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'Non-Stop' wins but all eyes on Oscars

To the top of the stairs the stars go.
To the top of the stairs the stars go.
Tim O'Brien

A tight race at the box office is reflecting what is happening when the subject of movies comes up these days. With "Non-Stop" and "Son of God" in a tight race, this weekend also sees another one on a bigger scale - the Oscars.

That race, too, is very tight, and it looks like many are looking for "12 Years a Slave" to take it with Alfonso Cauron to win director, making "Gravity" a best picture as well, of sorts.

But, back to the box office. It was "Non-Stop" which took over the top spot from three-time champ, "The LEGO Movie." The $30 million haul was impressive for a film out now but with Liam Neeson, he is no stranger to this time of year. Even "Passion of the Christ" was released at this time of the year and it fared darn well.

Meanwhile, "Son of God" rose to second with $26.5 million. A race that really could not be fully realized going in since the Christian audience is not easily tracked. Waiting for the actuals would be the safer bet this time around.

Weekend
1. "Non-Stop" - $30 million
2. "Son of God" - $26.5 million
3. "The LEGO Movie" - $21 million

But, the Oscars take over today and it has been raining here in Hollywood but that will not dampen what goes on inside. Sure, it may mean a wet and damp red carpet but the tarps (many more than usual) are up and will stay put.

Putting the finishing touches on the carpet doesn't really end. There are always touch-ups needed. When that camera rolls, it is showtime. It is the biggest fashion show of the years, as well as, the biggest movie event. No, make that the biggest entertainment event.

Last year's TV audience was 40.3 million in the United States and with host Ellen Degeneres, the producers are hoping to better that number. It has the ingredients with a tight race and likable stars in attendance. Plus, the performers add to the appeal on a global stage.

That does include U2 but also Idina Menzel as she sings "Let It Go" from "Frozen." Now, that film has gone over $1 billion worldwide with 61.1 percent of the take coming from overseas. The show will also include a tribute to "The Wizard of Oz" with a reunion of Judy Garland's kids.

There is also that pondering over the In Memoriam section. Who gets included and with the deaths of a few lately, it adds to the drama. Now, the Independent Spirit Awards included Roger Ebert, but will Oscar?

If "Gravity" wins, it most likely will get a science fiction tag but its director never thought of his film as being in that category. So, the drama goes on. If all goes as planned then the best director and best film will not be one and the same. A feat that doesn't happen often, but did last year.

In the rare factor also comes Jennifer Lawrence with her possible win. It is not easy going back-to-back and that alone may have people changing their ballots to Lupito Nyong'o.

One last item, here are the release dates for the best picture nominees:
"Gravity" - October 3, 2013
"Captain Phillips" - October 10, 2013
"12 Years a Slave" - October 17, 2013
"Dallas Buyers Club" - November 1, 2013
"Nebraska" - November 15, 2013
"Philomena" - November 22, 2013
"American Hustle" - December 12, 2013
"Her" - December 18, 2013
"The Wolf of Wall Street" - December 25, 2013

The Oscars are tonight on ABC.