January 2008 Archives

rosemary.jpgIt was summer 1969, in southern Illinois. The father of Bride of Culture Snob took the mother of Bride of Culture Snob to the movies to escape the heat. She was pregnant, carrying Bride of Culture Snob.

His choice? Rosemary’s Baby.

So on Saturday, two days (or four, depending on whom you believe) before her due date, Spawn of Culture Snob was similarly treated to Rosemary’s Baby.

(And this followed viewings of Eastern Promises and There Will Be Blood within the previous 24 hours.)

Contact me if you’d like to contribute to Spawn’s therapy fund.

These are quite tardy, so I’ll keep this brief.

Cloverfield ended Juno’s three-week reign atop the Box Office Power Rankings over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

Juno, by the way, is the only one of this year’s crop of Best Picture nominees (so far) to hold sole possession of first place in our esteemed rankings. No Country for Old Men tied for the crown one week. There Will Be Blood might have had the juice this past weekend to get there.

Continue reading for the week’s full rankings and the methodology.

Amateur Hours

sicko.jpgAs a member of the choir, I ran screaming from the church because of Michael Moore’s preaching in Sicko.

I’m in the minority here — the movie got good reviews and an Oscar nomination in the documentary category — but this was among the least effective films I saw all year.

Plus: the equally inept Infamous.

My 2007 Album

noisettes.jpgThis isn’t a list of the “best” songs of 2007, or even my favorites. It’s a personal 2007 compilation that tries to capture my experience with music over the past 12 months. The songs are meant to play off each other — sometimes in obvious ways, often not — and there’s a purpose to the sequencing.

My goal is simple: to give readers some ideas for new listening, or perhaps to spur you to go back to an artist you’d dismissed. There are a lot more familiar names in this year’s mix than last year’s, and that’s because of the accelerating fragmentation of the music market; it seems increasingly difficult for anything to capture the public’s imagination for more than a few seconds.

So here are 18 songs that I felt deserve more love than our short cultural attention span typically allows.

no_country.jpg... No Country for Old Men.

A few months ago, I promised that I’d try to use the basic Box Office Power Rankings formula to predict a Best Picture winner. The hypothesis is that Best Picture winners tend to have a blend of prestige and popularity, and that a quantitative measure of those qualities might have predictive value.

The weekly rankings use two measures of critical opinion (Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic) and two measures of box-office performance (revenue and per-theater average) to present a more accurate picture of movies’ receptions.

For the first Oscar edition — I’ll update the numbers as we get closer to the February 24 ceremony — I still used Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, but I did three box-office measures: total domestic box office, box office per week of release, and box office per week per theater. Then, I assigned points (one through five, with five being best) based on each nominated movie’s performance with each criterion. And then, to give equal weight to critical opinion and box-office performance, I multiplied the box-office points by two-thirds. I know you don’t care about any of this shit, but I’m trying to show my work.

Anyway, here’s how the Best Picture nominees shake out: No Country for Old Men (15.0 points); Juno (14.3 points); There Will Be Blood (12.7 points); Atonement (10.0 points); and Michael Clayton (9.0 points).

A few bits of bidness:

  • Yes, things have been awfully quiet around here. Since mid-December, I’ve done shit. Four reasons: holidays, holidays hangover, Short-Film Week burnout, and preparations for the impending Spawn of Culture Snob.
  • So yes, things will remain quiet around here.
  • Regarding last week’s inquiry: Atonement’s wider release still didn’t push it past 10th place in overall box office this past weekend. I hereby declare its release pattern a failure, mostly because it’s fun to cast aspersions at Atonement.

In this week’s Box Office Power Rankings, Juno retained her crown by outrunning a couple of old farts with cancer. Yeah, she’s pregnant, but that’s still not fair, is it?

Continue reading for the week’s full rankings and the methodology.

What’s the best way to platform-release a movie? The two top films in this week’s Box Office Power RankingsJuno and Atonement — suggest that a faster path is better in terms of box office.

Yes, they’re very different movies. But they’re both strong candidates for a Best Picture Oscar nomination, and they were both released initially in the first full week of December.

Juno’s release has been more aggressive, from 40 to 304 theaters on December 21, 304 to 998 theaters on December 25, and 1,019 to 1,925 theaters on January 4. Atonement grew from 32 to 117 theaters (December 14), 117 to 297 theaters (December 21), and 310 to 583 theaters (January 4).

Atonement’s per-theater average was actually higher than Juno’s this past weekend (they ranked first and second in that criterion). But the period drama’s weekend-gross-box-office ranks have fluctuated (15, 9, 11, 13, 14, 14, and 10) while the comedy’s have risen steadily (17, 11, 10, 9, 5, 5, and 2).

I think that Juno’s release strategy has served it better, but we’ll get a better sense after this weekend, when Atonement opens wide.

Continue reading for the week’s full rankings and the methodology.

juno.jpgWith inhuman Aliens, Predators, and Water Horses the only new things in wide release between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the Box Office Power Rankings this past weekend was all about re-shuffling.

A cursory look at the rankings suggests that Juno is hot, and Sweeney Todd is not.

But a closer examination reveals some interesting trends: Almost all of Juno’s gain (everything except one ranking point) was in overall box office, and all of Sweeney Todd’s drop was in overall box office. In other words, with critical-opinion and per-theater-box-office positions staying the same (or nearly so), the ranking fortunes of the movies were dependent on their gross revenues for the weekend. So as much as I’ve tried to diminish box-office gross, it still beats my ass. Go figure.

Continue reading for the week’s full rankings and the methodology.