nolan feature 2

Before the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, I was having my usual battle on Twitter with the many people who like to tell me what the Oscar race is and isn’t about, namely that The Dark Knight Rises could never be nominated for Best Picture. Before the tragedy, everything was different. After the tragedy we face questions that will define how we go to the movies, what we think about the content and whether we can live with the reverberations. For me, it’s too easy to accept the plain truth, that The Dark Knight Rises, like The Dark Knight, was never going to be “an Academy movie.” Oscarwatching 101 tells you that the Academy does not go for movies based on comic books no matter how good they are, no matter how much money they make, no matter what kind of life-altering events surround it; if it doesn’t have traditional characters whose humanity is tested and then overcome, how can they relate? Are they really supposed to jot down their number one favorite movie of the year starring a guy in a bat suit? The plain truth, as every would-be prognosticator will leap over themselves to tell you, it’s not an “Oscar movie.” Or a favorite refrain, “it won’t happen.”

Glenn Whipp, starting his new Oscar column for the LA Times called The Gold Standard, has dived right into the film and how the tragedy might effect its Oscar chances. He brings up the Academy screening, so soon on the heels of the shooting. He talks to some Oscar strategists who mostly say that a non-campaign should be the campaign. And then there’s this part of the story:

Precedent, though, is not on the side of “The Dark Knight Rises.” No amount of “crowning achievement” or “let’s hear it for consistency” talk helped “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” win the series’ first best picture nomination last year. “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” won best picture in 2004, but the prior two entries in the series had also received nominations in the category.

The elephant in the room remains the Aurora tragedy. It’s difficult to gauge what impact the shootings will have in voters’ minds, though one consultant offers a fairly pessimistic take.

“Oscar ballots are statements,” the campaigner says. “Votes for movies like ‘Milk’ and ‘The Kids Are All Right’ reflect both the quality of the movies and what they’re saying about our world. Like it or not, for many people, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is at the heart of a systemic problem of Hollywood producing violence. Supporting that kind of movie isn’t a statement many academy members are going to be eager to make.”

I didn’t realize the Academy was in the business of awarding films that send positive messages about our culture. I thought, as they like to advertise with every press release, that their ultimate aim was to reward the highest achievements in film. But if they’re really only about the positive “upbeat” message, perhaps they ought to stipulate that, you know, like the Stanley Kramer Award does. Nowhere in the Academy materials do they denounce violent films yet we know from their history that they don’t warm to films unless they have achieved heaviosity. Usually, they reject violent films. Except when they don’t. When it’s The Godfather I and II, Silence of the Lambs, No Country for Old Men, and The Departed violence is accepted as part of a very good film.

Anyone who has seen any of the Dark Knight films know that it does not advocate violence, nor does it show a tremendous lot of it, certainly not more than most movies out these days — Scorsese and Tarantino’s films are far more violent. It isn’t the violent content of the film that is going to matter come Oscar time; it’s that this now provides an easy out for voters who didn’t want to vote for the movie anyway. The truth is that the best thing the film had going for it with Oscar voters would be “good will.” Without that, there is no impetus for voters to “hold their nose” and vote for a “comic book movie” when a guy wears a bat suit. People who have no faith in Academy voters having a brain in their collective heads will tell you that.

That is a quick and dirty way of shutting down the conversation fast. It won’t happen. End of story.

But. Kenneth Turan’s LA Times review puts enough gas in the tank for me not to be able to let go of it:

The impressive success of “The Dark Knight Rises” pleasantly confounds our notions as to where great filmmaking is to be found in today’s world. To have a director this gifted turning his ability and attention to such an unapologetically commercial project is beyond heartening in an age in which the promise of film as a popular art is tarnished almost beyond recognition. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which snubbed the trilogy’s first two films in the best picture race, finally got the message?

Wouldn’t it be nice indeed.

Deep down I know The Dark Knight Rises one of the best of the year, I know it’s time to finally reward Nolan and I have a hard time really accepting the big fat “no” sitting in front of me.

Something in me has always puckered when people tell me what can and can’t happen. The question begins to throb urgently: why not? Why can’t it happen? Who says it can’t happen? Who are these people? What are they doing voting on awards if they don’t know a great film when they see one? But it’s THEIR club, people will tell me. They vote for what they like and this film is too dark and it’s too violent and it’s about Batman. “It won’t happen.” Take your toys and go home.

On the other hand, why would anyone choose to shut down a conversation about something so worthy? I don’t believe in that; I never have. Somehow, sometime, I can get pretty close to being right when it comes time to predict how they will vote. But now is not the time for that time for that. Now is the time for conversation. Lost causes are the only causes worth fighting for. I also know that no amount of advocacy, no amount of convincing, no amount of money at the box office can make Academy voters vote for what they don’t like. I accept this. It’s my job to know this. But it’s also my job to shake the tree. So shake it I shall.

The Dark Knight Rises, despite the protestations by a disgruntled faction of the fanboy brigade, will go down easily as one of the 2012’s best. You can say, as many have, that The Avengers is the more palatable super hero movie — it’s the Platoon where The Dark Knight Rises is the Full Metal Jacket of superhero movies. But you are dealing with a one-of-a-kind in Christopher Nolan, someone who shattered the mold and has done things with cinema no other director working on such a grand scale has ever done. Despite it being a “superhero movie” it is richly developed with character. In The Dark Knight you had the Joker (I refuse to allow that name to be adopted by a sociopath who had no idea what he was talking about or doing, just that he knew a lot of people would be fish in a barrel at midnight) — a wonderfully subversive villain who was sympathetic, too. The same dynamic is captured beautifully in Bane in the Dark Knight Rises.

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman is a scrappy heroin who doesn’t have to have a romance with any of the film’s other characters. Moreover, — SPOILER — Nolan is one of the few directors working in a male-driven genre, aimed at mostly men and boys, who then chooses to make Marion Cotillard the lead villain. This definitely rocked the very foundations upon which fanboy presumptions were founded. There are plenty of hottie villains, sure, thrown in as a plot device to turn on the hero and provide a little eye candy. But to completely put a woman in charge of the possible end of Gotham? Unheard of.

But it isn’t just that. How many articles about the Dark Knight Rises emerged that were about its themes? When was the last time so many people discussed a movie’s meaning online? We don’t usually do it because we don’t have to do it. Nolan has never lowered those standards to make more money. He has never dumbed it down. He always expects what directors of art house cinema expect — the audience to lean forward and think about what they’re seeing. Sure, many people took it at face value: it’s a Republican fantasy! It’s anti-Occupy! But of course, it wasn’t any of those things, not in any obvious way. How beautiful a moment in the ever-evolving relationship between movie goer and movie to have something to discuss like that.

If these Academy members were forty years younger they would welcome Christopher Nolan and the trail he’s blazing with wide open arms. But long lives lead to closed minds. Our priorities shift. We are no longer dazzled by that which we don’t readily understand. We want to be moved because we want to be take out of our misery. If a movie, like a great fuck, can make us forget out mortality, that is usually the kind of movie that we older people appreciate. But The Dark Knight Rises is a movie like that. The worlds Christopher Nolan has brought us into, while developing wonderfully alive and vivid, memorable characters may be a movie forever connected to a night when a lot of people lost their lives. It might always be remembered as the harbinger of the end all things civilized because that is where Hollywood has decided to lay blame. But the truth is a little more uncomfortable than that.

To honor The Dark Knight Rises, the Academy would have to take a brave stand against the random, violent attack on our church, the movie theater, the place we return to faithfully every weekend. How much more difficult to do that than to quietly turn away and bury this film with the unthinkable acts that surrounded it.

Load More Related Articles
Load More By Sasha Stone
Load More In A Most Violent Year
  • Mel

    I don’t feel like it was anything special. And I do feel the Anti-Occupy stuff was super-obvious. I also feel there was a pointed line about gun control that might as well have been an NRA commercial. I can’t understand what people think is so magnificent about these movies. They are entertaining sure. I love how dark they are, I do. I love that he uses as many practical effects as he can. But I can’t ever see this film being an Oscar winner if the picking was up to me. That is not thinking I know the Academy or what they will do, maybe it will be nominated and win……I just would not agree. It’d be better than the fucking Artist I guess.

  • Mel

    And the last time so many people discussed a movie’s meaning online was a couple months ago. Prometheus.

  • The reason why it won’t even get nominated is way simpler than anything to do with Aurora. In a nutshell, it’s not getting nominated because consensus is that it isn’t better than The Dark Knight.

  • moviewatcher

    Prometheus? Oh please, don’t even compare…

    The last time… I guess was probably Inception. No 2011 movie had people discussing its meaning. Not that I can remember. I guess maybe arguably Hugo. But no, it wasn’t Hugo… it was Inception.

    Just Nolan…

  • I didn’t realize the Academy was in the business of awarding films that send positive messages about our culture.

    Yeah you knew. Maybe you don’t want to but you’ve known all along. The thing is TDKR ends the way it’s supposed to and it says all the right things. That’s what it has going for it.

    Deep down I know The Dark Knight Rises one of the best of the year, I know it’s time to finally reward Nolan and I have a hard time really accepting the big fat “no” sitting in front of me.

    Don’t accept it. Rage against the dying of the light, chiquitita. 🙂

    I think the Olympics has washed away a lot of the incident for many of us. I haven’t really thought about it in a week. And I was over it before that anyway. We have heroes winning gold, being good kids. Taking the spotlight back from those who really don’t deserve it. I think soon enough TDKR will be back in play, just as long as the people who want it to do well help out in separating it from the thing that happened.

  • Reform the Academy

    Yes, it would be nice! I posted this last night in the original TDKR article after my 2nd viewing but I think that article has run its course so I’ll repost here…

    “Reform the Academy / August 4, 2012
    Just got back from seeing the film for the 2nd time; watched it in the regular format this time and liked it much better than IMAX actually. Zimmer’s score wasn’t as deafening for one thing…
    So, basically the first time I saw it it was too much to process, particularly on a night of no sleep considering I was kept awake by the news of the tragedy that occurred in Colorado. All I gathered was that it was compelling enough to keep me awake for the duration of the entire film…quite impressive. Well this second time around was even better and though it is quite long I think the pacing is quite impeccable. I know people have complained about the first hour but I actually love the character introductions and set up to the story that unfolds. And then it gets really good and really doesn’t let up until the very end…which speaking of, the ending really is fantastic and quite fitting now I agree that I’ve been able to better process it in context with what Caine says to Bruce earlier in the film and whatnot. Oh, and probably not gonna happen but I would love for Caine to be honored for this performance. Same goes for Bale and Hathaway. Bale really brought his A game with this one and Hathaway steals every scene she’s in. Taking a closer look at Tom Hardy’s performance as Bane I was really impressed by him as well…what he was able to do through his eyes, voice and body language given the constraints of the mask. There’s a few scenes which are genuinely terrifying. Now nothing was going to top Ledger’s Joker but TDK falters towards the end and looking at each of the films overall I’m concluding that TDKR is the best of the trilogy. Deserving of Best Picture consideration? You bet!”

