Oscar Preview: Weekend of Oct. 9-11, 2015

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

Pan

There was a time when Joe Wright could be counted on for Oscar nominations. In 2007, his debut feature, Pride & Prejudice, brought Keira Knightley an Oscar nomination for Best Actress and the film received three other nominations for score, sets and costumes. Two years later, his second feature, Atonement, not only nabbed seven Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture, it took home the award for Best Original Score.

His third feature should have been the one that gave us pause to believe he could keep earning nominations. The Soloist was supposed to be a populist film starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. The problem is it didn’t catch on with the public and the critics didn’t care much for it. Turn that around in 2011 and while critics generally liked Hanna, it was such a strange film that the Academy shied away from it.

In 2012, Wright was back in form with Anna Karenina, which earned mixed-to-positive reviews, but it landed four Oscar nominations, this time bringing an Oscar home for Best Costume Design. Now, we’re faced with a different problem. Pan lived up to its title and was lambasted by critics. It bombed at the box office. All of this in spite of some impressive visuals. Could it still be nominated for Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup & Hairstyling or any other awards? Yes, it’s still possible. Even bad movies get these nominations; However, the chances of it getting them were diminished heavily when it crashed at the box office. An expensive film like this can’t crash and burn even if it’s beautifully constructed.

Steve Jobs

Once upon a time, there was a man who had created wonders that impressed his critics and instilled wonder in his clients. Yet universal acclaim was denied him. After a series of missteps, he had faded into obscurity, but then came roaring back not long afterwards with genuine appreciation and a raft of awards for his creations. That man was Danny Boyle.

There’s a lot that director Boyle has in common with his subject, Steve Jobs, at least on a professional front. Boyle earned praise for his early films, Trainspotting and Shallow Grave, but took a hefty slide with films like A Life Less Ordinary and The Beach. When he made 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, he suddenly re-emerged as a celebrated director had carried out a near-sweep at the Oscars. Since then, he’s made two films, one an Oscar nominee, 127 Hours, and the other ignored, Trance.

This year, Boyle has a chance to impress again. While I doubt his film will generate the kind of devout attention Slumdog did, with a screenplay by Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin and starring surefire Oscar contenders Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels and possibly even Seth Rogen, Boyle should rack up a handful of Oscar nominations. If Fassbender is nominated for this and not Macbeth, he’s likely to win. Hell, it’s possible he wins for either film, but we’ll see which one earns him the nomination.

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