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Superheroes At the Oscars

Let’s talk about the Oscars, aka the Academy Awards. The annual sanctimonious event where Hollywood’s elite come together to congratulate themselves with shiny awards. Jimmy Fallon tries to be funny, someone makes a gaff, and there are one or more overemotional speeches about this year’s politicial trends. Most films selected as nominees are often “Oscar bait”, and the more dynamic genre films are kept in the visual or make up departments. On the rare occasion, a genre film wins, such as the well-deserved The Return of the King, and it looks like The Shape of Water is getting a lot of praise this year.

Superhero films often get snubbed and delegated solely to best visual effects or make up. We were all baffled when the clunky Suicide Squad won an award for best hair and make up. The MCU has been going for ten years, and a half-baked DC film won an Oscar! And don’t get me started on The Dark Knight getting shafted for Best Picture. Something tells me Heath Ledger only won his posthumous award based on the fact that he had passed away.

But, consider us gobsmacked and delighted when Logan was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. This is a first for the genre, as no other superhero film has even been nominated for a script-based award. And while I insult the Oscars, there is some excitement is hearing the nominees and then the winners. That’s what we’re there for. Not Jimmy Fallon trying to be funny, though the occasional musical number is welcome.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 also got nominated for Best Visual Effects, though I bet War for the Planet of the Apes will win. Seriously, someone give Andy Serkis a blumin’ Oscar already. However, there was the absent of a certain hugely popular movie called Wonder Woman. There was not a mention for the sole triumph of the DCEU. It is a historically significant film, the first superheroine movie of its kind. And there wasn’t even a whisper. The Oscars like to focus on more socially relevant films than genre movies. Heck, most of the Oscar bait films don’t even get released until the weeks before and after the event.

Logan getting a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay is fantastic in itself, but a few more nominations were left out. Hugh Jackman deserves an Oscar for his gripping final performance as Wolverine. Everyone else is nominating Jackman for his role in The Greatest Showman, but not in Logan. Ridiculous. Patrick Stewart deserves one as well for his moving performance as Charles Xavier. Same for Dafne Keen as the young mutant Laura, better known as X-23. Please give Keen her own movie!

There were a lot of performances in superhero films this year that deserve Oscars. Gal Gadot won over fans with her great performance as Wonder Woman. Though the third act of the film was a little cliché, the secondary debut of Diana of Themyscira was pretty good. I underestimated Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 when it first came out, but repeated viewings changed my mind. It had a moving, multilayered story about fatherhood and abandonment. Michael Rooker, who played Yondu, deserves as a nomination.

If we were to push the proverbial boat out a little more, I’d be inclined to give a shout to RJ Cyler for his role as Billy Cranston in Power Rangers, playing the role of the first autistic superhero portrayed in film. And who can forget James McAvoy‘s groundbreaking, unbelievable performance in Split. Yes, it counts as a superhero movie, since it is the sequel to M. Night Shyamalan’s 2000 film Unbreakable. McAvoy’s sheer talent in a number of personas is spellbinding to watch, and portrayed a semi-realistic take on a person with DID.

What about Best Director? Patty Jenkins did a great deed as director of Wonder Woman. James Gunn delivers another fantastic vision for Guardians of the Galaxy, continuing the interwoven story, and fleshing out the established cast.

The fact that Logan was nominated for its screenplay is a step in the right direction. It probably won’t win, but a nomination is considered a great achievement regardless. I still stand by that The Dark Knight should have been nominated for Best Picture, and perhaps Logan was considered as well. With this in mind, other superhero films could potentially be nominated for the more desirable awards in the future. I suppose a problem with nominating a comic book-based movie is that most are based on story arcs that are spread across multiple issues and releases, or are not direct adaptations. Though, why Watchmen wasn’t even in the running, I’ll never know. Seriously, Jackie Earle Haley needed an award as Rorschach.

In fact, so did Christopher Reeve. Seriously, the personification of American values, and Superman doesn’t get an award beyond a special recognition award for visual effects. I don’t really want to insult the folks who run the Oscars, but there still is this closed circle of dust, cobwebs, and bias. Most genres aren’t considered for the awards, unless they are socially relevant dramas, musicals, or star Meryl Streep. Occasionally, a fantasy film will pop up, and only once so far has a horror film won Best Picture, Silence of the Lambs.

Hopefully, in a few years, the Academy will open their doors and be a bit more welcoming to superhero movies. Logan was one of those films that feels worthy to win an Oscar, and there many more that haven’t received them. Hopefully, within the future, superheroes and other such films will gain the accolades they deserve.

What are your thoughts on the Oscar nominations this year? Should more superhero films be awarded? Leave a comment below or on our Twitter feed.

About the author

Mark Russell