Academy Award Preview – Potential Nominees Released Pre-Fall Movie Season

BRENTWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Nate Sanders displays the collection of Oscar statuettes that his auction company will sell online to the highest bidder on February 24, 2012 in Brentwood, California. (Photo by Toby Canham/Getty Images)

While the Fall movie season is the obvious start of the Oscar race (it’s called “Oscar season” for a reason), it is still not uncommon for a title from earlier in the year to get some attention from the Academy. Here is our preview of a few films that were released up to the beginning of September that we think may just make it into the list of nominees this year.


***= Good Chance

**= Small Chance

*= Possible, but Unlikely


“Ex Machina” (April 24)

**  Original Screenplay

**  Supporting Actress

*  Visual Effects

Let’s start with my personal choice for the best movie of the first nine months of 2015, Alex Garland’s modern sci-fi about the possibilities of artificial intelligence.  The film’s best hope is screenplay.  The Academy’s Writers’ Branch has the best taste in movies, despite the Gone Girl snub last year.  Garland (28 Days Later, Sunshine) is a known commodity in Hollywood and should get the respect he deserves.  For my money, Alicia Vikander has given the best performance of the year thus far as the humanoid robot Ava.  It’s just a shame the low box office ($25.4 million domestically) and the April release date may keep it out of the running.


“Mad Max: Fury Road” (May 15)

*** Sound Editing and Mixing

** Original Score

* Cinematography

* Director

* Editing

* Visual Effects

* Picture

* Actress

2015’s most exciting movie so far this year is a sequel 30 years in the making.  The sounds of Mad Max have the best chance for recognition.  Sound Mixing and Sound Editing should be shoo-ins.  Tom Holkenborg’s (aka JunkieXL) score is that once a year composition that stands out on its own.  But remember, the best (Inception) score (Cloud Atlas) rarely (Her) wins.  The mid-May release day and moderate box office ($153.5 million domestic) against the big dogs will be a hindrance but the Rotten Tomatoes score (97%) may entice Academy members into checking this one out & boost its chances.

“Inside Out” (June 19)

*** Animated Feature

** Original Screenplay


“Shaun the Sheep” (August 5)

** Animated Feature


“Minions” (July 10)

* Animated Feature

There is one category that has a definitive winner: Inside Out will win Best Animated Feature.  No question.  Disney/Pixar owns this category, winning 9 of the 14 times it has been awarded.  The question is who the other 2 or 4 nominees will be.  If the Animation Branch watches this movie, Shaun the Sheep & its dialogue-free wonder will be one of them.  Minions is, in my opinion, the best of the three movies to feature the title characters but will have to wait & see what other contenders there are.  Box office will only help Inside Out and Minions while it might kill Shaun the Sheep’s chances.


“Furious 7” (April 3)

*** Original Song

I hate having to write this.  Not the article, just this paragraph.  I hated this movie, I hate the franchise and I LOATHE THIS SONG.  Every time it comes on the radio, I change the station quicker than you can shift gears.  However, I have to admit when something will be nominated and “See You Again” is a lock.


“Straight Outta Compton” (August 14)

* Picture

* Supporting Actor

I’m going to call it right now: Straight Outta Compton will not be nominated for any Oscars.  The subject matter will keep most of the members, most of whom are over 60, away from the screener they’ll get in December.  There is a sliver of a chance it will be nominated for the above categories if the “young” members get involved.