Oscars news: ‘American Sniper’ tops $200 million, Harvey Weinstein on ‘The Imitation Game’

Todd Cunningham reports: “the Iraq War saga ‘American Sniper‘ soared like a superhero movie at the box office, with a $64.3 million second weekend in wide release that would make any caped crusader proud. The Clint Eastwood-directed telling of the tough return home by Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, played in the movie by Bradley Cooper, continued its electrifying run with the best second weekend ever by an R-rated movie. In the process, ‘American Sniper’ hit the $200 million mark in domestic grosses just 10 days after earning nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor  and four other Oscar nominations.” The Wrap

NEW: Experts’ Oscars predictions in 24 categories

Jordan Zakarin profiles “Whiplash” writer-director Damien Chazelle:  “A former jazz drummer himself, created a next-level Frankenstein’s monster of teachers from his past who he says ‘created a climate of fear’ with their insults, though none reached anywhere near the depravity of Fletcher. The filmmaker — who is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay — went over some of the more memorable insults in the film.” Yahoo Movies

As Mike Fleming writes: “Harvey Weinstein sat down for what has become our annual look at his business, the Oscars and just about every other topic we can think of. Buckle up.” Among the tasty tidbits are this: “So you have eyeballs that will now watch the Oscars because of ‘Budapest,’ because of ‘The Imitation Game,’ because of ‘American Sniper.’ I don’t care if the smallest movie wins but I want people to watch the Oscars because all the movies profit by the attention and publicity. American Sniper, doing the kind of business it does, that’s exhibit A for the health of movie theaters. That’s the zeitgeist hit.” Deadline

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Elsa Keslassy reports: “Abderrahmane Sissako’s ‘Timbuktu,’ a foreign-language Oscar nominee, is turning out to be a significant world cinema hit in France in the wake of the terrorist attacks that hit Paris. Released on Dec. 10 in 150 screens by Le Pacte, the modestly-budgeted movie has so far grossed over 4 million Euros ($4.5 million) from 622 799 tickets sold, and attendance was up 12% last week. Taking into account the positive word of mouth and increased interest in the film, Le Pacte then upped the number of screens to 514. The movie, produced by Sylvie Pialat’s Les Films du Worso, depicts the struggle and alienation of Malians who fought the occupation of Jihadists in 2012.” Variety

The introduction to a fun-filled section: What if the Academy Awards were reimagined, and instead of best actor and other traditional categories, films were nominated according to what kind of viewer they appealed to? You might get a technophile category in which the contenders are the cinematography of ‘Mr. Turner,’ the sound mix of ‘American Sniper’ and the performance-capture technique of ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.’” New York Times

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