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Will Oscar Notice Rise of the Moody Blockbuster? Dawn and Snowpiercer Put Academy Prejudice to the Test

For a while now, as I just wrote about in the directors piece, the moody effects film has mostly been ignored by the Academy. There was District 9, which got a Best Picture slot when there were a solid ten nominations each voting member could submit. But when they shrunk the nomination ballots back to five for each Academy member, suddenly those five slots simply could not sacrifice a drama for a genre movie. That meant that since 2011, the Academy has mostly hewn to tradition.

Let’s clarify a little just for those who might be confused.

1945 – 2008 – the Academy had five Best Picture nominees and five slots for members to pick their favorites.

2009 – 2010 – The Academy allowed each member to choose ten nominees for Best Picture, which allowed them more freedom to pick from genre movies, movies starring women, etc.

2012 – now – The Academy shrunk the nominees back down to five so voters must only write down their favorite FIVE of the year, as opposed to their favorite ten.

Okay, now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about two movies in the conversation right now – Snowpiercer and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. While the Apes movie is sure to dominate in visual effects, at least until Interstellar comes out, Snowpiercer might have an advantage in some other categories.

Snowpiercer is sitting with an 83 on Metacritic, while Dawn still has the luxury of being seen and reviewed only by only 9 people so far. Its score will likely drop somewhat as the backlash sets in. Then again, maybe it won’t. If it ends the season in the 90s on Metacritic, makes a shitload of money at the box office, it might become too big to ignore.

The question remains, can either of them make it onto the five slots voters will have for Best Picture? With five? I’m betting no way. Genre movies, or any big budget franchise, will be the first to get tossed in lieu of more traditional dramas. How many members will put either film down in the number spot come December? Or even in the five spot? There are still a few more moody genre films to come, with Interstellar chief among them.

Still, it’s nice to have great movies to see, no matter if the industry pays attention to them or not.

R.I.P. Louis Zamperini; Olympian and WWII Hero

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12 Comments

  1. steve50
    July 3, 2014

    Dawn has only been seen by seven critics (I must have dropped two somewhere) and I normally wouldn’t pay much attention, but they are pretty much high calibre folk. Both Lodge and McCarthy gave a perfect 100, which leads me to expect that something special (at least, for a genre pic) is about to be unleashed.

    And, no, I haven’t converted to accepting the grading system – hate it actually. I just treat it as I would the thermometer on the back porch.

  2. July 3, 2014

    I’m still not sold on the notion that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will actually be good, though I felt exactly the same way about Rise and was proved quite wrong about it. Its Metascore will not end up in the 90s though, I don’t think. Nor will Snowpiercer get anywhere near Oscar. Not anywhere near it.

  3. July 3, 2014

    It’s hard for me to think of Snowpiercer as a typical blockbuster. It doesn’t fit any of the criteria we’ve come to expect from blockbusters.

    [I was going to write a long comment here, but I think I'll turn it into a post. ]

  4. Katie
    July 3, 2014

    ^Please do, Ryan. I think the changing face of blockbusters in recent years is a fascinating topic. Seeing darker themes, slightly deeper characterisation, and greater narrative complexity in mainstream cinema is a welcome relief. Whether it is successful or not, it seems like the studios are at least making a bit more of an effort (Transformers aside). I hope it’s a trend that sticks around for a while yet.

    I also hope AMPAS will make room for quality genre films going forward, if they are deserving.

  5. July 3, 2014

    I genuinely felt Rise should have been nominated for Best Picture, even though I knew it would never happen. Truly wonderful filmmaking. And as much as I adored Hugo, it was a damn disgrace that Rise didn’t win Visual Effects.

  6. Joseph
    July 4, 2014

    I haven’t seen any of these films, but I read an article recently about why Summer blockbusters should stop being so self-serious (i.e. Godzilla), and there’s a lot of truth to that.

    ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ is the best one this year precisely because it’s so fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It just wants to give the audience a good time.

    I’m sick of these dark summer blockbusters that have absolutely no joy in them.

  7. July 4, 2014

    “dark summer blockbusters that have absolutely no joy in them.”

    alright, but which summer movies have no joy in them? I liked Edge of Tomorrow but I’m not sure I’d call it joyous. Fairly damn dark, actually.

  8. July 4, 2014

    I just saw Snowpiercer today. Right now, I don’t think it would be something I’d include in a top 5 of the year, but then again who says how bad this year might be? Out in normal America I haven’t seen anything nominateable, imo, yet. But then again, if everything else this year is worse than the 8 movies I’ve seen my choice for Oscar noms might include Captain America, X-Men, and Snowpiercer. :D

    I don’t know about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes but I found lots wrong with the first one and wouldn’t have nominated that even if I really enjoyed it overall. Even a genre film still has to be Oscar-ish.

