Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Oscar Watch: Passengers (2016)

 Gravity, Interstellar, and The Martian have recently showed that the Academy has become willing to embrace sci-fi on a grand spectacle that it set in space. Even if Interstellar didn't get in Best Picture like the other two films did, it still landed 5 tech noms with a win for Best Visual Effects. Coming in December is another sci-fi film with Passengers starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt.

 For all we know, the film could just be a case of populist science fiction that is a fun crowdpleaser for the holidays. But if it also gets good reviews, it doesn't mean it can't be both populist sci-fi and an awards contender. The Martian manages to achieve both. However, if voters are in a science fiction mood and want to go with something more intellectual and cerebral, they might lean towards Arrival which has a plot just as mysterious and despite having a budget of $50 million, feels smaller in terms of its scope.

  I wonder how it might do at the box office, though. Coming out around the same time is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story which as we all know has a built-in fanbase while this one is an original idea and has a budget over $100 million. So this one can be seen as a big risk. But Jennifer Lawrence has proven herself bankable when she's not playing Katniss or Mystique. So she'll likely bring plenty of people in. But even though he's already pretty bankable, I think this'll also be a test to prove how bankable Chris Pratt is outside of Marvel and Jurassic World. 

  If it has the box office and the reviews to go all the way, it'll at least be a tech player. Best Actress may become too packed for Jennifer Lawrence to make a dent in the race despite her becoming a perennial favorite since we have other sights unseen like Annette Bening, Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain, and Emily Blunt. I'd still keep an eye on her but I wouldn't be surprised if she wasn't in the conversation this year. Best Actor is looking weaker so maybe Chris Pratt could achieve a "Will Smith/Harrison Ford-type" nomination where they're like "You're a charismatic movie star yet you also have prestige" and like how Ford and Smith were when they were nominated, he's currently in his prime.

  As for how the film looks in general, I am actually very excited about it. I was a little unsure how I would feel before I saw the trailer because not a whole lot of details about the film's plot were given beforehand. I still don't know a whole lot about the story but that is still something I appreciate about it. They look to be selling it with its action sequences which isn't surprising because audiences do love films with a greater spectacle and that are action packed.

   What do you guys think? Do you think it looks like a legitimate Oscar contender and do you think it looks like a great film in general? Please be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!