Oscar Preview: Weekend of Mar. 7-9, 2014

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

Mr. Peabody & Sherman

Never count out DreamWorks, even when their film isn’t a box office juggernaut. This weekend proved that even with mixed reviews, computer animated giants like DreamWorks aren’t immune to box office foibles. The film may not have inspired excitement among critics, but that didn’t keep The Croods from making a play at an Oscar nomination.

That being said, Disney/Pixar seems to be the only studio that can actively receive multiple nominations a year. There are some flukes among the recent slates, but there’s seldom a guarantee. With that and DreamWorks’ more high profile effort How to Train Your Dragon 2 coming out this Summer and you have a recipe for forgetfulness and Mr. Peabody & Sherman will likely be forgotten.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

There are few eclectic directors working today who command so much quick attention as Wes Anderson. Anderson’s films have been so quirky that the Academy has been slow at recognizing them. Two years ago (2012), Moonrise Kingdom came close to a Best Picture nomination, but ultimately failed to materialize. It still earned a Best Original Screenplay nomination. In 2009, Fantastic Mr. Fox snagged two nominations, including a mention in Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score. It was his best Oscar performance yet.

His prior two efforts were ignored and before that, The Royal Tenenbaums, his third feature film, secured a Best Original Screenplay nomination as well. That doesn’t make for an optimistic shot for this year’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. With so many stars and Academy voters in the cast, you would think it could do better. However, Anderson has such a small niche of go-to actors for his films that he cannot be easily compared to another heavy ensemble director Robert Altman who put many actors through his films even when showcasing a couple in more than one effort.

This film isn’t earning the level of acclaim of his prior two Oscar-nominated efforts (at least according to Rotten Tomatoes), but it’s still his third-best rated film to date, which could give him a he’s-due bit of recognition. Spike Jonze got similar attention this past year, which could bolster Anderson’s chances. A lot can happen between now and the Oscars, so critics will have to be a lot more attentive this year than before to get him into the race if so desired.

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