Is the so-called "Oscar bump" fading? Academy favorites like Slumdog Millionaire and Frost/Nixon are stalled at the box office this year; only The Reader has filled more seats since being nominated. Yes, a stream of bona fide Hollywood hits has held them back, but it's more than that, Patrick Goldstein writes in the Los Angeles Times. No one cares about the gold statuettes anymore. "The Oscars have become a hollow brass ring."
Movie lovers can't stand the "serious, adult-oriented films all being released at the same time of the year," writes Goldstein. While recession-era film fans pine for escapism, movie makers are pining for gold. They ought to remember the 1970s, when great directors "were dying to tell great stories. I'm sure they were just as eager to win an Oscar as anyone, but it wasn't the initial spark that fueled their ambition."