Oscar Preview: Weekend of Sep. 25-27, 2015

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

Hotel Transylvania 2

Three years ago, Adam Sandler moved into the animation realm with a story about a vampire who runs a hotel for wayward monsters to keep them safe from a world hell-bent on their destruction. It opened to a strong $42 million before finishing at an adequate, but hardly impressive $148 million. It wasn’t even a contender for the Oscars.

This past weekend, the sequel to that film debuted in a spectacular fashion with $47 million, taking the September record while keeping Adam Sandler from completely disappearing into the ethos where his live-action film career seemed to be heading. With that kind of performance, the quest becomes will it be an Oscar contender?

Normally, I would say no; however, the animation landscape this year is particularly weak. By this point in the year, we usually have a bounty of films that are all certain contender. At this juncture there aren’t that many. As a result, it’s entirely possible Hotel Transylvania 2 could accomplish what its predecessor could not. The chances are still long, but they must be stated.

Labyrinth of Lies

Germany has officially selected Labyrinth of Lies as its entry to this year’s Academy Awards. The film, which deals with a lawyer uncovering the hidden truth behind mass cover-ups protecting former Nazis and his attempt to shine a light on these issues while combating a nation weary of attention following World War II and simply wanting to move on with their lives.

This is a very stripped-down recitation of the film’s plot, but anything that deals with Nazi Germany and exposing such issues will play very well to Academy voters. The problem is that it doesn’t deal specifically with the immediate aftermath of the war. That might give some voters pause. This is director Giulio Ricciarelli’s fifth film, but his career hasn’t been one that most Academy members would immediately notice.

That aside as the films’ directors seldom have an influence over voters, the bigger question is whether Germany’s modern Oscar renaissance will continue. I suspect that this is a film that will pique a lot of interest and if it makes the nine-film shortlist, a strong case could be made for it getting a nomination.

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