Batman Screenshot from "The Dark Knight Rises" (Photo : Warner Bros.)
The Oscar Race is officially underway. And a number of hopefuls have already seen their glimmering hopes fade away.
The major studios have already launched their "For Your Consideration Sites" including Warner Bros who is looking to promote five films in the upcoming awards season: The Dark Knight Rises, Argo, Cloud Atlas, Magic Mike, and The Hobbit.
Of all the major studios, Warner Bros is in one of the best positions. Three of these four films were critics' darlings including Magic Mike (80 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes), The Dark Knight Rises (87 percent), and Argo (95 percent).
Of the three, Argo is the far and away the best option for Oscar glory for a number of reasons. Ben Affleck is being hailed as an up and coming director and the subject matter (the 1979 Iranian takeover the US Embassy and an ensuing CIA rescue mission) is fairly attractive for the Academy. Warner Bros is campaigning for awards in almost every major category including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor (three different thesps), amongst others. Many pundits are placing it atop the list of Best Picture contenders and the film is likely to land that nomination and subsequent ones for director, screenplay, and technical categories including editing and cinematography. The Leading Acting nomination is a bit more dubious and Affleck is likely not going to get recognition there with the field overcrowded this year by the likes of Joaquin Phoenix and Daniel Day-Lewis. Alan Arkin however should get a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Prediction: Look for this film to get between five to seven nominations including Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, and Supporting Actor. Another technical category could be in play here as well.
The Dark Knight Rises is the second highest grossing film of the year and its predecessor The Dark Knight is the main reason that the Oscar expanded the best picture race to 10 films instead of five. Early reviews indicated that this film should be in consideration for the top prize, but the Academy did not respond too well to the film. Many critics noted that it was on the same level as its predecessor and Tom Hardy's Bane did not garner the iconic status Heath ledger's Joker did. Nonetheless, Warner Bros is kicking all the tires on this one hoping that the Academy's desire to bring in a major audience for their biggest event will persuade them to give the new Batman film top nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and every possible technical category there is.
Christopher Nolan's last film Inception got the best picture nod, but the director himself was neglected. When The Dark Knight obtained eight nominations in 2008, Nolan was also ignored. Chances are he will get overlooked yet again, but the Dark Knight should secure nominations in Cinematography, Editing (though this one is also up for contention), sound mixing, sound editing, and visual effects.
Prediction: Look for this film to garner about three or four nominations in the technical categories aforementioned. Best Picture is a slight possibility if the Academy is compelled to increase their potential amount of viewers, but do not count on it.
Magic Mike has garnered a great deal of attention for its subject matter and Matthew McConaughey's performance in a supporting role. The company is pushing for awards in every major category and its box office success could help its cause.
Prediction: If it gets any nominations, it will be for Matthew McConaughey. Otherwise, this film has slim to no chances for recognition.
Cloud Atlas was the lone film to not garner critical success as it only received a 64 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, its ambition and scale has the pundit considering potential nominations in top categories including Best Picture and even Best Supporting Actor (Jim Broadbent). Warner Bros is considering every single actor in the film for a potential campaign and the film certainly looks primed for a few technical nods.
Prediction: Best Picture is a possibility depending on how many films get a nomination but visual effects and other technical categories including cinematography, sound mixing and editing are more likely possibilities. Two to Four nominations.
The Hobbit is Warner Bros.' wild card. Almost ten years ago, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King scored 11 Oscars and became the first fantasy film to win Best Picture. Expectations are likely a bit more tempered regarding another Lord of the Rings movie, but if the Hobbit proves to be anywhere as good as its predecessors, then the chances of anything happening are infinitely greater. If the film is a critical failure, then it likely goes nowhere.
Prediction: Hard to make any predictions without the film being screened by a single person. It could be a major hit at the Oscars (five to 10 nominations), or make no appearance at all depending on reception.