  • Reform the Academy,

    You, sir, are the first person I know of to say that TDKR is the best of the trilogy. I just wanted to acknowledge that.

  • steve50

    “He has never dumbed it down.”

    I think that is the key, very simply put, that separates Nolan’s series from the rest of the action/comix genre. You don’t feel smirked at. He is objective and empathetic to all of his characters, even the ruthless. Things aren’t as white hat/black hat as we’re used to.

    I don’t think the AMPAS fogies dislike his work, it’s just that not enough of them have actually watched his films. They assume they don’t fit the oscar model of having some socially redeeming value. They fact that the films do have something to say only proves they haven’t watched them.

  • Reform the Academy

    That’s a bunch of b.s Chris unless you weren’t following the tweets that came from the screenings prior to the Aurora tragedy…or the raves from a number of high profile critics.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    “You, sir, are the first person I know of to say that TDKR is the best of the trilogy. I just wanted to acknowledge that.”

    I can be the second person. Many of my friends also think TDKR is the best in the series.

  • Reform the Academy

    The buzz I read prior to the film opening for general audiences was that it blew TDK out of the water. The problem with TDK, at least for me is that the last 20 minutes feels unnecessarily tacked on to what was up until that point The Joker’s movie. Now ultimately the Two Face bit is relevant to the finale but TDK ends with a whimper where TDKR ends with a bang! Now matter what comes before I think I will always tend to favor films with strong endings to those that leave you with a bitter taste…

  • Mattoc

    Regardless of what I think of the film, the film itself includes all the elements to make it ‘Oscar friendly’. It is dramatic, it has humor, it is thrilling, and ultimately moving. It also works on its own and a standalone film. I don’t see it as a comic book film, and even with the fantastical elements, including the bat suit and the various toys that feature – they are treated within the film as fantastical and even tongue in cheek. The recent tragedy is a separate incident and while it may have had an effect on the public to some degree, I think the industry would rally and protect their own. Christian Bale’s very public compassionate gesture will be noticed (and appreciated) within the industry. I’d bank on a BP nomination, less certain on a Nolan one, but pretty confident with Caine. It wouldn’t surprise me if Bale gets a leading actor nomination either, taking into account his public persona associated with the film. A Celine Dion type song at the end of the film wouldn’t have hurt either ( I am jesting…or am I?)

  • I’m already moving toward the thinking that the trilogy is really just one big movie like LOTR. So rewarding the last would be like rewarding the whole thing.

  • Reform the Academy

    BTW, since Sasha was speaking of violence, Fight Club is a film that I tend to despise just about the whole way through…but it has such a knock-out ending that jumps the film from a D to a B.

  • Mattoc

    ^ Nah,

    Fight Club is the male equivalent of Steel Magnolias. It’s our weepie.

  • Question Mark

    It still just comes down to a question of how many voters will give it the #1 slot on their ballots. I think only a certain kind of voter would put TDKR atop their Oscar ballots and yet with other films like Django or the Master coming out this year, I could see those voters picking one of those projects instead.

    Given the vacuum at the top and the general lack of interest in last year’s BP field, Dark Knight Rises might’ve had a shot had it come out in December 2011 and dominated the conversation in the leadup to voting.

  • Did worrying about the #1 rule actually make a difference last year? I mean suppose it wasn’t there or we didn’t know about it. Wouldn’t we have pretty much picked the same nominees anyway?

  • Reform the Academy

    No, we wouldn’t have Antoinette. THREE films broke the BFCA 85+ rule of thumb because of that stupid #1 rule that favored films with a small passionate faction.

  • m1

    It’s a great movie that earned a round of applause at my screening. I don’t think it deserves the actual win for Best Picture, but a nomination would be deserved. It should get a screenplay nomination at the very least. Hathaway in supporting wouldn’t upset me either.

  • julian the emperor

    Ok, I’ll admit it:

    1. I don’t like loud movies
    2. I don’t like movies with special effects.
    3. I especially don’t like movies with one-dimensional characters
    4. I don’t like movies with incomprehensible scripts.

    With that said, I will offer my very neutral assessment of the bp chances of TDKR (a movie I actively and persistently dislike):

    1. The fact that TDK in general seems to have garnered more accolades than TDKR doesn’t bode well for its Oscar chances, I agree.

    2. it IS a lousy, incomprehensible script with a structure that can best be described as incoherent, which furthermore excels in being thematic inconsistent and not a little calculated.

    3. It has one-dimensional characters en masse. Oscar likes character development and character substance. There is none here, only superficiality and preposterous parodies of character traits.

    As a self-proclaimed hater of this movie in particular (and popcorn movies in general) I am fully aware of the fact that I am no expert on the merits of the genre, because I don’t see any potential whatsoever.
    But what I can offer (and what I think most clear-sighted people can agree on), is that judged on Oscars’ USUAL pedigree, TDKR just doesn’t feel like a bp nominee.

  • Jake G!!!

    I love that you guys are speaking out for the movie and pushing it toward Oscar success. Many people just push it aside when it comes to Oscar talk, saying “it wont make it”. I beleive that if everyone would say, “it will make it”, and have hope in the film, it can make it to the Best Picture race! The Dark Knight Rises is truly the best film Ive ever seen(Along with LOTR 3), and I’m pretty sure it will be the best of the year! I wish the Academy was brave enough to nominate films like TDKR, TDK, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The Oscars are so political! I rather see action films getting BP nominees with a few dramas thrown in there.

  • rufussondheim

    I can’t rule out TDKR of getting a Best Pic nomination. With the change of rules, 5% first place votes are needed. I would guess that 25% of the Academy would be willing to rank it #1 of the year, with the other 75% not liking it or not bothering to watch it.

    I think there are going to be too many films vying for that 25%. The Hobbit, The Avengers, The Hunger Games are the obvious competition. Then there’s Django, The Master (assuming they are good.) And Moonrise Kingdom.

    I think if maybe it was released last year, it would have had a better shot. But this year, there are a lot of directors releasing films that need that same niche of voters to get a BP nod.

    I mean, just look at what was nominated last year.

    1) The Tree of Life
    2) The Artist
    3) Hugo
    4) The Descendants
    5) Midnight in Paris
    6) Moneyball
    7) The Help
    8) War Horse
    9) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t see enough of a pool of voters to go around forall of these edgy contemporary films.

    Of course, The Hobbit could suck, Django and The Master could be a disappointment. But, man if HP7.2 can’t get a nomination, if Drive can’t get a nomination, if Dragon Tattoo can’t get a nomination, I’m sorry, I don’t see how TDKR gets a nomination. I just don’t.

  • Eh, I don’t like Scott anymore. I regret that I ever defended him.

    I think julian secretly loves TDKR. He just doesn’t know it yet.

  • Andrew

    As a huge fan of Batman, I could only bring myself to see TDKR in theaters twice. Two times – after seeing TDK six times and BB four. I left the midnight showing feeling nothing. I had absolutely no desire to see it again. I only saw if a second time so I could better shape my opinion. But I did, for all intents and purposes, force myself to go.

    As a fan of the character, and as someone who enjoyed Nolan’s Batman films up until this point, that threw up a huge red flag.

    This movie was, in my opinion, a mess. Unnecessary subplots (some of which just trailed off into obscurity with no sense of closure), useless original characters taking time away from the series regulars, weak character motivations, a five-month seige that was truncated to a measly ten minutes of screentime, and an absolutely atrocious send-off for the film’s main antagonist. And for a movie that was supposed to be about the people of Gotham (those same people that Batman wanted to inspire throughout this entire trilogy), they were practically non-existent in this film. Where were they during that final battle?

    Devin Faraci over at BadassDigest wrote several articles on this movie, and they all hit the nail on the head. There was a great movie in here. It simply got lost amongst the cluster**** of everything Nolan wanted to do.

    In my honest opinion, this movie has no business being mentioned in the Best Picture race. If that’s just me, then so be it.

  • Chris138

    @julian the emperor:

    A crappy script and one dimensional characters didn’t stop Avatar from being nominated for Best Picture.

  • I think this discussion comes down to how many nominees we expect to have this year. Is it 9 or 10 again? Or is it a pared down 6-8? If it’s 9 or 10 then obviously its not out of the conversation until everything else has been seen and processed. But in a pared down situation I don’t see how it’s possible. Just look at all the stuff vying for a spot:

    The Master
    Django Unchained
    The Hobbit
    Anna Karenina
    Zero Dark Thirty
    Les Miserables
    The Sessions
    Life Of Pi
    The Great Gatsby
    Beasts Of The Southern Wild
    Moonrise Kingdom
    The Dark Knight
    The Avengers

    This doesn’t even account for things nobody sees coming, plus movies that may be rush released at the end of the year (Inside Llewyn Davis, To The Wonder). There may be 15 movies in line ahead of TDKR for a nomination, not to mention spots on critics’ year end Top Tens.

  • TDK was almost nominated when there were only 5 nominees. So how is it possible that so many members of the Academy won’t even bother to watch TDKR?

    But, man if HP7.2 can’t get a nomination, if Drive can’t get a nomination, if Dragon Tattoo can’t get a nomination, I’m sorry, I don’t see how TDKR gets a nomination. I just don’t.

    DRIVE and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO aren’t comparable to TDKR. TDKR is a much more normal film than those and it’s chock full of Academy Award winners. You guys are getting caught up in the fact that the main character wears a costume sometimes. It’s not a “comic book movie” like THE AVENGERS. There is no HULK there are no villainous aliens coming to destroy earth. The is no guy with a big hammer, who just hammers. It’s apples and oranges.

