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Oscar Preview: Weekend of Sep. 21-23, 2012

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

Trouble with the Curve

Remember when Clint Eastwood was in the race for Gran Turino? It was supposed to be his final performance and many thought he would cap a long and fruitful acting career with an Oscar nomination. It did not materialize. Since his last Oscar nomination for Letters from Iwo Jima in 2006, Eastwood hasn't earned a single Oscar nomination, not even for his films Changeling, Gran Torino, Invictus, Hereafter or J. Edgar. Has his star faded to such a point that the Academy no longer appreciates him? Or has he been making a series of high profile, but poorly received features?

Although Trouble with the Curve doesn't appear to be heading towards the type of box office success that put him in the race for Gran Torino, there will still be talk of a career acting accolade and with a vulnerable character like the one he plays in Trouble, it could be the perfect Oscar bait. In the end, though, I think he'll come up short again. The acting race seems to be an embarrassment of riches this year and I think he'll have trouble finding a foot hold.

How to Survive a Plague

Last year, one of the shortlist films for the Documentary Feature nomination was We Were Here, a poignant examination of the AIDS crisis in Ground Zero in San Francisco from the people who survived it. This year, we have another documentary examining the AIDS crisis, this time from a more recent perspective, examining the late-'80s attempt to bring attention to the devastating illness and secure funding for research and prevention from a reluctant and hostile congress. This documentary appears to be more significantly political than We Were Here, which could appeal to the politics-happy Documentary branch. They've shown great fortitude in recognizing gay-themed documentaries and shorts in the past, so the chance of it being shortlisted are high. The only issue is that there are a lot of political documentaries out there this year and this one will need very strong support from critics to make it to the final nomination.

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