Sunday, February 28, 2010

10 Oscar Contenders & Their Release Dates

One of my hopes, assuming the Academy Awards continue to have ten films nominated for best picture is that studios will feel more freedom to not have to release their award prospect films all in month of December.

Here's a list of this year's 10 nominees in order of their non-festival US release date...

Up (May 29, 2009 - 3766 screens)
The Hurt Locker (June 28, 2009 - 4 Screens)
District 9 (August 14, 2009 - 3049 Screens)
Inglourious Basterds (August 21, 2009 - 3165 screens)
A Serious Man (October 4, 2009 - 6 screens)
An Education (October 18, 2009 - 18 screens)
Precious (November 6, 2009 - 18 screens)
The Blindside (November 20, 2009 - 3140 screens)
Up in the Air (December 4, 2009 - 15 theaters, wide Dec 18 with 1895 theaters)
Avatar (December 18, 2009 - 3452 screens)

This really communicates to me a potential for a longer season of award quality movies, with the possibility for top contenders in the awards game to feel the freedom (whether mainstream or independent) to seek out at least summer release dates, and expect that their buzz can extend through, or be reinvigorated through out the award season.

I love the fact that there does not appear to be a magic formula, and hopefully this will free up studios to release quality films year round.

Here's hoping.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Winter Olympics Conversation with my Wife

My wife and I were talking about the Winter Olympics, as the Vancouver Games were wrapping up...some thoughts.

RC: The Winter Olympics are fun but, I don't think I like them as much as the Summer Olympics, not that they're meant to be compared. Something like running anyone can do, but most of these Winter sports are sports of privledge. Bobsled? Ice skating? Snow board jumps?

Kim: I don't think they're sports of privledge, I think they're niche sports that the majority of people do not ever participate it.

RC: Not that I'm down on these sports, I think these athletes are testimonies of dedication, hard work and skill. But, as for me, I've never ice skated before, and half these sports are on ice skates. While we're at it, I've never snow boarded before, either.

Kim: What's wrong with you? Why have you never done those things? You were born and raised in a place where people do that stuff all the time?

RC: Well even if I had ice skated, I sure wasn't ice dancing.

Kim: I completly don't understand ice dancing.

RC: Those who can't, ice dance. It's for the girls who are too heavy for the guys to lift up in pair skating, and for guys who get really tired spinning and can't jump.

Kim: What I want to know is how someone determines they're a world class Skeleton racer.

RC: I think they find people that are missing the part of the brain that makes good decisions.

Kim: Those must be the same people who came up with the McDonald's commercials that says "You don't have to be an Olympic athlete to eat like one."

RC: I'm sure Kim Yu-Na and Lindsey Vohn don't really seem like the chicken nuggets and coke type of people.

Kim: I think Steven Holcomb from the US bobsled team likes himself some chicken nuggets. He was a big dude.

RC: Do you think Bob Costas likes chicken nuggets? Well maybe Mary Carillo can do a story on that.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Not Evan Sure What I Think of Mel & The Beaver Pic

I must admit, I don't have expectations for Jodie Foster's rare directorial effort we'll see later this year.

And it's not just that it stars Mel Gibson as Foster's husband.

It's also that Gibson's character, Walter Black, carries a beaver puppet on his hand who he talks to.

Even if this screenplay is good, how can this film be anything but a mash up of concepts of films like Harvey and Lars and The Real Girl.

I like Harvey, I like Lars, and I even like Mr. & Mrs. Beaver from The Chronicles of Narnia. But not sure I like the idea of this film.

The one thing I know for sure, the movie will probably be better than if Mel Gibson directed a beaver film with actor speaking real Beaverish. (What language do Beaver's speak anyways?)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Originality Vanishes: Watching the Copy Cat First & A Few Thoughts on 'The Lady Vanishes'

The picture above is Miss Floy (Dame May Whitty) writing her name on the window because the train whistles are two loud for Iris (Margret Lockwood) to hear her spell it.

Good thing she wrote on the window because when Miss Floy disappears and everyone thinks Iris is having a mental lapse due to being hit on the head with a brick shortly before leaving on her train.

The Lady Vanishes is one of Alfred Hitchcock's last British films before he exploded in Hollywood, and this film was not part of his artistic exposure.