    The only thing HP7.5 has in common with it is that they’re both referred to as “genre” movies. HP7.5 was just that HALF a movie and not a very good half. If they were going to award the series then yeah, but clearly they had no need to do that. The fact that TDK was left dangling off the edge might mean that the Academy feels a need to reward the people who worked on that film. You can’t talk TDKR and leave TDK remorse out of it. There had never been talk that one of the previous Harry Potter films was almost nominated.

  • Devin Faraci over at BadassDigest wrote several articles on this movie, and they all hit the nail on the head.

    You think he has a lot in common with the average Academy voter? I hear he’s bros with Clint Eastwood.

    Unnecessary subplots (some of which just trailed off into obscurity with no sense of closure0

    Which ones? The one where Alfred may or may not have lunch?

    useless original characters taking time away from the series regulars, weak character motivations

    Please elaborate. I thought almost all the characters were from the books. But I didn’t read them. Fans of the comics that I know were very pleased with the use of the stories they knew.

    a five-month seige that was truncated to a measly ten minutes of screentime

    You wanted a five month runtime? Wow. That’s some bladder control. Good for you.

    and an absolutely atrocious send-off for the film’s main antagonist

    What would you have preferred? I’m guessing you wanted Batman to die at the hands of Bane. It seems previous fans who hated it had this problem. If not let us know.

    And for a movie that was supposed to be about the people of Gotham (those same people that Batman wanted to inspire throughout this entire trilogy), they were practically non-existent in this film. Where were they during that final battle?

    My house.

  • Andrew

    Drop the unnecessary sarcasm and then we’ll talk.

  • OCO300

    @ Sasha Stone “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” win the series’ first best picture nomination last year.”

    Yeah for social awards but the Academy snubbed it out out of the Oscar BP race for NO GOOD REASON, even though it was it was highest grossing/and one of the best reviewed films of 2011, and all it got from the Academy was some geeky/nerdy tech awards (no offense).

  • julian the emperor

    The difference between TDKR and Avatar is that Avatar had a crappy (dialogue), but structurally coherent and decipherable script, while TDKR had a crappy AND structurally messy script. I think a LOT of crappy scripts have been nominated throughout the years (no, I KNOW it), but not nearly as many structurally messy ones, I think. The Academy shies away from that.


    @OCO300 So true, I just pray to god the Academy doesn’t do the same thing to the Hunger Games/The Avengers and maybe or might be The Dark Night Rise or Spiderman……although the Academy did nominated one film that kinda did bad in the box office and got a lot of bad reviews….but u know how it is.

    The only think the HP film series got from the Oscars was a stupid $ joke, that only an accountant/IRS would joke about.

  • Drop the unnecessary sarcasm and then we’ll talk.


    Either you can back up your argument or you can’t. Vague criticisms that could fit almost any film is what people use when they have no argument and just don’t like a movie. It makes it seem like you have reasons, but you don’t. Otherwise, you’d identify them. Which characters? Which subplots? Why did you need to know where those people were, why did it matter? Oh right, but you don’t like sarcasm so you’re excused from having to have a point. I guess it never occurred to you that they were probably underground because a bomb was about to blow up? You know in their own houses, in the basement, neighborhood bomb shelters. You needed to see all that? They went on and on about the catacombs of Gotham and you couldn’t just assume they probably went ahead and took shelter. You needed to see it? But maybe they weren’t. Maybe they were all on their rooftops wanting to watch the world burn. How was that important and/or necessary?

  • Andrew


    If you actually were interested in engaging me in discussion, you would have forgone the smartass attitude. Seems to me that you’ve already made up your mind about my opinion. Why would I waste my time elaborating when any explanation I give will undoubtedly be met with more eye rolls?

    As I said, I’d be more than happy to share my thoughts in more depth, but not with someone who can’t help but come across as an ass for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

  • I’d be more than happy to share my thoughts in more depth

    Then share them with everyone else and I’ll promise not to read them.

  • BOriginal

    I enjoyed it as super hero movies go. I’m more interested to see how “The Master” plays out.

  • JP

    There are SO many things that need to happen for TDKR to be nominated and as much as I love the trilogy, It’s very very tough to happen.

    1) The Hobbit has to be a flop. There won’t be 2 blockbusters nominated.
    2) Taking Chris Price’s list… there must be LOTS of other flops. Paul Thomas Anderson, Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hooper, Katherine Bigelow, Ang Lee… and maybe even the Coens and Terrence Malick… all of those were Best Directors nominees in the past 6 years.
    The Master
    Django Unchained
    The Hobbit
    Anna Karenina
    Zero Dark Thirty
    Les Miserables
    The Sessions
    Life Of Pi
    The Great Gatsby
    Beasts Of The Southern Wild
    Moonrise Kingdom

    3) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, for example, took nominations from all of the main guilds except for the SAG. I just can’t imagine Nolan getting DGA nod. Again: SO many flops need to happen.
    4) It needs 5% of number one votes. I just can’t see it getting it if The Hobbit rocks and considering that it may split votes with The Avengers from the (few) people who will think there must be a blockbuster nominated. Unless… (read number 5)
    5) Does the Academy really find that it deals with an important issue? This is vital. This is what made 5% vote for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the biggest BP nomination shock ever.

  • 1) The Hobbit has to be a flop. There won’t be 2 blockbusters nominated.

    I’ve been thinking there will be, but now that PJ has announced that THE HOBBIT will be three movies people might not feel like it needs to be nominated this year, unless it’s just THAT good. They can always get around to awarding the trilogy with the last film, again, if need be. And they might already feel like they just gave him one. Just thinking about it now, I think the recent announcement probably did damage to this year’s Oscar push for it.

    And some of those films need to fail, but not all of them. I don’t think they’re all “sure thing”s at this point. But they all could be great. And there could be something we haven’t thought of yet.

  • Lars

    It’s certainly a good film, much better than I was expected. If it gets a nomination I wouldn’t be surprised at all. However, it is definitely not as good as TDK. Yes, Catwoman does not need to a have a relationship, but ultimately, Nolan went with the happy ending, with Bruce and Catwoman together. I would prefer to actually have Batman died in the end. That would create a much more powerful tragic ending.

    Talia’s character is totally wasted. There’s no development in her character. We don’t know much about her, except she wants revenge. Even a character on ABC’s Revenge has more layers to him/her than Talia, especially comparing her to Catwoman’s Selina. Yes, she’s the main villain, but I want to see more of her character in interaction with Bruce Wayne so we get more tension between them.

    I think the sequences with Bale in the cave prison are really well done, especially with the chanting. There’s a kind of thrill in these scenes that I didn’t get in the other ones.

  • Andrew


    For starters, here’s a couple of bullet points off the top of my head regarding the villains’ plot/s:

    – The entire point of Bane’s seige was to “give the city back to the people.” This was a ruse, of course, as Bane and Talia were planning to blow the city up anyway. The idea being that you cannot have true despair without hope. Bane wanted to fill the people of Gotham with false hope in order to poison their souls.

    First of all, anybody who comes wandering into a crowded football stadium with gun-wielding mercenaries and a nuclear bomb is not going to win over the people – especially when he proceeds to blow up the field (killing dozens) and then snapping a man’s neck. And while I understand the internal logic of the scene, releasing a prison full of people (who probably deserved to be there) isn’t exactly a hope-booster.

    So what was this “hope” that Bane was instilling the people of Gotham with? They were under the perpetual threat of a nuclear detonation, criminals were running free, people were being ripped from their homes, people were condemned to “death or exile” by the whims of a madman, and government officials were hanged from bridges. You had Bane’s men constantly storming into shelter areas blasting their guns off. I’m not seeing the “hope” that Bane supposedly wanted to poison their souls with. And this is made all the more irrelevant by the fact that Bane was just planning to blow them all up anyway. People can’t despair when they’re dead, and those that survived? Hell, they’ve been living under the threat of death for five months. They’ll still be traumatized, and they’ll still despair – but not because they had been given hope by a tyrant.

    For that, Bane’s plot made absolutely no sense to me, and was a 5-month waste of time. He was already planning to kill millions of people. Why give Batman and the police five months to plan a course of action? Why go through all of that preparation, work, and maintanance when the end result was always going to be the same? Especially when the character did the furthest thing from “building hope” than he could possibly get?

    – Bane and Talia wanted to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny by destroying Gotham.

    Hold on. Ra’s al Ghul wanted to destroy Gotham because it was crippled by crime, corruption, and injustice. But by the time of TDKR, Gotham was peaceful and prospering. Criminals associated with organized crime were denied parole (a measure that Ra’s al Ghul would not have objected to). Crime was at all all-time low.

    So… For an organization that wanted to rid the world of crime and injustice, what was the League of Shadows’ reasoning for wanting to destroy Gotham in such a state as it was in? Hell, Bane didn’t even know about the cover-up until he confiscated Gordon’s speech. It was sheer luck that he even found out that Gotham’s peacetime was based on a lie. And even then, taking the fall for another man’s crimes in order to keep hope alive (and thus deliver a crushing blow to criminality) is a far less extreme measure than, say, mass-murder. So poisoning an entire city is okay, but Batman taking the fall for Dent’s crimes is going too far? Especially when the latter succeeded at doing what the LoS wanted?

    Either Bane and Talia completely ignored Ra’s al Ghul’s philosophy (and thus tarnishing his legacy by threatening to destroy a peaceful and prospering city), or they hid behind the LoS as an excuse for a much simpler plot: revenge. Either way, it left a lot to be desired in execution.

  • Chris138

    I assume those who are reading this have seen the film, but I’ll just mention that there are SPOILERS here:

    Initially while the movie was being made and I wondered about how Nolan was going to end the series, I thought that Batman dying would make the most sense. But after seeing the film, I think that Nolan made the right choice to keep him alive and give him the ‘happy ending’. Sometimes that works, such as in Gladiator, but I think doing that to Bruce Wayne would have been a little extreme. But I’m sure if Darren Aronofsky directed TDKR he would have killed him off, since there is no such thing as a happy ending in one of his movies.

  • Talia’s character is totally wasted. There’s no development in her character. We don’t know much about her, except she wants revenge.

