasy epic clearly surpassed its predecessor by nearly 25 percent. On the same weekend last year, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which also opened on the Wednesday before Christmas, took in $47.2 million in three days. The film went on to pull in $94 million after its first five days, eventually grossing $313 million in North America and about $550 million overseas, according to Variety.
The Two Towers also posted the second highest domestic Wednesday opening ever, with a healthy $26 million, behind 1999's Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace at $28.5 million, according to New Line. Fellowship of the Ring was the previous holder of the December one-day record, opening with $18.2 million.
"We are pleased and astounded," New Line distribution president David Tuckerman told Variety of The Two Towers performance.
Warner Bros.' PG-13 rated romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice opened in second place with an ESTIMATED $14.4 million at 2,755 theaters ($5, 229 per theater).
Directed by Marc Lawrence, it stars Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant.
This romantic comedy about a corporate lawyer's love/hate relationship with her boss is Bullock's second best opening in the last five films she has made. Her best opening was this summer's Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, which opened with a strong $16.1 million and went on to gross $69.5 million domestically. Bullock's top film Miss Congeniality opened to the smaller tune of $10 million in December 2000 but grossed $106.8 million domestically, proving the comedic actress has the star power to open films strong--and keep them that way.
The third spot belonged to Sony Pictures' Maid in Manhattan, this season's other romantic comedy, which opened last weekend at number one. Falling 41 percent, it still managed to rake in an ESTIMATED $11 million at 2,866 theaters (+28 theaters; $3,838 per theater). It's cume to date is approximately $35.5 million.
Directed by Wayne Wang, it stars Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes.
Guess a historical period piece about 1860s New York can't beat Hobbits or romance. Miramax's highly anticipated R-rated Gangs of New York opened with a less-than-exciting ESTIMATED $9.1 million at 1,504 theaters ($6,064 per theater). Still, with the film's recent slate of Golden Globe nominations, the momentum should give Gangs a fair amount of shelf life.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis and Cameron Diaz.
20th Century Fox's drum showstopper PG-13 rated Drumline continued to boom at number five with an ESTIMATED $7.6 million (-40%) at 1,837 theaters ($4,137 per theater). The little-film-that-could about an underdog high school band opened at No. 3 last week and has so far gained a respectable $22.8 million.
Directed by Charles Stone, it stars Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldana and Orlando Jones.
Another new flick on the block this weekend was Paramount Pictures' PG-rated The Wild Thornberrys Movie, which opened in sixth place with an ESTIMATED $6.1 million at 3,012 theaters ($2,025 per theater).
Based on the hit Nickelodeon TV show, the animated film about a family of wildlife documentary filmmakers, is directed by Cathy Malkasian and Jeff McGrath and includes the vocal talents of Lacey Chabert, Tim Curry, Rupert Everett, Lynn Redgrave and Marisa Tomei.
Chortling in at number seven is Disney's PG-13 rated The Hot Chick, taking in an ESTIMATED $4.5 million at 2,217 theaters ($2,030 per theater). Dropping 39 percent, the body-switching comedy bowed last week in fifth place and has made approximately $13.7 million thus far.
Directed by Tom Brady, it stars Rob Schneider, Anna Faris and Rachel McAdams.
Warner Bros. PG-rated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets dropped a couple of notches to No. 8 with an ESTIMATED $4.45 million (-30%) at 2,750 theaters (-275 theaters; $1,620 per theater). The second movie about our fab boy wizard and his adventures at Hogwarts has managed to eke out approximately $228.9 million in its six weeks at the box office. Not too shabby.
Directed by Chris Columbus, the film stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Kenneth Branagh, Jason Isaacs, Richard Harris, Robbie Coltrane and Maggie Smith.
The once-popular franchise seems to have lost its steam. Paramount Pictures PG-13 rated Star Trek: Nemesis continued its disappointing run, slipping from its bow at second place last weekend to ninth with an ESTIMATED $4.4 million (-76%) at 2,711 theaters ($1,623 per theater). Its cume is approximately $26.4 million.
Directed by Stuart Baird, it stars Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Tom Hardy, Ron Perlman, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden and Marina Sirtis.
Tenth place belongs to Bond, James Bond. MGM's megahit, PG-13 rated Die Another Day, continued reaping the rewards with an ESTIMATED $4 million, dropping 49 percent at 2,075 theaters (-1,302 theaters; $1,928 per theater). One of the highest-grossing Bond films ever, its taken in approximately $138.4 million so far.
Directed by Lee Tamahori, it stars Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Rosamund Pike, Toby Stephens and Rick Yune.
