Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jul. 11-13, 2014

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

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Three years ago, one film was gobbling up precursor awards on a trajectory towards what was perceived early in the season to be a fairly certain Best Visual Effects Oscar. The revolutionary visual effects were hailed almost unanimously and that’s the type of pedigree going into the sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes up nearly a decade after the events of Rise. Human civilization has almost been wiped out by the plague released at the end of the prior film, a plague the apes were able to overcome due to their advanced immune systems. As humanity teeters on the brink of annihilation, they make a bold stand against the dominant apes, yet not all of humanity is ready to settle in to a war that could be avoidable.

A nomination seems like a foregone conclusion this year, fond memories of this film’s predecessor persist. With its post-apocalyptic future setting, it could arrive in a handful of other categories as well, such as Production Design and Costume Design. In addition, its war themes and situations may give it a position in the Sound Mixing and Sound Editing categories. It could also make a play for nominations in Editing and Cinematography. In the end, it could be nominated only in the Best Visual Effects category. Like its predecessor, it might even be the key player that everyone thinks will win only to lose to a Best Picture-nominated fantasy film like it did to Hugo in 2011.

Boyhood

For years now, Richard Linklater has been chasing the little golden guy. With an array of critically acclaimed films at his back, including the legendary indie Before trilogy his latest film might finally push him into the winner’s circle, but a lot of factors will get in the way.

Linklater’s experimental filmmaking techniques have earned him many fans over the years, but few in the Academy. Whether it’s the multi-year spanning features like Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight or the new animation techniques of Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, Linklater is a legend among critics. He’s earned countless awards, but from the Academy he’s nabbed nods twice, both for the screenplays he wrote for the last two Before films. Boyhood borrows a page from the Before trilogy and takes it a step further. Shooting his film every year for the last ten years, watching a young boy grow up before the camera, Linklater has once again wowed critics and his stunt technique may finally earn him the Oscar that’s eluded him.

The film will almost certainly be nominated for Best Original Screenplay and is a strong possibility for a win; however, if critics continue to heap praise on the film, it could build enough momentum to shift into several major categories including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Editing. It would need to be exceedingly huge to win Best Picture, but at this point a nomination may be very likely.

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