    Well we don’t really know that until the end even. But this is where I think the film does best on second viewing. Because you do get her backstory you just thought it was someone else’s. That’s the trick with her and the Blake character. You’re seeing their backstory but you don’t know it. When you see it the second time there are a lot of revelations you wouldn’t have known the first time. I think Nolan makes his films knowing they’ll be rewatched. And I think he also makes them for film fans like himself. For example, I knew that fans of the comics had guessed at who she was. So I knew what her character’s name but I didn’t know the character’s background. However, watching the film, her introduction was a classic film fatale introduction so I didn’t trust her for a second. She was also wearing a mask when we first see her. So she was hiding something and turns out she had an alter ego like the other mask wearers.

    But if you didn’t think that and took it on face value I can see how you’d want more with her. And I know there’s a way of thought that movies shouldn’t need more than one viewing. I agree. I just do like finding hidden layers that I didn’t catch the first time.

  • Andrew

    – The class warfare angle was barely played up. We had a scene or two showing the wealthy being ripped from their homes and their belongings ransacked (and I’m pretty sure that most of the people doing the ransacking were Bane’s mercenaries and the prisoners that he freed), but that was it. Gotham effectively becomes a ghost town for the rest of the film – with the suffering citizens being nothing more than backdrops to the main cast (notably Lucius Fox and Miranda Tate).

    I hate to be a cynic, but look at what happened in New Orleans when Katrina hit. Or, to a much lesser extent, what happened in NYC during the blackout a couple of years ago. It’s a sad statement, but disasters not only bring out the best in people, but they invariably bring out the worst. People steal, people rape, people kill – especially in an environment where they may very well get away with it amongst all of the confusion and chaos.

    Gotham City was cut off from the rest of the world. The police were imprisoned, and the only government came in the form of a tyrant who was all about letting the ordinary citizens take what they want. Simply put, Gotham would have gone completely to hell.

    But you never get that impression in the film. The streets are barren, the buildings all intact. For a city supposedly under seige and without government/law enforcement for five months, the city appeared in almost pristine shape.

    And when it came time for the people of Gotham to take back their city… Where were they? We got a showdown that ultimately amounts to the cops vs. the mercs. That’s not nearly as poignant or powerful as seeing hundreds (if not thousands) of ordinary citizens standing behind Batman in one final attempt to save their families, their friends, and their city. Batman has been all about inspiring the PEOPLE of Gotham to stand up for their city. That was the entire point of the symbol. While it may be more truthful to real life (and isn’t that depressing?), I find it odd that those people elected to stay shut up in their homes – especially after the ferry scene in TDK. It’s sad that, after everything he had done, the only people Batman could inspire to join him in the end were those who were paid to enforce the law and serve the city.

  • Andrew

    I’ll post some more thoughts tomorrow. Got stuck with the early-morning shift tomorrow.

  • rufussondheim

    Antoinette, I don’t think The Dark Knight Rises is similar to HP7.2, Drive or Dragon Tattoo, I’m just pointing out that the pool of voters for all 4 films are more or less the same.

    With the exception of The Tree of Life, none of last year’s BP nominees shares ANYTHING in common with The Dark Knight Rises. The other 8 nominees are all pretty safe down the middle of the road nominees, none of the 8 cater to a youthful audience. None of the 8 films take any truly bold risks. I just think last year’s slate of nominees is so counter to everything Nolan tries to do here.

    I am not questioning the quality of Nolan’s work, I’m questioning whether there is a group of voters large enough to support ANY youth-oriented blockbuster. Or any stylized action film. Or ANY film that takes risks.

    Yeah, they did take to Tree of Life last year. And I think that’s the extent of the Academy population that’s willing to not play it safe.

    I don’t think it has anything to do with comic books or super heroes or any of that. I just think it has to do with the simple fact that the vast majority of the Academy are old fucks with sticks up their asses. Now I like and even love some of their choices. But let’s face it, they aren’t going to be choosing more than one or two films that don’t play it safe. And with this year’s full slate of releases by filmmakers who don’t play it safe, there’s a lot of competition for those one or two slots. Heck there might be so much competition, it’s possible none of them will get that 5% Heck, We could very readily be looking at just five nominees this year – Lincoln, Great Gatsby, Les Miz, Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty – all films that the Academy might consider “edgy” but in reality aren’t.

    (Just to be clear of my term “play it safe” – I mean “play it safe” in the realm of Oscarverse.)

  • Lars

    I do realize that we’ve been listening to Talia’s story most of the time, not Bane, and that’s a neat little trick Nolan did with the strong script. But I want to get more scenes with her and Wayne in the present so we get to see the contrast between her real self and the fake identity she puts on. Then her character will be more interesting and the final twist about who she really is would be more powerful. In a sense I wish Catwoman’s not in this film (no matter how kick ass Hathaway is) because it will give more present scenes to Talia. Also, I don’t think Nolan should hint at Talia’s real identity so early, in the middle of the film (the scene when he’s touching her scar). Why a close-up? I thought Bruce would’ve already known something. As it turns out, he never suspects her.

  • Lars

    Rufus, I do hope the Master will be nominated next year…

  • Jake G!!!

    people who are criticizing The Dark Knight Rises are crazy! Yeah you can have ur own opinion, but you guys are just being picky snobs! Its the best film in the trilogy and one of the best films ever made, and you guys know it.

  • But that’s what I’m saying. I don’t think TDKR is either youth-oriented or risky. It does play it safe. Doesn’t it? That’s what I meant about the costume. If Bruce Wayne did all the same stuff and went around calling himself Bateman 😉 and just wore jeans and a T-shirt instead of a costume, this would be a timely vigilante movie with terrorists and a femme fatale. I mean he even gets the girl in the end. It’s actually old timey.

  • Jake G!!!

    And I honestly think it will win Best Picture, thats my prediction until something comes up that looks like it could steal best picture from TDKR, and I doubt anything will.

  • rufussondheim

    Antoinette, perception is more important than reality.

    I personally don’t think it has a prayer of getting nominated. I think it’s already lost the potential buzz. Unless there’s a ton of failures, I doubt it will come back into play.

    Even if it does, I think the majority of Academy members won’t even screen it.

    It’s a huge uphill battle at this time.

  • Chris138

    Jake G!!!: I hate to kill your enthusiasm since I liked the movie as well, but no. It will definitely not win Best Picture. Wouldn’t even come close.

  • kasper

    Obviously, there will be spoilers in this, but really were they spoilers?

    I’m such a huge batman fan that I’ll watch anything batman even if they were directed by joel shumacher again. but my god this movie is so heavy and superficial at the same time. everything has to be so epic with him. I mean, I’d love Christopher Nolan to do a Batman in the scale of a Memento or the Prestige. Things were tighter, more precision. Everything about his (at least the last two) batmans, in regards to its politically/aesthetically are vague (under the guise of purposeful contradiction) and sloppy (under the guise of purposeful disorientation).

    As for Oscars: Anne Hathaway did a wonderful job in her interpretation. Though, I would have liked to see more bad Selina Kyle before her redemption, because she was so fun and god knows the Nolan Batmans could use more fun. But for Bane: a WWF wrestler could have played him again, voiced-over by Christopher Plummer. And okay, the Talia reveal was not so much a surprise to me, but that’s because I just knew as soon as Marion C. was cast that she’d be Talia. But the “Robin” reveal was a bit cheap. even though I liked Joseph Gordon Levitt. And I like the idea that the title of the film could be about him too, since it seems the movie was almost about him as much as Bruce Wayne. Though, I just don’t see anyone getting nominated for this in acting. There are so many central characters, yet for a movie almost 3 hours long, they feel underdeveloped. And as for Best Picture, I guess I could see it in the top 5-10 but if it’s not nominated, I don’t think it’s because of Aurora.

  • kasper

    I mean why does it need to win Oscars? Why are people so passionate about this movie that you’ll receive death threats by the fans (who hadn’t even seen it) if you dare give it a bad review? Like I said I’m a huge batman fan, but why does it need Sasha’s or anyone’s advocacy for it to be rewarded “the top honors” on top of earning a billion dollars? I’m asking a real question here.

    There are so many unsung films throughout the year that will never get a single nomination for the Oscars, yet it’s the big Hollywood moneymaking movies that people are passionate about getting nominated, and if they aren’t, then we say the academy is out of touch, too old, etc. And maybe that’s true. But really aren’t there movies that deserve their own posts on here that warrant shaking the tree. I mean why The Dark Knight Rises and not something like To Die Like a Man. I mean that would be a shaking!

  • Dan

    Sasha, I love your site and your commentary. But when are you going to get a clue? It doesn’t matter what the film is about or if he’s a giant bat or not or if the main villain is a female or not: most members of the Academy will NOT vote for a film that is so fundamentally poorly made. They expect a good director to have strong dramatic intuition, to edit a scene coherently, to structure a script properly, to write good dialogue, to block a scene well, to “show” not “tell,” to have narrative coherence, and on and on… BASIC FILM 101 TYPE STUFF. Sometimes Nolan gets it, many times he’s a mess, and AMPAS will NOT tolerate that.

    The great film directors of old would role over in their graves!

  • black widow

    TDKR shouldn`t be nominated because it just wasn`t that good. It hasn`t received TDK buzz, is considered lesser work so what`s the point of a nomination? At least HP:DH Pt 2 was called best of the series or up there with PoA so you cna make an argument against APAS snub.

    It`s a comic book movie that received worse reviews than the previous movie that AMPAS infamously snubbed. I don`t see why they would be pressured to nominate this when point is proven that, eh, it isn`t all that.

    As the matter of fact, I see The Hobbit facing similar challenges. While LOTR was based on a book that was considered important and allegory to WW2 and certianly capitalized on deliberate paralels to War on Terror, The Hobbit book isn`t in that league. And while Jackson is certainly trying to make the movies just as important politiclaly as LOTR was, with all additions from Tolkien`s other works, it`s all seen before. Including the “bold” decision to make 3 movies back to back which isn`t bold anymore for these movies are now one of the surest things ever. They are obviously trying to recreate LOTR`s “third movie wins for the series” situation, but this time around there is no financial risk and the three movie thing was done before. Plus, the content is also a big rehash of the previous movies. If you scrap purely Hobbit parts, there`s a lot of “the fate of Middle Earth lies in the hands of unlikely heroes, darkness is rising, lets get several nations/species unite against the darkness (that will be defeated in movies you`ve already seen)”. I dunno, kinda redundant. Might get obligatory blockbuster nom if AMPAS keeps 10 BP spots but the first movie neds to be sepcially terrific to breka into Top 5 biggies such as Director and Adapted Script given insane competition this year. Not that they don`t have 2 more years to bounce back. Anyway, if any blockbuster can do it, it`s this one due to tradition of nominating these movies. TDKR doesn`t have that on its side.Nor it has critical reponse since it isn`t of “best movie of the trilogy” variety that ROTK had regardless of what people think of it now (seems like appreciation has shifted in FOTR favor but that`s irrelevant for this discussion).