And as I watched it was not only interesting, but also reminded me of the Jodi Foster film Flight Plan...even in terms of the writing on the window.

And there is the challenge of older films. When you watch them for the first time what is original might seem old hat if it has since been copies time and time again.

I personally find The Lady Vanishes to be a great film, with a good mix of comedy, intrigue, and thrills. I haven't seen a British film from this time period like it.

Somehow even if elements are copied, Hitchcock's originality tends to be unrepeatable.

You can copy the Miss Floy story, but you can't copy the magic of The Lady Vanishes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Respect for Moon

There was a time a few years back when I would have thought that science fiction films were dead. I wasn't holding a funeral or anything, nor was I throwing a party. It just started to seem that post-Minority Report there just wasn't any more Sci-Fi that could be done.

It seemed like the themes about the future were covered, Alien themes were kind of no longer interesting, and movies like A.I. lasted just an hour too long. So long, Sci-Fi.

I was wrong, as I often am and 2009 proved rich with Sci-Fi including Star Trek, District 9, and Avatar.

One of the sci-fil films that received less buzz this past year is the independent film Moon directed by Duncan Jones and staring the under appreciated Sam Rockwell.

I will be honest, this film won't hit my top 10 list, but I do think it's one of the most intriguing films of last year.

If you are a person who can have even a moderate appreciation for 2001: A Space Odyssey and are looking for a little Sci-Fi love in your life, you have to see Moon.

Not only is the plot intriguing, Sam Rockwell's performance amazing, it's nice to see that genre films like sci-fi films don't have to be stuck in the world of insane budgets. It's hard to believe you can make a Hollywood film for $5 million dollars any more, let alone a sci-fi film.

Today director Duncan Jones won the BAFTA award for Outstanding Debut by A British Director, writer, or producer. I have to agree he deserves this award and I'm hopeful to see what he might be able to do with a slightly more padded budget and crew.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Stars: Building an Expectation & Working Together

The other day I mentioned that the big successful films didn't necessarily come with the most typical list of stars. People like Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Kristen Stuart, Bradley Cooper, and Chris Pine played lead roles in last years top films.

One of the reasons I think we've such a steep decline in stars having a following is because many film celebrities have, for whatever reason, have such a diverse range of performances. As a result people are easily disappointed if they see a certain movie because they like the star, especially if they don't have a diverse pallet.

I consider Angelina Jolie won of those "true stars" of today. Someone who critics and US weekly both talk about. And yet, who can say "I love everything that Angelina Jolie does?" Think about the films she's done in the past decade alone. Crowd pleasures like Mr. & Mrs. Smith, heavy true life dramas like A Mighty Heart, over budget bust like Alexander, action films like Tomb Radar, Wanted, Gone in 60 Seconds, indie films like Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, not to mention heavy emotional period piece Changeling, and then throw Beowulf into the mix and a ton of animated voice work.

Angelina's mix of films is so diverse, she makes it hard for her name on a poster to say anything about the quality and type of film you will be viewing.

That makes me think of some actors who are stars who have been a little more consistent. I was thinking about someone like Leonardo DiCaprio. Granted his films are not all huge box office explosions, but I think people know what to expect when they see DiCaprio's name on the poster. It helps that he works largely with one director these days (Martin Scorsese). But the pairing of a director and actor creates a consistency and expectation. Films like Gangs of New York may not be your taste. But when you see the pairing of Scorsese and DiCaprio there is a feeling of what you might be getting into...a heavy actor centered drama with larger than life settings, high drama, and some violence and shouting. So if you know that's what you want you see The Departed, The Aviator, and Shutter Island. I'm interested to see how Shutter Island's box office plays out this weekend.

I think pairings of directors, and similar actors is good for the movie going public. I think the unpredictability of films keeps some people away from the movie theaters. At the potential cost of around $10 a ticket, do you really want to walk into a bust? And if you are worried about a bust, the biggest way to be disappointed is to see a film just because it stars Julia Roberts, Robin Williams, or Cameron Diaz.

I appreciate seeing stars take on new roles that show a higher degree of dramatism or take on independent roles or work outside of their cookie cutter personas.

But I think the long term result of that is that despite the respect people might have for your acting skills, in terms of bankability your name looses value.

