An extremely rare box office feat is expected to occur this weekend. The word of mouth phenomenon “The Blind Side” should make more money in wide release in its third frame than it did in its first or second. This comes off the melodrama’s dramatic upturn already over “Thanksgiving.” With $108 million in the bank, the $35 million budgeted film is going to be a substantial profit center for Alcorn Entertainment and distributor Warner Bros. When all is said and done another big winner may be none other than the film’s star, Sandra Bullock.
Already coming off the massive summer hit “The Proposal,” Bullock is turning into one of Hollywood’s more reliable leading ladies these days — in the right roles at least. What many forget is that Bullock’s dramatic credentials aren’t that surprising or unknown. She starred in the Oscar winning Best Picture “Crash” and delivered fine performances in “Infamous” and “28 Days.” Now, there is more and more scuttlebutt that the well-liked actress could be a surprise nominee for “The Bind Side” and its really not that far fetched. The always charming and witty Bullock has already participated in a Q&A screening for SAG voters and the big box office may help sneak her into a SAG Award nod (Globe? We’re not so sure.). If she does break into SAG, Warner Bros. could easily add her to their busy slate of potential nominees to push during the final few weeks of nomination campaigning. The only thing hindering Bullock and “Blind Side’s” Academy chances will be whether the small town faith favorite will actually play to the membership. That’s one of the million dollar questions these days, but It would be sort of refreshing if it did.
In the meantime, Bullock will be honored at this year’s Santa Barbara Film Festival with the American Riviera Award for her role in “Blind Side” and her career body of work. The festival runs from Feb. 4-14 and Bullock joins a list of previous winners including Tommy Lee Jones, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Diane Lane and Mickey Rourke. Not too shabby.
In other news…
– The Academy announced the 10 films short-listed for Best Live-Action Short. Every few years a familiar name pops up as a star or director of one o the shorts, but not this go around. Check out the list of contenders that will be widdled down to five by Oscar nomination Tuesday. In Contention has found some great previews for some of the candidates which you can watch here.
“The Door,” Juanita Wilson, director, and James Flynn, producer (Octagon Films Ltd.)
“The Ground Beneath,” Rene Hernandez, director, and Kristina Ceyton, producer (Passion Pictures)
“Hotel,” Tim Conrad, director-producer (Oyster Films)
“Instead of Abracadabra,” Patrik Eklund, director, and Mathias Fjellstrom, producer (Direktorn & Fabrikorn)
“Kavi,” Gregg Helvey, director-producer (Gregg Helvey)
“Miracle Fish,” Luke Doolan, director, and Drew Bailey, producer (Druid Films)
“The New Tenants,” Joachim Back, director, and Tivi Magnusson, producer (Park Pictures)
“The Response,” Adam Rodgers, director, and Sig Libowitz, producer (Look at the Moon Productions)
“Short Term 12,” Destin Daniel Cretton, director-producer, and Michelle Steffes, producer (Destin Cretton)
“Sidney Turtlebaum,” Tristram Shapeero, director, and Daniel Jewel, producer (Third Man Films Limited)
– “Dreamgirls” and “Kinsey” director Bill Condon has been elected President of the Film Independent Board of Directors. Film Independent is the non-profit Los Angeles based organization that holds the annual Indie Spirit Awards and runs the Los Angeles Film Festival. Writer/director Rodrigo Garcia (“Mother and Child,” “In Treatment”) will be the Vice President. Director/producer Alan Poul (“The Backup Plan,” “Six Feet Under,” “Rome”) serves as Secretary, and producer Stephanie Allain (“Black Snake Moan,” “Hustle & Flow,” “Biker Boyz”) will be the new Treasurer. New Board members include Joe Drake, DeVon Franklin, Sue Kroll, David Linde and Ted Mundorff. Previous officers were actor/director/producer Vondie Curtis Hall (President), Troika Pictures Co-CEO Michael Helfant (Vice President), One Way Out Media’s Tom Ortenberg (Treasurer), and writer/director Kasi Lemmons (“Secretary”), with all remaining on the Board. With the sad state of acquisitions for independent film these days, the importance of an organization like Film Independent can’t be taken for granted.
For constant updates on awards season and entertainment news follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter at Twitter.com/HitFixGregory