Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Superhero Movie Performances During Awards Season

By Will Mavity 

After a good deal of anticipation (and controversy), Joaquin Phoenix’s standalone “Joker” film has premiered to primarily strong reviews. And for the most part, even reviews that do not praise the film itself praise Phoenix’s performance. There is a long way to go until Oscar Nomination morning, so it remains up in the air as to whether or not Phoenix will snag an Oscar nomination. Historically, the Academy has been cold towards superhero films in above the line categories (“Black Panther” notwithstanding). As such, there is an idea that awards season as a whole is unfriendly to superhero movie performances. What is interesting though, is that even if Phoenix does not make it all the way to the Oscars, history has shown that other awards season groups (especially regional critics groups) are much more friendly to superhero movie performances than AMPAS.  

Admittedly, superhero performances typically are relegated to obligatory mentions in the “best action movie performance” category at the critics choice awards (Robert Downey Jr. has like 5 of those). And of course, organizations like the Saturn awards, which specialize in sci-fi and horror films are friendly to them. But what we care about here, in regard to Phoenix, are which performances have gone beyond those areas to nominations in major categories from groups that we in the Awards world typically consider to be part of “awards season.”

They are as follows: (*= win)

Jim Carrey as Stanley Ipkiss – The Mask
Golden Globe (Best Actor Comedy)

Willem Dafoe as The Green Goblin – Spider-Man
New York Film Critics Online (Best Supporting Actor)
Michael Fassbender as Magneto – X-Men: First Class
Los Angeles Film Critics Awards (Best Actor)*

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman – Wonder Woman
North Texas Film Critics (Best Actress)

Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor – Superman
BAFTA (Best Supporting Actor)

Jackie Earl Haley as Rorschach – Watchmen
Online Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor)

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman – The Dark Knight Rises
Los Angeles Film Critics Award (Best Supporting Actress), New York Film Critics Award (Best Supporting Actress), North Carolina Film Critics Award (Best Supporting Actress), Southeastern Film Critics Award (Best Supporting Actress)*

Hugh Jackman as Wolverine – Logan
North Texas Film Critics (Best Actor)
Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger – Black Panther
Broadcast Film Critics Award (Best Supporting Actor), Alliance of Women Film Journalists (Best Supporting Actor), Austin Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor), Central Ohio Critics Award (Best Supporting Actor), Chicago Critics Association (Best Supporting Actor), Dallas Fort Worth Critics (Best Supporting Actor), Denver Critics (Best Supporting Actor), Houston Critics (Best Supporting Actor), Iowa Critics (best Supporting Actor), London Critics (Best Supporting Actor), North Carolina Critics (Best Supporting Actor), North Texas Critics (Best Supporting Actor), Oklahoma Critics (best Supporting actor), Online Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Phoenix Critics Circle (Best Supporting Actor), San Francisco Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Seattle Critics (best Supporting Actor), Seattle Critics (Best Supporting Actor), Toronto Critics (Best Supporting Actor),Washington DC Critics (Best Supporting Actor)

Dafne Keen as Laura – Logan
Houston Film Critics (Best Supporting Actress)

Heath Ledger as The Joker – The Dark Knight
Academy Awards (Best Supporting Actor)*, Golden Globe Awards (Best Supporting Actor)*, BAFTA (Best Supporting Actor)*, SAG Award (Best Supporting Actor)*, Broadcast Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, African American Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Alliance of Women Film Journalists (Best Supporting Actor)*, Austin Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Boston Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Central Ohio Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Chicago Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Dallas-Fort Worth Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Florida Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Houston Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Iowa Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Kansas City Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Best Actor (London Critics Awards), Los Angeles Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, National Society of Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor), New York Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor), New York Critics Online (Best Supporting Actor)*, North Texas Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Oklahoma Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Online Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Phoenix Critics Society (Best Supporting Actor)*, San Diego Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, San Francisco Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Satellite Awards (Best Supporting Actor), Southeastern Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, St. Louis Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Toronto Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Utah Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Vancouver Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, Washington DC Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*

