Oscar Watch: Incredibles 2

This should come as no surprise, but reviews out today for Incredibles 2 (out Friday) are pretty encouraging. The sequel from Pixar/Disney arrives 14 years after the original, which stands as one of the vaunted studio’s high marks. The current Rotten Tomatoes score for part 2 stands at 97%.

As I would with any Pixar offering, we turn to its Oscar viability and that takes us on a trip down memory lane. The Best Animated Feature category at the Academy Awards has been around since 2001. That means the first three Pixar tales (Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2) existed in a time when the category did not. I would say all three would have been nominated had the race been around (and the Toy stories likely both would have been victorious).

Since 2001, Pixar pics have won 9 times and they are as follows:

2003: Finding Nemo

2004: The Incredibles

2007: Ratatouille

2008: Wall-E

2009: Up

2010: Toy Story 3

2012: Brave

2015: Inside Out

2017: Coco

There have been two occasions where a Pixar movie was nominated and lost. In 2001, Monsters Inc. couldn’t get over Shrek. In 2006, Happy Feet took the prize over Cars. 

Five Pixar features have failed to garner a nomination. Four were sequels. The only outlier is 2015’s The Good Dinosaur. The others:

2011: Cars 2

2013: Monsters University

2016: Finding Dory

2017: Cars 3

Which brings us back to Incredibles 2. So where does this stand? Note that this sequel is the only one to a predecessor that won before. And seeing that early reviews are overwhelmingly glowing (even though some say it doesn’t match #1), I’ll predict this Pixar sequels makes the final five come next year. The director, Brad Bird, is also responsible for two of the Pixar statues (The Incredibles and Ratatouille). There will certainly be competition (Isle of Dogs was already released and seems assured a spot) and its possibility to win is still a giant question mark. Yet these superheroes seem primed for a return engagement down the red carpet.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Advertisements

Oscar Watch – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

A quarter century after Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park thrilled audiences with its eye-popping visuals, the fifth entry in the franchise arrives domestically two weeks from Friday. However, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is out tomorrow in the United Kingdom, so critical reaction is present. The verdict? Mixed. Kingdom currently sits at 65% on Rotten Tomatoes (predecessor Jurassic World ended up with 71%).

No Oscar prognosticator looked at this as Best Picture material. This series is all about the potential for technical recognition. The 1993 original was nominated for and won three gold statues: Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects. For those around at the time, Park was an undeniable marvel with said visuals and the sounds of the dinosaurs wreaking havoc. The 1997 sequel managed one nod for Visual Effects and lost to a little something called Titanic.

2001’s Jurassic Park III, no surprise, was ignored by the Academy. On the other hand, it may surprise you to learn that 2015’s World also came up empty with voters. The pic did set box office records at the time, but couldn’t even manage Visual Effects or Sound recognition.

The answer as to why could be simple. In this particular franchise, there’s really little room for improvement when it comes to its technical capabilities. Jurassic Park set a high bar in Isla Nublar  for the CG dinos and their sounds. The Academy has moved onto other impressive tech work for other pictures.

Bottom line: If Jurassic World couldn’t manage down the line nods, don’t expect any for Kingdom.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Opening in limited fashion this weekend is one of the year’s more hotly anticipated documentaries – Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Focused on the life of Mister Rogers, whose public access children’s program spanned decades and inspired generations of youngsters, it premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival to wide acclaim. Its Rotten Tomatoes score sits at 97% currently.

The Oscar pedigree for it is evident as its director Morgan Neville won Best Documentary Feature in 2014 for 20 Feet From Stardom. Neighbor, like the recent RBG, is the rare doc that has legitimate box office breakout potential due its familiar subject matter. That said, the documentary branch of the Academy is an unpredictable lot. Last year’s Jane, for instance, covered a much appreciated figure, was looked at as a front-runner in some circles, and ended up without a nomination.

Yet don’t surprised to find this on the short list of inclusions come next year. Interestingly, the story of Rogers could find itself in the Oscar mix for two years in a row. 2019 brings You Are My Friend, a biopic starring Tom Hanks as the sweater clad host.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Mary Shelley

At the Toronto Film Festival last fall, Saudi Arabian director Haifaa al-Mansour premiered Mary Shelley with the hope of generating some solid critical buzz. The period drama casts Elle Fanning in the title role of the English author who brought Frankenstein to life in 1818. Costars include Douglas Booth, Maisie Williams, Ben Hardy, Bel Powley, and Stephen Dillane.

The picture largely landed with a thud. Scheduled for limited release in domestic theaters this Friday, Shelley is currently at just 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. Ms. Fanning is certainly an up and comer who could get her share of awards worthy roles in the future.

However, Mary Shelley isn’t it. Once it screened up north, the reaction assured its Oscar chances aren’t alive.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch – Solo: A Star Wars Story

Since Disney took over the Star Wars franchise, the three released pictures have combined for 11 Oscar nominations in the past three ceremonies. Let’s break them down, shall we?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Nominations: Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Film Editing, Visual Effects

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Nominations: Sound Mixing, Visual Effects

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

Nominations: Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects

You will note 11 nods, but no wins for the multi-billion dollar series and that all recognition has been in technical races. This Memorial Day weekend, Solo: A Star Wars Story flies into theaters. So the question must be asked: will it manage to score some Academy love as well?

Solo has the lowest Rotten Tomatoes rating (71%) of the bunch. That could serve as a hindrance for even tech nods, especially with MCU heavy hitters like Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War in the mix, among others.