This seems bad for the Hollywood elite, but it seems good for smaller actors, and maybe for films themselves. It opens up the possibility for directors to cast the right actors, not the most famous ones. It's because of that change that J.J. Abrams was free to cast Chris Pine as Captain Kirk instead of having the pressure of casting Matt Damon in the role.

And it's all because of our skepticism that the top box office films will also be sequels or projects that don't need big names to achieve. It's also why products with clear expectations (Pixar Films or Tyler Perry Films, for example) pick up more theater viewers at every turn. The people that like these products can no what to expect.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Do Stars Really Have Star Power?

I was thinking about how one of the unique things about Titanic was that James Cameron was able to make a huge box office success without any huge stars. Granted, Titanic wasn't the end of the road for Kate Winslet or Leonardo DiCaprio, but they were certainly new names on the scene and opened up the door for independent film actors and actresses to have an increased opportunity to have lead roles in large films.

Not only did James Cameron do it again with Avatar, but most of 2009's top films were not packed with traditional star power.

Look at these names: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Laurent, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Chris Pine, and Zachary Quinto.

These are the stars of the top live action films in Hollywood this year.

This does not look good for the traditional stars...the Meg Ryan, John Travolta, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Jamie Foxx, and any other star that graces the cover of People Magazine every week.

Perhaps directors are finding films are more successful when the cast the right person and that film viewers are more interested in film concepts and popular buzz then in seeing a movie poster with two big head of Nicholas Cage and Jennifer Aniston co-staring in a romantic crime drama.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Inspiration from the Movies

In 2007 I complained that we'd rather be inspired than informed and that I was inspiration overloaded.

I think that tides have turned and we see a lot less inspiration...maybe I'll wax & wane on that later but for now a little mid-week inspiration.

Video discovered on Ben Sternke's blog.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Love & The African Queen

Another movie that deals with love in a different way is the John Huston classic The African Queen.

One of my favorite things about this film is that the love story in this film changes and evolves, and in that typical way deals with two unlikely people who fall in love, but in that untypical way it just all feels different and you're not sure how it's going to turn out.

Their love forms out of spending time together, much like how normal love forms. Their love also forms out of a common goal, much like how love also takes shape.

What's interesting about this film is that their initial love that forms is a surprise to the characters, with love the last thing on their mind. And once they fall in love, they have to revisit what brought them together, a goal of a virtual suicide mission to take out a German gunboat.

The other day I posted on the The Last Station and the way that we change and love must also. This film speaks to the reverse scenario, that sometimes love changes and we then make different decisions. This theme in film is probably more similar, more because you can only do so much with a couple hours of film, but I think The African Queen tells this type of story in such a unique way.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love & The Last Station

As part of Valentine's Day, my wife (we take turns planning the holiday) decided to surprise me with a trip to see The Last Station.

I wasn't really sure what I would think about the film. Biopics in foreign countries about historical figures can sometimes be slow, choppy, unmoving, or flat out boring. Just because someone was important doesn't mean there story is interesting, dramatic, touching, or somewhere in between.

On of the things that I think works for The Last Station is that in concentrates more on telling a story than creating an historically impressive biopic. If you've seen the film there are some very unique title cards that play close to the beginning of the film that in a Star Wars like fashion throws the viewers into the action instead of focusing on "back story."

This makes for an interesting Valentine's film because while it plays on themes of love, it certainly is not you're "romantic" drama. Instead, it probably speaks a lot to the longevity of love.

My wife & I have not been married 48 years like Leo & Sofya Tolstoy, but already it's pretty clear to me that as marriages continue we change. My wife & I are changing in different ways, and I've seen change occur in the lives of other married couples.

As my wife changes, I am tasked with the responsibility and pleasure of learning about my changing wife and renewing my love towards her. The responsibility (and hopefully pleasure) rest again on her shoulders as well.

Without a continued devotion to spending time together, learning about eachother, and renewing our love for one another I know we would diverge, perhaps like we see the Tolstoy's do in their lives.

And I think that responsibility belongs to both parties of the relationship. I think it would be interesting to have a group of people watch this film and discuss whether Sofya or Leo Tolstoy is responsible for the changes in their relationship. I imagine literary historians, romantics, males and females, would all have a varying degree of blame. But it probably rest on both of their shoulders.

