You don't arrive at the Grand Budapest Hotel without your share of Wes Anderson baggage. Odds are, if you've booked a visit to this film, you've enjoyed your past trips to the Wes Indies (I promise I'll stop this extended metaphor soon), delighting especially in Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and his most recent charmer Moonrise Kingdom. On the other hand, you could be the adventurous sort — a curious diplomat who never really got Anderson's uric-toned deadpan drudgings but can't resist browsing through the brochures of his latest European getaway. First off, neither community should worry about a bias in this review — I'm a Life Aquatic devotee, equally alienating to both sides. Second, neither community should be deterred by Andersonian expectations, be they sky high or subterranean, in planned Budapest excursions. No matter who you are, this movie will charm your dandy pants off and then some.
While GBH hangs tight to the filmmaker's recognizable style, the movie is a departure for Anderson in a number of ways. The first being plot: there is one. A doozy, too. We're accustomed to spending our Wes flicks peering into the stagnant souls of pensive man-children — or children-men (Moonrise) or fox-kits (guess) — whose journeys are confined primarily to the internal. But not long into Grand Budapest, we're on a bona fide adventure with one of the director's most attractive heroes to date: the didactic Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes mastering sympathetic comedy better than anyone could have imagined he might), who invests his heart and soul into the titular hotel, an oasis of nobility in a decaying 1930s Europe. Gustave is plucked from his sadomasochistic nirvana overseeing every cog and sprocket in the mountaintop institution and thrust into a madcap caper — reminiscent of, and not accidentally, the Hollywood comedies of the era — involving murder, framing, art theft, jailbreak, love, sex, envy, secret societies, high speed chases... believe me, I haven't given half of it away. Along the way, we rope in a courageous baker (Saoirse Ronan), a dutiful attorney (Jeff Goldblum), a hotheaded socialite (Adrien Brody) and his psychopathic henchman (Willem Dafoe), and no shortage of Anderson regulars. The director proves just as adept at the large scale as he is at the small, delivering would-be cartoon high jinks with the same tangible life that you'd find in a Billy Wilder romp or one of the better Hope/Crosby Road to movies.
Anchoring the monkey business down to a recognizable planet Earth (without sacrificing an ounce of comedy) is the throughline of Gustave's budding friendship with his lobby boy, Zero (newcomer Tony Revolori, whose performance is an unprecedented and thrilling mixture of Wes Anderson stoicism and tempered humility), the only living being who appreciates the significance of the Grand Budapest as much as Gustave does. In joining these two oddballs on their quest beyond the parameters of FDA-approved doses of zany, we appreciate it, too: the significance of holding fast to something you believe in, understand, trust, and love in a world that makes less and less sense everyday. Anderson's World War II might not be as ostensibly hard-hitting as that to which modern cinema is accustomed, but there's a chilling, somber horror story lurking beneath the surface of Grand Budapest. Behind every side-splitting laugh, cookie cutter backdrop, and otherworldly antic, there is a pulsating dread that makes it all mean something. As vivid as the worlds of Rushmore, Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Moonrise might well have been, none have had this much weight and soul.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
So it's astonishing that we're able to zip to and fro' every crevice of this haunting, misty Central Europe at top speeds, grins never waning as our hero Gustave delivers supernaturally articulate diatribes capped with physically startling profanity. So much of it is that delightfully odd, agonizingly devoted character, his unlikely camaraderie with the unflappably earnest young Zero, and his adherence to the magic that inhabits the Grand Budapest Hotel. There are few places like it on Earth, as we learn. There aren't many movies like it here either.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
The nominations for the 85th Academy Awards are out. But while Denzel Washington is laughing for having fooled the Academy into thinking Flight is an Oscar-worthy movie, Anne Hathaway is crying into her celebratory mimosa, and Kathryn Bigelow is trying hard not to cry for a completely different reason, we are scratching our heads. Thursday morning's announcement has left us with myriad ponderables. Here are 10 burning questions that have us yelling, "We want answers!" and running to Google faster than a cheetah on a treadmill.
The Best Supporting Actor category has a reputation for being dominated by Hollywood's veteran gentlemen. But, before this year, has there ever been an acting category filled with actors who already have an Oscar in their trophy case?