Three of the higher-profile independent films of the season opened in limited theaters this weekend, including Denzel Washington's Antwone Fisher, Spike Lee's 25th Hour and Narc starring Ray Liotta.
Fox Searchlight's PG-13 rated Antwone Fisher opened Thursday in 15 theaters at an ESTIMATED $217,500 ($14,500 per theater). The film, about a man struggles to come to terms with his abusive childhood, is directed by the Oscar-winning Washington, who also stars along with newcomer Derek Luke. Fisher will open wide Jan. 1.
Buena Vista's R-rated 25th Hour also opened Thursday in 5 theaters and took in an ESTIMATED $109,811 ($21, 962 per theater). The intense drama focuses on a drug dealer's last 24 hours before he goes to prison and how he chooses to spend it. Directed by Spike Lee, it stars Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson and Brian Cox. The film opens wide Jan. 10.
Paramount's Narc opened in 6 theaters Friday, making an ESTIMATED $66,000 ($11,000 per theater). The gritty drama stars Ray Liotta and Jason Patric as two undercover narcotics detectives after a cop killer.
The top 12 films this weekend earned $132 million, up 46.4 percent from last weekend.
This time last year, New Line's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was number one at the box office with $47.2 million, while Warner Bros. Ocean's Eleven came in second with $14.7 million and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius third with $13.8 million.
*All estimates as reported by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.
It was a disappointing weekend for Star Trek fans as they saw the 10th installment of their favorite franchise defeated at the box office by J. Lo's new romantic comedy, Maid in Manhattan, which cleaned up with a sparkling $19 million.
Star Trek: Nemesis was flying in second place at less than warp speed with $18.8 million.
Drumline marched into third place with a high energy $13.1 million.
The Hot Chick opened with a not-so-hot $7.5 million in a fourth place tie.
Die Another Day showed good legs, tying for fourth with $7.5 million. With its cume now at $131.6 million, Die is now the biggest grossing Bond film ever in domestic theaters.
The weekend also saw an impressive platform release start for New Line's drama-comedy About Schmidt, which won best picture in the Los Angeles Film Critics' vote Saturday. The Alexander Payne film grossed about $283,000 at 6 theaters, averaging an enviable $47,167 per theater. (For details and comments by New Line Distribution president David Tuckerman see OTHER OPENINGS below.)
Key films grossed $98.5 million, up nearly 13 percent from this weekend last year when they did $87.5 million.
THE TOP TEN
Revolution Studios and Columbia Pictures' PG-13 rated romantic comedy Maid in Manhattan opened to a chart topping ESTIMATED $19.0 million at 2,838 theaters ($6,695 per theater).
Directed by Wayne Wang, Maid stars Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes.
"It is Jennifer's biggest (opening)," Sony Pictures Entertainment vice chairman Jeff Blake said Sunday morning.
"The Cell was $17.5 million (when it) opened Aug. 18, 2000. The demographics of the picture were about 60-40, female to male. The key to the success was the wide spread of ages. It was just about 50-50 over and under 25. I think all ages are looking at this as a picture for them and that is, perhaps, a combination of younger fans of Jennifer's and also that the movie, itself, is a real package that's a strong romantic comedy with a great cast (in addition to Lopez) with Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson and Bob Hoskins. So it's certainly not just all on Jennifer's shoulders although they're very lovely shoulders to be on."
Focusing on why Maid did so well, Blake observed, "I think it's a story that people can identify with. We're thrilled with the placement because it seems for the holidays this is the kind of picture that could be the mutual choice of the entire family. It just is such an enjoyable, identifiable story.
"Normally, (when) you get a romantic comedy that gets a good start right before the holiday season, it can do five or six times its opening (weekend gross). So that certainly was what happened to pictures like Jerry Maguire and some others that have debuted prior to the holiday like Miss Congeniality. We certainly would love to see the same thing happen to us. We go into the holiday period in a pretty strong position and, obviously, being number one we couldn't have asked for a better start."
Blake also was pleased with how well Columbia and Intermedia Films' R rated Oscar contender Adaptation held up in its second weekend of platform release. Continuing at seven theaters, Adaptation grossed an ESTIMATED $274,000, averaging $39,150 and down only 29 percent from its opening weekend. Its cume is approximately $855,000.
Directed by Spike Jonze, it stars Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper.
"We're adding approximately 100 screens on Friday (Dec. 20) and then expanding again on Jan. 10," Blake said. "We got an L.A. Film Critics award last night (for Chris Cooper for supporting actor and a runner-up screenplay award for Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman) and we hope the good news keeps coming."
