Winter is fully upon us, which means that the major film studios are currently putting the race for summer box office dollars on the back burner in favor of targeting prestige at the 2015 Oscars. For those who are unfamiliar with the awards process, there's more to it than simply releasing a bunch of war movies, historical dramas and biopics during the winter season. Studios also have to choose a selection of their 2014 films to promote for awards consideration by the Academy and arrange screenings of those features.
20th Century's Fox's submissions include David Fincher's missing person mystery Gone Girl, Ridley Scott's biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings and bittersweet romance The Fault in Our Stars. Disney is submitting recent animated feature Big Hero 6 and upcoming musical adaptation Into the Woods. Meanwhile, Universal is presenting a pair of biopics - Get On Up (starring Chadwick Boseman as James Brown) and Unbroken (starring Jack O'Connell as Louis Zamperini).
Every year there are a choice few blockbuster movies included among the more highbrow fare, but one choice that's bound to raise a few brows very high is Paramount Pictures' submission of Transformers: Age of Extinction for consideration by the Academy. Michael Bay's latest entry in the long-running franchise about warring robots from space grossed over $1 billion worldwide, but critics looked on it rather less favorably than audiences.
It's worth noting that Transformers: Age of Extinction isn't the only highly commercial film being put forward for awards consideration. Fox is submitting both Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and X-Men: Days of Future Past, but both of those movies received high praise in reviews. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is probably one of this year's strongest contenders for the Best Achievement in Visual Effects award, although nothing is guaranteed with Interstellar and Godzilla also in the mix.
The Academy's rather snobbish tastes in cinema are widely known enough to have generated a genre all of their own ('Oscar bait') and have been both parodied and criticized heavily over the years. When summer blockbuster type movies are nominated they generally only win in technical categories rather than in heavy hitters like Best Picture and Best Director; and if a major blockbuster does win the big awards (as The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King did when it stormed into the 2004 Oscars and won eleven awards), it's usually a film that has received high amounts of critical acclaim.
Unlike other popcorn movie submissions such as A Million Ways to Die in the West, which is only being submitted for consideration in the categories of Best Original Score and Best Original Song, Transformers: Age of Extinction is being submitted for all categories, including Best Picture. Perhaps after February next year we'll be referring to Bay's most recent directorial effort as "the Oscar-winning Transformers: Age of Extinction."
Transformers: Age of Extinction is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.