Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jul. 24-26, 2015

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

Pixels

Adam Sandler hasn’t ever been Oscar friendly. His films have typically been such ludicrous comedies that no one gave them a second look. This has been true for nearly every film.

This includes: his animated venture Hotel Transylvania, which should have had a decent shot at a Best Animated Feature nomination (even though it didn’t); Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love, which became the director’s second and last film not nominated for a nomination (all of his other films have been nominated); and Jason Reitman’s Men, Women & Children, Reitman’s latest Oscar failure.

Surprisingly, the only one of Sandler’s films to earn an Oscar nomination was Click, one of his worst-reviewed films, which nabbed a shock nomination for Best Makeup, an award it easily lost.

Pixels is quite a bit different form his past efforts in that it’s more heavily effects oriented. It could be a contender for Best Visual Effects, but considering how much critics have denounced the film and how many other films at the Summer box office alone have better shots at the nomination, this should be another in a long string of Oscar flops for Sandler, though he should secure his latest in a string of Razzie nominations.

Southpaw

When Jake Gyllenhaal was inexplicably ignored for career best work in Nightcrawler, it seemed like the former Oscar nominee who embraced blockbusters before committing to more specialty fare was going to be Oscar ignored like much of young male Hollywood. Southpaw marks another in a string of well regarded performances that will come close to Oscar consideration, but may come up short.

Alongside Oscar nominee Gyllenhaal, prior Oscar winner Forest Whitaker and non-nominee Rachel McAdams co-star in a film about an ex-boxer who returns to the ring after the tragic loss of his wife and in an attempt to create a stable environment for the daughter he’s lost to child protective services.

The film’s premise has a lot of Oscar promise, especially considering the tragic elements and the redemptive nature of the narrative. Written by acclaimed Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter, the film is helmed By Antoine Fuqua who, in spite of directing Denzel Washington to an Oscar for Training Day (and nabbing co-star Ethan Hawke a nomination as well), has mounted several abortive features that have entertained a narrow cross-section of audiences while failing to entice critics to give him much consideration.

Fuqua isn’t exactly Oscar poison, but the film hasn’t gotten near the level of acclaim one would expect from a potential Oscar nominee. It had been thought to be a contender in several categories, but its chances have slowly dwindled to two categories. I suspect Gyllenhaal, a competitor for Best Actor, will come up empty-handed, the Academy’s editing department loves boxing films, so it if can impress them enough, it could be a Best Film Editing nominee, though those prospects seem somewhat dim at this juncture.

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