Oscar 2013: The Dark Elephant
Can Rises Go Where No Superhero Film Has Gone Before?
By Tom Houseman
August 6, 2012
Based on that shared history, it is safe to assume that Rises will be nominated for Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Visual Effects. It might fall victim to sequelitis with the Art Directors, but it is likely that it will also find a place there. The makeup nomination for The Dark Knight was probably largely due to the makeup for Heath Ledger's Joker, so a repeat is extremely unlikely.
Will Rises get snubbed for Film Editing the way that Inception was? It's not out of the question, so that nomination can't be counted on. The film's score is not as integral to the film as Zimmer's work was in Inception, and considering that The Dark Knight did not receive a nomination for its music, it is highly unlikely, but not impossible, that Rises will be present in that category. That leaves Rises with between four and six technical and artistic nominations, which is as many as Inception (five) but fewer than The Dark Knight (seven).
Last year was the first year with the new “flex field” that allows as few as five and as many as ten Best Picture nominees. Admittedly, that is an extremely small pool of evidence from which to come to any sort of conclusions. But it is worth noting that of the nine films nominated, eight received either a Directing, Acting, or Writing nomination. The only one that did not was War Horse, which probably just barely snuck into the field largely on the back of the Academy's overwhelming respect for Spielberg, its beloved source material, and its serious subject matter. But Nolan is not Spielberg and Batman is not World War I.
This puts Rises in a tricky position. Three films based on graphic novels and/or comic books have been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, but they were all indie films, Ghost World, American Splendor, and A History of Violence. The only superhero movie that ever really had a chance at a Screenplay nomination was The Dark Knight, but in a field with four Best Picture nominees taking up spots, it lost out to Doubt (further confirming my suspicion that Doubt would have been more likely to succeed in a flex field). Unless several of the high-profile Oscar bait films (The Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina, Lincoln, to name a few) fall through, and no indie films step up to take their places, Rises will fail to be the first superhero adaptation to be nominated in this category.
The acting categories make for even more bad news for Rises, both in tangible and intangible ways. While there will likely be FYC campaigns for a few different actors (Bale, Hardy, and, if there is any justice in the world, Michael Caine), the odds of any of them getting nominated are very slim. Best Actor is always a crowded category, and I can't imagine there being room for a Bale performance in which he doesn't lose sixty pounds. As for Hardy? He is the villain, which gives him an advantage, but his performance is very subdued and stoic, effective for the part, but not the kind that gets Oscar attention. He is certainly not as flashy or flamboyant as Heath Ledger's Joker.