Oscar Preview: Weekend of Oct. 11-13, 2013

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

Captain Phillips

Contrary to popular belief, Paul Greengrass isn’t an Oscar magnet. Sure, he earned a surprise Oscar nomination for Best Director in 2006 for his film United 93, which was not nominated for Best Picture; and his work on the third Bourne film The Bourne Ultimatum picked up three Oscar nominations. However, apart from those two films, he’s been an Oscar no show. The second Bourne film wasn’t nominated and his last film, 2010’s Green Zone failed to register with Oscar voters. Before that, Oscar didn’t really even know or care who he was.

Yet, his latest film began talk of Oscar consideration long before anyone had seen the film. Greengrass is lucky then that his film has earned great notices from critics and is sure to earn a nomination for Best Actor (Tom Hanks). The question then becomes: is the film good enough to earn more than that. I suspect it is and not just in Best Picture. The film, about a group of Somali pirates who overtake an unarmed freighter had initially been portrayed as little but; however, the second trailer has set the film up as a kind of comment on Western priorities versus poverty in Somalia while the film’s two primary roles, Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips and Barkhad Abdi as pirate leader Muse, look more complex than initially suspected.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Hanks nominated alongside the film for Best Picture, with nominations for screenplay, editing and sound editing. Beyond that, the waters are a bit murky. Greengrass has to compete with a number of more prominent names in the Best Director slate and without Harvey Weinstein behind him, a nomination may not be certain. However, if he can get nominated for United 93 without the film also getting a Best Picture nomination, it’s likely he can squeeze through with one even in a highly competitive year. The only questions that remain are: is Catherine Keener good enough to merit inclusion in the weak Best Supporting Actress slate and can Scott Rudin cajole voters into naming Abdi a Best Supporting Actor nominee. From the looks of the trailer, I’d be more supportive of Abdi in Supporting Actor than Hanks in Actor, but not having seen the film yet, I’m not certain either way.

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