Friday, August 12, 2016

A Round-Up of Recent Movie Trailers With Oscar Potential

Amy Adams in Arrival
With Oscar season upon us, it becomes harder and harder to keep track of all potential nominees with trailers released. I apologize for not quite keeping up with every new release over the past few weeks. As I do from time to time, I have decided to round up a few trailers for films that have potential to be awards contenders in some respects. While they range from plausible to a stretch, it's intriguing to think of which contender has already shown its face. Will Arrival, Allied, or even (but not likely) Hacksaw Ridge be the film of awards season? I don't have any answers, but I sure have plenty of opinions to make up for it.


Over the past few years, director Denis Villeneuve has become one of my favorites. Following the one-two punch of Prisoners and Enemy, he most recently released the critically acclaimed and Oscar contender Sicario. He returns this Fall with a new film about alien invasions that looks to continue his rise in critical acclaim. Considering that last year saw the sci-fi films The Martian and Mad Max: Fury Road, the prospects of a genre film making the cut isn't as taboo as it would've been even three years ago. It also stars a potentially promising turn by Amy Adams - who has long been overdue for an Oscar. The teaser has plenty of mystery and intrigue that makes me wonder what is lies ahead. I am not wild about the trailer, but it still seems like a promising outlier thanks to featuring two amazing talents worthy of more recognition.

The Sea of Trees

It does seem like the McConnaissance has come to a dawn, or at least a less successful chapter. Following this year's Free State of Jones, his latest with director Gus Van Sant (Milk) was infamously booed at Cannes. The first trailer for the film finally being released by the ambitious A24 seems to back any hesitation that one has already had for the latest Matthew McConaughey movie. It may take him a little longer to get another Oscar nomination. Of course, it's not all bad. Next week marks the release of Kubo and the Two Strings, which looks incredible. Maybe there is some redemption in this story, after all.


Speaking of A24... they have way more lined up for 2016. While the studio prides themselves on doing some out of the box film selections, the results have paid off nicely. Last year saw them dominate minor categories with Oscar wins for several of their films. Add on the conflicting "Oscars So White" conversation, the idea of a film based around surviving in urban culture isn't that far fetched of a nominee. If The Oscars choose to think out of the box, this could be up their alley. If nothing else, the trailer looks pretty good and may provide the indie cred that every Oscar year cannot go without.

Hacksaw Ridge

Honest question: can we ever forgive Mel Gibson for his problematic behavior? There's no denying that he's had a rough career following his mental breakdown that sent him from the savant behind Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ to a sexist bigot. While most of his filmography in recent years seems to be reserved for B-Movie status, his first directorial effort since Apocalypto seems geared to capture the Oscar crowd the way that Braveheart did 20 years ago. The only question is if his masochistic style of film making will be as welcome in today's modern age. If nothing else, Andrew Garfield is an underrated talent who should've had an Oscar nomination by now (for The Social Network) - and he definitely has a Sergeant York thing going on. Between this and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, it is looking to be a promising year for war films.

Mr. Church

It does seem strange to even think that on the trajectory that Eddie Murphy has gone that he has an Oscar nomination at all. Of course, he was great in Dreamgirls, and his decreased output since has only made his chances seem less likely. In the case of Mr. Church, he's working with director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy) on a film that may end up being a surprise acting nomination for Murphy. If nothing else, it looks... good. That is more than can be said for most of his post-millennium work. The only question now is if it will fall on the side of saccharine, or will show a side of the actor that will make that second Oscar nod more deserving. Based on this trailer, he at least stands a decent chance of making it to the finish line.


Among this list, Allied is the most recent release - and it looks to add a romantic angle to World War II films. Brad Pitt seems to be at home in this period, as he has in recent years appeared in Inglourious Basterds and Fury. In this film, he is teaming up with director Robert Zemeckis - who has a decent track record having most recently earned Denzel Washington a Best Actor nomination for Flight. Still, coming off of The Walk may prove to be a challenge as the film wasn't well received. Still, if the director wants to try his hand at prestige dramas again, then why not? It's only a teaser, so what it gives away looks pretty interesting. One can only hope that what follows is more than worthy of everyone's talents. Having Oscar winner Marion Cotillard in the cast as well doesn't hurt.


Rounding out this list is a long shot with director Meg Ryan's Ithaca. For fans of 90's romantic comedies, the team-up of Ryan and Tom Hanks is enough to check it out. While the film seems too tame and lacking excitement to actually make the cut, one cannot be too sure. In a year that sees four Hanks movies (the others being Hologram for the King, Inferno, and Sully), it's fine to enjoy a nice break from awards season. The only question remaining is if Hanks will ever get another Oscar nomination - as he's been overdue for one since his last one almost two decades ago for Cast Away

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