Oscar Preview: Weekend of Nov. 20-22, 2015

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

Carol

With directors like Paul Thomas Anderson and Todd Haynes, you have to wait many years between releases, but you’re seldom disappointed as a result. Haynes’ Carol, which showed first at Cannes earlier this year and won Rooney Mara the award for Best Actress, has emerged as a major contender for awards consideration this year.

Haynes’ prior three films were each Oscar nominees. Velvet Goldmine was nominated for Best Costume Design; I’m Not There was nominated for Best Supporting Actress; and Far from Heaven was his biggest contender to date with four nominations: Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score and Best Cinematography. He should have gotten more for the latter film, but it was not meant to be.

That may be remedied this year with Carol playing strongly with critics, who are sure to recognize stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, likely as co-winners in Best Actress from some groups. The film is also a competitor for a Best Picture nomination, Best Adapted Screenplay, and in the creative categories. The big question mark will be whether Haynes himself will be nominated for Best Director. The answer depends on what competition looks like going in as that category seems overstuffed with contenders and could go any way.

Legend

Oscar winner Brian Helgeland’s latest big screen feature was thought to be a possible major contender for year-end awards until it released at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, which sealed its fate as a soon-to-be-forgotten flick.

However, could there still be a chance for Tom Hardy to secure a Best Actor nomination? Playing both of the Kray Twins in the film, Hardy was one of the few elements of the film that escaped largely unscathed. His performance was strongly received and, if it weren’t for the dire reviews the film received overall, he could have been a contender.

This is Hollywood and box office performance mixed with review consensus are more important to Oscar capabilities than anything else. While there have been plenty of mediocre films to secure Oscar nominations, especially in acting, seldom has it been for someone who isn’t already a major established star or someone with a lot of support from critics. If Hardy picks up even a couple of precursor awards, he could re-enter the conversation. After all, playing two characters convincingly in a film is a challenge. Ultimately, though, I suspect the film will remain an also-ran.

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