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FALLING FOR OSCAR

For Hicksflicks.com, Oct. 11, 2013

Welcome to the fall, when leaves drop off trees, rains wash them down gutters and clog drains, the sun toys with us as to whether it will come out or linger behind clouds, and the temperature may be 85 degrees one day and 65 the next.

And it's the time of year when frivolous films give way to serious Oscar-contenders.

Well, not entirely, of course. But we're starting to see those serious films that would like to jam up Academy Award categories, secure in the knowledge that movies that open late in the year are better remembered than those that played in March.

Sandra Bullock is already a front-runner for her performance in "Gravity," Tom Hanks is being talked up for "Captain Phillips" and, well, the race is on.

Of course, there's also a prison-escape picture with Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger coming up, and a few sci-fi and fantasy thrillers still in the pipeline. But Oscar voters shouldn't have too much trouble siphoning off the serious from the silly.

You will vote with your movie dollars, of course, spending your entertainment budget on the movies that attract you for whatever reasons. And it's a lot like your vote in the political arena. It doesn't mean much.

Box-office winners are often not Academy Award winners, or at least not as financially successful as pop-culture fun. Now matter how good "Gravity" or "Captain Phillips" may be, they'll never approach the popularity of "Iron Man 3."

Not that it never happens. The last film that brought Tom Hanks an Oscar as best actor, "Forrest Gump," was a huge blockbuster. And "Titanic" won for best picture.

But the liklihood of "Captain Phillips" catching up with "Iron Man 3" isn't great. But then, neither is the liklihood of "Iron Man 3" winning the best-picture Oscar.