In this film, both characters (portrayed by Helen Mirren & Christopher Plummer) are both intriguing characters and seem like remarkable people, but together their final days lacked a spark one imagines existed previously.

Just some thoughts on love and The Last Station, hope if you have some one you love you're taking the chance to relearn who they are and how to love them.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Effect of Best Picture Nominations on the Best Actor Race

If you're up for the Best Actress Oscar and your film is nominated for best picture does it hurt your chances of winning? Probably a little, but it's certainly no doomsday scenario (see related post, 60% of winners over the past 40 years win from a film that's also nominated for best picture).

If your a man up for the Academy Award for Best Actor, is this situation different.

You bet. It seems that unless you are the hot actor destined to win the prize (perhaps like this year's Jeff Bridges who's been sweeping the precursor's for his role in Crazy Heart), then the race is really an award to be won by an Actor who appears in one of the films nominated for best picture, or even expected to win.

31 of the past 40 winners (77.5%) of the winning actors over the past 40 years have been in films that were nominated for best picture (represented by the two shades of gold in the graph above).

No only that, but 30% of the winners (12 of the 40) have not only been in a nominated film, but also the winning film. This is a huge shift from the numbers we see in the actress category where far fewer Oscar winning actresses come from the winning film (7, as opposed to 12).

I would assume this is representive of male-lead films and so when the Academy loves Rain Man, Forrest Gump, Patton, American Beauty, or Gladiator) they love both the lead and the lead actor. Not quiet the same situation we see in the Actress category.

This isn't a statistic to scoff at since it is very common in this category that many of the nominees in the Best Actor category are not riding on the coat-tails of their nominated film, and yet this would seem to indicate that it's a tough road to a win without this accompanying nomination of the best picture.

For example, the last time an actor won the Best Actor prize without an accompanying picture nomination with Forrest Whitacre for the Last King of Scotland. In that category that year, not a single one of the lead actor nominees were nominated for their role in a best picture nominated films.

In fact over the past ten years of Oscar nominees, only 21 of the 50 Best Actor nominees have their films as a best picture nominees (42%). So for these actors who come into the award season with a nominated film, their odds increase dramatically.

As already discussed, this year Jeff Bridges is considered the front-runner, and his film is not a best picture nominee. Only two actors are in nominated films this year, George Clooney (Up in the Air) and Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker). I would say it's a fair bet that these two are close behind in the voting while the other two contenders (Colin Firth for A Single Man, and Morgan Freeman for Invictus) don't stand a chance at an upset.

It's interesting to crunch the numbers and see what trends show, although there is clearly room for exceptions.

Does Being in One of the Top Films Help You Win A Best Actress Oscar?

This post is a follow up to my recent post about Meryl Streep many nods for films that haven't made the cut in the best picture race, and I question if part of her streak of nominations without wins has a lot to do with her strong performances in "weaker films" (obviously an arguable point on it's one...but come on...Music of the Heart?)

In my data collection, I determined that over the past 40 years, 60% of the Actresses who won best picture were actresses in films that were also nominated for best picture (this is represented by the to shades of gold on the pie chart above).

So, for 24 of the 40 Oscar winning actresses there film was a contender for the top prize, while 16 won the award absent of their film even having a nomination. (The 40% represented by the purple section of the pie).

Then 7 of the past 40 winners in the actress category have won along with their film (represented by the darker gold).

What do I make of this? It would seem to be that is easier to win the Oscar in this category in the Best Actress category if the film is considered one of the year's top films by the Academy.

Although, at 40% an actress without an accompanying film nomination shouldn't feel overly disadvantaged.

Friday, February 12, 2010

We Are The World 25 for Haiti: Stand Out

Did you get a chance to see the video for We Are The World 25 for Haiti that premiered prior to the Olympic opening ceremony?

I couldn't help watching it with all these stars in the video singing along together with various solos, and thinking that Jennifer Hudson's vocals are incredible in this video. She sticks out in a crowd of stars.

There's obviously tons of stars, Michael & Janet Jackson, the Jonas brothers, Pink, Usher, Akon, Barbara Streisand and tons more, but to me...Hudson was a complete stand out.