Nope. This would be the first time. Christoph Waltz won for Inglorious Basterds in 2010, Philip Seymour Hoffman for Capote in 2006, Robert De Niro for The Godfather: Part II (1975) and Raging Bull (1981), Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine in 2007, Tommy Lee Jones for The Fugitive in 1994.
This could be the third Oscar for Robert De Niro and Daniel Day-Lewis. Who else has three? And who has the most wins?
Actors Ingrid Bergman, Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, and Walter Brennan all have three Oscars. But Katherine Hepburn beats them all with four Best Actress wins. Competitors in non-acting categories, however, rake in even more awards. Composer Alan Menken has eight, costume designer Edith Head has eight, visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren has nine, and Walt Disney has the distinction of winning the most Academy Awards — he has 22.
In addition to his hosting duties, Seth MacFarlane was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Original Song category. Is this the first time a host has also been up for an award?
Nope! Just two years ago, James Franco co-hosted with Anne Hathaway while he was also nominated for Best Actor for 127 Hours. And before Franco, six other hosts played dual roles on the big night: Frank Capra (1938), Bob Hope (1952), David Niven (1958), Michael Caine (1972), Walter Matthau (1975), and Paul Hogan (1986). Capra, Hope, and Niven also walked away with trophies their respective years.
Austrian tear-jerker Amour has five chances to take home a trophy this year. How many times has the same movie been nominated for Best Picture as well as Best Foreign Language Film? And has the same movie ever won the Oscar in both categories?
There have only been nine foreign language films nominated for Best Picture: Grand Illusion, 1938; Z, 1969; The Emigrants, 1972; Cries and Whispers, 1973; Il Postino, 1995; Life Is Beautiful, 1998; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, 2000; Letters from Iwo Jima, 2006; and Amour, 2012. Of those movies Z, Life Is Beautiful, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon won Best Foreign Language Film rather than Best Picture. The Emigrants is the only film to lose both. Grand Illusion was nominated before Best Foreign Language Film was created, Letters from Iwo Jima was ineligible because it was an American production, and Cries and Whispers and Il Postino were not nominated. No movie has ever won both categories.
Silver Linings Playbook has nominations in the five biggest categories (Best Picture, Director, Actress, Actor, Screenwriting). Has a film ever swept all five?
In Oscar history there have been three films to sweep the major acting categories as well as take directing, screenwriting, and Best Picture awards: It Happened One Night (1934), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), and The Silence of the Lambs (1991).
While Argo and Zero Dark Thirty are considered frontrunners for the Best Picture win, their directors (Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow, respectively) weren't nominated for Best Director. Is it rare for a film to take home Best Picture and not Best Director?
In a word, yes. Of the 85 films that have been awarded Best Picture, 65 of them have also taken home the award for Best Director. And in only three instances have the directors of Best Picture-winning films not been nominated themselves — Wings (1928), Grand Hotel (1932), and Driving Miss Daisy (1989).
Eiko Ishioka, who passed away this year, is nominated for Best Achievement in Costume Design for her work on Mirror, Mirror. How many Oscars have been awarded posthumously?
There have been 15 posthumous awards won in the competitive categories out of 73 nominations for people who were also in the "In Memoriam" reel that year. The most recent winner was Heath Ledger in 2008 for Best Supporting Actor in The Dark Knight. Composer Howard Ashman has the most posthumous nominations (he has four). Art director William A. Horning has the most wins: he won two awards in two consecutive years, for Gigi in 1958 and Ben-Hur in 1959. In 1959 he was also nominated for art direction of North by Northwest. That's one busy corpse! In Ishioka's Best Costume Design category there have been four posthumous nominations (three for the same person) and zero wins.
Lincoln, which has so far raked in over $145 million at the box office, is the only Best Picture contender this year you could really call a "blockbuster." What was the lowest grossing film to ever take the Best Picture category?
The lowest grossing Best Picture winner was The Hurt Locker in 2010, which only grossed $50 million. Four of this year's nine Best Picture nominees have currently grossed even less than that. Silver Linings Playbook has only made $35 million, Beasts of the Southern Wild has only made $11 million, Zero Dark Thirty has only made $5 million, and Amour $340,798. That makes The Hurt Locker look like Titanic.
Is Quvenzhane Wallis the youngest person to be nominated for an Oscar? And who's the oldest?
