It’s very easy to take Woody Allen for granted, and for the better part of the last ten or fifteen years, audiences have. Working steadily at his one-movie-per-year rate, in recent times, Allen hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the movie-going public with a string of terrible films that felt more like contractual obligations or something knocked out half halfheartedly out of habit, than anything imbued with the wit, thematic scope and verve he displays when he’s in top form. But recent years have found him on an upswing, with his European flavored films earning better reviews and more attention but “Midnight In Paris” is a concoction that is proving irresistible at the box office.
Thompson On Hollywood makes an interesting case that with film set to hit 940 screens this weekend (the most Allen has had since “Anything Else“), and given the engine that’s chugging behind the film ($7 million domestic that’s part of a $25 million worldwide haul to date and growing; it’s looking like it could do “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” sized numbers or more) it could be an Oscar contender. While she doesn’t think Owen Wilson will land an acting nod (we agree), she thinks Original Screenplay and Best Directing could be open for Woody himself and it’s not a bad theory.
While on the face of it Allen’s whimsical tale hardly looks like golden statue material, the Academy loves nothing more than to roll out the red carpet for the legends. Yes, Allen already has three Oscars (Screenplay and Directing for “Annie Hall” and Screenplay for “Hannah & Her Sisters“), but he hasn’t personally been nominated since 2005 (Screenplay for “Match Point“) and Hollywood loves a good comeback story. And certainly the surprise/sleeper success of the film is putting it on the radar of everyone around town.
Of course, this is all just speculation and who knows how the next six months will play out, but let’s not lose sight of one thing: while the industry frets about 3D, VOD and box office margins here’s yet another example of a modestly budgeted film, made for adults, with a top shelf cast that is doing great business. More proof that there is an audience out there who want to go to the movies, but just won’t take whatever blockbuster is being pimped that week shoved down their throats. Hollywood, are you listening?