Olympic music sidenote: 16 year-old Nikki Yanofsky's singing of 'O Canada' was far more impressive than her "boyfriend" Justin Bieber's introduction that kicks off "We Are The World"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Streep: 16 Nominations for Strong Roles, Not Memorable Films

As of this year, Meryl Streep has been nominated for 16 Oscars, 13 for Best Lead Actress and 3 for supporting. Far more than any other actress. Katherine Hepburn comes behind her with 12 nominees.

Yet, Meryl Streep, despite her multiple lead nominations has only one the lead actress trophy once (Sophie's Choice, pictured above) and the supporting trophy once (Kramer vs. Kramer).

I've started to notice...Streep gets nominated for many of her roles, but her films do not get nominated for best picture. This has to say something.

So I thought I would love and see how many of her 16 Academy Award nominations correlated to best picture nominations.

1979 - The Deer Hunter - (Supporting) - Film won best picture

1980 - Kramer vs. Kramer - (Supporting) - Won Supporting Actress Trophy - Film won best picture

1982 - The French Lieutant's Woman

1983 - Sophie's Choice - Won Lead Actress Trophy

1984 - Silkwood

1986 - Out of Africa - Film Won Best Picture

1988 - Ironweed

1989 - Evil Angels

1991 - Postcards from The Edge

1996 - The Bridges of Madison County

1999 - One True Thing

2000 - Music of the Heart

2003 - Adaptation - (Supporting)

2007 - The Devil Wears Prada

2009 - Doubt

2010 - Julie & Julia

Of Meryl Streep's 16 film nominations only three have been nominated for best picture. Both of them won the award (The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs. Kramer, Out of Africa).

But it makes you wonder about Streep's ability to pick projects that do not just feature strong women, but also feature strong scripts and crews who can make not just a good role, but an important film.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Airline Mile Credit Cards

So, I probably spend more time reading my junk mail than necessary.

So it goes.

But what's up with all the credit card applications and promotions that are trying to get me to buy into the idea of earning airline miles or getting free travel.

Are frequent flyer miles the ultimate desired possession that can be given away?

Isn't an airline trip, really just travel? It's not like this is the showcase showdown on the price is right and they're giving a way an all inclusive trip to Hawaii. No, they're giving me miles to go visit my family in the midwest.

What if they offered credit cards that gave you free bus tokens? Or credit to ride the subway in New York or Washington DC? How about the American Express Greyhound Bus passes?

Get double the Greyhound miles on all purchases at Goodwill and local thrift stores.

Sorry Citi Bank, American Express, Mastercard & Visa. The opportunity to go through security check points, sit next to wide people in skinny seats, and deal with your restrictive travel rules is hardly my idea of a reward.

See you later junk mail.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Fiction to Film: Oscar Noms & 2010

I have come to realize that the most anticipated film adaptation can often fall flat, especially when it comes to Academy Award expectations. 2009's film scene is no exception. Two highly adaptation The Road by Cormac McCarthy and Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones both were released with underwhelming responses.

Yet, even though by early 2007 I had determined fiction adaptations weren't going to cut it with the Academy, 2008 & 2009's award ceremonies proved me wrong with 3 of their five Oscar nominated films, including the eventual Oscar winner's going on to fictional adaptations.

So as I re-crunched the numbers this evening, including the 2010 Oscar ceremony nominees (only two of the ten come from novels, Up In The Air by Walter Kirn and Precious based on the novel Push by Sapphire.

So counting this year's nominees over the past 10 years, 20 of the 55 Best Picture nominated films have come from fiction (36.4%).

So I'm not ready to write off fiction and it's relation to the Oscars yet, I'm just learning that you never know what books are going to make the cross over.

So with that being said here are some of the 2010 fiction adaptations in the works...

Happy reading! We'll see if any of these adaptations show up in a big way come next year's award season.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Quick Thoughts on 2010 Super Bowl Movie Commercials

In thinking about (and watching) the Super Bowl movie commercials tonight I had a couple of thoughts.

The first is, is a Super Bowl commercial the best market? Granted, tons of people watch the Superbowl, but do the movie's advertised line up with the audience who would be interested in the movies previewed?

I think about my dad watching these previews...
(we've talked recently about my dad, so why not continue?) My dad, huge into sports is watching these commercials with his friends, some women are watching others are talking...and he sees a preview one after the other of films he's probably not interested in...