Nine-year-old Wallis is not the youngest person ever to be nominated; that distinction belongs to Kramer vs. Kramer's Justin Henry, who was eight at the time of his nomination. Wallis is also tied with Skippy's Jackie Cooper. Wallis is, however, the youngest actress to ever be nominated in the Best Actress category, beating out former youngster Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider). If she wins, Wallis will be the youngest person to ever win an Oscar. On the flip side, Amour's Emmanuella Riva is, at 85-years-old, the oldest woman to be nominated for Best Actress. And she is the second oldest person to ever be nominated for an acting Oscar — Gloira Stuart, who was 87 when she was nominated for Titanic, holds that title.
Quvenzhane Wallis was nominated for her first-ever film. Has an actor or director ever won the award for his or her debut project?
This happens a lot more often than you would think — 23 times, to be precise. Five actresses have won the Best Actress Oscar for their debut films: Shirley Booth, Come Back, Little Sheba (1952); Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday (1953); Julie Andrews, Mary Poppins (1964); Barbra Streisand, Funny Girl (1968); Marlee Matlin, Children of a Lesser God (1986).
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
Oscar Nominations 2013: Biggest Snubs and Surprises — GALLERY
Oscar Nominees 101: Everything You Need to Know About the Stars and Their Movies
2013 Oscars Nominate Only 9 for Best Picture: Which Film Should've Been the 10th Nominee?
From Our Partners:
Megan Fox’s 12 Hottest Moments (Moviefone)
Ryan Gosling’s ‘Airbrushed’ Abs: Plus 19 More Reasons We Love the Actor (Moviefone)
There was little for Hollywood to cheer about this weekend as ticket sales skidded 17 percent from last year and three films opened to modest business.
It was the summer's worst box office weekend compared to last year. The only other down weekend this summer was the weekend of May 31-June 2 when key films dropped a marginal 2.6 percent.
Some insiders speculated Sunday morning that after Wall Street's summer crash Americans just weren't in the right mood this weekend to go out in family groups to have a jolly time at the movies.
"There is a malaise in America and it's impacting on Hollywood," one observer insisted. Although the film industry traditionally does very well during troubled times because it provides a relatively inexpensive form of escape, the present Wall Street crisis has knocked average Americans for a loop as they realize how their retirement plans have plunged in value.
Other insiders, however, countered that the weekend's lackluster grosses really just reflected how moviegoers reacted to the new product arriving in the marketplace.
Stuart Little 2 and Road To Perdition tied for first place with $15.6 million in Sunday's estimates. That horse race will be resolved Monday when final figures are announced.
The Hollywood radar screen had positioned Stuart 2 for a $25 million launch. Columbia said it was encouraged that the sequel, which reportedly cost $110 million, had arrived in line with the $15.0 million opening for first Stuart in 1999.
DreamWorks said it was pleased Road expanded so well in its second weekend and pointed out that its drop of only 29 percent suggested word of mouth is favorable.
Columbia's parent company Sony Pictures Entertainment had cause to celebrate with three films in the Top Five. Besides Stuart 2, Sony's Men In Black II was third with $14.8 million and Mr. Deeds was fifth with $7.3 million. Together Sony's three titles grossed about $38 million, which is roughly a third of the overall marketplace and about 57 percent of the Top Five.
Paramount and Intermedia's submarine drama K-19: The Widowmaker surfaced in shallow fourth place waters to a soggy $12.3 million despite being anchored by superstar Harrison Ford. Insiders had projected that K-19, which was fully financed by Intermedia and reportedly cost in the high $90 millions not counting interest charges, would sail into theaters with as much as $20 million.
The weekend's other wide opening, Warner Bros and Village Roadshow's low budget horror film Eight Legged Freaks, didn't make the Top Five. It crawled into seventh place with an unlucky $6.7 million.
Key films -- those grossing $500,000 or more -- took in $116.3 million versus last year's $140.2 million.
THE TOP TEN
Columbia's PG rated family comedy sequel Stuart Little 2 kicked off in a tie for first place with a hopeful ESTIMATED $15.6 million at 3,255 theaters ($4,793 per theater).
Directed by Rob Minkoff, it stars Geena Davis.
