Category: Oscar Preview

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jul. 13-15, 2018

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jul. 6-8, 2018

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

Ant-Man & The Wasp

The Marvel Universe has become more or less unpredictable in terms of Oscars. What used to be a given that a film starring Robert Downey Jr. would earn an Oscar nomination, it appears only films without him do. That may help Ant-Man & The Wasp, but that’s not likely the only reason to consider the film’s Oscar chances.

Although the first film didn’t score an Oscar nomination, it was likely due to the rather traditional Honey, I Shrunk the Kids-type effects. This new film not only uses those effects well, it throws in a few inventive new uses that make for some thrilling action sequences and most importantly the best de-aging visuals ever seen on film with Michael Douglas, Laurence Fishburne, and Michelle Pfeiffer all getting believable reductions in age.

Throw in the creative effects of the Ghost character and you have a recipe for the Visual Effects Branch to take notice of the film. It will have a lot of competition, even from within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the creativity paired with the awe factor may ultimately help the film earn a nomination.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jun. 30-Jul. 1, 2018

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jun. 22-24, 2018

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

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

In 1993, Steven Spielberg adapted Michael Crichton’s cautionary tale about the hazards of scientific advancement and cloning into a blockbuster adventure where humans came face to face with long vanished dinosaurs. The film was filled with awe and wonder, Spielberg’s stock in trade. It made archaeology cool again, even if it was distant from Spielberg’s other archaeology-based adventures with Indiana Jones, and dinosaurs surged in popularity and interest among young audiences.

So realistic were the creatures Spielberg and legendary effects pioneers Dennis Muren, Stan Winston, Phil Tippett, and Michael Lantieri created that it took home three Oscar nominations, winning each of them for Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects. The film, which would become one of the highest grossing films of all time, second only to Spielberg’s own E.T. at the time and currently ranking 17th on the all-time inflation-adjusted list, spawned two more sequels before the whole series was moth-ballsed for fourteen years and resurrected again three years ago with Jurassic World. The 1997 sequel, The Lost World managed a single Oscar nomination for Visual effects with Randal M. Dutra replacing Tippett on the nomination list. A further four years later, the third film couldn’t manage a single Oscar nomination.

What’s most surprising is that 2015’s Jurassic World followed a similar playbook to Jurassic Park borrowing heavily on music cues and almost duplicated senses of wonder and awe, limited not to the discovery of dinosaurs but to the idea that an entire theme park was built around them. The film sits 7 ranks below the original on the all-time inflation adjusted list, having made over $650 million at the box office. Yet the film’s popularity didn’t translate over to the Oscars where it was ignored for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing, the categories in which the original thrived.

With so little support for two of the three Jurassic Park sequels from the Academy, it’s little wonder that the buzz surrounding the second film isn’t as high for Oscar consideration. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has already under-performed the opening weekend by roughly $50 million and is destined to finish far below the original. Combine that with the abysmal response from critics and it’s unlikely the film makes any play for Oscar this year, especially with so much competition. Still, there’s always the possibility that the new effects impress the Visual Effects Branch and they toss it a nom, but I suspect an appearance on their shortlist will be as far as the film ultimately goes.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jun. 15-17, 2018

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

Incredibles 2

Fourteen years ago, The Incredibles entered Oscar history with four nominations. Winning awards for Animated Feature and Sound Editing, the film also picked up nominations for Original Screenplay and Sound Mixing. While that’s two shy of all-time animation record-holder Beauty and the Beast, it’s no less an impressive performance for an animated film.

Best Animated Feature has been around as an Oscar category since 2001. In that 16-year history, Shrek 2 (2004), Toy Story 3 (2010), Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011), Puss in Boots (2011), Despicable Me 2 (2013), and How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) are the only sequels, prequels, or spin-offs every nominated. That’s six films out of sixty-nine nominees in the category’s history. Even highly popular sequels like Finding Dory, Shrek the Third, Minions, and Monsters University couldn’t make the cut. What’s even more noticeable is that of the sequels nominated, only one of them, Toy Story 2 was a Pixar film. Those statistics hurt Incredibles 2‘s chances of a repeat showing at the Oscars.

That said, with an all-time high opening weekend for an animated film, an A+ CinemaScore, and solid reviews, Incredibles 2 has more in common with Toy Story 3 than it does with Cars 2, Monsters University, or Finding Dory. It’s certainly possible that Incredibles 2 makes it into the Animated Feature race, especially with a somewhat lackluster year so far for animated films; however, the other categories the original was nominated in will be more challenging. Although Original Score would not be unwarranted, the score might be considered derivative. It’s what kept The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers out of the Oscar race. Of course, the third film in that series pulled in the nomination and won, so it’s no unheard of.

For Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, the problem lies with so much more competition now than there was 14 years ago. It could still make a go of it, but it’s been eight years since the last animated film was nominated in Sound Editing (Toy Story 3 in 2010); and it was even longer, 10 years, since an animated film was even nominated for Sound Mixing (WALL-E in 2008), which was only the second such nomination after Incredibles. Those statistics are hard to overcome, though it’s possible that Pixar starts up a new streak; however, if the incredibly inventive Inside Out couldn’t even manage a nomination in either category, Incredibles 2 faces an even stiffer climb.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jun. 8-10, 2018

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


There was a time when films like Psycho, The Exorcist, and Rosemary’s Baby were treated with respect, not just by critics, but by Hollywood and the Oscars. As the 1970s wore on and the 1980s brought forth an onslaught of slasher pictures, the genre began to lose that carefully cultivated respect. While the original Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street were respected by critics, Hollywood and the Oscars had long turned its back on the genre.

It wasn’t until 1990 that horror made a return, even if it was only for a two-year span when Kathy Bates won the Oscar for Best Actress followed the next year by The Silence of the Lambs claiming the big five (Picture, Directing, Actor, Actress, and Adapted Screenplay). While the latter was more of a psychological thriller than a traditional horror film, it was the last one genuinely seen as an Oscar competitor until last year’s Get Out broke the mold and brought the genre screaming back into respectability at the Oscars. It was the culmination of several years of well respected horror films making waves with critics and finally breaking through to the Oscars. Will that continue with Hereditary? There’s a possibility, but not likely a big one.

Toni Collette is receiving some of the best notices of her career in the film and may end up the film’s lone Oscar contender, sure to pick up a smattering of critics’ nods and perhaps an award or two. Of course, we’re only half way through the year and there are plenty of potential Best Actress contenders coming down the pike, so it could be early wishful thinking. However, if the buzz can continue through the end of the year and the buzz build further, we could be looking at Collette’s second Oscar nomination, both of which will be for horror films (her first nomination was almost twenty years ago for The Sixth Sense.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jun. 1-3, 2018

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of May 25-27, 2018

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

Solo: A Star Wars Story

The Star Wars franchise has always been in the race for Oscars. Even when the second set of trilogies came out, they got Oscar attention. The question is how long before the Academy starts suffering from Star Wars fatigue. Solo: A Star Wars Story might be the testing ground of such limits.

Apart from its unimpressive performance at the box office and semi-mediocre reviews from critics, Star Wars: A Star Wars Story has only one film to act as a litmus test of its potential Oscar glory. It is only the second film to stand outside the main trilogies, so let’s look back at Rogue One and see how it performed two years ago. Admittedly better reviewed and with a higher box office tally, the film pulled off two Oscar nominations. One for Sound Mixing and one for Visual Effects. The latter category is the only category that has consistently recognized this franchise, so Best Visual Effects should be its best shot.

What about Sound Mixing and its companion Sound Editing. Typically, the two categories go together; however, as Rogue One proved, that’s not always the case. I suspect the same situation may occur here with Solo picking up one of the two with the mixing category the most likely. The only other categories that might have a chance are Original Score and Production Design. The latter is tougher for this universe as it often seems that we’ve seen the locales before, but a lot of the design in this film is decidedly unique, which might help it in that respects.

For Original Score, the problem is that its not composed by John Williams. Williams is the only director who has picked up nominations for five of the eight trilogy films so far, with the prequel trilogy being the only set he didn’t get a nomination for. That said, if Michael Giacchino couldn’t pull off a nod for Rogue One, John Powell isn’t likely to pick up a mention for this film either.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of May 18-20, 2018

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

Deadpool 2

Ok. Get it out of your system now. The laughing. Deadpool 2 an Oscar nominee? You probably think that’s the most ludicrous thing ever, huh? Think about this: Fifty Shades of Grey is an Oscar nominee. Ted is an Oscar nominee. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut is an Oscar nominee. What do all three films have in common? Best Original Song.

For years now, films that were never really considered Oscar fodder have found a way into the Oscars through the Original Song category. Apart from the fact that the music branch has always been a bit odd compared to the rest of the more traditional categories, they love power ballads at times and also like great comedic songs. For Deadpool 2, the former is the reason the film is in contention for the Oscars this year even if the film itself would have to chase the Makeup & Hairstyling category to otherwise have a shot at consideration.

The original song “Ashes” is the reason the film is a potential Oscar nominee. Sung by the queen of Oscar ballads, Céline Dion, the film has the right kind of hook to be an Oscar contender and paired with the James Bond-like opening title sequence, it seems absolutely perfect as a contender. The song not only ties into the whole affair with great precision, it’s a pretty solid song, one that the Academy used to recognize with regularity even if they haven’t been as friendly to that type of song in recent years.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of May 11-13, 2018

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of May 4-6, 2018

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


After a short string of disappointments, director Jason Reitman returns to the limelight with his exploration of motherhood in Tully, starring Charlize Theron as an overworked mother who is given a new lease on life when a clear-headed nanny arrives to alleviate her burdens.

