The Nominations for the 2017 Academy Awards have been announced and as usual the list is filled with some of the most talented filmmakers, actors, and films released in 2016 and early 2017. These films are critical darlings and the Academy chooses very specific kinds of films to be representative of what they consider to be excellent achievements in film. While these films do deserve the recognition there is a definite disconnect when it comes to other genres besides drama being nominated. There seems to be a lack of recognition when it comes to films that happen to be larger Hollywood productions and this certainly plays into the superhero genre as well. There are several reasons as to why this is the case, but a question that a lot of comic book movie fans has is whether or not we will see a superhero film win best picture or at the very least be nominated for it. Will this happen? Well there is a lot of complications that goes along with that.
The Academy’s choice in films is usually dictated by star power and films that have a lot of dramatic heft to them. These often include original dramas, biopics, and films that try new things. Sometimes the films nominated are completely driven by the performances of the cast and sometimes the talent behind the camera. There are rare occasions where anything other than dramas are nominated for much of the awards. There are some exceptions and the fact that superhero or big budget Hollywood films usually get placed in the special effects categories. More popular Hollywood blockbusters have historically been reserved for the technical categories, which makes sense but it begs the question as to why they are snubbed for the larger categories? Why don’t they get nominated for the creative awards like Direction or performances? There is an obvious aversion to superhero films in that respect from the Academy. It’s why we haven’t seen some films nominated no matter how critically acclaimed that film might be. It may have high ratings across the board, but it is not “good enough” to be nominated.
One of the few exceptions to this has been 2008’s The Dark Knight which had two wins and 8 nominations total. It won in the Best Supporting Actor category for Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker. This was a rare sight to see a big superhero film nominated for so many awards and it was refreshing. This hasn’t happened since even though many superhero films have been received quite well. The Academy still avoids picking nominations of films from that genre. This is very reflective for how the Film industry and how critics view these films. They are generally not considered great works of “art”, but rather looked to for pure entertainment. To a degree this view is correct because Superhero films have aimed to please rather than pose more challenging themes, but recently there have been films that have dramatically worked to step up the level of storytelling as well as performances. This has done little to sway the attention of the Academy.
It would seem that for the genre to be taken seriously and earn more award consideration the genre would be forced to take more risks in how they approach these characters and the stories told. The narratives would have to be grander and given a different approach and potentially shake things up, which could be at odds with how fans would love to see their characters brought to life on the big screen. This possibility seems very unlikely seeing how the studios craft their films and how filmmakers view tackling these films when they make them, which is to make them appeal to a wide audience. While all of this scenarios seem to be about changing the content of the superhero films there is a possibility that the way these films are viewed can change. I would imagine at some point there will be another superhero film that does get recognized by the Academy more than just for its technical merits, but when this will happen has yet to be determined.
The 2017 Nominations included films in the technical spectrum that were more crowd pleasing and this has included superhero films. An area where they are almost always nominated or recognized, but they seem to be stuck there. There is no way whether or not we can say that this wall will be broken, but with the fans as passionate as they are and the quality of these films stepping up there is a huge possibility that a future superhero film get recognized with a Best Picture Nomination and depending on how the film is it could potentially take it. Time will tell whether or not this will happen, but it certainly would lend legitimacy to the quality of work that superhero films have produced and will continue to produce.
So what do you think? Do you think we will see a Superhero film be nominated or even win Best Picture? Let us know in the comments!