Oscars news: ‘American Sniper’ sets Super Bowl record, Bill Clinton supports ‘Virunga’

As Emily Shapiro reports, “‘American Sniper‘ is topping more box office records with each passing weekend. The Oscar-nominated film brought in $31.9 million over the past two days — the most a movie has ever earned during Super Bowl weekend. But the records don’t stop there. The Iraq war film has now taken in $248.9 million in six weeks making it the top-grossing war-themed movie ever, not accounting for inflation. This was a record previously held by ‘Saving Private Ryan.'” ABC News

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Matt Donnelly observes, “In Graham Moore’s script for ‘The Imitation Game,’ Alan Turning helps the British government triumph against the Nazis but personal victories prove more complex for the homosexual mathematician in the awards season hopeful. Moore, an Oscar nominee this year for Best Adapted Screenplay, set out to make a film about numbers that an audience could relate to, but also about a ‘doomed’ love story between a gay man and a straight woman. ‘It was always my goal with this film to make the audience feel close to him, to put you inside his head. I hope the audience can look up and feel that they understand this person who is very removed from them in history and time and place and they feel like they’ve gotten a sense of what a tremendous human being he really was,’ Moore says.” The Wrap

Natalie Stone reports, “President Bill Clinton made a surprise appearance at a screening of Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Oscar-nominated Netflix documentary, ‘Virunga,’ at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York on Saturday night. ‘Virunga’ is executive-produced by DiCaprio and follows a team of park rangers in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo who risk their lives to protect the home of endangered mountain gorillas. Before the screening, Clinton shared about the work of the Clinton Global Initiative members in the Democratic Republic of Congo and importance of the documentary’s mission with attendees.” THR

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Tom Brueggeman notes that the initial box office for this year’s Oscars Shorts program — “a compendium of live action, documentary and animated shorts (actually presented as up to four separate programs, with the grosses combined for reporting purposes)” — was $410,000 in 110 theaters (PSA: $3,727). That is “$80,000, ahead of last year in five more theaters total, a solid performance indicating growing interest in this presentation. Last year’s program topped $2 million.” Thompson on Hollywood

Linda Rosen reflects, “It’s usually an easy game, comparing best picture nominees to previous winners as a way to gauge their chances for the big O. There’s almost always a current film that can be likened to such classics as ‘Rocky’ or ‘The Sting.’ Until this year. The remarkable, original entries in this year’s best picture category make our annual look at the resemblance to past winners challenging. ‘My Fair Lady’ still wields influence, as does the great ‘Gandhi.’ But a few reaches and mash-ups were required this time, along with one double dip that couldn’t be helped. So what does all that say about their Oscar chances? Probably nothing, but it’s fun to consider.” Los Angeles Times

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