On March 4th, millions of viewers will turn their attention to the 90th Annual Academy Awards. We do it every year, there’s something about the Oscars that holds the public’s interest in a way the Grammys, or the CMT Awards never could. With each ceremony comes snubs, surprises, semi-moving acceptance speeches, Leo crushing it on the red carpet, and of course… the continued debate over who or what should have won.
In 2018, things are a little different from when I was a kid. Growing up, summertime was reserved for the blockbuster popcorn superhero and action movies that brought in the huge numbers. Now it happens all year. You can’t escape it. Black Panther was an unprecedented success, and it’s only February. Solo, Deadpool 2, and Avengers: Infinity War all come out in May, long before the official start of the season. Comic book inspired stories dominate the box office, the internet, and many elements of our culture. With Oscar Sunday on the horizon I can’t help but wonder if this domination will ever transcend to the Academy Awards.
Okay, here’s where you’ll probably remind me that even Suicide Squad won for costume design. No clue how it happened. Or maybe you’ll say “Heath Ledger won for playing the Joker”. Also true, but as great/iconic/memorable, worthy of praise for generations, as his Joker was, this specific Supporting Actor Oscar is an extremely rare occurrence. It would be in the baddest of tastes to not acknowledge a performance someone literally put their life into. May he Rest In Peace.
Don’t get me wrong, Oscar night can be full of unexpected twists, but in reality, the superhero genre consistently gets reduced to the non-sexy accolades like achievements in sound or set design. Ledger’s 2009 Oscar is so far the highest honor a superhero role has gotten from the Academy. Will it ever change? Will Could we one day be living in a world where Kevin Feige accepts the Academy Award for Best Picture?
Quick answer, yes. It’s only a matter of time, and I’d like to highlight a few scenarios in which this could happen.
1) What if a superhero movie actually was greater than any other film? Something so incredible, so fresh, with a story so compelling it captures the attention of the Motion Picture Academy. Black Panther showed us after almost twenty installments, Marvel continues to reinvent the wheel. If this trend continues, who’s to say Disney doesn’t deliver on a project that is both a financial success and an Oscar darling. Forrest Gump, LOTR: Return Of The King, Chicago, even Titanic were all big money makers, as well as award winners. Blockbusters can be in the equation and I have yet to meet anyone who thought Forrest Gump sucked.
2) The Consolation Oscar. These happen (whether the Academy admits it or not) when something, or someone has been a force within the industry but has not received a formal award. Martin Scorsese is the most recent example. The beyond acclaimed director has been making classics for over twenty years and he finally gets Best Director and Picture in 2007, for The Departed. Yes, the movie is badass, but is it Goodfellas badass? Or Raging Bull badass? You can be the judge but to me, the acknowledgement felt way overdue. More or less a consolation prize for Oscars he didn’t get in the past.
If a superhero film was to ever win a consolation Best Picture, it wouldn’t be to make up for Oscars not won in the past, but for their place in the world, how they have shaped the business of entertainment, and the standard they’ve set for the modern blockbuster. We may be looking at ten years before it were to occur but if the Academy chose to acknowledge a historic accomplishment such as the MCU, I feel this would be the best way to do so. Give Kevin Fiege his moment under the lights, then move forward next year. Crazier things have happened, I’m talking to you Shakespeare In Love (1999, Beat Saving Private Ryan).
3) If a superhero film were to win Best Picture, it could also mean the situation highlighted in the movie Idiocracy has come true. We’re all simply not as intelligent as we used to be and stuff like ASS (a made up movie in Idiocracy that hailed as the greatest ever made, and it’s just an, ass, on camera) is an a norm in society. Complex characters, well written dialogue, and story are no more. Why have it if nobody understands it? We would have been reduced to the basic form of visual stimuli.
I think the first two items on the list fall on a spectrum of reasonable believability. This last one is a little extreme. However Idiocracy has successfully predicted things that are already taking place. Check out an article from CraveOnline.com, it’s pretty scary.
I’m telling you, it won’t be long before a comic book hero basks in Oscar glory. Honestly I see it happening in my lifetime and I see DC getting a Best Picture award before Marvel. It’s just me, I’m a DC fan.
One by one the categories will fall to the likes of Disney and Warner Brothers. Logan is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and I’m hoping Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green bring it home on Sunday. It should win.
By Adam Chmielewski
Photo Credits- Oscar.go.com/Disney/Warner Brothers
Do you think a superhero movie will ever win Best Picture? Let Nerdbot know in the comments!!