"The first one opened to $15.0 million on Dec. 17, 1999 and did $140 million," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning.
"As I've heard our friends at Disney say so many times and patiently explain about family films, sometimes with a good opening it just keeps getting better because it is a seven day a week business. It's a matter of organizing the family to go and if you've got a picture that people enjoy it plays a very long time."
Asked about projections that had suggested Stuart 2 would open to $25 million, Blake replied, "I think that family films are always hard to predict because it's not a matter of dropping kids off (as it is with) teenagers who make their own plans. It's always subject to the events that are going on for the family, which I think is why it gets spread out a little bit. We're counting on good business straight throughout the week and good holdovers similar to the first one."
Another aspect of the family films business that Disney has experienced over the years is the fact that lower priced tickets for youngsters result in lower grosses than an adult film would have with the same number of admissions. "There's no question (about the effect of lower priced tickets). A lot of little people went to see this show," Blake explained. "Certainly, our audience was families with kids of all ages attending with their parents. This is not a drop off at the mall picture."
In addition, he said, it's a film that is expected to have "great ancillaries (and the original) was one of the best selling titles (in home video) that Sony ever had."
All told, Blake pointed out, "We're pleased with the opening, pleased to be in the same ballpark as the original and hope we have that kind of playability. Our exit polls are even better than the original. We have over 90 percent in the Top Two Boxes (excellent and very good) and an A-plus CinemaScore.
"And really (it's a film) that not only younger children enjoy, (but) if truth be told, older children once attending enjoy as well. So it really is the perfect film for the whole family. We know that word will keep spreading. I hope it keeps unrolling through the rest of the summer and certainly we expect good mid-week business right off the bat."
As for the overall marketplace, Blake observed, "It's one of the first down weekends (this summer). Everybody got a certain segment, but you didn't have one of those pictures that absolutely got everybody. You had two really high chart openings (last year in Jurassic Park III with nearly $51 million and America's Sweethearts with just over $30 million). As you look ahead, though, you've got three weeks coming of tremendous product -- Austin Powers in Goldmember, Signs and XXX."
DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox's R rated adult appeal drama Road To Perdition, which was second last weekend, went wider and tied for the top spot in its second week with a solid ESTIMATED $15.6 million (-29%) at 2,159 theaters (+363 theaters; $7,225 per theater). Its cume is approximately $47.5 million.
Perdition's average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
Directed by Sam Mendes, it stars Tom Hanks, Paul Newman and Jude Law.
"It's a great hold, down 29 percent in a summer where movies drop 40 percent and more from opening weekend -- so it's a fantastic hold," DreamWorks distribution head Jim Tharp said Sunday morning, adding that word of mouth about the film is "very good."
Looking ahead, Tharp said, "We'll add a few runs this week, not many." As for where Road is heading in domestic theaters, he said, "It's really difficult to tell at this point."
Given Road's mostly favorable reviews, insiders are already talking about it as a likely nominee for Golden Globes and Oscars later this year.
Columbia's PG-13 rated blockbuster sequel Men In Black II slid two pegs to third place in its third week with a still enviable ESTIMATED $15.0 million (-39%) at 3,641 theaters (+30 theaters; $4,120 per theater). Its cume is approximately $158.6 million.
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, it stars Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith.
"It continues to add up," Sony's Jeff Blake said. "The drop in the 30-percents at this point shows that this picture really is in it for the long run, as well. I think we certainly have high hopes to get to $200 million and beyond (in domestic theaters)."
Paramount and Intermedia Films' opening of their PG-13 rated Russian submarine drama K-19: The Widowmaker sank in fourth place with a grim ESTIMATED $13.1 million at 2,828 theaters ($4,632 per theater).
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, it stars Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson.
"Obviously, we were looking for a little more than this, but if you look at the market overall it's off about 25 to 30 percent versus last week and last year for the same period and I don't really know why," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning.
"Our tracking indicated that we would do maybe $18-20 million on K-19 so I fully expected a $15-20 million opening. If you put another 25 percent on our number, you're going to be right there (where it was expected to open). So it seems to be the market overall. People just didn't come out to the movies for some reason."
Assessing K-19's opening, a competing distributor suggested, "I think they did the best they could. The movie had no playability and they weren't able to market it. They took all the cliche shots of the submarine. They almost hid the fact that (Ford's character) was a Russian. (Moviegoers) just didn't buy him in that role."
