Category: Oscar Preview

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Nov. 8-10, 2019

We had one film release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Midway

It’s clear from Roland Emmerich’s post-2012 resume that he’s extremely interested in making an Oscar-caliber film. Stephen Spielberg did it. James Cameron did it. Ridley Scott did it. Why not him? Films like Anonymous, Stonewall, and now Midway are 50% of his output lately and are the kinds of films that Oscar voters tend to prefer. The problem is that he’s so interested in the bombastic that he may well be incapable of making an Oscar-winning film.

Like Michael Bay, Emmerich’s ability to put butts in the seats is strong, but his ability to take nuance and subtlety and turn it into something mesmerizing and approachable is limited. Even in Spielberg’s and Cameron’s and Scott’s portfolios, their early attempts at making emotion-friendly films was well known. Emmerich has yet to touch the level of acclaim those three had with their blockbusters, which is a sign he may never compete. He won’t be the next Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro, or Ang Lee either. Again, these folks all made intimate films early in their careers that people responded to in ways that Emmerich never can.

That doesn’t mean Emmerich cannot garner Oscar attention. He has an eye for detail and technical craft. Three of his films have earned Oscar nominations. Independence Day was cited for two, Sound and Visual Effects, winning the latter. The Patriot was his closest to mainstream Oscar candidacy and it picked up nominations for Cinematography, Original Score, and Sound. It won none of them. Even one of his attempts at art house cinema, Anonymous, managed a nomination for Costume Design. It also didn’t win an Oscar. That means it’s entirely possible that his grandiose war film could earn nominations for Sound Mixing (he’s done it twice already), Sound Editing, and Visual Effects (he’s even won for this). Yet, its chances in above-the-line categories were dashed by the film’s miserable reviews from critics and its dismal box office performance, though its #1 finish over the expected box office winner Doctor Sleep gives it a bit of press attention at a crucial juncture in its Oscar campaigning.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Nov. 1-3, 2019

We had three films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Harriet

Of the historical figures active during the Civil War, Harriet Tubman has gotten the least amount of attention on the big screen. Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet intended to rectify that situation.

The first sign of trouble was the opinions of critics out of the Toronto International Film Festival. While the film has been described as unexceptional barring the tremendous performance of Cynthia Erivo, it stumbled into the cineplex wounded. The film has climbed to a 72% Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes, which is respectable and the film brought in $12 million in its opening weekend, which is excellent for a film for its style. The A+ CinemaScore might bolster the film’s chances for a long, profitable life at the box office.

With all of that in mind, the film seems to be running distant to a lot of contenders, but Erivo remains in the conversation. While the Best Picture and Best Directing races are likely out of reach, Best Actress is a strong possibility as are Production Design and Costume Design categories.

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Oscar Preview: Weekend of Oct. 25-27, 2019

We had no films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Oct. 18-20, 2019

We had three films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Five years ago, Disney embarked on a journey that took the legend of Sleeping Beauty and turned it on its ear to the tune of $241 million. That and Disney’s penchant for throwing money at their movies for solid designs enabled the film to score a Best Costume Design Oscar nomination.

Fast forward to Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, the second sequel to a live-action re-imagining Disney has put out yet (the first was Alice Through the Looking Glass). Like Alice, the first film was well received but the sequel was not. The original Alice in Wonderland picked up three Oscar nominations and two Oscars for Production Design and Costume Design. The sequel didn’t earn a single nomination after a disappointing box office.

Like Alice Through the Looking Glass, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil has opened significantly below its predecessor and is headed toward a mediocre final tally. Further, the film wasn’t well liked by critics and all of those factors pretty much ensure that the sequel will once again go nomination-less at the Oscars.

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Oscar Preview: Weekend of Oct. 11-13, 2019

We had one film release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Parasite

The most acclaimed director in Korean history, Joon-ho Bong, has made enough unusual films to earn the praises of critics, but to be utterly ignored by the Academy. Films like The Host, Mother, Snowpiercer, and Okja just aren’t the kinds of movies Oscar voters tend to like, their genres being particularly unappealing to them. That may have changed with Parasite, South Korea’s entry to the Academy Awards and Bong’s best opportunity yet to finally break through to the Oscars.

The film, with a mystery at its center that no one seems willing to discuss openly, appears to be hist most straight forward yet. It looks to be a drama about wealthy malaise and the poor grifters who try to take advantage of it. Is it a critique of wealth or something more sinister. At one time, the film had a rare 100% Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes. One cranky contrarian later (not unsurprisingly Armond White), the film still sits at 99% and with a stellar 95 rating at MetaCritic (which earns it a ranking at 58 on the all-time best reviewed list), the film is a surefire contender with critics groups.