Paramount's PG-13 rated sci-fi franchise episode Star Trek: Nemesis, which insiders had expected to see orbiting atop the chart, opened a close number two with an ESTIMATED $18.75 million at 2,711 theaters ($6,916 per theater).
Directed by Stuart Baird it stars Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner, Levar Burton and Michael Dorn.
The series' previous episode, Star Trek: Insurrection, blasted off the weekend of Dec. 11 to 13, 1998 in first place to $22.05 million at 2,620 theaters ($8,417 per theater). It grossed about $70 million in domestic theaters.
"Obviously, we would have liked to have had a little more opening (gross)," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "But the picture plays very well. We know that from our research screenings. And we've got the holidays in front of us. The biggest Star Trek ever was number four, which did like $110 million and it only opened to $17 million."
Twentieth Century Fox's PG-13 rated urban appeal hip-hop comedy drama Drumline took the field in third place to a surprisingly strong ESTIMATED $13.05 million at 1,833 theaters ($7,119 per theater).
Drumline's average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
Directed by Charles Stone III, it stars Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldana and Orlando Jones.
"It went up 30 percent from Friday to Saturday, which was the biggest bump of any of these first-weekers and that's a pretty good bump for a first weekend," Fox distribution president Bruce Snyder said Sunday morning. "We did a lot of matinee business Saturday and it's terrific. It's a great start and I think we're going to have a hell of a run right through the holidays."
In terms of opening weekend demographics, Snyder noted, "It was 60-40 African-Americans and non-African-Americans. That 40 percent is a pretty high place to start (in terms of crossover audience). So it's very encouraging. It's very high (crossover) for a first weekend. Usually, that doesn't happen until the third or fourth weekend on these primarily African-American movies. And 60 percent were under 25, so it's playing young."
As for why it's doing so well, Snyder pointed out, "From the CinemaScores, people loved it. It got straight A-pluses. The material grabbed people. The hip-hop element plays to all kids. And I think it's now in the culture. It's a little bit of everything -- music, dance, comedy, drama. It's fun.
"It looks like the theater count was pretty right. And it's where it belonged -- before Christmas. I think it's going to be great for all young people right on through the holidays."
Buena Vista/Touchstone Pictures' PG-13 rated comedy The Hot Chick opened with less heat than hoped for in a fourth place tie with an ESTIMATED $7.5 million at 2,217 theaters ($3,370 per theater).
Directed by Tom Brady, it stars Rob Schneider.
"When I looked at the CinemaScores for all four pictures (that opened) this weekend, they all really scored well," BV distribution president Chuck Viane said Sunday morning. "I think what's happened is, you have four choices on a weekend and you can only be first choice for so many people. I think with these scores and the very good news with us going up 17 percent last night (Saturday versus Friday) and some of the movies not going forward, it bodes well among our audience that we've got the whole holiday ahead of us."
Looking at the CinemaScores, Viane observed, "Hot Chick has two A's and four B-pluses. Maid in Manhattan has two A's and four B-pluses. And Star Trek has four A's and two B-pluses. Drumline has six A-pluses. It's impressive) when you think all of these movies scored that well. It's tough. There's no question. Every Friday when you're opening up against three or four pictures -- in the old days, it was you and one other (film) all the time, today you go up against three or four -- you really have to place your films well so that you can get to your intended audience during a period of time.
"Thankfully, today is Dec. 15 and we have about two and a half consecutive weeks of really strong play time ahead of us. All the way through Jan. 3 everything is very positive for everybody in the marketplace. If the audiences like it as much as this, then you definitely have your future ahead of you."
MGM and United Artists' PG-13 rated James Bond thriller Die Another Day slid three slots to tie for fourth place in its fourth week with a solid ESTIMATED $7.5 million (-42%) at 3,377 theaters (+30 theaters; $2,221 per theater). Its cume is approximately $131.6 million, heading for $165-175 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Lee Tamahori and produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, it stars Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry.
The last Bond film, 1999's The World Is Not Enough, grossed $126.9 million in domestic theaters and $225.1 million in international theaters for a worldwide total of $352 million.
"It's now the biggest domestic grossing Bond ever," MGM senior vice president, publicity Eric Kops said Sunday morning.
Warner Bros.' PG rated sequel Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets fell three pegs to sixth place in its fifth week, holding nicely with an ESTIMATED $6.15 million (-39%) at 3,025 theaters (-362 theaters; $2,033 per theater). Its cume is approximately $222.4 million, heading for $275 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Chris Columbus, it stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson.
Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment's R rated comedy sequel Analyze That plunged five notches to seventh place in its second week with a weak ESTIMATED $5.32 million (-52%) at 2,635 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,017 per theater). Its cume is approximately $19.6 million.
