Category: Oscar Preview

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jun. 21-23, 2019

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

Toy Story 4

There is no question of if Toy Story 4 gets an Oscar nomination, but whether it can break into Best Picture or not and which other categories it might be seen in.

When the first Toy Story was released in 1995, there was no category for Animmated Feature. As such, it didn’t have a guaranteed nomination. However, it still managed to pull off three nominations in Original Screenplay, Original Song, and Original Musical or Comedy Score. Four years later, the first sequel was released. The category still didn’t exist, but this time, it only managed a single nomination for Original Song. To this point in the series’ history, it had won only a special honorary Oscar for the first film and nothing since.

Fast forward 11 years to the third film in the series. By this point, the Best Animated Feature category existed and had already seen nine winners. To no one’s surprise, Toy Story 3 handily won Best Animated Feature and also picked up the award for Original Song. What was notable about this film, however, was not that the series had finally won competitive Oscars, but that it became the third and most recent film to earn a Best Picture nomination (after Beauty and the Beast in 1991 when there were only five nominees and no Best Animated Feature category and Up the year before Toy Story 3). While it wasn’t necessarily a huge achievement, for this series it was huge. It was also nominated for Adapted Screenplay and Sound Editing.

We are now nine years removed from that auspicious third chapter and with strong reviews from critics and a huge opening weekend, the film is sure to be a Best Animated Feature nominee. What has changed since then, however, is that even the most acclaimed Pixar films haven’t managed to crack the Best Picture race. With even the animation branch at the Academy leery of sequels in general with Toy Story 3 one of a small number even nominated, and the only one to date to have won Best Animated Feature, the climb will be difficult. If any film can, it would be this one. While Best Animated Feature itself isn’t even a lock for a win and the Original Song, Original Score, and Adapted Screenplay categories are also in play along with Sound Editing, the film will certainly pick up at least one nomination, but winning might not be in the cards.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jun. 14-16, 2019

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

I had originally thought that Men in Black: International would be a contender for Visual Effects or the sound awards, it’s disastrous box office and drubbing from critics has disabused me of that thought.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Jun. 7-9, 2019

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

The Secret Life of Pets 2

When looking at potential Best Animated Feature nominees, one must look at a number of elements before determining if the film is capable of inclusion. Is it a sequel? If so, was the series a prior nominee in the category or would this be its first? What studio produced the film? And most importantly, how do the critics respond?

Let’s start with the easiest question. Is it a sequel? Yes. That’s a mark against the film. Sequels have, on the whole, been roundly ignored by the Academy. Even Pixar and Disney’s sequels have struggled in this category. The next question is whether the prior film was a nominee. The original The Secret Life of Pets was not. That’s another strike against the film. Of the seven total sequels that have been nominated, only two didn’t have a predecessor nominated. One of those, Toy Story 3, is a special exception since both of the prior films came out prior to the category’s existence and almost assuredly would have won had they been nominated as evinced by the fact that the original was awarded an honorary Oscar. The other, Despicable Me 2 didn’t have the prior film nominated, though the reasons there might have more to do with some thinking the original should have been rather than any perception that the second film was of better quality.

(more…)

Oscar Preview: Weekend of May 31-Jun. 2, 2019

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

Rocketman

Last year, a film called Bohemian Rhapsody about the rise and fall of Queen and lead singer Freddie Mercury, became a surprise Oscar hit after opening to a stellar $51 million and finishing with $216 million. The film picked up five Oscar nominations including citations for Best Picture, Actor (Rami Malek), Editing, Sound Mixing, and Sound Editing. It won four those (all except Best Picture).

Drawing a number of comparisons to that film, Rocketman managed to earn far better reviews than the Bryan Singer-directed Bohemian. After Singer left that project, Dexter Fletcher came in to finish that film. Fletcher is the director of Rocketman suggesting that Bohemian‘s success may be more thanks to Fletcher’s contributions than anything. Further, the film is being better celebrated for its flamboyant style and not toning down Elton John’s homosexuality, unlike Bohemian Rhapsody, which sanitized Freddie Mercury’s.

