You may not know it yet, but Awards season has already begun in earnest, the ever-growing stack of Academy screeners sitting on my desk serving as a constant reminder. That means that studios are gearing up for major Academy Award campaigns, and today, Warner Bros. has launched its ‘For Your Consideration’ website for 2012, highlighting The Dark Knight Rises, Cloud Atlas, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Magic Mike, and Argo as its primary submissions.
If you are interested in this sort of thing, it’s a fun website to look around, as you can see when Academy members will be screening the films, if they have not already, and explore exactly which awards and individuals Warner is pushing to get nods. It may look as if Warner is asking for a ridiculous amount of nominations – each of the five films as for consideration in nearly every category, large or small – but that is customary for award campaigns. It may be completely unlikely that Cody Horn would get a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Magic Mike, or that the Academy would consider unknown performers Doona Bae and Zhou Xun for Cloud Atlas, but on the off chance that either film has a broad base of support among Academy voters, it benefits Warner to remind them that these people exist.
Of the five highlighted films, Ben Affleck’s Argo is, of course, the frontrunner in many major categories, including but not limited to Best Picture, where it is the clear favorite. Pushing for awards across the board, in performance, directorial, scripting, and technical categories, is a no brainer. The film will clean up handsomely when nominations are announced. A thrilling box-office hit about Hollywood helping the CIA will have limitless appeal to voters.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey also seems like a good bet, given that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ties with Titanic and Ben-Hur as the most decorated film in Oscar history. Peter Jackson and much of the rest of a celebrated cast and crew have returned for the prequel, and it only makes sense that the Academy may wish to honor them again. The makeup and attitudes of the Academy have, of course, changed somewhat dramatically over the past decade, making it a distinct possibility that the film may be ignored by voters. But if critics love the film as much as they did Lord of the Rings, and it proves to be a major commercial hit, the film may break through into Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and all the major technical categories (acting awards, given Lord of the Rings history, are sadly a long shot).
The Dark Knight Rises will definitely be a tough sell, no matter how much Warner wishes that weren’t the case. I very much enjoyed the film, as did plenty of other critics and viewers, but it is pretty universally regarded as a lesser film than The Dark Knight, and if that film wasn’t embraced by the Academy, Rises probably has very little chance. I’d count it as a lock for many technical categories – the Academy has always loved DP Wally Pfister, for instance, and the incredible IMAX photography will give him a major bump – but this will not be Nolan’s turn for Director, Picture, or Screenplay.
I believe Cloud Atlas to be the best film of 2012 so far, but I have no allusions about its award prospects. This one will probably be ignored by voters across the board. It was simply too controversial among critics, and too underwhelming at the box office, to make a significant Oscar splash. It may get a small number of technical nods, but with so many films competing this year, I’d argue even that’s a long shot. Expect Cloud Atlas to sit out the Oscar circuit. It’s just not the Academy’s cup of tea.
And finally, there’s Magic Mike, which…yeah, let’s not pretend it has any real chances. It’s a good movie, certainly, but it’s had no noticeable awards buzz, and wouldn’t be in the Academy’s wheelhouse regardless. Soderbergh and company will have to make do with the film’s unexpectedly large box-office earnings.
Head on over to Warner’s Oscar site to learn more about how Warner Bros is selling their films to the Academy, and sound off in the comments with your own thoughts on the matter.
Source: The Playlist