That alone could help propel the film to a Best International Film award at the Oscars. It might also enable the film to pull in rare nominations for Best Picture, Directing, Original Screenplay, and Film Editing. A lot will depend on how well the film does with critics ahead of the Oscar derby this year, but suffice it to say, its chances are the best Bong has ever had.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Sep. 4-6, 2019

We had three films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Joker

Winning awards at the Venice Film Festival, this Warner Bros. comic book adaptation was well regarded out of the festival circuit. Yet, as more critics saw the film, its prestige dropped. That didn’t stop the from from setting an October opening box office record, which boosts the film’s visibility, even if not its Oscar chances.

The Academy has been notoriously stingy in awarding superhero films. Even ones as dark and contemplative as Joker have struggled for more than minor attention from the Academy. While the Academy hasn’t been well known for recognizing such films in the big categories (Black Panther was the first to get a Best Picture nomination while Logan was the first to receive a screenwriting citation), the film has managed to score one major Oscar: Best Supporting Actor posthumously for Heath Ledger and his portrayal of the Joker character in The Dark Knight.

That seems to be the place most critics give Joker a leg-up on the competition: Best Actor where Joaquin Phoenix should ride a groundswell of support to a nomination, but a win may be out of the question. Whether the film can enter either the Best Picture, Directing, or Adapted Screenplay races remains to be seen, but I wouldn’t put any money on any of those three right now.

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Oscar Preview: Weekend of Sep. 27-29, 2019

We had two films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Abominable

Beyond DisneyPixar and Laika, there are only a couple of studios that have managed to successfully leverage their brand to Oscar nominations. DreamWorks employs probably the second large number of animators working today and their efforts are often recognized with box office success and Oscar nominations.

Abominable will be trying this year to earn a seat at the Oscar table and it’s off to a solid start. While the $20 million opening isn’t a blockbuster, it doesn’t face much competition until Frozen II releases for Thanksgiving. The Addams Family will be the only major film releasing in that window and that movie won’t likely be too much competition when it releases in two weeks.

Throw in the faint praise the film has received from critics and you have a film that will worm its way into the competition, and in a field of five, could very easily be nominated.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Sep. 20-22, 2019

We had two films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Ad Astra

In recent years, sci-fi has played a significant role at the Academy Awards. Films like Arrival, The Martian, Gravity, Her, Inception, District 9, and Avatar managed Best Picture nominations in the expanded Best Picture slate, giving Oscar chances to major directors working in a more Academy-friendly medium than perhaps they were used to.

For Denis Villeneuve (Arrival), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), and Christopher Nolan (Inception), their science fiction efforts gave them their first Best Picture citations. while Ridley Scott (The Martian), Spike Jonze (Her), and James Cameron (Avatar) each made major returns to Academy favor with theirs. Only Neill Blomkamp (District 9) didn’t have a career prior to his sci-fi success.

Director James Gray would fall into the former category of a well respected director finally making it to the big time, but Ad Astra wasn’t nearly the success that these other films were. With the exception of Her, all of these sci-fi spectacles made over $100 million at the box office, with all but Arrival and District 9 topping $200 million. For Ad Astra, the former possibility remains a pipe dream while the latter is all but impossible with its meager $19 million opening.

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Oscar Preview: Weekend of Sep. 13-15, 2019

We had one film release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Hustlers

On paper, a film like Hustlers typically looks for box office glory, not awards attention. Yet, the film manages to merge the two potentials into one with a stellar festival run that has positioned as a solid player for Oscar’s attention.

The film, starring Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez, was well regarded when it released in Toronto on September 9. It currently sits at 88% Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes and 80 on MetaCritic meaning it has broad support from critics. It then went on to a $33 million opening at the box office, assuring it as a box office player as well.

There aren’t a lot of films like Hustlers out there to compare and the closest in recent memory was Widows, which didn’t have the box office success to drive it to awards consideration. That said, there are a lot of films still unseen that could play very well with Academy voters and a crime drama surrounding strippers might not seem like something they would forego more prominent contenders for.

That said, some buzz is building around Jennifer Lopez, who many thought deserved a nomination for Selena, but history is not kind to singers-turned-actors, especially not ones who can count on one hand the number of lauded performances they have given.

Ultimately, I think the film will underperform with critics, which will result in it being ignored come Oscar time, but a strong performance from critics groups in December might bolster its chances.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Sep. 6-8, 2019

We had no films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jul. 30-Aug. 1, 2019

We had no films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Aug. 23-25, 2019

We had no films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Aug. 16-18, 2019

We had no films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Aug. 9-11, 2019

We had no films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Aug. 2-4, 2019

We had no films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.