Oscar Preview: Weekend of Mar. 29-31, 2013

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

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Some may have been disappointed by the first film in the franchise, but with positive reviews and a higher box office weekend than expected, G.I. Joe: Retaliation may have just become one of the year’s strongest competitors.

The first Best Picture winner, Wings showed how strongly the Academy supports films about war. Two years later, another war film, All Quiet on the Western Front also picked up the Best Picture prize. Since then, war films have been a permanent fixture of the Academy Awards frequently taking the Best Picture prize or other high profile prizes. Most recently, The Hurt Locker landed the Best Picture Oscar for its depiction of a bomb expert in Iraq.

With all of that history behind it and the Academy’s recent willingness to embrace genre films like The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Inception and Avatar, leads me to believe G.I. Joe: Retalation might become the first film starring The Rock to earn a Best Picture nomination. Bringing in the box office magnet Dwayne Johnson has proven quite a success in recent years, which could benefit him with an Oscar nomination for Best Actor while Bruce Willis’ frequent return to the genre that propelled him to popularity with Die Hard should generate sufficient buzz to move Willis towards a Best Supporting Actor nomination. After that, the rest of the categories should fall easily and if Meryl Streep can’t sell August: Osage County, I could see a grass roots campaign to earn G.I. Joe the Best Picture Oscar.

If you hadn’t figured it out already, April Fool’s! Below are my legitimate and serious attempts at forecasting next year’s Oscars. G.I. Joe: Retaliation ain’t coming anywhere near the Oscars, not even in the tech fields.

The Place Beyond the Pines

Director Derek Cianfrance emerged from his television documentary days with the stellar opening film Blue Valentine. The film performed well with critics and earned stars Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling some of the best notices of their careers. Going into Oscar season, both Williams and Gosling were frequently mentioned as potential Oscar nominees and the support from critics seemed to bolster the film’s chances going into Oscar season. When the Oscar nominations were announced and Williams was in, but Gosling her equal in the film was left off, many prognosticators were a little bit surprised, but the challenging subject matter may have kept the more competitive Best Actor category out of reach while Best Actress remained a bit more open in terms of potential nominees.

Fast forward three years and you have another Cianfrance film starring Gosling and the talk will likely begin again. The biggest problem is that the film has been dumped into late March and has been largely ignored by the press, something that won’t bolster the film’s chances. Still, the film has received generally positive notices and it could become one of those early year juggernauts that hang on in spite of placement. Unlikely though it may be, Gosling, could still be in the race even if the film falls by the wayside. He will need ample support from critics to get there, though.

Room 237

Documentaries don’t care what month they are released in because they can still come out at the end of the season as an Oscar contender. This documentary about the late Stanley Kubrick’s legendary horror film The Shining explores the various theories about the film’s true meaning and by highlighting a film that some have unfairly considered minor Kubrick, they have brought new life to a film that’s now over 30 years old and shows no sign of losing support among critics who, of late, seem to be according the film more credit than was given it at the time of its release.

Delving into the meaning of a single film won’t win it a lot of support from the Academy’s membership as they’ve shown a particular aversion to films about Hollywood, no matter how well crafted. While the occasional movie about important persons and events have made the final nomination list, those numbers are too small to suggest this one will make it that far. If it ends up barreling through awards season later this year, it could become a Have-To-Nominate film. Otherwise, my guess is that it will be completely ignored.

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