Category: Oscar Preview

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Oct. 13-15, 2017

We had no film release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Oct. 6-8, 2017

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

Blade Runner 2049

In 1982, following the success of his classic 1979 sci-fi horror film Alien, director Ridley Scott became the first director to dip into the well of Philip K. Dick novels to adapt his short story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep into a feature-length film called Blade Runner. While the film didn’t receive huge support upon release, it has since been elevated into the canon of great science fiction films. It was also the recipient of two Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration and Best Visual Effects.

35 years later, current wunderkind Denis Villeneuve has brought to the screen a sequel to that Scott legend. Pulling in the original star, Harrison Ford, Villeneuve brings in Ryan Gosling as a young Blade Runner rushing to uncover a dastardly secret. With a superb MetaCritic score of 81 and an 89% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes (8.2/10 average rating) along with an audience rating of A- from CinemaScore, the film is certifiably a critical success. The only problem is, the box office didn’t respond accordingly. Pulling in a surprisingly light $31 million. That might not be too much of a hindrance as it could still have tremendous legs as word of mouth spreads. Audiences have given the film an 8.7 rating on IMDb, catapulting it into the list Top 100 best-rated films of all-time.

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Oscar Preview: Weekend of Sep. 29-Oct 1, 2017

We had no films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Sep. 22-24, 2017

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

Battle of the Sexes

The story of the legendary tennis match between loutish Bobby Riggs (here played by Steve Carell) and superstar Billie Jean King (Emma Stone), has been translated to the big screen by the directing team behind Little Miss Sunshine, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Having played the Toronto and Telluride film festivals, the film has been seen and the reviews are strong with an 86% at Rotten Tomatoes (7.1/10 average rating) and a 73 at MetaCritic.

The film now must face audiences where its subpar opening weekend threatens to keep the film from bridging the gap between critical acclaim and box office success, both factors in determining whether Oscar will take notice. For the most part, there are a few factors that could help net the film sufficient attention even in the face of disappointing box office. Apart from the critical support, Stone is coming off her Oscar win for La La Land. Nominated previously, Stone seems like the kind of actor who will continue to earn the respect of the Academy for years to come.

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Oscar Preview: Weekend of Sep. 15-17, 2017

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

mother!

Not since Stanley Kubrick has there been such an idiosyncratic director whose work mystefies at times and thrills in others. Darren Aronofsky’s ability to twist and manipulate film as a medium to tell stories has put him at the forefront of artists working today. His films tend to please his partisans and confound or frustrate those less interested in his work.

The Academy, for the most part, has been modestly supportive. With only seven films on his filmography since his celebrated debut in 1998 with Pi, Aronofsky has pleased Oscar voters enough two land three of his films Oscar nominations (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler, and Black Swan). Three of his films never came close (Pi, The Fountain, Noah). Here we are with his most divisive film yet and his record is about to either go up or down from 50-50.

My guess is that mother! is ultimately ignored. Originally, its stars Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Ed Harris were at various points in the conversation for nominations. With such animosity hurled at the film and its likely collapse at the box office, their chances have diminished. Aronofsky could still see his script nominated and the film could make a play in Film Editing, Sound Mixing, and Sound Effects, but at this juncture, it looks like he’s about to go 3 for 7 with the Oscars. Not that he likely cares.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Sep. 8-10, 2017

We had no films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Sep. 1-3, 2017

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

Tulip_Fever

One of the worst tricks The Weinstein Company uses is buying films and holding their releases. That’s especially true if the director is resistant to Harvey Weinstein’s demand for changes. I haven’t heard much about any struggles between Weinstein and Tulip Fever director Justin Chadwick, but the extremely delayed release of the film suggests that Weinstein wasn’t pleased about something.

The story is a period drama with a hyper-charged sexual energy. It stars Dane DeHaan, and Oscar winners Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, and Judi Dench. It has costumes to the hilt a period setting. It even has Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love screenwriter Tom Stoppard at the narrative helm. Yet, audiences have been indifferent to it and the Labor Day weekend release hinders its chances at the box office.

Normally, any production like this would be a shoo-in for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design nominations. The problem is that the low box office, the early September release, and the mediocre reviews will damage the film’s Oscar chances in every so slight ways. With plenty of other options this year, I’m fairly certain this film will be utterly ignored.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Aug. 25-27, 2017

We had no films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Aug. 18-20, 2017

We had no films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Aug. 11-13, 2017

We had no films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Aug. 4-6, 2017

We had no films release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jul. 28-30, 2017

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

Detroit

Before The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow was barely known as a filmmaker. She was, at the time, little more than James Cameron’s ex-wife. Now, she’s a bona fide Hollywood legend having become the first woman to ever win an Oscar for Best Director. However underwhelming her film was and undeserving her victory, the glass ceiling that broke at that moment was something to be celebrated. She followed that film up with Zero Dark Thirty, another Best Picture Oscar nominee starring Jessica Chastain. She did not, despite plenty of speculation, manage a second Oscar nomination for Best Director.

To date, no woman has secured two nods from the directors branch, but Detroit hopes to buck that trend. With a solid 85% Fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes (8/10 average rating), it would seem to be a strong critical success. The film, which centers around an incident at the Algiers Motel in 1967 during the 12th Street Riot, has all the makings of a Best Picture contender. The subject matter is highly charged and well-timed to correlate with myriad modern events. Further, it could be the first film to benefit from the diversification of the Academy’s membership.

