When I first heard about Body of Lies about a year ago, I thought, Ridley Scott directing a political thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, with a script by William Monahan, who just won an Academy Award for The Departed? This could be a big Oscar contender for next year. Well, after its poor reviews and paltry $12.9 million opening weekend, that’s obviously not happening. Which has started me thinking: When are we going to see some real Best Picture contenders? By this time last year, Michael Clayton had already hit theaters, and in the two years before that, there were three pre-holiday-season releases that made the big dance each time.
So, could this year end up like 2002, when all five eventual Best Picture nominees (Chicago, Gangs of New York, The Pianist, The Hours, and Lord of the Rings: Two Towers) came out in December? It certainly could happen: Frost/Nixon, Doubt, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Revolutionary Road, and Gran Torino are all scheduled as December releases. But for those of us who would like to see good movies hit theaters in all months of the year, let’s hope that at least one November entry (like Milk, Australia, or Slumdog Millionaire) ends up a major Oscar player too.