This Week: What We Learned About Fall TV, Early Oscar Buzz, and Sundance Films

  • Publish Date: September 24, 2010
  • Comments: ↓ 1 user comment

The 2010 fall TV season is shaping up to be about the same as last year's

ImageRaising hope for a better season

Although more than half (10 of 19) of the new network shows that have premiered so far this fall have received positive reviews from critics, the average Metascore for all new network shows this season is a more mediocre 57, virtually identical to the average for last fall's new shows despite the fact that there were fewer (just seven) well-reviewed new shows in 2009. Last year's average was bolstered by glowing reviews for programs such as Modern Family, Glee, and The Good Wife (each with Metascores of 76 or higher); this year, by contrast, only one new network show -- Fox's Raising Hope 76 -- has reached that mark. In other words, this year's crop of new shows so far is fairly good, but definitely not great.

We'll have a more detailed breakdown of the successes and failures of the fall season (including cable shows) in a few weeks once every new show has premiered. In the meantime, here is how the broadcast networks stack up this year (with comparisons to 2009's fall season):

Broadcast Network Comparison, Fall 2010 (So Far) vs. Fall 2009
Network   Fall 2010 New Shows Average
  Fall 2009 New Shows Average
Fox   3: positivepositivemixed 66   3: positivemixedmixed 62   ↑4
CW   2: positivemixed 59   3: mixedmixedmixed 49   ↑10
ABC   5: positivepositivemixedmixedtbd 57   8: positivepositivepositivepositivemixedmixedmixednegative 60   ↓3
CBS   5: positivepositivepositivemixednegative 57   4: positivemixedmixedmixed 58   ↓1
NBC   7: positivepositivemixedmixednegativetbdtbd 53   4: positivemixedmixedmixed 53   --
    All Fall 2010 New Shows: 57   All Fall 2009 New Shows: 57    

* Through September 24; several series have yet to premiere
Each dot above represents the critic reviews for one new show: positive=positive reviews, mixed=mixed, negative=negative, tbd=not reviewed yet (show yet to premiere)

Sundance films that make it to theaters tend to be good

ImageBuried no more

Many films that screen at the annual Sundance Film Festival never make it to general release in American theaters. This year's festival had over 50 films competing for awards and even more screening outside of competition. And, if one of them turns up at your local theater, you may want to check it out: almost all of the 2010 Sundance films released so far this year have received positive-to-great reviews from critics, as you can see in the table below.

This weekend alone sees the release of three more Sundance films: the claustrophobic thriller Buried 63, the Allen Ginsberg biopic Howl 61, and Davis Guggenheim's education documentary Waiting for Superman 85.

Metascores of Major Films at 2010 Sundance Film Festival
  Movie Metascore  
Films in competition:
1 Winter's Bone Grand Jury Prize Winner 90 bar
2 The Tillman Story 86 bar
3 Restrepo Grand Jury Prize Winner (Documentary) 85 bar
4 Waiting for Superman Audience Award Winner (Documentary) 85 bar
5 Animal Kingdom World Prize Winner 83 bar
6 Joan Rivers- A Piece of Work 79 bar
7 Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child 74 bar
8 The Oath 72 bar
9 Peepli Live 69 bar
10 Casino Jack and the United States of Money 68 bar
11 Smash His Camera 68 bar
12 Howl 61 bar
13 The Holy Rollers 51 bar
14 The Dry Land 47 bar
Films premiering at Sundance:
1 The Kids Are All Right 86 bar
2 Please Give 78 bar
3 Get Low 77 bar
4 Cyrus 74 bar
5 Jack Goes Boating 66 bar
6 The Runaways 65 bar
7 The Extra Man 56 bar
8 The Killer Inside Me 53 bar
9 The Romantics 43 bar
10 Twelve 24 bar
Other buzz films:
1 Exit Through the Gift Shop 85 bar
2 Catfish 66 bar
3 Splice 66 bar
4 Buried 63 bar
5 Frozen 43 bar

... and speaking of film festivals

The indie-oriented Sundance, of course, is just the first of many film festivals throughout the year. September brings several major festivals known for featuring Oscar hopefuls. So, which potential nominees got the biggest bump from this year's fall festival circuit? Here are a few:

127 Hours
One of the best-received films at both Telluride and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Danny Boyle's tense, intimate drama about the true-life story of trapped hiker Aron Ralston (James Franco) is a major contender for a Best Picture nomination and should also earn Franco his first acting nomination.

While Alejandro González Iñárritu's drama may not get a nomination itself, Javier Bardem's performance in the film is so strong that the film's Toronto screening merely confirmed what audiences at Cannes already knew: Bardem will almost certainly be an Oscar nominee this year.

Black Swan
Darren Aronofsky's dark psychological thriller set in the world of New York City ballet was one of the most acclaimed films debuting at this year's TIFF and also played very well at the Venice festival. Even if it proves too bleak (or strange) to earn a Best Picture nod, star Natalie Portman is a virtual lock to receive an acting nomination.

Clint Eastwood's drama about the afterlife emerged as a legit Oscar contender at TIFF. The film also closes the New York Film Festival on October 10th; good buzz there as well may indicate that the Matt Damon-starring film is a legit Oscar frontrunner.

ImageKing of the festivals

The King's Speech
Take a period political drama, mix in previous (and likely future) Oscar nominee Colin Firth, add a coveted People's Choice Award at Toronto, and the result is a major Best Picture contender. Directed by Tom Hooper, the TIFF hit also stars Helena Bonham Carter and centers on a stammering King George VI and his speech therapist (played by Geoffrey Rush). Don't think a People's Choice Award at a film festival means anything? Previous winners of the same award include Precious and Slumdog Millionaire. And did we mention the standing ovation the film received at Telluride?

Rabbit Hole
Lacking distribution entering the Toronto fest, this Nicole Kidman-starring adaptation of David Lindsay-Abaire's play about a couple dealing with the death of their son proved enticing enough to Lionsgate that the studio purchased the rights and plans to release it for Oscar consideration at the end of the year. Both Kidman and co-star Aaron Eckhart are being mentioned as likely Oscar nominees.

The Social Network
David Fincher's chronicle of the early years of website Facebook may sound dry on paper, but with a script by Aaron Sorkin and Fincher's always-interesting directing, the dramedy is already the biggest story of this year's New York Film Festival (which begins today), and a growing collection of perfect reviews certainly won't hurt the film's Oscar chances.

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Comments (1)

  • Mitch Tough  

    Winter's Bone, Restrepo, Animal Kingdom & Exit Through the Gift Shop are all stellar. Frozen was decent. The Extra Man SUCKED.

    And Raising Hope is pretty damned funny..... Nice article....

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