The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey makes one of those awkward awards-season arrivals Friday, arriving in theaters just as it has become high-frame-rate clear the film doesn't have a shot.

A look at what happened, and what still could happen for the epic:

It Was "Cursed," Perhaps: That was the Daily Beast's take on The Hobbit, with the website listing Jackson's tale of production and PR woes, from on-set fires to attacks from animal-rights groups to the frame-rate controversy

It's Just Not Very Good, Perhaps: "Signs of bloat are everywhere," finds New York's David Edelstein. At last look, the film's Rotten Tomatoes score was substantially lower than not only Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies, but also his 2005 King Kong remake. 

So, It Was Doomed, All Right: Not because it was "cursed"—big movies like The Hobbit (or any James Cameron success) always seem to inspire horror stories—but because it didn't impress enough critics, who didn't vote it any significant year-end honors, and who left the film with zero momentum that translated to zero recognition from the AFI Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and Golden Globes.

At Least Jackson Was Prepared: In an interview with Entertainment Weekly posted on Dec. 4, the filmmaker predicted his movie was doomed to be shut out of the glamour races. "I wish it was a year where we could celebrate Ian McKellen as supporting actor, or Martin Freeman—or Andy Serkis, for that matter—as a supporting actor," he said. "The acting awards seem to elude us, at least for these types of films. I don't know why." (Worth noting: From start to finish, the cast of the LOTR trilogy was championed by the SAG Awards, something that makes The Hobbit's SAG Awards snub all the more glaring, and another sign that people just aren't liking the movie very much.)

But There's Still Hope…: "I think we've got great possibilities in the below-the-line categories," Jackson told EW.

And Even More Hope: "My fingers are crossed," Warner Bros. exec Jeff Goldstein said heading into the week.

And These Four Words (and One Ampersand): Extremely. Loud. &. Incredibly. Close.  Last year, this 9/11 movie was going nowhere with critics, audiences, and most awards-show voters when out of nowhere it landed two significant Oscar nominations, including one prized one for Best Picture. And if The Hobbit (and its trained campaign staff) can't pull off a miracle, Jackson's right: The movie is sure to net some nods for technical wizardry.

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