  • Jesus Alonso

    It wouldn’t be nice, sorry. Neither Prometheus, so far, the popcorn film that should have a place in the final ballot is The Avengers, which doesn’t shy off what it really is, pure entertainment.

    Prometheus shoots its own foot and ambitions with an embarrassing screenplay, extremely pretentious (obviously attempts to be a new 2001, by ripping off the very same concept and idea: an alien origin of our evolution/creation) in which the characters behave like in a bad Friday the 13th film… think twice about what you saw in Prometheus… you’ll realize how stupid the movie continuously is.

    The Dark Knight Rises… well, it’s a great film, for granted. But the suspension of disbelief is extremely necessary in the last third (something that happens in Nolan plenty of times, by the way, a similar case to Danny Boyle’s filmography). To me, it features great acting, great ideas, but in the end, I think it’s pure cryptofascism and a dangerous film to stand for. It also shys off making the film what it would really had to be (SPOILER a Batman & Robin film SPOILER), it seems even ashamed of its own comic-book origin, by never calling Selina Kyle “Catwoman”… and the final twist may have come to a surprise to the non-geeky audiences, but it was clear to thousands even before the movie started shooting, once we read certain cast decission and which role would be playing in the movie. In the end is just one step below The Dark Knight, and doesn’t feature anything that is too big for the Academy to ignore, even Michael Caine’s absolutely masterful performance can esaily be ignored as he’s a double Oscar winner already.

    Of course, the movie that is bound to be ignored is The Avengers, but out of the 3, is the one that decades after, probably the AMPAS would be proud to have highlighted… ’cause unlike Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises, it’s a true game-changer.

  • James

    It would be nice, and widely deserved, but does Nolan really need the Oscars? He is going to win awards and make brilliant movies in decades to come.

  • My recollection is that people always thought FOTR was the best of the trilogy. I remember lots of complaints about ROTK.

    I think it’s pure cryptofascism and a dangerous film to stand for.

    What makes you say that?

  • Kyle

    The idea of calling Avengers a game-changer just blows my mind. It’s a dumb action movie, not much more. It barely has a script in between fights.

  • I don’t think TDKR has a ghost of a chance. I keep thinking about not just all the people who lost their lives going to see this movie, but about the pregnant woman whose six-year-daughter was killed, and who got shot in the abdomen, killing her unborn child, and in the spine. She’s paralyzed for life. Maybe her hands as well as her legs. She’ll never walk again.

    I know Academy/show biz types who just refuse to even watch this movie with these associations so clearly in their minds. Will they even watch the DVD when it comes time to that? I don’t think so.

    There are police cars and police men majorly present outside all the AMC theaters in NYC, still.

    I have second third and fourth thoughts about going in to any of them. Then I just don’t go.

  • Jesus Alonso

    re: TDKR as cryptofascist… I don’t know what movie did you see, but I saw the concept of the superman implemented, againg in Hollywood the cliché of a WASP man succeeding where other race always failed (the pit) plus the equation poor people riot equals evil, in a distorted version of the trials the french did during the revolution (which certainly were anything but fair ones). The underlying message are, rioting is bad, rebelling is bad, and you always need to follow a leader (Batman). All these ideas and concepts are in the subtext and basic ideas of the film itself. Plus, once more… whoever protests against the system, is a potential terrorist. Which was the message of the very same Patriot Act, let me remind you. All the shades of grey that The Dark Knight offered us to taste, thanks to the Joker’s role as an agent of Chaos, are transformed into a “black or white” game, too symplistic and a pure betrayal of the very same concept Nolan brought to us through the first two films.

    re: The Avengers… yes, it’s a game changer in film industry, it’s the implementation of Marvel’s successful production scheme (a huge franchise with multiple spin-offs which are produced basically on demand) to film industry. The fact that DC and WB are relaunching the very same Justice League project, copycating Marvel’s scheme, is a sign of how thngs are beginning to turn. I’d say that the success of The Avengers franchise (the film is just its 6th installment after 2 Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Caps) is going to be looked as, as important as the birth of the Summer movie with “Jaws”. How many franchises with already potential spin off are we going to see in the next years? Time will tell, but I’d say Hollywood just opened a door… and an extremely lucrative one.

  • steve50

    “I know Academy/show biz types who just refuse to even watch this movie with these associations so clearly in their minds. ”

    That’s ridiculous – perhaps they should find another line of work. People are killed on the street, in restaurants, in the woods, shopping malls, you name it. Never led to a boycott on eating out or shopping. That’s just posing at its worst.

    “Look at me. I’m above being a party to this type of behaviour.”

  • Ryan Adams

    There are police cars and police men majorly present outside all the AMC theaters in NYC. I have second third and fourth thoughts about going in to any of them. Then I just don’t go.

    Good idea. Anytime you see a police car, go straight home and lock your doors.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    What movie can we blame for today’s shooting? Let’s just blame TDKR a couple more times, ok?

  • Stephen Holt, that’s such bullshit. By December the Colorado thing won’t be in anyone’s minds. The cops will most likely be gone from the AMCs shortly, but at least no later than whenever TDKR gets taken out of the theaters.

    And I have to reiterate that the Aurora thing will have NOTHING whatsoever to do with this movie’s Oscar chances. Zero. Zilch. This movie will be judged on its own merits, but more importantly how it stacks up within the series of films, within Nolan’s catalog and within the crop of (extremely promising) contenders this year.

  • Ryan Adams

    OK, No more costumes in church. Sorry, Pope.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    ^So true.

    What do you do if you want to type something in bold text, as ‘NOTHING’ above? Might come in handy.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    It wouldn’t have happened if people had carried their guns in this church. I would’ve taken him down EASILY (=I wanted that word in bold text). I just know it. You better shoot me before you take my firearms away. I have rights.

  • I don’t know what movie did you see, but I saw the concept of the superman implemented, again in Hollywood the cliché of a WASP man succeeding where other race always failed

    That’s why. I don’t see color. But I did take an online test once that told me I was a fascist so that could be something. But I never really thought of Batman as a white guy. People usually have to alert me to race and gender and all the stuff that’s supposed to go along with it. It’s a waste of time to me.

    Plus, once more… whoever protests against the system, is a potential terrorist.

    Was it saying that or was just the character of Bane an actual terrorist? I didn’t think it meant everyone who protests is Bane. I guess that’s more of that thing where this character symbolizes this, and that character symbolizes that, which again I don’t really go along with. Batman’s Batman. Bane’s Bane. I wouldn’t watch it and think they represent some group. They’re individuals to me. Maybe I’m wrong.

    @Stephen Holt

    Well if your academy friends refuse to see the movie, I think that will be a detriment to Anne Hathaway’s Oscar hopes. I know you’re a big fan of hers. So maybe you could work to nudge them into seeing it. For her sake.

  • Nick K.

    I loved “The Dark Knight” when it came out, and I was incredibly frustrated when the Academy snubbed it for a deserving nomination for “Best Picture”. For me, it takes the mantle passed from “Star Wars” and “Jaws” and pushes the blockbuster to it’s limits, thematically and in terms of scope, while succeeding on all counts.

    That said, I don’t think “The Dark Knight Rises” deserves, in any way, a Best Picture nomination. Was it bad? Of course not. It was, all in all, a good movie. But it lacks the focus of the last two films, has far too many characters (Matthew Modine’s character could’ve been cut out of the film completely) and as a result some of the characters from the last films aren’t given their proper due (Gordon in particular is pushed aside, which was incredibly disappointing for me considering he was such a strong character before). And while it has some good themes about personal responsibility in society, it sort of abandons that for the whole “redemption” motif in the second half of the movie. Which isn’t bad, but I think both halves are severely disconnected.

    It was disappointing, though nowhere near as bad as other threequels like “Spider-Man 3” or “Godfather Part III”. It deserves nominations for it’s cinematography and score (both magnificent), and maybe some more nominations in the technical categories, but it could’ve been a great film instead of a merely good one.

  • You guys are seriously going to connect this movie to another shooting? Really? And it’s not even the people who dislike the film. Whose side are you on anyway?

  • Tero Heikkinen

    I don’t know, it’s just so hard not to. To me, all shootings, natural disasters, divorces, abortions etc… are now directly linked to TDKR. And probably always will. I don’t know what happened, but the film is obviously evil and spawns from Satan himself. God help us all.

  • Reform the Academy

    Basically this is a bit of a polarizing film, like Inception…


    Metacritic- 11 100’s, 6 mixed, 3 negative
    Broadcast Film Critics Association- 94
    Rotten Tomatoes- 86% (8.0 avg)/80% Top Critics (7.4 avg)
    Inception- 8.8

    The Dark Knight Rises:

    Metacritic- 10 100’s, 6 mixed, 2 negative
    Broadcast Film Critics Association- 91
    Rotten Tomatoes- 87% (8/10 avg)/75% Top Critics (7.9 avg)
    IMDB- 8.9

    Well, as polarazing as a Nolan film gets, lol…mostly praised but some very vocal haters and a few indifferents. Do I need to remind you guys that Inception was still nominated for 8 Oscars including Best Picture? True, Nolan was snubbed and probably will be again…but I’d bank on another Best Pic nom at least.

  • steve50

    Just heard of another mass shooting incident in Wisconsin (?). Where’s my “boycott cheese” sign?

  • *bites Tero*

  • Reform the Academy

    Jesus…first a theatre and now a church? My two places of worship are under attack…

  • Tero Heikkinen

    Yeah, fuck schools.

  • Smith

    Interesting mentality in this thread. 1) It is not acceptable to tarnish this extremely important superhero movie by even tentatively linking it to a shooting and murdered people IRL. 2) What, there´s been a new shooting?! Well, what impact does that have on our important superhero movie? Ha ha ha, none! 3) If anyone seems a bit too upset about this new shooting, it might be a sign that he does not worship our superhero movie the way a normal person does. 4) Any person of that description must be ridiculed and shunned. He is a traitor to the cause. 5) Actually, anyone who gets shot in a way that reminds anyone else of Aurora, before the Oscar ballots are returned, is a traitor to the cause.