At 88% Fresh from Rotten Tomatoes (7.8/10 rating) and 76 at MetaCritic, it’s obvious that Reitman has returned to form. When the son of legendary comedy director Ivan Reitman brought his first feature to the screen, Thank You for Smoking, his vicious takedown of the tobacco industry showed great promise. He followed that up with the Oscar-nominated Juno, which he then topped with Oscar-nominated Up in the Air. While Young Adult was well received, that fourth feature didn’t go anywhere in terms of Oscar consideration. Then came the mediocre Labor Day and finally the reviled Men, Women & Children.

Out of six films, he had two major successes and two minor ones. Young Adult didn’t come too close to an Oscar nomination, though star Theron was at the back of the pack that year and writer Diablo Cody in her second outing with Reitman was nominated for the Writers Guild of America. Thank You for Smoking was also in the hunt for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination, having managed a nomination from the Writers Guild of America that year.

On the Oscar front, Juno received four Oscar nominations including one for Reitman as director, one for Best Picture, one for Best Actress (Ellen Page), and the fourth was also the film’s sole win for Cody in her first teaming with Reitman. Up in the Air pulled in six more nominations with Reitman again up for Directing and Picture along with a co-nomination for Adapted Screenplay along with three acting nominations for George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, and Anna Kendrick. The film went home empty-handed.

So, could the third team-up with Cody result in Oscar nominations. The reviews aren’t as superlative as to think it can last through the end of the year, but Cody could be on the shortlist for an Oscar nomination for writing and Theron, depending on her competition, could be in the hunt for Best Actress. Of course, if the film manages to stick around until the end of the year and the later releases aren’t up to snuff, it could re-emerge. However, this is another sign that Reitman is back even if Oscar doesn’t bite.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Apr. 27-29, 2018

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

Avengers: Infinity War

For a time, Tony Stark’s appearance in a film was a guarantee of the film’s Oscar chances. For only films starring Robert Downey Jr. ever made it to the Oscars. Then, when Captain America: The Winter Soldier finally broke the trend, it became a fact that nearly every film in which Downey Jr. didn’t star became an Oscar nominee. So what does that mean for Avengers: Infinity War? Maybe not much.

One of the reasons films like Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy and likely this year’s Black Panther finally made it to the Golden Race is that in the case of the latter two, they created unique and original properties filled with art and costumes that had not been actively seen before. In the former’s case, it was a much more traditional political action narrative that may have given it a boost rather than a semi-fantastical one as much of which the rest of the universe is comprised.

Bringing us back to Avengers: Infinity War, what gives it a bit of an edge this year is the sheer volume of visual effects. There are some stunning landscapes and situations created by visual effects in the film. Yet, there are also some terrible and flat effects in places (think Mark Ruffalo and the Hulkbuster). It’s possible the film earns a nomination, but it’s also possible the film gets lost in the shuffle because there are a lot of films this year with massive amounts of effects and many of them will be in contention. Flaws of any kind will likely hinder its chances.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Apr. 20-22, 2018

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Feb. 13-15, 2018

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Apr. 6-8, 2018

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

A Quiet Place

Could horror films find renewed success at the Oscars? It’s been four decades since the likes of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist defined an Oscar era. However, with Get Out picking up a Best Picture nomination along with several other nominations and a win for Original Screenplay, A Quiet Place could ride a wave of critical acclaim to next year’s Oscars.

Director and star John Krasinski co-wrote the screenplay for A Quiet Place with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, the men behind the original story. The film, about an alien invasion where the slightest sound could mean the difference between life and death, has been acclaimed by critics, earning a 97% Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes (an 8.3 average) and an 82 from MetaCritic. That’s just two behind Get Out at both Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic, which is an impressive number. Its 8.3 rating at IMDb from users is even better than Get Out‘s 7.7, though 270,000 more people have rated Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning debut.

Krasinski has recent a ton of acclaim for not only his directorial work, but also his performance as has his real life and in-film wife Emily Blunt. The film could follow Get Out‘s trajectory to the Oscars next year, though I suspect it will have a tougher time. Most other acclaimed horror films of recent years haven’t managed to achieve what Get Out did and the Academy is notoriously shy about rewarding horror; however, that doesn’t mean it would be entirely shut out. If nothing else, the Original Score, Sound Mixing, and Sound Editing are sure to be conversation topics for the rest of the year with the latter two being likely nominees at next year’s Oscars.

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