Thursday, September 29, 2022

Comic-Con And The Oscars, Is There Any Crossover?

By Josh Tarpley

As thousands of fans descend upon San Diego for the annual pilgrimage known as Comic-Con, movie studios look to hype up their upcoming slate with the hopes that Comic-Con buzz translates into real world dollars. This weekend all eyes look to Disney, Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox to see what the next blockbuster will be. Though comic-book culture has taken over pop culture, can comic-book movies breakthrough at the Oscars? Whether it be “Logan” or “Wonder Woman,” this question seems to come up every year, let’s take a look at their chances.

Click beyond the jump to read more about the occasions where comic-book movies broke through at the Academy Awards.

Let’s rewind back to the 2008 Oscar race. Whether it be the untimely death of Heath Ledger or the idea of a superhero movie being more than escapism, “The Dark Knight” was had started its run as a cultural phenomenon. Not only being one of the first movies to make a billion dollars, but the Batman sequel showed up pretty strongly throughout the precursor awards.The film was recognized by the National Board of Review, WGA, PGA and Christopher Nolan received his second DGA nomination.

To the shock of fans (and some Oscar pundits) everywhere, Nolan did not receive a Best Director nomination nor did “The Dark Knight” break into five Best Picture nominees that year. Though online outrage was different back then than it is today (Twitter has taken a much more prominent role in film discussion), people went nuts. Unlike “Deadpool” or “The Avengers” not getting nominated, this was not simply a fanboy’s desire thwarted, this was an actual awards player (to reiterate, WGA, PGA, DGA) denied top nominations due to the stigma of being a “comic-book movie.”

We know the outrage addressed a real concern in that the Academy expanded its Best Picture nominees movie forward. Though 2009/2010 was under a different nominating system than the preferential ballot we have seen since 2011, the increase in nominees has lead to some respectable blockbuster fare getting in. It has been great to see genre films like “District 9,” ““Inception” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” loosening up our definitions of what is an “Oscar movie.” Even still, the Comic-Con audience is still looking for that movie that not only gets the hype in Hall H, but has its name read on nomination morning.

For some background, here is a list of Oscar nominations superhero movies (as opposed to “comic-book movies” or “blockbusters” as a whole) have received.

*Denotes a win

Best Original Score
Superman (1978)

Best Film Editing
The Dark Knight (2008)
Superman (1978)

Best Production Design
The Dark Knight (2008)
Batman (1989)*

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Suicide Squad (2016)*
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Batman Returns (1992)

Best Cinematography
The Dark Knight (2008)
Batman Begins (2005)
Batman Forever (1995)

Best Sound Editing
The Dark Knight (2008)*
Iron Man (2008)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Batman Forever (1995)

Best Sound Mixing
The Dark Knight (2008)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Spider-Man (2002)
Batman Forever (1995)
Superman (1978)

Best Visual Effects
Doctor Strange (2016)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Iron Man 3 (2013)
The Avengers (2012)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Iron Man (2008)
Superman Returns (2006)
Spider-Man 2 (2004)*
Spider-Man (2002)
Batman Returns (1992)
Superman (1978)

The only nominee to add to this list would be Heath Ledger’s historic performance as the Joker in “The Dark Knight,” winning Best Supporting Actor that year. As you can see, superhero movies have the capability of getting nominated throughout the techs. It is not outside the realm of possibility to see “Logan,” “Wonder Woman,” “Justice League,” “Thor: Ragnarok,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” or “Spider-Man: Homecoming” receiving nominations throughout the categories of Visual Effects, Sound Editing/Mixing or Makeup. Above the line nominations though? That’s another story.

Barring the idea of “Justice League” or “Thor: Ragnarok” rising above their peers to become transcendent art, the real superhero contenders this year are “Logan” and “Wonder Woman.” There has been some respectable discussion online as to whether “Wonder Woman” breaks into the awards race. Remember, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was in AFI’s Top 10 and the Critics Choice went out of their way to retroactively nominate it, it’s not crazy to see a blockbuster like “Wonder Woman” discussed this way.

The only way I see “Wonder Woman” breaking into the race if it is the sole beneficiary of the new Academy voters. After the surprise of “Moonlight” winning Best Picture and after a record-breaking 774 members were invited this year, there is a real chance that the “Oscar Movie” of old is not the same today. This is the same train of thought that has people predicting “Get Out.” In order for “Wonder Woman” to get nominated, all the newer, younger, more diverse Academy members will need to pull their resources behind the Patty Jenkins film; there won’t be any room to split votes between “Get Out” or “The Shape of Water” or “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

As far as “Logan” is concerned, some nominations in Makeup and Visual Effects are doable this year. Setting aside the steeper goals of Best Picture or Best Actor for Hugh Jackman (Both of which would be deserved), the biggest nomination fans have put their energy behind is a Supporting Actor nod for Patrick Stewart. The idea is simple, yet powerful. First, Stewart’s performance in “Logan” is incredible and would be Oscar-worthy if it happened in a Fall Festival drama. Secondly, and more importantly, Stewart has never been nominated for an Academy award (!) and there is a great narrative to reward his body of work via him playing Professor Xavier for 17 years.

The biggest issue for “Logan” is that the buzz has all but died. With movies like “War for the Planet of the Apes” and “Dunkirk” replacing it in the “high-brow blockbuster” conversation. You’ll remember that “Mad Max: Fury Road” hit theaters in May of 2015, though there were talks of awards throughout the Summer, it was the precursor awards in November/December that brought it back into prominence. Warner Bros saw the momentum and put some marketing behind it. I don’t think a Picture or Lead Actor nominations are possible for “Logan.” But if the critics’ awards start going for Stewart, there is a chance the “career narrative” picks up some steam.

What do you guys think? Will “Wonder Woman” or “Logan” see any Oscar love this year? Are there other blockbusters that will break into the awards race? Will we ever see a superhero film nominated for Best Picture? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

You can follow Josh and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @JoshTarpley7

Josh Parham
Josh Parhamhttps://nextbestpicture.com
I love movies so much I evidently hate them. Wants to run a production company.

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