Columbia and New Line's PG-13 rated comedy Mr. Deeds held on to fifth place in its fourth week, still showing good legs with an ESTIMATED $7.3 million (-33%) at 2,823 theaters (-416 theaters; $2,586 per theater). Deeds, which was made for only $55 million, has a cume of approximately $107.6 million.
Directed by Steven Brill, it stars Adam Sandler and Winona Ryder.
"We crossed the $100 million mark on Thursday, day 21," Sony's Jeff Blake said. "It's continued good news on Deeds. There's nothing like a summer comedy to really hold in the market. It continues to stay in the Top Five despite the new openings. We're certainly hoping for $125-130 million (in domestic theaters)."
Buena Vista/Touchstone and Spyglass Entertainment's Reign of Fire, a Zanuck Company production, dropped three slots to sixth place in its second week with a less hot ESTIMATED $7.1 million (-54%) at 2,629 theaters (theater count unchanged; $2,695 per theater). Its cume is approximately $29.0 million.
Directed by Rob Bowman, it stars Matthew McConaughey and Christian Bale.
Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow's PG-13 rated horror film Eight Legged Freaks opened in seventh place to a disappointing ESTIMATED $6.7 million at 2,530 theaters ($2,648 per theater). Its cume after five days is approximately $9.3 million.
Directed by Ellory Elkayem, it stars David Arquette.
"It was a co-venture between us and Village Roadshow," Warner Bros. Distribution president Dan Fellman said Sunday morning. "It's not a very expensive movie so nobody's going to get hurt. It's a little disappointing for us. The exits were pretty good so we'll just have to wait and see how it plays out."
Miramax's Dimension Films launched its R rated horror sequel Halloween: Resurrection added theaters in its second week but still plummeted four pegs to eighth place with a deadly ESTIMATED $5.4 million (-56%) at 2,094 theaters (+140 theaters; $2,578 per theater). Its cume is approximately $21.8 million.
Directed by Rick Rosenthal, it stars Jamie Lee Curtis.
Buena Vista/Disney's PG rated animated family appeal feature Lilo & Stitch fell two notches to eighth place in its fifth week with quiet ESTIMATED $5.1 million (-36%) at 2,127 theaters (-813 theaters; $2,383 per theater). Its cume is approximately $128.5 million.
Written and directed by Chris Sanders, it was produced by Clark Spencer.
Rounding out the Top Ten was MGM's PG rated family adventure The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course, down four pegs in its second week with a soft ESTIMATED $4.8 million (-50%) at 2,525 theaters (theater count unchanged; $1,901 per theater). Its cume is approximately $18.9 million.
Directed by John Stainton, it stars Steve Irwin and Terri Irwin.
This weekend also saw the arrival of Miramax's PG-13 romantic comedy Tadpole to a hopeful ESTIMATED $80,000 at 6 theaters ($13,333 per theater).
Directed by Gary Winick, it stars Sigourney Weaver, John Ritter, Bebe Neuwirth and Aaron Stanford.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front this weekend Gold Circle Films and HBO's PG rated romantic comedy hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding added theaters via IFC Films in its 14th week with a strong ESTIMATED $2.5 million (+11%) at 524 theaters (+29 theaters; $4,720 per theater). Its cume is approximately $30.8 million, heading for $40 million or more in domestic theaters.
Directed by Joel Zwick, it stars Nia Vardalos and John Corbett.
Focus Features' R rated romantic comedy Never Again went wider in its second week with a quiet ESTIMATED $54,000 at 35 theaters (+30 theaters; $1,530 per theater). Its cume is approximately $0.1 million.
Written, produced and directed by Eric Schaeffer, it stars Jeffrey Tambor and Jill Clayburgh.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $116.28 million, down 17.08 percent from last year when they totaled $140.24 million.
Key films were down about 16.47 percent from the previous weekend of this year when they grossed $139.22 million.
Last year, Universal's opening week of Jurassic Park III was first with $50.77 million at 3,434 theaters ($14,785 per theater); and Columbia's opening week of America's Sweethearts was second with $30.18 million at 3,011 theaters ($10,024 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $81.0 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $31.2 million.