Why this summer’s action blockbusters could be Oscar contenders come awards season

Logan, Wonder Woman and War for the Planet of the Apes could all secure nomination for awards in 2018, but has the Academy done enough to ensure blockbusters actually get a look-in?

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 July, 2017, 8:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 July, 2017, 8:02pm

There’s no doubting that Ryan Reynolds sought more than just laughs with Deadpool ’s unconventional “For Your Consideration” video campaign for an Oscar nomination in 2017. Despite his pleads going unheard, with the popular film being overlooked by the Academy, it does not change the fact that Deadpool was a serious contender to be the first superhero film to earn a best picture Oscar nomination in 2017.

“The award tides for blockbuster and comic book movies seem to be turning,” says Pete Hammond, Deadline.com awards columnist. “There’s a feeling that the film academy is too snobby for these types of movies. But this year, there are a lot more potential [nominees] already. Maybe one of these big movies can come up and defy expectations.”

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Here’s why things are looking up for summer blockbusters in the next award season:

The movies are unusually strong

For every critically derided No. 1 this year ( Transformers: The Last Knight ), there are shining examples of quality with mass appeal. Logan brought a gritty end to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine X-Men character, and earned a thumbs up from 93 per cent of critics on aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes.

Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman won rave reviews from 92 per cent of critics, and generated excitement as the first female-centric superhero movie directed by a woman.

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Spider-Man: Homecoming heads into cinemas this week with a 92 per cent approval rating, followed by Matt Reeves’ War for the Planet of the Apes (out July 13 in Hong Kong) with a favourable 96 per cent score.

Christopher Nolan’s second world war drama Dunkirk, which mixes popcorn appeal with serious award pedigree, is set to hit cinemas on July 21.

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“Overall, the quality of many of these summer blockbuster movies … has gotten much better,” says Dave Karger, from movie website IMDb.com. “There will be an increasing outcry from movie fans to see these films represented in the awards race.”

Best picture slots were added to help blockbusters get nominated

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently expanded its best picture category (to accommodate a field of five to 10 nominees) to pay respect to popular films after T he Dark Knight was snubbed for a nomination in 2009. (However, Joker Heath Ledger did win a posthumous best supporting actor Oscar.)

Since the change, there has been some success, with Mad Max: Fury Road rightfully earning a best picture nomination in 2016. Hammond believes the trend could grow this year.

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“These films are ready to get their due, with the best chance to do it in years,” he says. “The Academy would love to see these movies represented, and viewers would tune in to [watch] the Oscars.”

The Academy has added pro-blockbuster voters

This year’s record class of 774 voting members includes many who may be sympathetic to blockbuster nominations – from Star Wars franchise faces (Adam Driver, Riz Ahmed and Domhnall Gleeson) to superhero stars (Captain America’s Chris Evans, Thor’s Chris Hemsworth and Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot).

“They can make some noise about these movies getting recognised,” Hammond says. It’s too early to accurately predict the race, but the pieces are in place for a strong showing.

“I’m not ready to say that any of these movies will get a nomination,” Karger says. “What it will come down to is what competition comes out at the end of the year. But these blockbusters are definitely in the discussion right now.”