Oscar Preview: Weekend of May 17-19, 2013

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

Star Trek: Into Darkness

The first Star Trek film to win an Oscar was Into Darkness‘ predecessor Star Trek. Its win in the Best Makeup category wasn’t a complete surprise, but Il Divo and The Younger Victoria were more in line with recent past winners of the category than Trek. That film was also nominated in the technical trifecta of Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Visual Effects. The same categories are in play this year with nominations in the latter three far more likely than the Makeup and Hairstyling, largely because there isn’t nearly the accomplishment in facial makeup this time around.

What was interesting about J.J. Abrams’ prior film was that it was the first Trek film to be considered a contender for Best Picture. It featured in the National Board of Review’s ten best list as well as earning a nomination for Best Picture from the Producers Guild of America. All three of these are considered strong first steps towards a Best Picture nomination. However, the Academy’s long-standing aversion to franchises proved to be too strong for Trek as it was replaced in the Best Picture race fellow sci-fi PGA nominees Avatar and District 9, both non-franchise features and neither of which showed up on the NBR list.

That being the case, the likelihood of Star Trek: Into Darkness making the final list is nigh improbable. Add to that fact the sheer number of films competing for Best Picture this year and you’ll find there’s absolutely no room for franchise with the Academy.

Bidder 70

What could have been a strong Oscar contender is mired in less than enthusiastic reviews. Exploring the turmoil surrounding environmentalist Tim DeChristopher and his attempt to prevent George W. Bush from selling off pristine natural environments seems like a natural extension of political documentaries like Oscar winner An Inconvenient Truth. The film had potential, but if critics aren’t that excited, they aren’t going to award it prizes and a lot of the needed boost documentaries require for Oscar consideration comes from critics. It could have been a nominee, but certainly not a winner. Now, it looks like it won’t be either.

Frances Ha

Earning superb reviews, Noah Baumbach seems to be back in the groove that made The Squid and the Whale an indie hit. Critics are falling all over Baumbach’s latest film which could be a contender in two categories at this year’s Oscars if it continues to get attention throughout the year. Baumbach was nominated for Best Original Screenplay for Squid, but found his indie cred in decline after the muted reviews for his Ben Stiller starrer Greenberg. Much of the success of Frances Ha is attributed to indie sensation Greta Gerwig whose been bubbling under the Oscar surface for a few years now. Gerwig is presently a strong contender for a Best Actress nomination, but the film’s May release may be too early to be remembered come January.

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