  • Ryan Adams

    I think it’s part of my job to point out that this “Smith” preaching to everybody here about our attitudes is the same person as “Agnes” — Agnes, who had this sensitive compassionate thing to say on the day of the Colorado shooting:

    “Box office for the film will take a hit” – yes, my heart also goes out to Christopher Nolan´s wallet today.

    Agnes/Smith, now you need a 3rd or 4th new ID to hide behind. Try not to be a condescending hypocrite in your next persona.

  • Smith, this used to be a place to talk about movies. That’s why I come here. I’m not here to talk about shootings. I’ve never seen you before but we’ve been over this many times. Anyone who wants to talk about shootings has many outlets to do so. If I went into a sports forum I would not expect people to be talking about cooking. I don’t understand why that is so incredibly odd, or somehow insensitive. But you know what you’re right. I’m going to let everyone keep linking this film and everyone who worked on it to every incident of violence in this world without saying anything because someone like you who has been such a vocal member here says so. You really shamed me into not caring about movies. Thank you.

  • Ryan Adams

    Antoinette, as far as I can see, nobody on this page — except “Smith” — was seriously trying to link the Wisconsin shooting to The Dark Knight Rises.

    On the contrary, the only comments I see are those people making ironic observations, still wondering why The Dark Knight Rises ever got blamed 3 weeks ago.

    Somebody straining to find a connection? Oak Creek Wisconsin is 22 miles from Orson Welles’ birthplace in Kenosha.

    So blame the Sight & Sound poll for the tragedy today. That makes as much sense as blaming TDKR.

  • Ryan Adams

    You’re right Antoinette. This “Smith” has comes to talk about movies before, too — and he/she is always welcome to do that.

    But he must be somewhat embarrassed about trying to wrap Hollywood and murder in the same lame package, because both times he’s felt compelled to do it he’s disguised his more familiar identity. That’s telling in itself, don’t you think?

    Agnes/Smith, Just stop, ok? Nobody cares about this agenda of yours. And you stick out like a sore thumb when you show up with a mask on. We all notice that something’s not right.

  • steve50

    Blaming TDKR for that shooting is like blaming the 72 Olympics or NYC for their respective attacks. These attention-starved freaks try to make as big a bang as possible to create maximum disruption and fear, grabbing a little fame along the way.

    To read anything – anything – else into it is crazy.

    It’s also really off-putting for somebody to try and spin anything said here as part of some idol worshipping cover-up.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    I have Antoinette’s bite marks all over my arm. That was for nothing? 🙂

  • Ryan Adams

    You should feel honored, Tero. You should feel lucky. Lucky it was only your arm.

  • Bob Burns

    I’m not all that much a Nolan fan, so I hope that lends some objectivity to my opinion that DKR will still be a contender Oscar night.

  • I’ve tried to stay out of this discussion because it’s all moot. TDKR will be consigned, like the Avengers and the Hunger Games to their designated ghetto of Art Direction, Visual Effects, Cinematography and Sound. They will be more open to honor a clusterfuck like Beasts of the Southern Wild, which to date has earned less than $6 million at the boxoffice and will need a miracle to break $10m. That is the stuff they gravitate toward.

  • The Great Dane

    To be the first threequel ever to get nominated without either of the first two installments having had a nomination in the Top 5 categories (Godfather 1+2, Lord of the Rings 1+2, Toy Story 1 all had that before the third one got a Best Picture nomination), I also strongly believe that Dark Knight Rises had to be as good or betteras the first two ones. And it just isn’t.
    The majority really feels that it’s the weekest of the three, even though they really like it.

    If it DID get in, SO many films have to fail and disappoint – and the voters would REALLY feel they owe him (they do owe him, but do they know?) – or simply, a vote for Dark Knight Rises could be a sympathy vote to let Team Nolan know that they feel sorry for the tragedy connected to the film and how it may have affected the makers personally with unjustified guilt.

    Let’s wait and see what happens. I think the critics will ignore it, just the way they did Harry Potter. They went behind the second film and seem to be behind the third one (in a slightly lesser way), and rewarding The Bat Movie was great a couple of years ago, but seems like old news to the critcs now. They don’t need to repeat themselves. And if The Dark Knight Rises should stand a chance, it NEEDS the critics to rally behind it again and push push push. Time will tell. I think the critics will abandon it, just like Harry Potter.
    Even a possible nomination for Hathaway will drown once Les Misérables enters the picture, which on the other hand has a chance to become the film with most Oscar nominations ever, if it’s amazing (the dread!).

  • Reform the Academy

    The majority really feels that it’s the weekest of the three, even though they really like it.

    Did you even look at the stats I posted? This is so not true…it’s a bit devisive sure, but definitely not the weakest in the majority’s opinion.

  • Ari

    I still don’t understand your appeal for this movie. It was incredibly disappointing. Bad writing, very cliched, bad directing…it was such a disappointment compared to the awesomeness of ‘The Dark Knight’. I can list so many things I hated about this movie:

    – More cliched which was a letdown since TDK was not the cliched superhero movie at all. I mean, the female sidekick saving the life of the hero at the end? PLEASE.
    – Relationships not being explored enough. Did not care for the Miranda plot twist. It was more like “Oh what a shame”. If Nolan explored her relationship with Bruce more like he did with Rachel it would have been amazing.
    – Nolan not using great up and coming young actors to his advantage. Why hire Josh Pence and not let him talk at all or else use his ENTIRE face? Why hire Juno Temple for her character to be completely pointless with 3 lines?
    – Am I the only one who HATED Anne Hathaway as Catwoman? Her lines were cheesy and she sounded like she was trying to be all mysterious and ‘cool’ in a comic book way. She lacked chemistry with Bale TBH. Everytime she was on screen I kept thinking Anne Hathaway not Selina Kyle.
    – The fact that Bane had so much potential to be an interesting villain like the Joker only to have a crap twist at the end. It ruined the character for me.
    – The Joker wasn’t mentioned ONCE. Now Nolan says that is “respect” but to me it’s lazy writing. The Joker was the cause of so many things happening in this film.
    – Did I really watch a movie where half of Bruce’s scenes was him climbing out of a hole?

    Now things I did like:
    – Cillian Murphy’s surprise appearance.
    – Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy.
    – Petyr Baelish was a surprise.
    – Bane’s introduction and the plane. Really enjoyed that scene.

    Sorry if I came off as a tad harsh. I just don’t understand why people think this is “the best movie of 2012” when it wasn’t in the same league as TDK at all. I noticed that a lot of fanboys know it wasn’t great but just can’t accept it.

    Things I don’t understand: How many fans of the movie appear to be more worried about the films reputation than the massacre of the event. The movie had NOTHING to do with the killings. People died. But why are all of you stressed about the films reputation being stained? There are bigger issues. I’m neither in the side of the journalists who keep linking the film to the massacre or the fanboys who are so frightened that this film is forever linked to the killings. Has everyone suddenly forgotten that people were killed? Or is this issue just about the movie and the madman?

    Should the Academy be stressed to nominate this movie? Certainly not. Does this film deserve a nomination? I don’t think so. I do think that TDK deserved one. Should Nolan be nominated for directing and writing? No. He doesn’t deserve it. BUT should the Academy do something in memoriam to the lives lost in the massacre? Certainly. The Academy is about films and the love for cinema. They simply cannot ignore this tragedy without recognising that this sanctuary for film lovers became a war zone. I’m still pissed at the Academy for not doing something for the years and years of achievement from the Harry Potter franchise and if the Academy doesn’t do something in memory of the massacre then I’ll be even more disappointed.

  • Tero Heikkinen

    So, it was the Academy who hired the shooter. Thanks for pointing that out. Yes, I agree. Now they must do a memorial for them.

  • OCO300

    @Ari @Tero Heikkinen Maybe Ryan Adams or anyone should discuss to the Academy on how either why Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was snubbed or have the Academy give an honorary Oscat to the HP franchise for all the hard work it’s done for the last 10 years?

  • Craig Z

    OCO/Sclub or whatever….. Why would they talk about Harry Potter? That has nothing to do with this year at all. Please stay on topic.

  • Kyle


    While I agree with you about the lack of exploration of relationships in TDKR esp between Bruce and Miranda, it really isn’t any worse than the lack of relationship definition between Bruce and Rachel at any point in the series. So that’s not really something in TDK’s favor vs. TDKR.

  • Kyle

    And before I forget

    Jesus Alonso,

    So because a film makes alot of money, it deserves recognition from the academy? Regardless of its quality?

  • JP

    Someone commented something here in AD months ago during the awards season something that really caught my attention. The person’s argument was that one Academy Awards is the son of the previous one. I don’t remember exactly the examples that were used but I’m gonna try to write my conclusions.

    Regarding winners: in 2008, NCFOM took BP. It was a dark film with an unhappy ending. The next year they chose a feel-good film, Slumdog Millionare (a film that many here dislike but I that I find fantastic). SM was said to deal with tough situations in a “soft” way. So they chose to award a film about an important and tough issue that showed the horror of being in a war. The Hurt Locker, a very untypical winner. Low box office, july release… So… they missed the typical Oscar movie. TKS came and took the prize. In the next year, the more typical Oscar movies (War Horse, ELIC) did not deliver with critics. The Help, Moneyball, The Descendants, Hugo, Midnight in Paris… all liked films but all with major impediments. In the end, The Artist, despite being mute, black-and-white, with foreign leads and director, had less impediments. A default winner although a great film. And not to mention that it was critics’ darling, what TKS although loved by critics wasn’t. The black-and-white, mute and lead by foreigners may open space for a typical colorful, high-budgeted Oscar-bait film full of film stars. That points exactly in Lincoln and Les Mis.

