‘Selma,’ ‘Unbroken,’ ‘Woods,’ ‘Sniper’: Oscar hopefuls line up on Christmas

In keeping with holiday tradition, Hollywood studios finally unwrapped the last of their adult-oriented prestige pictures on Christmas Day, giving the moviegoing public a chance to check in with the rest of 2014’s high-profile Oscar hopefuls.

Among the notable releases Thursday were Universal’s “Unbroken,” Paramount’s “Selma,” Disney’s “Into the Woods” and Warner Bros.’ “American Sniper.” Here’s a look at where they stand after their first day in theaters.



Box office: Director Angelina Jolie’s biopic about the Olympic runner and World War II hero Louis Zamperini grossed a strong $15.6 million in North America, making it the third-highest Christmas Day opening ever (not adjusted for inflation), behind 2009’s “Sherlock Holmes” ($24.6 million) and 2012’s “Les Miserables” ($18.1 million).

Critics: In contrast to its robust opening numbers, Jolie’s second film as a director has met with mixed reviews, notching a 51% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Many critics have said the film is dutiful and well-crafted but never quite springs to life.

Awards and nominations: “Unbroken” failed to earn any major nominations from the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Golden Globes (it did get a SAG nom for its stunt ensemble), but it rebounded somewhat last week by claiming four Critics Choice Awards from the Broadcast Film Critics Assn. (best picture, director, adapted screenplay and cinematography).


Box office: Opening in limited release, director Ava DuVernay’s civil rights drama “Selma” grossed a very respectable $322,000 in 19 theaters. The film will expand nationwide Jan. 9.

Critics: “Selma” has emerged as a critical darling, garnering nearly unanimous positive reviews (it currently has a 100% “fresh” rating). Critics have praised the film as a vivid and timely look at the fraught history of American race relations.

Awards and nominations: “Selma” came up empty when SAG Award nominations were announced, which likely had to do with Paramount not getting screeners out to guild members in time. The next day, though, “Selma” notched four Golden Globe nominations: motion picture-drama, director, actor (David Oyelowo) and song.

“Into the Woods”

Box office: Adapted from the Tony Award-winning Stephen Sondheim musical and directed by Rob Marshall, “Into the Woods” came in just behind “Unbroken,” taking in $15.1 million on Christmas Day.

Critics: With a star-studded cast including Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp and Anna Kendrick, “Woods” has met with generally positive reviews (71% “fresh”). Reviewers have commended the strong performances and bold production design but also said the film loses steam toward the end.

Awards and nominations: “Woods” scored three nominations for Golden Globes: motion picture-musical/comedy, actress in a musical/comedy (Blunt) and supporting actress (Streep). Streep also got the equivalent SAG Award nomination.

“American Sniper”

Box office: Opening in just four theaters, Clint Eastwood’s latest film as a director grossed an eye-popping $240,000 on Thursday. “Sniper” will expand nationwide Jan. 16.

Critics: Starring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, the most lethal sharpshooter in American military history, “Sniper” has received mostly favorable reviews (72% “fresh”). It boasts a compelling central performance from Cooper and sure-handed, no-nonsense direction from Eastwood, according to many critics.

Awards and nominations: “Sniper” was snubbed by the Golden Globes and SAG Awards. It is up for two Critics Choice Awards: best action movie and best actor in an action movie.

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