Remember when, in 2009, the talk of the Oscars was how The Dark Knight–the second-highest grossing film of all time at that point and widely critically beloved–had been “snubbed,” failing to hand it a Best Picture nomination? It did receive eight nominations that year–largely in technical categories–and won two, including Heath Ledger’s famous posthumous win for his portrayal of The Joker. Shortly after, the number of Best Picture candidates was increased to accommodate nominees that were perceived to be “on the bubble” and there was quite a bit of talk about including the kind of movies that ordinarily get ignored–notably, the comedies and action films that tend to dominate at the box office.
In the intervening years, only Avatar has managed to land even a nomination in major categories, but genre fare from Harry Potter and Star Trek to Iron Man 2 and Up have reliably placed in the technical categories, allowing the filmmakers and fans to slap “Oscar contender” in front of the movie’s title in conversation.
This year is no different, with nods in those categories for the latest installments of the Planet of the Apes and Harry Potter franchises–but in a year where Marvel had three critically-acclaimed films come out and DC had one, it’s a little jarring to see nary a nomination for any of these movies. Instead, the intensely forgettable Real Steel and Transformers: Dark of the Moon pick up visual effects nominations, leaving the impression that 2011–dubbed by numerous critics as the Year of the Superhero–didn’t actually turn out any superhero movies worthy of note. Captain America: The First Avenger, X-Men: First Class and Thor were all pretty well-received by fans and critics alike–and while Green Lantern–didn’t perform that well at the box office, it did have some truly impressive digital effects, especially in 3D.
It’s difficult to separate things–certainly makeup, wardrobe and special effects artists shouldn’t be penalized just becuase the film they’re working on was rubbish. But it’s difficult in an industry where even just a nomination is a huge status symbol to separate the reality of the roles being played by behind-the-scenes people and the perception that’s put out there by Transformers 3 getting an Oscar nomination.
What do you think?
Again, remember–Iron Man 2 picked up an Oscar nomination. That, in spite of widespread panning by critics both inside and outside of the comics community. Even Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, one of the most notoriously bad films of all time and that year’s Razzie winner for Worst Picture, got a nod for sound mixing.