Oscar Moment: “Eat Pray Love”

3 08 2010

On August 13, the women get the first legitimate movie aimed at them since “Sex and the City 2.”  Rather than just looking at clothes in the high-profile bomb back in May, they can get some late summer substance from “Eat Pray Love,” the Julia Roberts-headlined adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s wildly popular memoir.

Millions of women have read the book and loved it, including my own mother who at the time rarely read but holed herself up to plow through it.  Trust me when I say that women adore this book.  I’m not sure how much that fan base alone can make it commercially viable, especially because of the pretty stealth marketing campaign.  They haven’t gone out of their way to excite anyone outside their target group; very few prominent bloggers have seen it.  They really are selling it just on Elizabeth Gilbert’s book and the presence of Julia Roberts.

So what exactly does the star power of Julia Roberts mean for the Oscar hopes of “Eat Pray Love?”  Definitely a lot less than this time a decade ago, when Roberts won an Academy Award for “Erin Brockovich,” a movie she carried on her shoulders.  As Entertainment Weekly pointed out to me, this is the first time that she’s attempted the feat since.  At that same time ten years ago, she was the highest paid star in the business, claiming $20 million paychecks when they were considered exorbitant.

I don’t think a Best Actress nomination is completely out of the question for Roberts.  She has enough respect from the Academy since she has won, and after quite some time out of the spotlight while she raised her kids, a nomination would show how happy they are to have her back in full force.

In fact, these “chick lit” movies have had success scoring Best Actress nominations – as long as you are Meryl Streep.  The Academy’s forever golden girl received her last two nominations for playing characters adapted from literature, Julia Child in last year’s “Julie & Julia” and Miranda Priestly in 2006’s “The Devil Wears Prada.”  Both movies were released fairly late in the summer and boasted great box office legs (the latter finished with the higher total).

And another interesting observation: both of those movies were nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Picture, although they lost to “The Hangover” and “Dreamgirls,” respectively.  I’m not sure if “Eat Pray Love” will be pushed as a comedy, but if so, I can easily see a Best Picture nomination coming from that category.  But the big question has to be if this is a movie that can push its awards season beyond the Globes.

With ten nominations, there is definitely more of a spot for movies like “Eat Pray Love” that there has ever been.  Just look at “The Blind Side,” which was nominated last year after carving out a large audience from middle America.  These niche movies, reaching a particular group, may fare really well in the Academy’s current attitude that seems to want to represent all tastes in Best Picture.  If “Eat Pray Love” gets good reviews and makes a nice chunk of change in August, some strong marketing muscle in December and January could easily thrust it into the discussion.  And if Roberts’ performance is still remembered, then the movie could also ride in on her trail.

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing a nice, quiet movie soon.  And watching all that food in Italy.

BEST BETS FOR NOMINATIONS: Best Picture, Best Actress

OTHER POSSIBLE NOMINATIONS: Best Adapted Screenplay


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5 responses

4 08 2010
Simon/Ripley

I’m a female, and I want to personify this book so I can punch it in the face. Where does that leave me?

Goldon Globes, maybe, but I doubt any Oscar hopes.

4 08 2010
Marshall

Silly Ripley, “Eat Pray Love” is for women that are in their thirties and forties. Just like I’m not supposed to connect with “Sideways,” you aren’t really supposed to have much to connect to with this.

And besides, they make “Twilight” for girls your age.

4 08 2010
erin

My mother-in-law gave all the daughters the book for Christmas a few years back. It is still sitting in the pile of “books gifted that will never be read” on my nightstand. I tried. I did. It made me feel cliched and trapped in a stereotype of the post-modern woman who has lost her identity. That said, HBO and I will have a date when the movie reaches OnDemand, because there’s nothing better when you’re stuck at home than a few hours with Miss Julia.

p.s. Jury continues to be out for me on Sideways. But I do like wine, so there’s that.

4 08 2010
Fitz

Golden Globe nod for Julia Roberts and not much else.

8 08 2010
Red

I think Roberts will make alot of noise for an Oscar, but the rest of the movie probably won’t do much, if only because I think that Secretariat will steal alot of its potential votes.

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