The lack of traditional, crowd-pleasing films and big stars this year was enough to make you yearn for 2005 and the critical darling, Brokeback Mountain. Well, maybe not. Besides, if you craved gay propaganda, the winner of this year’s Best Documentary Short was Freeheld, a lesbian polemic for gay “marriage.”
Let’s go back instead to 2004, when The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King racked up $377 million domestically and a total of $1.1 billion worldwide and then took Best Picture, Best Director and 9 other Academy Awards. That year, the Oscars snared 43.5 million viewers.
Apart from Juno, the only other hit film to win this year was the Best Animated Feature Oscar for Ratatouille, the story of a Parisian rodent who happens to be the best chef in Paris. The lovable rat racked up $206 million domestically and another $414 million worldwide for a total of $620 million.
One other bright spot at the Oscars was the utter collapse of last year’s crop of anti-American, anti-war films. They failed at the box office, they failed with critics, and they failed at the Oscars. We’re talking here about the Brian de Palma stinker Redacted ($65,000 domestic, $433,000 foreign); Rendition ($9.7 million domestic, $13 million foreign) and the Redford-Streep-Cruise flop Lions for Lambs ($15 million domestic, $42 million foreign). The only film of this type that did well with critics was In the Valley of Elah, which still bombed at the box office. ($6.7 million domestic, $17 million foreign).
The films that made people feel entertained and upbeat – Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third, Transformers, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, all made more than $300 million domestically but were virtually absent at the Academy Awards. Even Alvin and the Chipmunks made over $200 million.
As for the dark, depressing films that the critics love? They took the Taxi to the Dark Side.