Perhaps it could play in the Sound races and perhaps Visual Effects, but competition could potentially leave Solo as the solo entry in the franchise with no Oscar attention.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Deadpool 2

Last night, Deadpool 2 set the Thursday preview record for an R rated feature and the sequel could well be on its way to the best debut ever for a picture with that rating. It might be easy to forget now, but the original Deadpool in 2016 likely came close to receiving some Oscar nods. The pic did receive nominations for both the film itself and Ryan Reynolds for Best Actor in the Musical/Comedy races at the Golden Globes.

Many of the reviews for the sequel claim part two is an improvement on the first (though certainly not all). The original ended up at 83% on Rotten Tomatoes and the follow-up currently sits at 85%. So it’s worth at least asking: could Deadpool 2 garner the Academy’s attention in a way that the first barely missed out on? The short answer is… probably not. No comic book adaptation has managed a Best Picture nomination and this won’t change that. On the other hand, Black Panther just might.

Furthermore, while many superhero adaptations like Panther and Avengers: Infinity War could play in the technical races, that doesn’t really hold true here. Bottom line: Deadpool 2 is highly unlikely to change this franchise receiving no love from Oscar voters.

Oscar Watch: Everybody Knows

This year’s opening selection for the Cannes Film Festival came with understandable questions about its Oscar possibilities. The Spanish language dramatic thriller Everybody Knows, after all, is from director Asghar Farhadi and he’s made two winners in the Best Foreign Language Film category (2012’s A Separation and last year’s The Salesman). It stars two Academy recipients with real life spouses Javier Bardem (Supporting Actor in 2007 for No Country for Old Men) and Penelope Cruz (2008’s Supporting Actress in Vicky Christina Barcelona).

Yet the buzz out of France likely quashed any notions of Academy recognition. Critics say Knows isn’t in the league of Farhadi’s previous works. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is just 46% as of this writing.

Bottom line: the director is one of the few who’s created more than Foreign Language Oscar winner, but Everybody Knows is in no position to be his third.

Oscar Watch: First Reformed

Paul Schrader’s First Reformed premiered at the Venice Film Festival last fall and it opens domestically in limited fashion tomorrow. The drama casts Ethan Hawke as a pastor grieving the death of his son in Iraq who becomes politically active in various matters. Costars include Amanda Seyfried and Cedric the Entertainer (who goes by Cedric Kyles in this particular case). Reviews out of Italy were encouraging and as more critical notices have come out in recent days, the picture now stands at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Schrader has had a decades long career that includes serving as screenwriter for classics like Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Raging Bull and directing features including American Gigolo, Light Sleeper, and Affliction. Based on the buzz prior to its release tomorrow, Reformed stands as one of the filmmaker’s most acclaimed works.

Could Academy voters take notice? Distributor A24 certainly has it work cut out to keep it fresh in the minds of voters later this year. That said, praise has been effusive for Mr. Hawke and the studio could mount a strong campaign for him. If so, it would mark the actor’s second nomination after receiving a Supporting Actor nod in 2001 for Training Day.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: BlacKkKlansman

It’s been almost 30 years since the Academy suffered a bit of backlash when Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing missed the cut of Best Picture nominees. Since then, the writer/director has had critical hits and misses and none of his joints have managed to score a nod for the top prize (including 1992’s acclaimed Malcolm X).

That could finally change as his latest, BlacKkKlansman, was unleashed today at the Cannes Film Festival. It tells the true and amazing story of an African-American cop in the 1970s who infiltrated a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. John David Washington (son of Lee’s frequent star Denzel) plays the role with a supporting cast that includes Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Corey Hawkins, Paul Walter Hauser, Harry Belafonte, and Topher Grace as David Duke. Blumhouse Productions (the studio behind last year’s Get Out) distributes with its director Jordan Peele as a producer. The film opens stateside this August.

Early buzz from the French Riviera indicates this is Lee’s strongest, most mainstream, and entertaining and timely movie in some time. It seems destined to receive plenty of attention later this summer.

Could that translate to a Best Picture nomination and one for Lee’s direction? The Cannes attention raises that prospect considerably. As for performances, Washington is getting very positive writeups. The same applies to Driver (playing Washington’s partner) and Grace as the former KKK head. Either one of them could see strong campaigns mounted in Supporting Actor. If I had to guess right now, Blumhouse might focus more on Driver.

Bottom line: BlacKkKlansman was one of the festival’s most eagerly awaited pictures and its unveiling today could lead to months long Oscar chatter.

My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Wife

Glenn Close is a six-time Academy Award nominated actress who has yet to bring home the gold. Last fall, her drama The Wife premiered to solid reviews at the Toronto Film Festival (it’s at 100% currently on Rotten Tomatoes). The pic is from Swedish director Björn Runge and it stars Close as a the long cheated on spouse of a prominent writer who reaches a breaking point. Jonathan Pryce and Christian Slater costar.

While critics had positive things to say about the film itself, reviews were over the moon as to Close’s performance. Her Oscar losses include three in Supporting Actress (The World According to Garp, The Big Chill, The Natural) and the same number in Lead (Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Albert Nobbs).

The buzz last fall from up north bodes very well for her another nomination. The Wife is scheduled for U.S. distribution on August 3.

Bottom line: Glenn Close could well be on her way to a seventh trip down the red carpet, but whether she snags the prize this time remains to be seen.