The Last Airbender
? Surely, he's not interested.
Prince of Persia? No way.
Alice in Wonderland? Um, probably not opening weekend, I can tell you that.
The Break-up Plan? Well...who in the world is interested in the film.

The Break-up Plan:
I had no idea there would be a preview for "The Break-up Plan" but the quality of this preview was HORRIBLE, not to mention the home birth baby pool in a movie preview, during the super bowl. Who is this movie for? Anyone other than Rikki Lake? It looks horrible.

You know what films I think could have got some bang-for-their buck that are coming out relatively soon...

How about Paul Greengrass' film Green Zone staring Matt Damon. I bet my Dad's never heard of it, but he might be interested in it.

Or what about the Richard Gere/Ethan Hawke police film Brooklyn's Finest?

And I can get behind previews for Robin Hood or even Iron Man 2. But, even The Wolfman might be pushing it.

Side note thought on The Wolfman trailer:
Although, I thought it was interesting that The Wolfman preview featured far more Anthony Hopkins that Benicio Del Toro? That might have been a smart audience discussion.

Side note thought on The Last Airbender trailer
: I actually thought it looked pretty strong, and out of the realm of the normal M. Night Shymalan. I think it was a good decision for him to go in a different direction and writing a film from non-original source material. I think this will help him redirect his brand.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Super Bowl Movie Commercials 2009 & 2010

I remember when I was watching the Super Bowl in 1999 and seeing a commercial for The Matrix. This early year advertising was the first sign that this film was something that might deserve a spot in that year's film landscape and that the distribution company was serious about promoting the film by purchasing a coveted and expensive Superbowl Advertisement.

I think the power-of-the-Super-commercial may have waned some since then, but I always pay attention to what films show up in the Superbowl as well as their eventual box-office gross.

It seems to me, and I think you will see from last years examples, that it takes more than a Super Bowl ad to create a hit, and that perhaps a Super Bowl ad is compensation for a weaker product that already cost too much money.

Not to mention, the Super Bowl movie ads start to give us the first taste of many of the biggest summer blockbusters.

For example, here's a list of last years commercials that aired during the 2009 Super Bowl, with box-office gross and current 2009 ranking for domestic gross:

  • Angels & Demons ($133 million, #22)
  • Fast and Furious ($155 million, #17)
  • G.I. Joe ($150 million, #18)
  • Land of the Lost ($49 million, #62)
  • Monsters vs. Aliens ($198 million, #11)
  • Transformers 2 ($402 million, #2)
  • Year One ($43 million, #68)
Despite some larger numbers, I think the majority of these grosses (with the exception of Transformers & Monsters) represent under performance of expectations.

With that in mind, I'm interested to see what film commercials we see at Super Bowl XLIV this weekend. If my information is correct we will be seeing 9 film previews during the Superbowl this year for...
  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Despicable Me
  • Iron Man 2
  • The Last Airbender
  • Prince of Persia
  • Robin Hood
  • Shutter Islands
  • Toy Story 3
  • The Wolfman

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Future & Best Picture Redefined

A Clockwork Avatar

Besides the fact that the future of films seems to be resting on the shoulders of sci-fi and fantasy recently...hello, Comic-con we see a unique change in this years Oscar nominees in regards to "the future."

Prior to this year's academy award nominations only 1 film ever nominated for best picture took place in the future...and a future not that far away. That film was Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange.

It took another 38 years for another film with a setting in the future to be nominated for best picture and we had two...Avatar and also District 9.

While District 9 takes place primarily in the future (beginning in 1982, but taking place primarily in August 2010) Avatar takes places in 2154...far further into the future than any other Oscar film nominated for best picture.

Will this be a trend? Certainly 10 pictures help, had this decade seen 10 best picture nominees we can imagine Wall-E would have joined the ranks of "future films" last year, or Children of Men at the 2007 ceremony.

I can't think of an upcoming "future film" that is likely to show in this category, at least not one that's been announced or has buzz (but District 9 came out of nowhere this past year, so who knows what 2010 has in store). But I can be pretty sure The Book of Eli, Repo Men and Daybreakers will all miss Oscar's short list next year.