  9. Joe
    July 4, 2014

    My new predictions: Halfway through the year:
    Best Picture
    Big Eyes
    Foxcatcher* 9 Nominations
    Gone Girl 7 Nominations
    The Grand Budapest Hotel
    The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 5 Nominations
    The Imitation Game 5 Nominations
    Interstellar 8 Nominations
    Mr. Turner 6 Nominations
    Unbroken

    Best Director
    David Fincher for Gone Girl
    Angelina Jolie for Unbroken
    Mike Leigh for Mr. Turner
    Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher*
    Christopher Nolan for Interstellar

    Best Actor
    Chadwick Boseman in Get on Up
    Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher*
    Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game
    Jeremy Renner in Kill the Messenger
    Timothy Spall in Mr. Turner

    Best Actress
    Amy Adams in Big Eyes 2 Nominations
    Julianne Moore in Map to the Stars* 1 Nomination
    Rosemund Pike in Gone Girl
    Michelle Williams in Suite Francaise 2 Nominations
    Reese Witherspoon in Wild

    Best Supporting Actor
    Richard Armitage in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
    Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice* 2 Nominations
    Bill Murray in St. Vincent 1 Nomination
    J.K. Simmons in Whiplash
    Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher

    Best Supporting Actress
    Emily Blunt in Into the Woods 7 Nominations
    Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year 2 Nominations
    Viola Davis in Get on Up* 1 Nomination
    Kristen Dunst in The Two Faces of January
    Anna Kendrick in Into the Woods

    Best Foreign Language Film
    Leviathan from Russia 1 Nomination
    Mommy from Canada* 1 Nomination
    Two Days One Night from Belgium 1 Nomination
    Wild Tales from Argentina 1 Nomination
    The Wonders from Italy 1 Nomination

    Best Documentary Feature
    The Case Against 8 1 Nomination
    The Green Prince 1 Nomination
    Life Itself* 1 Nomination
    Return to Home 1 Nomination
    Rich Hill 1 Nomination

    Best Animated Feature
    The Boxtrolls 1 Nomination
    How to Train Your Dragon 2 1 Nomination
    The Lego Movie* 2 Nominations
    The Princess Kaguya 1 Nomination
    Song of the Sea 1 Nomination

    Original Screenplay
    Big Eyes
    The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Interstellar*
    A Most Violent Year
    Mr. Turner

    Adapted Screenplay
    Foxcatcher*
    Gone Girl
    The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
    The Imitation Game
    Unbroken

    Costume Design
    Big Eyes
    Exodus: Gods and Kings 3 Nominations
    Into the Woods
    Mr. Turner*
    The Two Faces of January

    Cinematography
    Dion Beebe for Into the Woods*
    Roger Deakins for Unbroken 2 Nominations
    Hoyt Van Hoytema for Interstellar
    Dick Pope for Mr. Turner
    Robert D. Yeoman for The Grand Budapest Hotel

    Production Design
    Big Eyes*
    The Grand Budapest Hotel
    The Imitation Game
    Into the Woods
    Interstellar

    Film Editing
    Stuart Levy and Conor O’Neill for Foxcatcher*
    Kirk Baxter for Gone Girl
    William Goldenberg for The Imitation Game
    Ronald Sanders for Map to the Stars
    Lee Smith for Interstellar

    Visual Effects
    Captain America: The Winter Soldier 1 Nomination
    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    Get on Up
    The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies*
    Interstellar

    Makeup and Hair Styling
    Exodus: Gods and Kings
    The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies*
    Into the Woods

    Original Score
    Marco Beltrami for The Homesman 1 Nomination
    Alexandre Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Alexandre Desplat for Unbroken
    Mychael Danna for Foxcatcher
    Hans Zimmer for Interstellar*

    Original Song
    Annie 1 Nomination
    Into the Woods
    The Lego Movie*
    Muppets Most Wanted 1 Nomination
    Unbroken

    Sound Mixing
    Get on Up
    Gone Girl
    Interstellar
    Into the Woods
    Jersey Boys

    Sound Editing
    Foxcatcher
    Gone Girl
    The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
    Interstellar
    Unbroken

  10. @Road2Oscars
    July 7, 2014

    “Still, it’s nice to have great movies to see, no matter if the industry pays attention to them or not.”

    That’s it right there.

  11. July 7, 2014

    “Even a genre film still has to be Oscar-ish.”

    Oscar-ish is a genre

  12. Jason B.
    July 8, 2014

    So sick of these moody blockbusters trying to be Christopher Nolan (who does at in a small dash of humor now and then). I’m almost tempted to praise Michael Bay. I like big budgeted blockbusters with brains behind them. But being more mature thematically doesn’t have to mean sucking all the humor out of it.

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