Oscar 2013: The Dark Elephant
Can Rises Go Where No Superhero Film Has Gone Before?
By Tom Houseman
August 6, 2012
And that might be the key reason why Rises is left out of the Best Picture race this year. The universal praise and acclaim heaped on Ledger, in addition to the emotional weight added by the fact that it was his last finished performance before he died, gave The Dark Knight a huge boost. If that film, with that performance, couldn't make the top five, Rises would seem to not have a chance. But in a field that can include up to ten nominees, will the disadvantages that Rises has compared to The Dark Knight be too much to overcome?
The last issue is whether Christopher Nolan will finally be able to score a Best Director Nomination. It is becoming abundantly clear that the Academy straight-up doesn't like the guy; if there is another director who has been thrice nominated for the DGA Award without ever scoring an Oscar nod, I would be shocked. Will this be the film that breaks the trend? While Fincher was only able to score his first Oscar nomination with a work totally different from his previous efforts, Rises is very stylistically similar to everything else Nolan has done, which means that the directors will probably respond to it with a shoulder the same temperature as it has always been for him.
So without a Screenplay nomination, a Director nomination, or any Acting nominations, the bias against superheroes and the been-there-done-that-but-better feeling that some voters might feel about the film in comparison to The Dark Knight, will Rises make it in? You could argue that they will want to give the film a nomination as a reward for the series, but that didn't work for the last Harry Potter film, which was as well received and as financially successful. Some of the votes that might go for Rises will instead be siphoned off by The Avengers, Prometheus, and The Hobbit. That will give Rises an even steeper hill to come in order to get 5% of the first-place votes in play.
When I started writing this article I was thinking that Rises would probably end up scoring a nomination, but I may have just talked myself out of it. Of course, this early in the year we are working purely in the realm of the speculative, without any evidence to back up any of these claims. If the National Board of Review names Rises on its top 10 list, and the Globes follow suit with a Best Picture – Drama nomination, then we are working with an entirely different race. Until then, though, it will be difficult to make a convincing argument that The Dark Knight Rises will be a Best Picture nominee in 2013.