There wll be a Steven Spielberg double feature in theaters next December — “The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn” and “War Horse.” And based on his track record, this twin bill bodes well for the director’s prospects at the Academy Awards.
In 1993, he helmed both the blockbuster “Jurassic Park” and the critically-acclaimed “Schindler’s List” while in 2005 he had the popcorn pic “War of the Worlds” rampaging through theatres that summer before closing out the year with the tense drama “Munich.”
“Jurassic” won all three of its Oscar bids (Sound, Sound Effects Editing and Visual Effects) while “Schindler” prevailed in seven of its dozen races, including wins for Best Picture and Best Director. However, in 2005, Spielberg went home empty-handed. “Munich” was skunked on all five of its nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, while “War of the Worlds” was defeated in its three tech bids.
How will “Tintin” and “War Horse” fare in the Oscar race? The former is based on a popular and iconic series of graphic novels that are beloved around the world (except for the United States, oddly). Filmed in motion-capture 3D, it is certainly primed to rack up tech Oscar noms: Editing, Visual Effects, Sound, and so on. But what about those marquee categories? We don’t often see kidpics in the top Oscar derbies; then again, one of the few examples is one of Spielberg’s 1983 blockbuster “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.”
“War Horse” is based on a popular children’s book that details the bond between a young boy and his horse cruelly separated by the chaos of World War One. On paper, it sounds exactly like the kind of heartwarming tale that could melt the jaded reserve of Academy members across all branches.
And the Academy certainly adores Spielberg. He’s been nominated a whopping twelve times — six apiece for directing and producing, with two wins in 1993 for “Schindler” and another directing trophy five years later for “Saving Private Ryan.” And he received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1986.
And if 2011 does not work out well for Spielberg, he will be back the next year with another double act — a long-awaited Abraham Lincoln biopic starring Daniel-Day Lewis as well as the big-budget, FX-packed “Robopocalypse.”
Photo: Steven Spielberg with his first directing Oscar at the 1993 Academy Awards (AMPAS)