Will Robots, Superheroes, and Apes Conquer the Oscars?
It’s officially autumn, and with it we can expect pretty dying leaves, cooler temperatures, the joys of Halloween, and no reasonable breaks until the end of November. It’s also Oscar season. Usually, studios pump out their “Oscar bait” movies that audiences aren’t interested in around this time of year. But this year, major studios might be offering up their blockbusters instead, and with good reason.
The Academy Awards have made it clear over the years that they don’t like genre films, action movies, comedy, science fiction, and usually fantasy. Similarly, more “artistic” directors of the old guild have not been fond of these cathartic types of cinematic experience.
Although, there have been times where the Academy has rightfully bowed. There’s the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy that stunned audiences and critics alike with fantastic almost everything, with “Return of the King” bringing in 11 Oscars, a record only shared by 1959’s “Ben-Hur” and 1997’s “Titanic.” There’s Heath Ledger’s final performance in “The Dark Knight” earning an Oscar, and the tirades from film buffs condemning the Academy for not also nominating it for “Best Director” and “Best Picture.” Franchise reviver “Mad Max: Fury Road” was nominated for a whopping 10 Oscars and earned six. Then there’s James Cameron getting a lot of Oscar love for four of his eight self-helmed movies.
The year of 2017 may be miserable when it comes to politics and natural disasters, but it’s been great for good movies, and a hefty variety of them. Ever since that little movie called “Star Wars: A New Hope” happened, we’ve seen genre fanfare and sequel after franchise starter conquering the slowly-diminishing number of multiplexes. Next February, we could see them conquering the final frontier, the Oscars.
The Academy’s About Page says that they, “recognize and uphold excellence in the motion picture arts and sciences”, yet there’s plenty of excellence that’s either ignored or not fully honored. For instance, Alfred Hitchcock never won a single Oscar for any of his movies, and he didn’t get nominated very much, either. Martin Scorsese’s first Best-Director Oscar was for 2006’s “The Departed” and Leonardo DiCaprio’s first Oscar was for 2015’s “The Revenant.”
Then there’s the countless number of incredible editors, cinematographers, costume designers, scorers, and foreign directors who rarely even see a nomination thrown at them.
The year of 2017 may also be the year where the Academy must acknowledge the great franchise blockbusters into their hallowed halls. Warner Bros. is supposedly planning a big Oscar campaign for “Wonder Woman”, and could possibly
snag a “Best Animated Film” award for “The LEGO Batman Movie”, and early reviews of “Blade Runner 2049” point out that the company may push for that film, too. 20th Century Fox sent “Logan” to Academy voters in mid-September, and is also planning on a huge push for “War for the Planet of the Apes.”
Not only could all these huge movies be entering the Oscars, they could be demolishing them. “Logan”, “Wonder Woman”, “War for the Planet of the Apes”, and probably “Blade Runner 2049” could reasonably get hard pushes for many categories like Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Leading Actor, Best Leading Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Costume Design, and Best Editing. Similarly, Universal, Neon, and Netflix all could possibly push hard for genre movies “Get Out”, “Colossal”, and “Okja.”
Meanwhile “The Lost City of Z”, “The Beguiled”, hopefully “Wind River”, maybe “mother!”, probably “Murder on the Orient Express”, and definitely “Dunkirk” can be expected to earng big awards in February. It’s also interesting to see a historical drama like “Dunkirk” earning blockbuster money based on the name of the director and its overall quality, like “The Revenant” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
If any of these studios can muscle their blockbuster and/or genre films into any significant category nominations, we could see some real change in the movie industry, whether bad or (I think more likely) good. Or maybe the Oscars will only go to one or two select films for either mild technical awards, or maybe those profit-margin-changing awards. Either way, it’s nice to get some respect when it’s deserved.