We had four films releasing this weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.
Before the horror genre became a cesspool of repetitive, visceral thrills lacking the substance of serious films, the genre saw frequent recognition from the Academy. The likes of Psycho, Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist all earned recognition from the Academy in a wide array of categories. Science fiction wasn't as lucky with 2001: A Space Odyssey being one of the few films to compete outside of Visual Effects and Sound Effects. With Alien, the potent combination of genres yielded two nominations and one Oscar. While it was in the expected Visual Effects category, it showed the Academy was willing to recognize the peculiar blend.
The second film was even more successful earning seven Oscar nominations including Best Actress and winning awards for Visual Effects and Sound Effects. Alongside Best Visual Effects, the franchise picked up its second mention for Art Direction. The third film didn't receive quite the reception with only a single nomination for Visual Effects. The fourth film was an afterthought, but the franchise may finally show itself back at the Oscars. The film is clearly a contender for Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Visual Effects, but could also pick up other nominations including Art Direction again and Original Score. It might even pick up a nomination for Makeup, Editing and Cinematography. The chances at Best Picture and/or Best Director have been dashed largely due to the film's lackluster performance with critics.
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
The Academy hasn't seen fit to honor the series with an Oscar nominations thus far and while I doubt that it will again, the film's chances at Best Animated Feature may be bolstered by the failure of several prior animated films among critics. Even if it doesn't show up at the Oscars, the Annie Awards are sure to give it at least a couple of token nominations.
I can't recall a period piece being embraced by the Academy without at least a little positive reinforcement by critics. The film's dire reviews will likely keep the film from competing for nominations in Art Direction and Costume Design, especially when compared to earlier 2012 releases that did better with critics and covered the same time period.
Safety Not Guaranteed
Indie films have been doing surprisingly well with the Academy of late, but never more prominently than in the writing categories. Safety Not Guaranteed has performed very well with critics which might keep it positioned for year-end awards and thus consideration by the Academy for Original Screenplay. Recognition in other categories is likely far-fetched, but if its competition at the end of the year is rather lackluster, we could see something more.