The main hindrance to Rocketman following Bohemian‘s trajectory to the Oscars is that Rocketman opened at the end of May while Bohemian debuted in November, much closer to the Oscars. Additionally, while the critics were far more enamored with Rocketman, Bohemian‘s box office success doesn’t seem to be playing out the same in favor of Rocketman, which opened to around $25 million, half of Bohemian‘s tally.

We have several months to wait and see if Rocketman manages to do as well as Bohemian Rhapsody did with the Oscars, scoring nominations for Best Picture, Actor (Taron Egerton), Editing, Sound Mixing, and Sound Editing; does better by also picking up nods in Supporting Actor (Jamie Bell), Production Design, and Costume Design; or does worse, losing out on any or all of the nominations Bohemian scored. Either way, it will be interesting to see if better reviewed and more flamboyant can win out over weakly reviewed and sanitized.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of May 24-26, 2019

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

Aladdin

With the spate of live action reimaginings that Disney has put out slowly running dry, the last few of these will be competing at the Oscars for a handful of slots. As with the prior outings in this series of films, the film stands a solid chance of earning nominations in the creative categories but nowhere else.

Based on the 1992 animated hit, Aladdin takes Prince Ali, the Genie, Princess Jasmine, and Jafar and gives them a modern production design and more demure clothing styles and hopes to earn high praise when it comes to production values. Although 2019’s first of three live action adaptations, Dumbo, probably has a stronger claim to those nominations, the more colorful designs of this film would pique the interests of designers a little more easily.

The original film was, of course, limited to the music and sound categories where it earned five nominations including two for Original Song, Original Score, Sound, and Sound Effects Editing. It won for one of the songs and Original Score. This time around, it could compete in two of those categories, now Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, but its likeliest chances will be in Production Design and Costume Design and even those will be quite iffy.

(more…)

Oscar Preview: Weekend of May 17-19, 2019

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of May 10-12, 2019

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of May 3-5, 2019

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Apr. 26-28, 2019

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

Avengers: Endgame

Before Captain America: The Winter Soldier, only films featuring Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) ever picked up Oscar nominations. Since then, only one such film has: Avengers: Infinity War. What this says about the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that while the films have all been technically proficient, appreciation among Oscar voters has always been mercurial.

Entering this year’s Oscar race, the franchise has pulled off only three Oscar wins, all of them for Black Panther (Original Score, Production Design & Costume Design; the film is, incidentally, the only one in the franchise to score a Best Picture nomination). Some had thought that the snap of Infinity War would ultimately result in an Oscar win for the series, but it ultimately lost to First Man, an outcome that was far from certain.

Yet, this is the end of the line for an unprecedented eleven-year adventure. Does that mean that the series might finally get some love? Avengers: Endgame is filled with visual effects along with sound design, and music that are all exemplary. If the film manages more than a single nomination for Visual Effects (such as Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Original Score), it could well go home with the VFX prize. It’s far from certain. What might guarantee its victory is a Best Picture nomination. That said, it would be an incredibly large shock to see it earn that important a citation, especially considering the Academy’s reticence to recognize superhero films in general.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Apr. 19-21, 2019

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Apr. 12-14, 2019

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

Missing Link

There is only one studio to date that has managed to secure a Best Animated Feature nomination every time they’ve made a movie. Not Pixar. Not Disney. Not Aardman. Laika is the undisputed king of the Animated Feature category, at least from a nomination perspective. Not a single one of their films have ever won.

Missing Link is the latest feature to bear the Laika name. The studio, known only for its stop-motion animation work, started out doing contract work, including Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, which was the first film they worked on to get an Oscar nomination for Animated Feature. That 2005 film had an 84% Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes and an 83 from MetaCritic. From there, they created their first self-produced feature in 2009. Coraline earned a 90% Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes with an 80 from MetaCritic. It earned an Oscar nomination. Their first follow-up was 2012’s ParaNorman, which also earned an Oscar nomination with an 88% Fresh and 72 MetaCritic.

The continued producing Oscar nominee after Oscar nominee with The Boxtrolls in 2014 (76% Fresh, 61 MetaCritic). Their biggest success to date came two years later in 2016. Kubo and the Two Strings scored a near-perfect 97% Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes and a superb 84 from MetaCritic, their highest score to date from both. It also became their first film to score an Oscar nomination outside of Best Animated Feature, securing a nod for Best Visual Effects, the first fully animated film ever to accomplish the feat.

