Oscar Preview: Weekend of Mar. 28-30, 2014

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

Cesar Chavez

One trailer made this seem like a defining film in the history of American Hispanic cinema. However, critics were not as enthused with the film as might have been expected. That alone may keep it out of the Oscar race.

The film, following the struggle of Civil Rights and Farmers Rights pioneer Cesar Chavez has all the earmarks of a popular biopic that hits at the heart of important social issues. It arrives in a time when the labor market is facing a barrage of assaults on their safety and security by corporations as those depicted in the film. It could have been nominated for several major awards including Michael Pena who has been sorely underappreciated by modern audiences.

Yet, as critics often determine, the film just isn’t up to snuff and its Oscar hopes seem completely dashed at this juncture. It didn’t crack the Top Ten of the box office for the weekend, though it’s $3 million opening is still impressive. So, box office won’t even bolster its chances at this juncture.

Noah

Can an incensed religious lobby keep Noah out of Oscar contention? Until Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky wasn’t much of an Oscar competitor. Requiem for a Dream earned one Oscar nomination for Ellen Burstyn and The Wrestler nabbed nods for Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei, but that was it. Neither Pi nor The Fountain came anywhere near the Oscars.

Then, when Black Swan came out in 2010, his penchant for getting actors nominated also translated into his first nominations for Best Picture and Best Director and secured his first Oscar for Natalie Portman’s performance. These two facts put the film on Oscar’s radar even though it might not otherwise have been. Controversy hasn’t always stopped films from getting nominated. The Passion of the Christ secured three nominations in tech categories while The Last Temptation of Christ still brought Martin Scorsese a Best Director nomination.

Critics aren’t exactly enraptured by the film, which is something that Scorsese’s film had done at the time. That may keep the film out of top tier contention, but even The Passion of the Christ had a terrible performance among critics and still managed tech nods. That means Noah is still a contender, but only in the creative and tech categories like Production Design, Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Visual Effects. It is unlikely to figure anywhere else even with the controversy.

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