Monday, July 28, 2008

Oscar Knight?

Much has been made of The Dark Knight’s chances at serious AMPAS recognition over the last couple of weeks. Some Oscarologists on the web have been as bold as to predict up to 11 nominations for the film. Others have been even bolder and predicted 0 nominations!

Let’s be reasonable here. The Dark Knight won’t be shut out. But it won’t sweep either. Here’s my systematic look at each category in which the film is a contender:

Best Picture
TDK is destined to be one of the best reviewed pictures of the year. Good.
TDK is destined to be one of the year’s (and history’s) highest grossing films. Bad.
The Academy has been turned off by blockbuster films in the last few years (last year in particular). If any movie is going to break that trend, it’ll be this one, but I’m still skeptical.

Diagnosis: possible, not probable

Best Director
I actually think Christopher Nolan has a better shot here than the film does of getting a BP nom. His vision for this movie has set it apart from every comic book adaptation ever committed to celluloid. However, the deep psychological level he gives TDK may be overshadowed by the action-packed set-pieces, which the Academy doesn’t exactly favour.

Diagnosis: possible, not probable

Best Supporting Actor
Heath Ledger is assured a nomination. No point in discussing that. But there are a few who are heralding the terrific performances of supporting players Gary Oldman and Aaron Eckhart. As much as these two deserve recognition, if the marketers are smart, they won’t focus their campaigning attention on Oldman and Eckhart. It’ll only hurt Ledger’s chances of winning, which is becoming a distinct possibility at this point.

Diagnosis:

Ledger: lock
Oldman: unlikely
Eckhart: unlikely

Best Adapted Screenplay
The script is tightly written and highly layered, weaving the narrative of a compelling crime-drama with complex moral issues and themes rarely examined this deep in superhero movies. Unfortunately, the fact that it’s still a “superhero” movie will block it from a nod here.

Diagnosis: unlikely

Best Cinematography
Some complain that Wally Pfister’s lensing of TDK is a step down from his dark and textured work on Batman Begins. I agree that in terms of lighting and tone, BB is visually richer than TDK, but that doesn’t make TDK any less of an accomplishment. The camera movement is fluent yet turbulent, adding an unnerving element to the picture. And when one considers that the action sequences were shot with those enormous IMAX cameras… All I can say is “wow”.

Diagnosis: lock

Best Film Editing
Lee Smith’s editing was a bit confusing at times (fight scenes specifically), but his pacing of the rest of the film allowed for many detailed storylines to overlap seamlessly. He deserves consideration, but those aforementioned fight scenes could prove problematic.

Diagnosis: possible, not probable

Best Original Score
The only reason this isn’t considered a lock is because of the ambiguous ruling of the ever-controversial AMPAS music branch. If James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer each contributed separate pieces to the score, they will not be eligible. But if they collaborated on every composition together… well, eligibility still remains to be seen.

Diagnosis: inconclusive (lock if eligible)

Best Art Direction
Nathan Crowley’s Gotham is pulled-off well in TDK, but I’m afraid it looks too much like our real world to convince the Academy that it’s awards-worthy. The usually go for period or fantasy production design.

Diagnosis: unlikely

Best Costume Design
Costumes are as good as they come, but aren’t a big enough part of the movie.

Diagnosis: no chance

Best Makeup
The Joker’s makeup design is fantastic, but will that one face be enough to merit a nomination? If Two-Face weren’t so heavily CGI, we would have a lock, but I’m not sure if TDK can compete with all the other makeup contenders coming out in the fall/winter.

Diagnosis: possible, not probable

Best Sound Mixing
AMPAS has no reservations about rewarding blockbusters here. Even if this isn’t the greatest achievement the field of sound mixing has ever seen, the mixers will ride the wave the film’s popularity straight to the Kodak.

Diagnosis: probable

Best Sound Editing
Richard King must have had a helluva time creating sounds for all those cool gadgets. Plus he’s a respected and well-known member of the sound editing community.

Diagnosis: lock

Best Visual Effects
The action and chase scenes primarily used practical effects, but there turned out to be more CGI in the movie than I thought there’d be. Two-Face looked great, and that sonar imaging was wonderfully creative. That should provide enough computerized effects to satisfy the CGI-obsessed FX branch.

Diagnosis: probable


I can see 5 or 6 nominations for TDK, but if the fall/winter season is weak with BP contenders, it wouldn’t surprise me to see 9 or 10 noms, including director and picture. It all depends on the competition. How many noms do you see coming?

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