Category: Oscar Preview

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Sep. 23-25, 2022

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

Don’t Worry, Darling

When a film has this much press going for it, sometimes the scathing reviews don’t bother its Oscar chances. Olivia Wilde’s box office champion Don’t Worry, Darling is a 60s-set drama with a mystery at its core that is adequately hinted at in the trailer without giving anything away. The press has been insane around the film, reporting on screaming matches between Wilde and star Florence Pugh, fighting between originally-intended star Shia LaBeouf and Wilde, and a strange questionably accurate incident of stars Chris Pine and Harry Styles spitting at one another. Honestly, I tried to stay above the furor on this, so I’m not sure who spat at who, but it’s ridiculous. No press is bad press certainly applies here, but will it have the opposite effect with Oscar voters.

Probably. They don’t like controversy, especially in relation to a film that has a dismal 38% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes and 47 at MetaCritic. Critics aren’t likely to cite the film even though Pugh does receive strong remarks for her performance. That likely won’t be able to overcome the bad press and the awful reviews. The B- at CinemaScore suggests the film isn’t likely to have a lot of legs, which means all the news over the next few weeks will likely be about how it’s plummeting at the box office. In the end, the press will be bad from here on out and even if Pugh, the sets, and costumes were up for consideration, I can’t imagine any of them will be cited in the end.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Sep. 16-18, 2022

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

The Woman King

Whether or not many considered The Woman King a major Oscar contender before now, they certainly will going forward. Opening wide this weekend, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s historical epic about a powerful African state of the 18th and 19th centuries stars Viola Davis as the titular woman king. Other notable actors in the film include John Boyega and Lashana Lynch. While it made its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, the film wasn’t seen as a particularly major contender for the Oscars until its #1 debut at the box office this weekend. It also scored a rare A+ rating at Cinema Score, which suggests a film that’s rather popular with the intended audience. While I still consider it a contender since it first appeared on my inaugural list back in April, the real question is will it actually make a play?

David has a history with the Oscars, but Prince-Bythewood doesn’t. It has a stellar 94% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes and a score of 77, a notably lesser score. Still, it has enough support from critics and some audiences that it has a lot of potential to play long into Oscar season. That said, September releases often struggle with Oscar voters. They can be rather popular upon release, but the major festivals didn’t reward the film and without that support, it has to go through three months of potential faulty memory before awards season begins in earnest. Can it keep the momentum up heading into December? Possibly. Davis doesn’t have any other major Oscar campaigns to ride to a nomination, which may help keep the film on voters’ minds. It’s possible the film is a major player on the nominations side of thing, but that it goes home empty-handed.

Blonde

Although director Andrew Dominik has been well regarded as a filmmaker, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is his only Oscar success so far and it barely registered two nominations. So what can one make of Blonde, his fourth feature film? On the heels of successful biopics of major figures (Jackie Kennedy, Freddie Mercury, and Elton John for example), it’s worth discussing whether this Marilyn Monroe story has a chance. Simon Curtis’ 2011 feature My Week with Marilyn may already be forgotten among some Oscar voters. Then, they honored Michelle Williams with an Oscar nomination for playing Monroe. And she was terrific in the part. Is the tragic actor and pinup the kind of character that can enable multiple people to score Oscar nominations? This film should test that theory.

In the role of Marilyn is Ana de Armas who had a huge break-out success with Knives Out and also had a brief, kick-ass scene in the latest James Bond film (easily the best segment in the film). She’s not had the kind of career that Williams has had. She’s never been nominated, but early reviews have lavished praise on her performance. Yet, the film has mostly gotten mixed reactions. The film has a 56% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes and on MetaCritic it’s slightly better at 57. While films have gotten Oscar nominations with that low a score before, it’s not that common. That said, Bohemian Rhapsody won Best Actor and had a worse score at MetaCritic (49), but a better score at Rotten Tomatoes (60%). Then there’s the very similar Rocketman, which had a 89% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 69 at MetaCritic. Yet, that film was mostly ignored by the Academy, winning the Oscar for original song and scoring no other nominations. Clearly, the Academy isn’t setting a standard here, so it’s possible the film can hold on, but de Armas’ chances all hinge on how stacked the Best Actress race is this year and so far, it’s looking good for the category, but bad for the actor.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Sep. 9-11, 2022

