Advertisement

Oscars 2014: August Preview

elysium image damon The month of August is traditionally a dumping ground of sorts for movie studios. The tail end of the summer movie season, which unofficially runs from May through August, the first two weeks of the month are usually reserved for the last few big studio blockbusters left in the tank, as the studios try to sap out a bit more of the youth's discretionary spending dollars before the call of schools and college campuses wrangles them back into their scholarly pens. After these initial weeks though, the rest of the month is typically a witches brew of this and that oddity that doesn't quite fit into preconceived notions of genre (or even anybodies' idea of a good movie), almost like a cinematic Dollar Store full of products nobody has any use for. Every so often though, a movie from the summer sunset period does manage to break through and leave a lasting impression on the minds of cinephiles. For instance, in 2011, in a bit of brilliant counter programming, The Help was released in August and did quite smashing. Not only did the film prove to be a financial success, remaining atop the box office in the United Sates for three consecutive weeks, but The Help also made a great impression with Academy members, receiving four Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) and winning Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer's work in the film. Two years prior to that, in perhaps an even more shocking case, little known South African director Neill Blomkamp's sci-fi allegory, District 9, became a huge hit among audiences, but also pulled off the nearly impossible for a science fiction film and earned a Best Picture nomination from the notoriously stuffy Academy. These films, however, are the exceptions that prove the rule, as the month isn't historically prime real estate for awards contenders. Outside of films that premiere at festivals such as Telluride and Venice (which usually take place at the end of the month), it is a fairly fallow month for prestige releases. Between the period of 1978 to 1993 (Midnight Express to The Fugitive), not a single film released in August received a Best Picture nomination from the Academy. Statistically speaking, the month of August contains 8.95% of all Best Picture nominees in the history of the Academy Awards. This is actually a high enough percentage to rank it as the fourth best month for Best Picture nominations, but the vast majority of these nominations came between 1928-1968, as the month's success rate has drastically fallen off since then. This year's August slate may have some potential contender's lurking in the shadows. Directors such as James Ponsoldt, Lee Daniels, and David Gordon Green all have new films that, if they manage to get enough critical steam behind them, could be surprise awards season contenders. As expected, there are also a number of typical summer action films that could pop up in technical categories here and there as well, so for better or worse, here is a breakdown of the Oscar potential for the coming month's releases.
Contributor
Contributor

A film fanatic at a very young age, starting with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies and gradually moving up to more sophisticated fare, at around the age of ten he became inexplicably obsessed with all things Oscar. With the incredibly trivial power of being able to chronologically name every Best Picture winner from memory, his lifelong goal is to see every Oscar nominated film, in every major category, in the history of the Academy Awards.