Smell of Popcorn

film reviews & musings by Max Lalanne


Oscar Musings: ‘The Avengers’

Posted by Max Lalanne on July 14, 2012

I’ve already written about how I wish “The Avengers” would get more respect and be treated more seriously – but not as serious as this ridiculous stuff, mind you – because the truth is it’s an excellent movie, and an even more excellent superhero movie. But the eternal question, will Academy voters think so too? Or rather, will the Academy voters push the film in the major categories, treat it like a real piece of cinema instead of fodder for fanboys? More on that later. But first, I want to draw attention to this May article by In Contention’s Kris Tapley, in which he basically puts forth the idea – can the cast of “The Avengers,” brilliant as they are, get a chance for best ensemble at the SAG Awards? It’s a situation which I would much appreciate, seeing as there’s not even any remote possibility that the Academy voters will give some recognition to Mark Ruffalo, for example, individually. And overall, the “The Avengers” cast deserves some love. But back to the main point and the Oscars…

Will “The Avengers” be nominated and get a fair shot at best picture? I would like to be cheerful and stop being such a cynic like everyone else, but I think you’re honestly dreaming (albeit a dream that, yes, I wish would become reality) you think Academy voters will actually break the mold and vote for a comic-book movie this year. So no, it won’t. The sad thing is, it doesn’t even boil down to whether “The Avengers” is a good movie or not, it’s simply prejudice against comic-book movies in a fashion that’s as simple to understand as politics or gender or race. That was was stunningly evident when the Academy rudely passed over “The Dark Knight” in 2008 – if the dark and sophisticated “The Dark Knight,” which deserved way more, couldn’t get a nomination, why should the frothier and lighter “The Avengers” have a chance? There’s almost no hope the voters really evolved that dramatically since four years ago (although if that’s the case, I’ll gladly post a “Why I Love the Academy” article). Hell, we’re not even 100 percent sure if “The Dark Knight Rises” will even get a best picture nod, such is the state of affairs when it comes to the Academy and superheros, although it seems to be cruising on a good level right now. But “The Avengers” will be left behind, no argument about that.

Same goes for “The Avengers” director Joss Whedon, except in his case there will be less written about him being snubbed. There’s almost zero chance that the guy, a veritable geek legend in his own right when it comes to the fanboy-packed halls of Comic-Con, will be looked upon kindly and rewarded for his (truly outstanding, mind you) work by Academy voters. Again, I have to draw comparisons with “The Dark Knight Rises” and Chris Nolan, because if Nolan finally gets a nod – which he deserves more than Whedon – surely having two nominees, both for superhero films, will be too much be the Academy’s old-fashioned and creaky joints. It’s either one or the other, or none at all, and all we can do now is hope that it’s the former.

Okay, now let’s move on to what “The Avengers” can be nominated for, even if it’s shameful to name minor categories in which such a fantastic movie is relegated to, and only these. Hey, I got a good one that might redeem the Academy – best original screenplay? Or is it adapted screeplay, since it’s based on a comic book? I’m only half-joking there, but in all seriousness the most worthy category will probably be best visual effects, where I suppose it will fill the place of the the absent “Transformers” movies. With its somewhat similar – but much better, mind you – large-scale battles comprising of major city destruction in daylight, huge robotic krakens wrapping themselves around skyscrapers, street explosions, aliens flying through the air, etc. And with the wonderfully rendered Hulk and the seamless armor of Iron Man leading the charge, it’ll certainly be a frontrunner to win. Best editing is an unusual possibility, but the great pacing and structure of “The Avengers” was much-lauded by critics so there’s a chance there for a somewhat important nod too. Best cinematography? I don’t think so, but best sound editing/mixing is a definite yes.

Possible Oscar nominations for “The Avengers”
Best picture – 20/80 chance, no
Best visual effects – 80/20 chance, yes
Best sound editing & mixing – 70/30 chance, yes
Best editing – 50/50 chance, yes(?)
Best art direction – 40/60 chance, no
Best score – 80/20 chance, no

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