The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences learned four years ago that they can’t remain completely oblivious to the public’s interests.
In 2008, The Dark Knight was the talk of the town (the town apparently being anywhere but Hollywood) to secure the fifth nomination slot for best picture at the upcoming Oscars. However, despite garnering a total of eight nominations in the technical categories, the movie was snubbed in the major areas (picture, director, screenplay) and only walked away with wins in best sound editing and sound design, as well as the obvious best supporting actor trophy, posthumously awarded to Heath Ledger.
The following year the Academy amended its nomination rules and doubled the amount of movies eligible for best picture contention to ten, reportedly pressured by the backlash they faced for their previous exclusion. Christopher Nolan’s next movie, Inception, was shown a little more love at that year’s Oscar ceremony, begrudging as it felt, and did get nominated for best picture.
So when the sequel to the movie that switched things up in the first place was announced, everyone naturally wondered what kind of Oscar talk it would get upon release. Early press screenings told of standing ovations, tears, and best picture murmurings. Wide release reactions, though, weren’t as unanimous as Dark Knight‘s (for reasons that are worthy of their own sociology essay, in my book) and reactions at a recent academy screening were described as quiet and reaction-less.
What I’m here to say is that, by all indications, The Dark Knight Rises probably won’t be nominated for best picture (and certainly won’t win it) and how much acknowledgement it receives in other categories is uncertain, depending on the caliber of movies released around Oscar season.
I don’t know why but I’ve always felt the academy doesn’t care much for Christopher Nolan. They have yet to give him a directing nod for any of the great works he’s turned in, and when they do nominate his movies for anything, it always feels forced and reluctant.
Maybe it’s because he doesn’t exactly make movies that appeal only to the sensibilities of the academy, the majority of which are older, white men (is there any other kind of top-tier society in the U.S.?), but it seems like any reason they can find to dismiss him, they exploit it. The fact that The Dark Knight was the story of a man dressed in a batsuit seemed to be a big write-off, and that’s obviously not going to change with Rises. And because the haters have made it their mission in life to point out nothing but the numerous plot holes in the movie, the academy has gotten all they need to completely ignore The Dark Knight Rises for consideration.
And you know what? I’m kind of ok with it. After these past couple years, unless they change their tune, I’m fucking done with the Oscars. Time and time again they’ve showed that they aren’t representative of the best of what cinema has to offer in any given year. Rather, they are so very representative of which movies pander most to their core voter demographic and which bloated producer can pour the most money into campaigning. It’s become a total jerk-off fest and to get your hopes up for a great movie to be nominated, much less the best movie out of all the nominees to win, is completely futile at this point.
The Dark Knight Rises is more moving, inspiring and engaging than any movie that’s won best picture since No Country for Old Men (a movie that actually had polarizing reactions). The movies since then have been mostly bland and designed not to stir any thoughtful or dissenting reactions outside of “That was good. Why wouldn’t it win best picture?”. Purely and simply, they’re fluff.
The fans of The Dark Knight Rises should be perfectly satisfied knowing that Nolan delivered a great and epic finale that, in some unique ways, is better than it’s predecessors, regardless of what a cult of stuck up old people think about it. And the non-fans, well, like I said… sociology essay.