Given this time of year, with all the movie awards shows, I would expect to see a lot more TV, online, and print ads touting the various high-profile examples of Oscar bait. I've noticed less such marketing now than in previous years -- not a complaint -- and what I AM seeing is a lot different. For example...
1. Where is the war film? Short answer: there is none. Long answer: do you like war films told from a European perspective? Because then there's Valkyrie, The Reader, and Defiance. None are really breaking through right now. I find it interesting that the nearly 3-hour The Curious Case of Benjamin Button depicts maybe two war-oriented scenes, and both are used in the trailer. Ladies and gentlemen, here is your war film.
2. Where is the All-American film? Maybe Revolutionary Road will make some noise -- 1960s suburbia sounds pretty American -- but until then, what are our choices? Slumdog Millionaire is set abroad, with no stateside actors. Benjamin Button mostly takes place in New Orleans, but advertises more global themes. Frost/Nixon addresses the Presidency, but (as I understand it) from an antagonistic perspective. Over in Gotham, homegrown Harvey Dent is being overshadowed by a Brit as Batman and an Aussie as Joker. This leaves the red, white, and blue iconography of Milk, which seems to wave the Stars and Stripes alongside the rainbow flag. In the age of Obama, what could be more American than a tribute to another community organizer?
3. Where is The Dark Knight? Ever since its DVD release in December, the publicity has kind of halted. Part of the problem is that the face of the film (and most of its precursor awards) belongs to an actor who is no longer alive. But it's more than that. Aside from a brief glimpse of Gary Oldman in ads for the recently released The Unborn, you're not seeing much of the rest of the cast. Strange that Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Aaron Eckhart, and Maggie Gyllenhaal have nothing new to promote. Really, the only cast member getting any TV exposure these days is this guy from the Wendy's ads. (Pictured, left.)
I expect this all to change in a few weekends, after the Oscar nominations are announced, but for now it's an interesting lull.