Oscar Preview: Weekend of Dec. 21-23, 2018

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

Aquaman

The DC Extended Universe has produced little in terms of Oscar, though it is the first of the two comic book universes to win an Oscar as it did with Suicide Squad for Best Makeup & Hairstyling. The question is was that a one-off fluke or a trend.

Starring Jason Momoa as the titular superhero, this effects-laden blockbuster could be a Best Visual Effects contender and it’s already made the shortlist, which is a positive sign for the film. That said, it’s also an origin story in want of a franchise worthy of it. While the film has been one of the better reviews DCEU films, its reviews aren’t as ecstatic as Wonder Woman‘s. That doesn’t mean a lot in the craft categories, though.

Ultimately, its chances at a nomination are slim. It didn’t finish in the finals for Best Visual Effects, so its out there. It could still get nominated in the sound categories, but that’s unlikely.

Bumblebee

For a time, the Transformers films were Oscar catnip, at least in the craft categories. Although all of the previous films were poorly reviews, they were technical achievements, which generated generous buzz and Oscar nominations. However, as the films got worse and the audiences stopped watching, the Oscars turned away from them.

Matter of fact, the decline of the franchise is what led to this particular title being released. More in line with the original cartoon of the 1980s, critics have been downright positive about the film, one of the best performances among critics for a blockbuster in some time. That alone gives the film a bit of a higher profile. Of course, when the Academy gets over a particular franchise, there’s little that can be done to resuscitate it.

What brought the Transformers house of cards down was that there was no improvement to the effects over time, they remained consistent and familiar, thus breaking no new ground. I don’t see in the trailers where this film breaks new ground either, which may hinder its chances. The two sound categories are still possible, but the film was not passed on to the finals for Best Visual Effects.

Mary Poppins Returns

54 years after the original took the box office and the Oscars by storm, Disney has finally committed to a sequel to the vaunted classic Mary Poppins. A family film like few have seen, the sequel is an attempt to recapture that energy, that sense of wonder, and that genuine cross-generational appeal of the original.

Critics have been positive, but not as positive as they need to be to turn this into a truly monumental Oscar juggernaut. The original film received thirteen Academy Award nominations, putting it into a three-way tie for second most nominations in Academy history. It also became the first film nominated for that many awards without winning Best Picture. It ultimately went home with five Oscars, which at the time was tied for the second-most Oscars won by a film that didn’t win Best Picture. It remains as one of only thirteen films in Oscar history receive more than twelve nominations, a rather impressive record to be a part of.

As to the new film, the Academy has shown reluctance to give remakes or sequels a solid chance at the Oscars. While it could compete as a Best Picture nominee, simply out of residual love for the original, the film’s best chances for nomination exist in the craft categories where Original Song, Production Design, and Costume Design seem most likely with Original Score, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects its best additional opportunities.

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