Why summer’s best popcorn movies could make Oscar noise this year
Ryan Reynolds may have sought laughs with Deadpool’s NSFW (Not Safe/Suitable For Work) “For Your Consideration” ads. But “Deadpool” was a serious contender to be the first superhero film to earn an Oscar best picture nomination in 2017.
Though “Deadpool” ultimately missed out, Reynolds’ superpowered comrades are showing early awards season muscle.
“The award tides for blockbuster and comic-book movies seems to be turning,” says Pete Hammond, awards columnist for the industry website Deadline.com. “There’s a feeling that the film academy is too snobby for these types of movies. But this year, there are a lot more potential (nominees) already. Maybe one of these big movies can come up and defy expectations.”
Here’s why things are looking up in the awards running for blockbusters. The movies are unusually strong. For every critically derided No. 1 this year (“Transformers: The Last Knight”), there are shining examples of quality with mass appeal. “Logan” brought a gritty end to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine X-Men character and earned a thumbs up from 93 per cent of critics on aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” won raves from 92 per cent of reviewers and generated excitement as the first woman-centric superhero movie directed by a woman.
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” heads into theatres this week with 92 per cent approval, followed by Matt Reeves’ “War for the Planet of the Apes” (out July 14) with a favourable 96 per cent score and praise for Andy Serkis’ motion-capture performance as ape leader Caesar.
Christopher Nolan’s Second World War drama “Dunkirk,” which mixes popcorn appeal with serious awards pedigree, follows on July 21.
“Overall, the quality of many of these summer blockbuster movies — not all of them — has gotten much better,” says Dave Karger, special correspondent for the movie website IMDb.com. “There will be an increasing outcry from movie fans to see these films represented in the awards race.”
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expanded the best picture category (to accommodate a field of five to 10 nominees) to pay respect to popular films after 2008’s “The Dark Knight” was snubbed for a nomination. ( Joker Heath Ledger did win a posthumous best supporting actor Oscar.)
There has been some success: 2015’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” rightfully earned a best picture nomination. The trend could grow this year, says Hammond.
“These films are ready to get their due, with the best chance to do it in years,” he says. “The Academy would love to see these movies represented, and viewers would tune in to (watch) the Oscars.”
A record class of 774 new members includes many who are predisposed to be sympathetic to blockbuster nominations — from Star Wars franchise faces (Adam Driver, Riz Ahmed and Domhnall Gleeson) to superhero stars (Captain America Chris Evans, Thor Chris Hemsworth, and Wonder Woman Gal Gadot). “They can make some noise about these movies getting recognized,” Hammond says.
It’s too early to accurately predict the race. But the pieces are in place for a strong showing.
“I’m not ready to say that any of these movies will get a nomination. What it will come down to is what competition comes out at the end of the year,” Karger says. “But these blockbusters are definitely in the discussion right now.”
"Wonder Woman": 92 per cent score of critics on aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes.
"Spider-Man: Homecoming": 92 per cent score.
"War for the Planet of the Apes": 96 per cent score.