Although their fifth original film, Missing Link has taken a step back with its 89% Fresh and 68 MetaCritic scores, those numbers are still quite impressive and may be further proof that the film has a strong claim to a Best Animated Feature nomination.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Apr. 5-7, 2019

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

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Mar. 29-31, 2019

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

Dumbo

The latest film in Disney’s attempts to update their animated properties into live-action, Dumbo takes us back to the world of an elephant with huge ears who can fly. The original delight audiences for generations since its 1941. Will returning to this ell benefit Disney in terms of Oscars?

The 1941 version was nominated for two Academy Awards, Best Scoring of a Musical Picture and Best Original Song for “Baby Mine,” which features prominently in the trailers for the new film. It won the Oscar for scoring. There are two reasons why this remake has a chance for Oscar nominations. The first reason is Disney. Dumbo is the seventh overall film to directly adapt an animated classic into a live-action feature. The first such film was all the way back in 1996 when 101 Dalmatians hit the cineplex to modest success. However, it was Tim Burton who kicked off the current string of reimagined hits with 2010’s Alice in Wonderland. His first film scored three Oscar nominations for Disney and took home two. Maleficent picked up one; Cinderella gained one; The Jungle Book earned one and won one; and Beauty and the Beast took two nominations. That means that every single 2010 and later outing so far has earned at least a single Oscar nomination.

The other factor going in Dumbo‘s favor is Burton himself. This is his nineteenth theatrical release. His first was Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure in 1985. Since then, twelve of them have earned Oscar nominations. That’s an impressive feat. This gives Dumbo a chance of earning Oscar nominations, specifically in the Production Design and Costume Design categories. That his films’ last Oscar nomination was for Animated Feature Frankenweenie and his last live-action Oscar nomination was Disney’s Alice in Wonderland nine years ago is a sign that the bloom may be off the rose. This is his fifth film since Alice and his fourth live-action film since then.

The other factor hindering his chances is the response of critics. With a 52 from Metacritic and a 50% from Rotten Tomatoes, it’s clear that the response has been muted. The A- CinemaScore will help it with audiences, but ultimate, the critical response is what prognosticators should be most worried about. With this effort, the number of Burton’s films that have gotten rotten responses from critics were, with one exception, Oscar no-shows. Alice in Wonderland is that one exception. Will his fifth, Dumbo, be the other? Big Eyes and Miss Peregrine were positively reviewed, but were ignored by Oscar, so that suggests that even when he’s well liked, he cannot guarantee Oscar attention.

Ultimately, I think it’s probable that he could earn nominations at the Oscars. It’s also equally probable that he’d be ignored. If the film were a rousing success, then he would be almost assured consideration.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Mar. 22-24, 2019

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

Us

A scant two years ago, Jordan Peele entered the Oscar lexicon with his instant horror classic Get Out. He sticks to the horror genre with his second feature as a director, Us.

Starring Lupita Nyong’o, the film follows a family who are beset by a group of dopplegangers and must fight for their lives to survive. Little is known about the plot, but the critics are over the moon about it and it just had one of the biggest debuts of the year and one of horror’s all-time best openings. While the film’s 94% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes is slightly below Get Out‘s 98% (at MetaCritic, it’s a similar drop from 84 for Get Out to 81 for Us), the new numbers are outstanding.

The big question is now whether Us can replicate the Oscar success of Get Out. Get Out managed only four nominations in 2017, but they included all top categories: Best Picture, Directing, Actor (Daniel Kaluuya), and Original Screenplay taking the Oscar for the latter. If the film can hold on until the end of the year, it could follow a similar push towards Oscar recognition.

Horror has seldom been recognized by the Academy, so getting nominations two films in a row will be a stellar achievement, but an incredibly difficult one. Some have compared Peele to Alfred Hitchcock. Hitchcock was a regular Oscar nominee, but never took home a prize. Peele, on the other hand, already has an Oscar for his screenplay and, unlike Hitchcock, writes his own films, which could give him an upper hand in future runs at the Oscars. Then again, now that he’s been honored, the Academy may think it’s enough and ignore him from here on out. How the critics respond to the film at the end of the year might tell us how Oscar will react.

Oscar Preview: Weekend of Mar. 15-17, 2019

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