    The nominations follow this argument. In 2011, they nominated 2 very big blockbusters, had 5/10 BP nominees over 100 million dollars and a poor ceremony in terms of ratings. If they gave the public their faves and still the ratings were bad, let’s nominate the films that we really connect with. War Horse, ELIC… And actually the ratings were better. We just have to make a regular to good ceremony. And the pressure to nominate a blockbuster won’t be that high this year in my opinion. The ratings were better, weren’t they… and in a very boring awards season? But they may forget one essential factor why the ratings were better: Meryl Streep. They won’t be able to rely their hopes on Meryl’s popularity again and the ratings may go down again… In the end, I think it will be just tough for any blockbuster to be nominated. The 5% rule is a challenge and they split votes. But if there is a survivor, there will be only one. And I don’t think TDKR is ahead of The Avengers, for example, although I prefer TDKR. And The Hobbit could easily beat them. It’s been there, done that. It’s easier for the Academy member to vote for something they are already used to.

  • Wrap your heads around this one; it’s entirely possible that The Hunger Games will have more weekends at #1 (4) than The Dark Knight Rises will (now at 3). It’s possible; Bourne Legacy kicks off next weekend, then Expendables 2. Who the heck would’ve had bets on THAT five weeks ago?

  • Tero Heikkinen

    Ahem, most analysts predicted that TDKR can’t beat Bourne, so three weekends was always in the books.

    And THG is not a very good example, it made 21M on its fourth weekend. You expect Bourne Legacy making less than that? It’s always about competition and Summer is crowdy.

  • Ryan Adams

    When I think about all the movies that held onto the #1 spot for 4 straight weeks — I realize I don’t know what they are because I don’t have any reason to care about that.

  • Reform the Academy
  • Craig Z

    What a meaningless statistic

  • Mattoc

    This was number one in Australia for 6 weeks. Enjoy

  • Mark

    It’s the weakest (by a considerable margin) of the trilogy. Can’t see the remotest possibility of it getting a Best Picture nod.


    Craig Z. or Cray Z. whatever ur name is, he was just replying to Ari, and Ari was talking about TDKR and some about HP: DH 2, so take a chill pill.

  • Kyle Pinion

    Have you seen Batman Begins lately? It really doesn’t hold up as well, first hour to hour and a half notwithstanding.

  • Nic V

    The moment you start using phrases like “it’s time we ……” you’ve already acknowledged the fact that the prospect of such happening is weak. The premise that “it’s time …” is absurd at best. Hundreds have walked the same path as Nolan and not been acknowledged either because there was something or someone better or something or someone caught the imagination or emotional response of the voters.

    I went to this film with the highest expectations. I have thoroughly enjoyed the first two and am as ambivalent about TDKR as much as I loved TDK. I have to echo a lot of Julian’s comments. This film was loud for no other reason than to be loud. And I might not have been bothered by loud if loud was some sort of defining piece of the film rather than sounding like some two year old beating pots pans together after getting into the kitchen cabinets.

    The screenplay is problematic. I get the set up in the first half of the film but it took everything to keep me in the seat to sit through that meandering bullshit. The second half jumps into action and that actually saves the film.

    Championing Marion Coitlard as some type of model for what women’s roles should be is a mistake because it was clear she was the villian and she wasn’t nearly as good a villian in this as she was in Inception. In this she was a lump and a yawn.

    Bale is excellent. Hathaway steals it and this is one of her best performances. The cinematography is excellent. The sound editing sucked. The score was gawd awful.

    I bet this makes the nominations but it kinda of reminds me a bit of War Horse with so many missed opportunities on one hand and so much over kill on the other.

  • moviewatcher

    It seems the sound was a fault of the IMAX system and not the movie itself. Those who saw it in a normal movie theatre (like myself) have not complained about the sound. I think it’s the IMAX’s sound system fault. i didn’t find it loud.

  • OCO300

    Say do you guys think the Hunger Games, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Hope Springs have a shot of being in the Oscar BP race?

  • Craig Z

    I’ve never used any other name but this one……

  • rufussondheim

    OCO300. I think it’s generally accepted that only Moonrise Kingdom and Beasts of the Southern Wild have legitimate shots in the Oscar BP race.

    Many believe that there will be room for one Blockbuster in the line-up, but there are several movies vying for that spot with the most likely being The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises (excluding yet-to-be-released films)

    I am not of the opinion that there will be a “blockbuster slot.” There wasn’t one last year, but that’s a one-year sample with the new rules and it’s too soon to tell how the rule changes will generally affect future nomination lists.

  • moviewatcher

    rufussondheim: I am willing to bet you money that The Avengers and The Hunger Games will NOT be nominated for BP. It’s just unfathomable to me. The Dark Knight Rises is the only blockbuster, other than The Hobbit that has any chance at a BP nominations. TDKR has Christopher Nolan, and is the sequel to TDK. That is what gives it the edge among the three already-released blockbusters. Plus, let’s just look at critical acclaim. I don’t use rottentomatoes much, because it only allows for Positive/negative review, and doesn’t allow for a middle ground.

    1. The Dark Knight Rises: 78
    2. The Avengers: 69
    3. The Hunger Games: 67

    Now, this might not be how you would rank these movies, but there is no question that this is how the industry, and the critics feel about them. The Dark knight Rises and The Hobbit are the blockbusters to watch out for. The Avengers and The Hunger Games will not get anywhere other than tech nominations. Maybe, just maybe, THG manages an Actress nomination for Jennifer Lawrence, but that’s so unlikely now…

  • VVS

    TDKR is one of the best crafted stories I’ve seen on screen to date. Every scene is heavy, not trivial, and propels the story and character development forward. In that way, it really reminds me of the classics from the 1940s and 1950s. It has that grand scale and that romanticism. Comparing the quality of this story to Deathly Hallows is incredulously bewildering.

    This film deserves to be nominated because if this was the 1940s/50s/60s it WOULD HAVE BEEN.

  • OCO300

    @moviewatcher (not that I disagree with you, but) What about RotttenTomaoes, IMDB, and BFCA (Critic’s Choice)?

  • BOTSW has made only $6 million at the boxoffice, so it will naturally be considered for all the top awards. In an ideal world, it wouldn’t even be given a half-thought. Metacritic is too narrow:

    The Avengers: 92
    TDKR 87
    The Hunger Games 85

    Can you imagine how many people would watch the Oscars if these three went up against the nominees from the hardcore arthouse circuit?

  • rufussondheim

    Looking at Metacritc scores and Rotten Tomatoes scores are the old way of looking at things, they dictate broad concensus and it was broad concensus that was needed in the past.

    The only thing that matters now is that a picture find its way to #1 on the ballot. It no longer matters if you are the fifth best movie of the year in someone’s opinion since that will never be counted. If you aren’t #1 you might as well be #69.

    Probably the best early indicator is the number of scores of 100 a film gets on Metacritic. If a film gets a 95 on an individual review it should probably be discarded along with the 40’s and 50’s it receives.

    But even then, while critics and Oscars sometimes agree, last years nominations suggest that a critical darling like Drive will be discarded in favor of manipulative dreck like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

    (Wouldn’t you know, the one time I need to go to Metacritic to check out movie ratings, the site is down for maintenance – AAAAARGH)

  • rufussondheim

    If you go to the site above you can see the number of #1 votes the top films got last year among the critics that were included.

    Of the 830 critics, only three films got the requiste 5%.

    Drive – 80
    Tree of Life – 76
    The Artist – 52

    and only two of those were nominated.

    Of the next tier

    Melancholia – 38
    Hugo – 37
    The Descendants – 34

    Each of these got 4% but still only two were nominated.

    I think Tree of Life got the nomination over Drive and Meloncholia because Drive and Meloncholia were considered longshots and smart votes chose to support Tree of Life instead since that film easily had the best shot to get a nomination since that was on everyone’s shortlist (until the guilds came out)

    Now let’s look at the other nominated films.

    Moneyball – 10 #1 votes
    Midnight in Paris – 10
    War Horse – 9

    So I consider these three to be in the third tier.

    And then there’s the lowly tier.

    The Help – 2 #1 votes
    EL % IC – ? votes (it’s a mystery since it was so crappy it didn’t even make the list.)

    So what does this tell us?

    1) If you want to get in on critical support alone, you better not be too edgy (Drive) or controversial (Melancholia.)

    2) If you want to get in on critical support alone you need a ton of Oscar buzz (Tree of Life) or you need a creative team with a lot of success at the Oscars (Hugo and The Descendants)

    3) If you want to be a middling film you better have an A-list star at the top of his game (Moneyball) or be directed by a Hollywood Legend (War Horse, Midnight in Paris.)

    4) You can still get in if you are a sub-par movie as long as you make old people cry (The Help, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close)

    5) You can’t get in if you are a broadly successful film with second/third-tier critical success (Bridesmaids – 6 #1 votes, HP7.2 – 8 #1 votes)

    What we didn’t have last year was a blockbuster film that had top-notch critical support. I think if we did, it would be included quite readily.

    But most important of all, every film nominated was put on Oscar Shortlists by the bloggers in the fall (but not winter) with November being the high water mark.

    If you want to be a player you need to be at the forefront in November. If not, you are toast.

  • Kyle Pinion

    IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes (basically a site that anyone with a blog can seemingly write reviews for) are not good indicators of quality. Average to just good films somehow wind up with 90’s on RT, and IMDB…the less said the better.

  • DRM


    I view the Oscars as a chance for a lot of smaller films to get more attention and gain a wider audience than they otherwise might have. TDKR doesn’t need any help. It already has a huge audience. I enjoyed the two sequels of this trilogy, but neither of them are as good as Batman Begins. Now there is a blockbuster film that did not receive as wide of an audience as it should have, thanks to the toxic word of mouth from Batman & Robin. There are millions of people out there who have watched TDK and TDKR without watching BB. That is a shame to me. But it is not a shame that these films aren’t receiving Oscar nominations for Best Picture. They don’t need the boost in attention like smaller films do.

  • Branko Burcksen

    Sometimes I wonder if anything I say makes an impact, but I remember that part of writing my thoughts is to express myself rather affect change in others. Now is the time for advocacy and impossible odds and giving credit where you believe it is due. Just reading your words gives me motivation to go forward with what I have to say.

    I have been following and reading the development of TDKR these past few months with two words, “Madoka Magica”, hanging on every thought of what Nolan has done for the superhero movie and how he is worthy of recognition for that. Because I continue to read so much about TDKR, this little known, twelve episode anime series, released this year on the heels of two gigantic superhero movies, comes back, again and again.

    You said, “We are no longer dazzled by that which we don’t readily understand,” which is what I feared would become of “Madoka Magica”. I push on though because I believe Nolan deserves consideration just like “Madoka” does. If TDKR goes on in the discussion of the superhero mythos and as a worthy competitor in Oscars than I see this little seen twelve episode series as crucial to both those ends.

