Adding up the combined box office grosses for the five best picture nominees — “Brokeback Mountain” ($71 million), “Crash” ($53 million), “Munich” ($45 million), “Good Night, and Good Luck” ($29 million), and “Capote” ($22 million) — the mainstream media (and Hollywood trade reporters) have concluded that the industry is out of step with mainstream America.
But, is there a quality high-grossing film that the Academy overlooked? Most of the mass market movies released last year were frankly unoriginal and generally disappointing. On the other hand, these best picture nominees — each with something profound to say — seem to have exceeded industry expectations by stirring discussion and collectively selling more tickets than many expected. My fear is that in the coming year, Indiewood execs will strive for even greater mainstream acceptance and try to top their successes in awards season, at the expense of worthy small movies.