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Sep. 2-4, 2022

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Aug. 26-28, 2022

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

Three Thousand Years of Longing

George Miller’s tenth full length feature film is the first since his mega-Oscar winning Mad Max: Fury Road seven years ago. Looking back over his filmmaking career will tell us a lot of what we’ll need to know about the chances of this film at this year’s Oscars. His first three films were all about Mad Max as played by Mel Gibson. None of them were major Oscar players, though Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome likely came closest of the three with an original song from Tina Turner plus those killer costumes and sets. Were the Academy of today voting then, it might have pulled in two or three nominations. His fourth film drew major stars Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer into a film about three women who who engage in witchcraft. The Witches of Eastwick netted two nominations for Original Score and Sound losing both.

His fifth film was equally successful, but in two far more noteworthy categories. Lorenzo’s Oil starred Sarandon again opposite Nick Nolte and Peter Ustinov. Sarandon was nominated in Best Actress while Miller and Nick Enright were nominated for Original Screenplay. Once again, the film went home with nothing. After the massive success of Babe, which Miller co-penned, but didn’t direct, he took aim at a sequel called Babe: Pig in the City. While the prior film scored several nominations, including one for Best Picture, Miller’s sequel only managed a single nomination for Original Song. Miller earned his only personal Oscar with his first foray into animation, Happy Feet. The film was a box office success and became one of the few non-Disney/Pixar films to capture the Animated Feature prize, its only nomination. His subsequent film was a sequel to that titled simply Happy Feet Two. It wasn’t nearly the success either at the box office or with critics and received no Oscar attention.

That leaves us with his 2015 major Oscar success Mad Max: Fury Road. Starring Tom Hardy in Gibson’s role and Charlize Theron in an original one, the film was a solid box office performer, bringing in $135 million, but it was the film’s Oscar haul that set it apart. Ten Oscar nominations in total, far and away his biggest tally to date, including Best Picture and Best Directing. It won six prizes, winning all but two of the eight craft categories in which it was nominated. That could be a clue to how well Three Thousand Years of Longing might have played had it been better liked by critics. A 71% at Rotten Tomatoes is decent, but 60 at MetaCritic isn’t good. With only a B rating from opening night audiences, the film isn’t going to be able to build buzz to the Oscars, which means its best chances are in the craft categories where Production Design, Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, Sound, and Visual Effects are all possibilities, though I suspect it might only appear in the latter three of those.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Aug. 19-21, 2022

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Aug. 12-14, 2022

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Aug. 5-7, 2022

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jul. 29-31, 2022

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jul. 22-24, 2022

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jul. 15-17, 2022

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jul. 8-10, 2022

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

Thor: Love and Thunder

At the box office, superhero films are king. When it comes to the Oscars, that’s not true. While there have been exceptions, Black Panther, The Incredibles, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Typically, the Oscars don’t give much credence to the genre and often relegate the films to the sound and visual effects categories. There are three scheduled Marvel films headed for theaters this year. Thor: Love and Thunder is the second. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness started out the year and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever rounding out the year.