Alfred Molina as Doc Ock – Spider-Man 2
London Film Critics (Best British Supporting Actor), Satellite Awards (Best Supporting Actor)

Chloe Grace Moretz as Hit-Girl – Kick-Ass
Phoenix Critics Society (Supporting Actress)

Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow – Batman Begins
London Film Critics (Best British Supporting Actor)

Jack Nicholson as The Joker – Batman
Golden Globe (Best Actor Comedy), BAFTA (Best Supporting Actor), Chicago Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor)

Al Pacino as Big Boy Caprice – Dick Tracy
Oscar (Best Supporting Actor), Golden Globe (Best Supporting Actor), BAFTA (Best Supporting Actor), Chicago Critics Awards (Best Supporting Actor), National Society of Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor)

Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool – Deadpool
Golden Globe (Best Actor Comedy)

Patrick Stewart as Professor X – Logan
Broadcast Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor), Detroit Film Critics Award (Best Supporting Actor), Houston Film Critics Award (Best Supporting Actor), Los Angeles Online Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor)*, North Carolina Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor), North Texas Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor), Online Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor), Phoenix Film Critics Society (Best Supporting Actor), Seattle Film Critics (Best Supporting Actor)

So what do we gather from all of this?

OneIt helps to be a villain. 

Awards groups love flashy villains. As such, nine of the performances mentioned here are for portraying villains on screen.

TwoAwards groups like The Joker. 

The Joker is the only superhero character to receive nominations for two different performances. Obviously, Heath Ledger’s tragic death likely gave him added momentum throughout the 2008 season, but it is worth noting that Nicholson also came close to the Oscars in 1989. A Golden Globe + BAFTA Nomination combo is nothing to scoff at. He likely would’ve had more critics group mentions as well if more of the organizations had existed 30 years ago. 

ThreeSeveral Organizations are especially friendly to Superhero performances – HFPA and North Texas in particular. 

Golden Globe Awards: 5 Nominations (including 1 Win) 
North Texas Film Critics: 5 Nominations (including 1 Win)
BAFTA Awards: 4 Nominations (including 1 Win)
Online Film Critics: 4 Nominations (Including 2 Wins)
Chicago Film Critics: 4 Nominations (Including 1 Win)
Houston Film Critics: 4 Nominations (Including 1 Win)
London Film Critics: 4 Nominations
Los Angeles Critics: 3 Nominations (Including 2 Wins)
Broadcast Film Critics: 3 Nominations (Including 1 Win)
Phoenix Critics Society: 3 Nominations (including 1 Win)
North Carolina Critics: 3 Nominations
New York Film Critics Online: 2 Wins

The Golden Globes stats may not be relevant for “Joker” since most of those nominations were in their separate comedy actor category—it is unlikely “Joker” can get away with running there. So North Texas is our biggest player here in regards to Joaquin. They are friendlier to superhero performances than any other critics group (they also nominated James McAvoy for “Split,” which I didn’t count, but that suggests they just really really dig all things even tangentially Superhero-esque.)

FourMarvel has a *slight* edge over DC. Other publishers need not apply.
8 of the nominated performances stem from Marvel. 7 come from DC. Other publishers only received 3 mentions.

FiveRobert Downey Jr. has never received a nomination (aside from Action Movie Actor) from any of these critics groups for playing Tony Stark. We’re primarily thinking about Phoenix here, but it will be interesting to see if any groups also go to bat for him this year for his final turn as Iron Man.

In short, there are a number of critics groups who have proved friendly to superhero movie performances over the years, especially those from Marvel and DC properties, and especially to people playing villains like The Joker. Who knows if Phoenix will make it all the way to the Oscars, but what does seem highly likely is that at least some of the other critic’s groups this season will go to bat for him.

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

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!

Previous article
Next article
Will Mavity
Will Mavity
Loves Awards Season, analyzing stats & conducting interviews. Hollywood Critics Association Member.

Related Articles

Stay Connected


Latest Reviews