Oscar Preview: Weekend of May 2-4, 2014

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

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The original trilogy did decently well with the Oscars. The first received two Oscar nominations. The third picked up three and even won the award for Best Visual Effects. Starting with the third film, Spider-Man stopped being an Oscar nominee. Neither the third film, nor the first reboot managed a single Oscar nomination.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you should count out the second film. As with the first trilogy, the second film ups the ante in terms of visual effects work and while there are a couple of cringe-worthy moments, much of the work in the film is impressive. Additionally, the soundscape used in the film is quite impressive, especially when adding a touch of feedback or reverb or interference whenever Electro is speaks or is otherwise on the screen.

That itself could net the film a Sound Editing nomination. Best Visual Effects will be a tougher sell with so many competing films this year. Ultimately, the poor reviews won’t help the film stay on Oscar’s radar. While I think it’s possible the film could surprise, franchise fatigue may just be too much.

Belle

It doesn’t have superb reviews, but Amma Asante’s period drama about an illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of a Royal Naval Admiral has strong overall appreciation from critics, which may keep it in the good graces of Academy voters by the year’s end.

The Academy may have been shifting priorities in recent years, but for every new fangled work to receive an Oscar nomination the Old Guard makes an appearance. Belle is the kind of Old Guard period costume drama that typically scored nominations in the Production Design and Costume Design categories even if the film was not considered elsewhere.

Films like The Invisible Woman, Anna Karenina, Anonymous, Jane Eyre, The Young Victoria and Bright Star all received nominations in the last five years. That aesthetic has a certain appeal to Oscar voters, especially in the Costume Design category. While only The Young Victoria of these has won, it suggests the Academy will still embrace such films even if audiences don’t support them. Belle could be remembered by year’s end, but other similarly-set films could interject and nab a nomination instead.

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