It’s obvious they are saving their biggest contender for the end of the year and with Doctor Strange playing well towards the Visual Effects category, it doesn’t leave a lot of space for Thor: Love and Thunder. Being a fantasy film, it could conceivably branch out into other categories including Production Design, Costume Design, and Makeup & Hairstyling. That said, none of the prior Thor-centered films have gotten Oscar nominations, even the acclaimed Ragnarok. With this film not impressing critics as well, it will be an unlikely feat to see it get any nominations.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jul. 1-3, 2022

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jun. 24-26, 2022

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

Elvis

Baz Luhrmann has only made six films to date. His first film, Strictly Ballroom, is the only film not to earn a single Oscar nomination even though it did win three BAFTA awards out of eight nominations, which is pretty exceptional, especially since it wasn’t a Best Picture nominee with them. His subsequent four films all earned varying degrees of Oscar nominations. His second film was the reimagining of Romeo + Juliet, which only managed a single nomination for Production Design with his wife Catherine Martin one of the two nominees in the category. His follow up, Moulin Rouge!, is his biggest success to date. That film pulled in an outstanding eight nominations, including one for Best Picture. It won two for Production Design and Costume Design with his wife once again the recipient of a nomination, two in fact, for both of the categories the film won in.

His fourth film was a bit of a dud, though Australia was well liked enough to pick up 6 competitive nominations and 3 awards from the Australian Academy. With the Americans, it was a single nomination for Costume Design, once again with Martin the beneficiary. You’ll never guess who again scored nominations for his fifth film, The Great Gatsby. You guessed it, Martin. The Great Gatsby was cited twice for Production Design and Costume Design, both including Martin and both being honored by the Academy. That’s four Oscars and six nominations for Martin and one for Luhrmann himself in Best Picture for Moulin Rouge! for which he wasn’t nominated in directing.

How does that help or hurt Elvis? Firstly, it seems like Martin is sure to be nominated once or twice for the film in Production Design and Costume Design. Wins are unlikely. As for the film itself beyond those categories? The issue is of course critics who gave them film positive, but not exceptional reviews. Audiences, however, seemed to love it. The film opened to a solid $30 million, an A- from Cinema Score polling opening weekend audiences, a 7.9 from IMDb and MetaCritic readers and a impressive 94% from Rotten Tomatoes readers. That popularity could bolster it with the Academy and a number of other categories could be in play. Best Directing is unlikely. That branch is a bit stuffy. Best Picture is a weaker prospect, but not out of the question. Best Actor for Austin Butler also a possibility. Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, and Cinematography are possible as well. Production Design seems the iffiest of Martin’s chances with Costume Design seems like a lock for a nomination at this point. Sound is also a strong possibility with Makeup & Hairstyling rounding out the potential category placements.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jun. 17-19, 2022

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

Lightyear

The latest Disney/Pixar animated release came out this weekend and it was a box office weakling. Further, its IMDb rating is currently a dismal 5.3. That’s the lowest a Pixar film has ever scored. Even The Good Dinosaur and Cars 2 did better with audiences. That number may increase over time as more people see the film, but it’s clearly not the best result Disney could have asked for, especially on a tentpole film like this. The film scored a decent, though not outstanding 7.3 on Rotten Tomatoes and a 61 at MetaCritic. On Rotten Tomatoes, the audience score is a more robust 86%. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film is ranked higher than all the Cars films, but is tied with The Good Dinosaur. On MetaCritic, the audience results are anemic with only a 4.4 rating. They don’t have an easy way to search for all Pixar films, though.

Having said all that, it seems very much that this is one of Pixar’s weakest films in several years. And while it seems original in terms of its style, it’s undoubtedly a prequel, which will inhibit its chances at the Oscars. While new and inventive Pixar titles almost always get nominated at the Oscars, The Good Dinosaur being a major exception, they are not so gracious to prequels and sequels. Matter of fact, non-Pixar/Disney prequels/sequels do better with the Academy than do actual Pixar/Disney ones. That hasn’t hindered the Toy Story sequels, which have always been nominated, but it looks like this film’s weakness could end that streak. Even if it is not an Animated Feature nominee, it could have a chance in Original Score, Adapted Screenplay, and Sound as those are the few categories where animated films have secured nominations before. Since the film is doing poorly with audiences and is satisfactory only with critics, Adapted Screenplay will be out. Sound is not Sound Effects, which is the category Pixar had done well in before and Original Score remains the film’s best pick-up opportunity, but that seems unlikely at this juncture.