Oscar Preview: Weekend of Apr. 2-4, 2021

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

Godzilla vs. Kong

While King Kong‘s various incarnations have had modest success at the Oscars, Godzilla films have not, which is rather surprising all things considered. So can Godzilla vs. Kong meld the two disparate Oscar results into Oscar nominations? We’ll have to see, but as the first blockbuster out of the gate at a slowly improving pandemic box office, that status might bolster its chances.

Godzilla, originally a figure to exemplify the dangers of nuclear war, became one of the most popular cinematic figures thanks to his city-destroying, larger-than-life personality. The original studio, Toho, hasn’t been much involved with the American versions of the film, having produced 32 of their own productions. American audiences have gotten four films put together from Sony and Warner Bros. Of those four, three featured Godzilla as the primary monster. This film is the first where he’s effectively sharing title billing in terms of American output. Of those three prior works, none of them scored Oscar nominations, nor did the other 32 Toho films.

On the King Kong side of the equation, there have only been 12 films, a third of what Godzilla has. Some of those were instantly forgettable, but the 1933 original, 1976 version, 2005 version, and the 2017 reboot, are the most high profile of the films. That first picture didn’t score a nomination, largely because it came out prior to the Special Effects category, which frustrated producer David O. Selznick. The 1976 film, released 11 years after Selznick’s death, picked up two competitive nominations in Cinematography and Sound, and won a special achievement award for its visual effects. Moving forward 39 years, Peter Jackson tackled the great ape, his first major project post-Lord of the Rings. The film received the most nominations of any Kong film earning four citations for Art Direction, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects, winning in the latter three categories.

This brings us to its 2017 reboot, Kong: Skull Island. While that film didn’t do nearly as well as its immediate two predecessors, it at least nabbed a Best Visual Effects Oscar nomination, which it lost. That makes three of four primary features versus zero. Kong certainly wins that match up, but will their fates secure Godzilla his first Oscar nomination? It’s too early to tell, but the massive amounts of effects in the trailer alone, and the accompanying sound design, are sure to be major Oscar players even if it doesn’t ultimately win anything.

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