April 19, 2014

What does “Paris” expansion mean for Oscar chances? – AWARDS ALLEY


By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: The official news, which broke Wednesday night, is that Sony Pictures Classics plans to re-introduce “Midnight In Paris,” Woody Allen’s most lucrative film, to larger audiences with a late summer expansion that will take place on Friday, Aug. 26.

“Heading into the fall, the film continues to distinguish itself and will elevate to another Woody Allen record this weekend when it is set to reach 50 million at the box office, with no signs of slowing down,” the studio says in a release.

And they are absolutely right. The film, from Allen’s standpoint, is a juggernaut. No one would have guessed that, in the twilight of his decades-spanning career, Allen would release a film that would go on to become his highest-grossing to date. Which is why the subtext of the expansion announcement is pretty clear.

Sony Pictures Classics likely is setting the stage for a sizeable Oscar push for Allen’s Parisian romantic comedy.

Realistically, what categories could “Paris” claim? Is a Best Picture slot out of the question? Certainly not, especially with the recently implemented, fluid rules of selecting anywhere from five to 10 nominees. Allen might have a hard time slipping into the Best Director race, given the stiff competition he’s expected to face from Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Alexander Payne, George Clooney and more.

I don’t see Owen Wilson’s performance as Best Actor-worthy, but Marion Cotillard could ride a hot campaign to a Best Supporting Actress nod. Screenplay seems like a no-brainer (Allen last was nominated in 2005 for “Match Point”), as does Cinematography for Darius Khondji’s exquisite Paris shots. In fact, “Midnight” could clean up on technical nods when the Oscars are announced.

The news that SPC plans to re-release “Midnight In Paris” into the marketplace means they know they have a hit on their hands, and they’re doing what’s necessary to keep the film on people’s radars during the lengthy awards season. Screeners to Academy and guild members should follow, as well as FYC screenings all fall. Will Allen be up for the campaign? Will his movie lobby without his assistance? It’s going to be an interesting marathon if Allen is in it, as we haven’t seen him immersed in the “game” since 1994’s “Bullets Over Broadway.”

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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