Oscar Preview: Weekend of May 16-18, 2014

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

Godzilla

The classic disaster film was once a mainstay of the technicians in the Academy. Films from Earthquake to The Towering Inferno to Independence Day, the destruction of vast cityscapes frequently leads to recognition. In the last few years, that tendency has been frustrated by a slew of poorly reviewed box office bombs.

Godzilla may change that. With it’s non-stop carnage, big monsters and creative visuals, it could easily be one of the year’s big Best Visual Effects contenders. The sound mixing is fantastic as is the sound editing. The big problem for the sound effects don’t necessarily sound that fresh when you consider the similarities to Jurassic Park. Regardless, this is your traditional trifecta nominees if there are any this year.

The film could also pick up a nomination for Best Original Score thanks to Alexandre Desplat’s gorgeous composition. However, disaster films have less opportunity there. Jurassic Park didn’t even secure John Williams a nomination, though he got one that year instead for Schindler’s List.

The Immigrant

The story of a young woman immigrating to the U.S. who’s unable to get her sick sister through Ellis island pleads for leniency and is brought in by a wealthy street hustler who pushes her into prostitution. She meets and falls in love with a magician who may not be all he pretends to be.

Brought to the screen by divisive director James Gray, The Immigrant stars Oscar winner Marion Cotillard and Oscar nominees Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner. The trio add gravitas to a film that has been praised by many critics, but hasn’t caught on very well with audiences in its brief first weekend, a per screen average around $15,000. That’s an inauspicious start for what some consider a strong contender for the Oscars.

The trailer has everything a curious Oscar voter might love: period detail, a woman pulling herself up while fighting against the villainy of men around her, and a trio of performances that have been cited for excellence, especially that of star Cotillard. Mix in the Harvey Weinstein Oscar machine and you have a movie that could overcome tepid box office and reviews to make inroads at the Oscars.

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