    Roger Ebert’s Far Flung Correspondent, Omer M. Mozaffar, gives the best explanation of the trilogy and in particular TDKR’s strengths and weaknesses:

    I also offered my comments that best explain the link between “Madoka Magica”, TDKR and the superhero story:

    In the month leading up to the release of TDKR, I again and again found myself compelled to not just to comment on Jim Emerson’s blog, but Mike Mirasol and several others’ about this conclusion to an incredible movie trilogy and the perfect coinciding stateside release of the twelve episode anime series “Madoka Magica”.
    What does a little heard of anime have to do with Batman or any other superhero movie for that matter? “Madoka Magica” is the lastest in a long line of anime from the magical girl genre made most famous in the West by “Sailor Moon.” Superheroes and magical girls share a few significant characteristics in common including strange outfits, living a double life and devotion to protecting the innocent from those who would do evil. Also, like many superhero movies, most magical girl shows are very childish. “Madoka Magica” sets itself apart from the rest of the herd like Nolan’s Batman trilogy by taking the genre down a more serious and darker investigation of what such a life style does to a person. What’s most astonishing about it though, is that after multiply viewings, reading several essays, discussions and comments here and elsewhere, I realized “Madoka Magica” plumes deep into the core of what it means to be a masked hero of justice, and not only tears it down to expose its raw center but escalates the stakes of the game to where the very foundations of what it means to be human are at risk.
    TDK trilogy wipes away the idealism and immaturity of the superhero story, like the directors and movies you name, have done with the Western and the War genre to reflect the more cynical and world weary eye of our current state. You’re very right that the conclusion to the trilogy sways at dangerous intervals between hope and complete despair. At stake is whether hope and good can rise above doubt and hate in our present cynicism without succumbing to despair. Nolan believes we can. But as you point out so well, and what other reviewers like Emerson have analyzed, is how the scale and philosophical quandaries of the movie override the drama.
    By the time “Madoka Magica” reaches the climax of its twelfth episode, it sets up such devastating and monumental conflicts it seems impossible to escape the soul crushing answer the story might dish out. It is able to do this without losing sight of its characters and the emotional development they have gone through. That’s what makes this short series so astonishing. Its characters embody and play out the conflicts and dilemmas of the superhero so well they can strip away so many of the conceits that characterize the superhero like defending the innocent, protecting secret identifies, sacrificing personal desires and straddling the line between good and evil to its very heart and explore the wider implications of the superhero role as to how it relates to the way a person should perceive the world and what human values like love and hope are really worth.
    The cat-like creature, Kyubey, confronts lead character Madoka and her friend Sayaka about making a contract with him to become magical girls in order to hunt witches in exchange for one wish. More lies behind this deal than at first appears of course, but both girls take the wise choice of really thinking about what they want and what it means to be a magical girl. That’s where their veteran witch hunting guide Mami comes in to show them the incredible risks she takes when she took on her role and the personal sacrifices it involved. We’ve seen that side of the superhero illustrated very well by Peter Parker in “Spider Man 2”, but “Madoka Magica” takes a much darker turn, like TDK trilogy in raising the stakes. In fact, the series dares to portray the most dire consequences of devoting a life to fighting evil from the shadows that no superhero movie ever touched, nor likely ever will.
    I believe the lines “With great power comes great responsibility,” and “You either die a hero, or live long enough to see ourself become the villain,” explain the dual dilemmas at the heart of the superhero mythos. By taking on a life of fighting crime, a superhero makes incredible personal sacrifices for their choice. Especially if they lead an ordinary day to day life. In that double life, risking and sacrificing so much while confronting the worst underbellies of society strains the belief that justice and good have any value in the world when a superhero receives so little benefit from their selfless acts.
    Sayaka takes the plunge into the role of the magical girl after wishing to save someone she loves. No sooner after that decision and she’s confronted by another magical girl named Kyoko who harasses her for wasting a wish on another person and taking on the mantle of a magical girl to defend others rather than help herself. In some respects Kyoko takes on the self-preservation argument of Catwoman in TDKR. Sayaka and Kyoko embody that conflict about whether a superhero should use their power for themselves or for others and Kyoko’s rationale makes head way as more truth comes to light.
    Sayaka risks everything for love, and then it falls out of her reach in the most devastating way possible. Even Peter Parker would fall into despair if he realized what she does. Kyoko is able to bear it though because she only looks out for herself. By not worrying about others, she also avoids worrying about what they think or whether they accept her.
    Through Sayaka and Kyoko, “Madoka Magica” confronts the most pressing issues of what it means to become a superhero. If it had done only that, than it would have rapped up the drama of what the best superhero movies have done. However, “Madoka” wants to take it a step farther.
    Madoka stands by, unable to figure out what to do, as she watches her friend succumb to despair. All the while the mysterious magical girl Homura goes to whatever lengths she can to prevent Madoka from making a contract with Kyubey and becoming a magical girl. With Madoka and Homura, the series reveals its real hand, the truth behind magical girls and the dilemmas of the superhero begun by Sayaka and Kyoko rise to their most dire and cosmic levels worthy of “2001” and “The Tree of Life”.
    If the inherent idea begun in the story that the only way to survive in a cruel and indifferent world is self-preservation than the climax raises that to the question of what meaning human values like hope and love have in a cold universe. Everything escalates to such a point where human hope and despair become little more than a tool. If you ever wondered what the ultimate identity of a cynical society looked like, “Madoka Magica” has your answer. What’s truly unbelievable though is that it manages to come out the other end without losing sight of the characters as it amps up the scale to its conclusion.
    That’s in no small part thanks to the excellent writing of the show. It’s only possible because of the indifferent logic presented by Kyubey and the truth revealed by Homura that gives the final conflict its emotional weight. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the portrayal of the fractured and distant relationship between Madoka and Homura maybe one of the most endearing friendships ever put on screen. How their relationship figures into the resolution is both one of the most heartbreaking and uplifting elements of the story.
    With all that said, “Madoka Magica” is not for everyone. Much like the superhero genre has its tropes that make it look childish, so does the magical girl genre though much like Nolan’s Batman trilogy, it tries to subvert those elements. Perhaps the most difficult aspect for certain audiences to accept is the series use of a type of Japanese cuteness called “moe”, think “My Little Pony”, that would prevent them from taking what happens seriously despite the series dark nature and serious implications. I am of the belief though that anyone capable of enjoying both an “Avengers” and a “Tree of Life” has the capacity to appreciate what “Madoka magica” tries to accomplish.
    I have brought up this series again and again, not out of devotion to the material, but because of the timing of its release to the superhero movies that have come out this year, and the fact that those whose opinions I respect and read so often continue to raise their views about these movies. I think the discussion of how superhero stories are told now and what they reflect on our current perceptions warrants devoting some attention to “Madoka Magica” for the ideas it brings to the table.
    In all honesty, I believe Zac Bertschy from Anime News Network does a much better job of reviewing this series than I do. He sums it up best in his final review: “If ‘Madoka Magica’ is saying anything, it’s saying that life will absolutely crush you and entropy is inevitable, but there’s reason to hope. That wishing for your loved ones to be safe and fighting for the things you believe in is the most important thing a human being can hope to do, even in the face of all that. If that isn’t a happy ending, then I don’t know what is.”
    I found the promotional material, opening song and closing song for the first two episodes very misleading about the actual tone of the series. (The closing song for episode 3 and on ward gets it right.) This AMV (Anime Music Video) does much better job of illustrating the feel of the show:
    “Madoka Magica” is available on Hulu and Crunchyroll.
    Zac Bertschy’s reviews can be found here:


    @rufussondheim “You can’t get in if you are a broadly successful film with second/third-tier critical success”

    1. Avatar

    2. Lord of the Rings

    3. Toy Story 3

    4. The Sixth Sense

    5. American Beauty

    6. Gladiator

    7. E.T.

    8. Slumdog Millionaire

    9. The Blind Side

    10. Black Swan

    11. Inception

    12. The King’s Speech

    13. Star Wars Episode IV

    “What we didn’t have last year was a blockbuster film that had top-notch critical support. I think if we did, it would be included quite readily.”

    Well there was HP 7.2, but it was snubbed out of those critic society awards.

  • rufussondheim

    I am talking about last year, the only year on record with the current nominations process.

    Really, pretty much all of the knowledge we gained from the 1920’s to 2010 is thrown out the window. The only thing you can realistically use from that time is our percentage estimates of various types of voters in the Academy.

    Me: What we didn’t have last year was a blockbuster film that had top-notch critical support. I think if we did, it would be included quite readily.

    You: Well there was HP 7.2, but it was snubbed out of those critic society awards.

    Me: Well, then, I guess it didn’t have top-notch critical support.

  • “Anyone who has seen any of the Dark Knight films know that it does not advocate violence.” That blanket statement would have everyone at Big Hollywood up in arms.

  • Mattoc

    I”m not even thinking about TDKR, all I want to think about is Madoka Magica. I don’t even know what it is. Is it a new drink, a dance craze, a community group…will I end up with a cupboard full of Tupperware?


    @rufussondheim even though it got many positive reviews by alot of Top Critics?

  • rufussondheim


  • Branko Burcksen

    Mattoc, sorry my post was so long, but I explain that “Madoka Magica” is a recent twelve episode anime series that I think shares some significant qualities in common with TDKR, and other superhero movies, that may be of value to the discussions I’ve been reading about Nolan’s completion of his trilogy.

    It’s available on Hulu and Crunchyroll for those who are curious, but I highly suggest reading my entire post before checking it out. Especially if you are not very familiar with anime.

  • Jahanzeb

    Yeah I am truly crossing my fingers for TDKR to win BP nomination, even though I can see that it’s going to be a tough competition in the presence of so many biggies as others have pointed out. Even if it wasn’t better than TDK (which I think is quite subjective by the way) it is good enough to get PB nomination and definitely to reward the great work Nolan has come up with the trilogy, forever changing the way comic book/superhero movies are made and seen.


    @rufussondheim kinda similar to the Dark Knight, The Lion King, Jurassic Park, Toy Story being snubbed out of the Oscar BP nominees?

Check Also

Predictions Friday: Here Comes Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

We are currently in the midst of film festival season, with the New York Film Festival kic…