Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jun. 1-3, 2012

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

Snow White and the Huntsman

Tim Burton has mastered the art of squeezing Oscar nominations out of the Academy even when his films are poorly reviewed. Snow White seems like just the kind of film he could have achieved that goal with. It’s a gorgeously designed epic with plenty of sets and costumes that would normally have the Academy leaping to its feet in appreciation. Yet, Burton isn’t even remotely involved with this. That doesn’t mean much when you have the venerable Colleen Atwood designing your costumes. Her work has garnered plenty of Oscar attention and I don’t see this being too far afield for her.

The art direction, however, has a steeper hill to climb. Muddied by some weak visual effects in places, the art direction may be too bleak in places and too streamlined in others. It doesn’t have a glossy lived-in look that a lot of films need to earn blockbuster attention from art directors. Production designer Dominic Watkins marks his first foray into the glamorous world of costume and fantasy epics with this film and while a lot of his design work is quite pretty and sometimes awe-inspiring, there are too many other films this year that would be more likely to earn a spot on the Oscar roster than this one. The film would be lucky indeed to compete anywhere else as it barely meets expectations in a lot of the creative areas a film like it would sometimes compete.

Pink Ribbons, Inc.

Can the Academy’s documentary branch look past a potential advertiser backlash were it to nominate Pink Ribbons, Inc.? The film, about the crass commercialization of the breast cancer awareness cause may ruffle a few feathers, particularly in the powerful Susan G. Komen foundation and their bevy of advertisers. The Academy doesn’t always like to court controversy, especially in above-the-line categories, but the documentary branch is one of the few that, while not incorruptible, has a tendency to outstretch its arms towards controversial subjects such as Food, Inc. and Taxi to the Dark Side in the last few years.

Yet, something tells me that the advertising-conscious Academy, with their recent attempts to lure larger audiences, might balk at the potential boycott by advertisers. Back in the 1970’s, they would have laughed in the face of protesters. They drew the ratings. These days, anything that has a whiff of impropriety, even if noble in cause, tends to send many once-broad-minded groups dodging for shelter. Thankfully, the Academy doesn’t have much influence on the Documentary branch at times and the branch could see this well-reviewed film as a chance to show that they aren’t going to kowtow to corporate interests. We’ll see how things play out later in the year with the critics groups first on deck.

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