The problem here is that the film is opening in the shadow of blockbuster Dunkirk, which is certain to bring Christopher Nolan his long-awaited first Best Director nomination and possibly even the Oscar. That’s a mighty big shadow and although the film is attempting a platform release, the release is positioning it into the August doldrums, a box office period where hit are few and failure means the film is forgotten. Even Oscar contenders have trouble making much impact with an August release. Likely, the producers are hoping to take advantage of the dearth of major box office contenders in August to give it a stronger shot at making a tidy buck. It’s certainly possible and with plenty of critical support, it could definitely still be a player, but a lot depends on the box office and what else comes down the pike that tickles the same fancies as this film would.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jul. 21-23, 2017

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

Dunkirk

From an Oscar perspective, few directors will earn Oscar nominations at nearly every outing. Of his nine previous theatrical releases, Christopher Nolan has delivered six Oscar nominees. His first experience with the Oscars was with his breakthrough film Memento. Released in 2000, the film earned critical acclaim alongside two Oscar nominations for editing and writing. The film went home empty-handed, but Nolan’s film was enshrined in the lexicon.

His third film, Insomnia, was ignored, but he returned to the Oscars with his fourth picture, Batman Begins. The next three films he directed were all Oscar nominees with The Prestige being the last film he got nominated that didn’t also take home Oscars. 2008’s The Dark Knight captured two, including a posthumous award for Heath Ledger’s supporting performance as The Joker. That was followed by Inception, which became his first Best Picture nominee along with securing four trophies. His eighth film, the final one in his Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, was an Oscar miss in spite of its technical proficiencies.

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Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jul. 14-16, 2017

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

War for the Planet of the Apes

In 2011, the first film in the series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes brought an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects. Many thought it would win, but it went home empty-handed. Three years later, the second film did the same. It picked up a Best Visual Effects nomination and then won nothing. Sadly, that is where the third film is headed.

One of the most praised elements of the series has been its use of motion capture technology to film real actors performing as these simian characters and then turning them into chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, and other apes. While the technology has no doubt improved, the Academy’s willful ignorance of it has not. The Lord of the Rings series set the medium on its current path and since then, it has blossomed enormously. Yet, the Academy hasn’t been very forthcoming with nominations.

What might have helped the second film isn’t likely to help War for the Planet of the Apes. In 2002, Spider-Man went up against the juggernaut of The Lord of the Rings, and understandably went home without a win. Two years later, without competition, the sequel won the Oscar. Similarly, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was nominated against the final film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and subsequently lost. Three years later, the sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest pulled out a win. Ostensibly both of those two winners were more effects heavy than their predecessors, but that should have helped Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was nominated against Best Picture nominee Hugo, which pulled off a surprising upset win over Apes. Then, in 2014, Dawn had the unfortunate burden of competing against Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, a less favorably received film, but it ended up losing. That puts War for the Planet of the Apes in a bit of a bind. Third films in series rarely break molds and this year, War is not only up against Christopher Nolan again (Dunkirk), but also the beloved and frequently honored Star Wars franchise. It could still pull of a shock victory because it is the series’ final entry. That might not mean a lot to the Academy and they tend to prefer Best Picture nominees over non-nominees these days, so its chances aren’t great. However, the film could be the first in the series to pick up nods outside of Best Visual Effects. The sound mix and editing jobs were quite good this time around, so it could get nominated there as well.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of July 7-9, 2017

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

Spider-Man: Homecoming

When the first Spider-Man came out in 2002, it was a box office hit, which enabled the Academy to throw it a couple of honors. Nominated for Best Sound and Best Visual Effects, that first film went home empty handed thanks to go up against the visual effects juggernaut that was The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Two years later, the critically acclaimed follow-up did its predecessor one better picking up a separate nomination for Best Sound Editing. Some voters felt the film was owed for its loss two years earlier, but many simply found the wonderful effects praise worthy and gave it the Oscar. That was the end for the Spider-Man series. Three more films followed, one capper to the original trilogy and two rebooted versions, none of which won Oscars.

While the Spider-Men once had Oscar success, those times are long past. Looking to films that fit into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there is a slight bit of hope. Through the first Avengers movie, each film that featured Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) as a main character (his three solo films and that combined feature) saw Oscar nominations. None of them won an award, but they were all nominated. That would seem like a boon for Spider-Man: Homecoming since Tony Stark/Iron Man is a prominent character in the film, even if he spends large parts of it off-screen. The problem is that even the MCU has faded in voter estimations. None of the subsequent two films that featured Downey Jr. managed Oscar nominations. That suggests that voters are tired of the series and aren’t particularly interested in recognizing it anymore. Either that or there’s just too much competition.

That will be what does Homecoming in more than anything. Apart from there being a glut of superhero films at the box office, there are tons of movies competing for the same categories this film might feature in: Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Visual Effects. The latter is the only one that really seems like it could have a chance this year. However, with films like War for the Planet of the Apes, Dunkirk, and other films that haven’t yet been seen, but will seem more “prestigious” than a superhero film, it would seem Spider-Man: Homecoming is likely to be ignored.

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