Directed by Harold Ramis, it stars Robert De Niro, Billy Crystal and Lisa Kudrow.
The 1999 original film in the series, Analyze This, grossed $106.7 million in domestic theaters.
Buena Vista/Disney's G rated comedy sequel Santa Clause 2 fell three two rungs to eighth place in its seventh week, still holding decently with an ESTIMATED $4.0 million (-25%) at 2,207 theaters (-149 theaters; $1,814 per theater). Its cume is approximately $125.4 million, heading for $140 million in domestic theaters.
Directed by Michael Lembeck, it stars Tim Allen.
Buena Vista/Disney's PG rated animated sci-fi adventure Treasure Planet dropped four slots in its third week to ninth place with a dull ESTIMATED $3.0 million (-46%) at 2,192 theaters (-1,035 theaters; $1,370 per theater). Its cume is approximately $27.8 million.
Directed by John Musker & Ron Clements, its screenplay is by Ron Clements & John Musker.
Rounding out the Top Ten was Arenas Entertainment and Universal's R rated urban action film Empire, down six pegs in its second week with a quiet ESTIMATED $2.78 million (-56%) at 869 theaters (+2 theaters; $3,195 per theater). Its cume is approximately $10.7 million.
Written and directed by Franc Reyes, it stars John Leguizamo, Peter Sarsgaard and Denise Richards.
This weekend also saw the arrival of New Line Cinema's R rated drama About Schmidt to an impressive ESTIMATED $283,000 at 6 theaters in New York, Los Angeles and Omaha (where much of the film was shot), averaging a hefty $47,167 per theater.
Directed by Alexander Payne, it stars Jack Nicholson.
Schmidt was honored Saturday night by the L.A. Film Critics as best picture. Nicholson tied for best actor (with Daniel Day-Lewis for Miramax's Gangs of New York). Payne and Jim Taylor won best screenplay. Kathy Bates was the best supporting actress runner-up for Schmidt (with Edie Falco winning for Sony Pictures Classics' Sunshine State).
"What's interesting about the L.A. Critics is that over the last 28 years (for) 25 times whoever has won the L.A. Critics award has gone on to be nominated for the best picture Oscar," New Line distribution president David Tuckerman said Sunday morning.
"We're really pleased. Jack's been getting all these accolades and rightly so for his performance. But (there's also) Alexander Payne's direction and Kathy Bates' (performance). Kathy Bates' performance is a brave performance (with her already much talked about nude hot-tub scene). I think it's terrific that everybody's getting acknowledged. Ensemble's the wrong word to use when you have a Jack Nicholson picture, but we've got these other strong performances and the film. It's not just Jack."
Looking ahead, Tuckerman said, "The plan now is we're taking 17 exclusive runs in 17 cities on Friday, Dec. 20. On Jan. 3 we're going to roll it out to anywhere from 600 to 800 screens altogether."
New Line is in the enviable position of launching the second of its mega-blockbuster Lord of the Rings franchise this Wednesday (Dec. 18). With Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Tuckerman said, "We'll be (in) over 3,600 theaters and over 6,500 prints."
United Artists' PG rated drama Evelyn opened quietly via MGM in platform release to an ESTIMATED $72,000 at 15 theaters ($4,824 per theater).
Directed by Bruce Beresford, it stars Pierce Brosnan.
Warner Bros. held 825 very successful sneak previews Saturday of its PG-13 rated romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice.
Written and directed by Marc Lawrence, it stars Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant.
"We had great sneaks last night," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "We had 85 percent capacity. We don't do exits on the sneaks, but the reaction that we had through the EDI service (which asks theater managers for details) was that the picture played extremely well."
Notice opens Friday (Dec. 20) at about 2,700 theaters.
On the expansion front this weekend Samuel Goldwyn Films' R rated drama El Crimen del Padre Amaro went wider in is fifth week with a slow ESTIMATED $0.3 million (-34%) at 127 theaters (+5 theaters; $2,105 per theater). Its cume is approximately $3.5 million.
Directed by Carlos Carrera, it stars Gael Garcia Bernal and is the official Mexican entry in this year's best foreign language film Oscar race.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $98.55 million this weekend, up about 12.65 percent from last year when they totaled $87.48 million.
Key films were up about 28.34 percent from last weekend of this year when they totaled $76.79 million.
Last year, Paramount's opening week of Vanilla Sky was first with $25.02 million at 2,742 theaters ($9,123 per theater); and Warner Bros.' second week of Ocean's Eleven was second with $22.08 million at 3,075 theaters ($7,179 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $47.1 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $37.8 million.