Oscar Preview: Weekend of Aug. 10-12, 2012

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

The Bourne Legacy

The history of the Jason Bourne franchise with the Academy is a mixed bag, much like its superspy counterpart James Bond. The original entry in 2002 received two nominations from the Motion Picture Sound Editors, a guild that has often been seen as a precursor for the Sound Editing prize at the Oscars. It also received an Art Directors guild nomination for contemporary art direction, but the Academy doesn’t really take notice of that category. Two years later, the second film The Bourne Supremacy again received nominations from the MPSE and even managed to new nominations. One from the USC Scripter Awards is sometimes mirrored in the Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards, and the other was from the Cinema Audio Society which is the corresponding Oscar precursor for the Sound Mixing category.

When the third film came out, it was a hugely popular hit and finally managed to break through the Oscar barricade and not only pick up nominations for Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, but it took home all three Oscars. The corresponding guilds again took note, with only the CAS not joining the MPSE and the American Cinema Editors in doling out prizes to the series. A lot of that success is attributed to director Paul Greengrass who took over directing the series in its second installment and improved his act for the third. This fourth film, apart form replacing lead actor Matt Damon with Jeremy Renner, replaced Greengrass with the franchise’s three-time writer Tony Gilroy who himself has two Oscar nominations.

Whether this fourth film can turn Academy heads again remains to be seen, but the Editing, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing categories remain the only ones likely to be in play and, what is more likely, only Sound Mixing or Sound Editing resulting in any Oscar recognition. However, the critics aren’t as enamored with this latest installment, which might also mean Academy voters are less impressed and likewise unlikely to support it.

Hope Springs

A soft debut might spell doom for Meryl Streep’s 2012 Academy Award entry. The film saw Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones starring as an aging couple whose marital life has begun to crumble in tedium. They go to a controversial therapist in hopes of reviving the spark in their marriage even though Jones’ character is doing it only to please Streep’s. The film seems rather innocuous and will appeal to a very narrow demographic, but those older Oscar voters may still be impressed enough with the film to give it a shot. While the film’s weak monetary debut may spell doom for Jones getting a nomination, Streep could read the phone book and be given a nomination, so her chances remain alive.

The film needs to do solid repeat business and become a sleeper hit to be taken very seriously, but even if the talk of a Streep nomination grows, my hunch is that other actors will be given a chance to shine this year.

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