Oscar Preview: Weekend of May 30-Jun. 1, 2014

We had one film release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Maleficent

Walt Disney company has struggled in recent years to make inroads with the Academy. Just last year, they had what seemed to be the perfect Oscar bait movie in Saving Mr. Banks. That film was thought to be a prime contender for Best Picture, Best Actress and a slew of technical nominations. It received only one. That’s how their prestige films are treated. What about their technical achievements outside the Marvel universe?

Let’s look at Oz the Great and Powerful and Alice in Wonderland, Disney’s previous two revisionist fairy tales. Alice in Wonderland locked up three nominations, including Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. Oz received zero nominations. That could give one hope or concern depending on how you look at them. Alice had the benefit of Tim Burton as director. While he isn’t a great director anymore, his movies are near-guarantees for nominations in the production design and costuming categories. If you take those guarantees away (the film won both, which is further attributed to Burton), it had one nomination that it lost.

With Oz, you had the inconsistently Oscar-friendly Sam Raimi. Raimi’s non-genre work and his first two Spider-Man films nabbed a few Oscar nominations, but not nearly as many or in as obvious of place as Burton typically does. Yet, with all the production design work and costume design work in Oz, it couldn’t get anything, not even Best Visual Effects.

Maleficent is helmed by Robert Stromberg, a three-time Oscar-nominated and twice Oscared designer. He was one of the winners for Alice in Wonderland‘s Art Direction win, he picked up his second Oscar for Avatar‘s visual effects and had a third nomination for the visual effects for Master and Commander. Obviously, he’s no failure at the Oscars. However, this is his feature directing debut and in spite of strong box office, he’ll need support from Disney to secure any Oscar nominations.

Looking at the evidence, it’s possible the film could show up in Prodcution Design, Costume Design and/or Visual Effects, but ultimately, competition this year is fierce and I don’t see Disney being able to bounce back from its disastrous Oscar run last year and scrape up a boatload of nominations for a film that critics don’t love and they have no hope of getting into the top tier races.

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