Oscar Preview: Weekend of Nov. 28-30, 2014

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

Penguins of Madagascar

Spun off from the highly popular, but Oscar averse franchise Madagascar, Penguins of Madagascar follows the adventures of the four antarctic denizens and their zany capers as super spies. With prominent placement in the founding franchise, their humorous escapades were sometimes the most entertaining aspects of the appointed films.

The franchise has been improving in quality with each successive outing, but the Academy still seems averse in honoring the films. Critics have fallen in between the decently reviewed second film and the well received third film, putting the penguins in an unenviable position. Without the absolute support of critics combined with its status as a spin-off, there’s little hope these guys have of becoming the franchise’s first nominee for Best Animated Feature.

The Imitation Game

Meanwhile, on the limited side, a surefire Oscar contender got its release this past week. Director Morten Tyldum, who gained popularity after his prior feature Headhunters earned praise from critics, took on the story of Alan Turing, the legendary mathematician and code breaker whose predecessor of the modern computer enabled the U.S. to crack the Enigma Code, a key intelligence victory that helped turn the tide in World War II.

Starring of-the-moment actor Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing, the film takes a look into the events that led up to his creation of the Enigma-cracking device while exploring the dangerous political environment surrounding Turing’s homosexuality and subsequent fight to avoid forced sterilization.

With Harvey Weinstein focusing on one film this year, it’s no wonder The Imitation Game has been figuring into most predictions for the Oscars. A top line contender in most categories, the film ha been getting strong reviews from critics and won the foreshadowing audience award at Toronto this year. In a quickly changing environment with the burgeoning acceptance of gays and lesbians in the United States, a film like this could hit just the right spot for Oscar voters. It’s a war-time drama featuring a gay protagonist who ends up a disgraced hero. It has tragic elements, celebratory elements and could be one of the key contenders to win Best Picture this year.

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