- Aidan Monaghan/20th Century Fox
With the overwhelmingly positive reviews and high ticket pre-sales for this weekend, Ridley Scott’s latest sci-fi odyssey “The Martian” looks like it will be a big hit.
But will Academy voters remember it when the Oscars come around?
The film has the pedigree of Scott (nominated three times for Best Director) at the helm and Matt Damon (an Oscar winner for screenwriting but never for acting), who plays a lone astronaut stranded on Mars.
However, space movies have divided voters recently.
On one hand, “Gravity” garnered nine Oscar nominations in 2014 including Best Picture and it won Best Director (Alfonso Cuarón). But in the same year, “Interstellar” garnered five Oscar nominations and only won for Visual Effects.
One thing “The Martian” has going for it is it won’t be in competition with another high-concept space movie during this awards season.
But at the same time, “The Martian” isn’t a technical marvel like “Gravity,” which ambitiously showcased outer space, including a 17-minute single-shot opening sequence.
Fandango‘s managing editor Erik Davis believes there’s hope for Damon’s film though.
“Hands down, ‘The Martian’ is a Best Picture contender,” Davis told Business Insider in an email. “It’s a film that has everything – a great cast, a captivating story, and a fantastic lead performance from a beloved actor in need of a fantastic lead performance.”
Along with Damon, “The Martian” also stars Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, and Michael Peña.
Yahoo! Movies‘ Kevin Polowy believes it’s the film’s mass appeal, from people who love lots of science and math in their space tales to those who just want to watch something big and cool on the screen, that gives it a “decent chance.”
“Unlike other recent sci-fi contenders like ‘Gravity’ and ‘Interstellar,’ it’s essentially a feel-good popcorn flick,” he told Business Insider. “When’s the last time we had one of those in the Best Picture race?”
If we go off the last two years, the 2014 Oscars had nine Best Picture nominees and in 2015 the Academy chose eight nominees.
Polowy points out “The Martian” still has to battle against yet-to-be-released titles like “The Revenant,” “Joy,” and “The Hateful Eight” (“Spotlight,” “Room,” and “Steve Jobs” are on many of the expert’s lists for Best Picture, too).
- 20th Century FOX
Gold Derby’s Tom O’Neil says “The Martian” has a chance, but it will have to work harder than the others contenders this year.
“It must overcome the traditional academy bias against sci-fi, a genre that’s never won Best Picture,” said O’Neil. “But academy voters may be willing to take the leap – or rocket ride – if ‘The Martian’ stays a hit with film critics and moviegoers like ‘Gravity’ did.”
“The Martian,” opening in theaters on Friday, is projecting to make in the low $40 million range this weekend, according to Deadline.
“Gravity” opened on the same weekend in 2013 and posted the month’s all-time highest opening with $55.8 million.