A month ago, critics were lamenting the fact that we were halfway through the year and there were no real Oscar-bait films and no real buzz about any films for potential Oscar campaigns. While we’re trained to expect Oscar-bait films in the last few months of any given year, many films released before October end up winning Oscars, historically speaking. Sometimes it’s not so counterintuitive – the earlier you release a film, the more people get a chance to see it in theaters and the more critics get to talk about why it’s Oscar-worthy. Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk provides that kind of counterprogramming this summer – it’s a serious film, it’s a war film, and it has Oscar-bait written all over it, and it will obviously get a Best Picture nomination (if not a dozen more Oscar nominations). But what about Wonder Woman? According to Variety, the groundbreaking and record-breaking superheroine film is getting a lot of support from Warner Bros for a massive Oscar campaign:
With $781 million in global box office receipts, “Wonder Woman” has already broken records as the highest-grossing movie directed by a woman ever. Now Warner Bros., the studio behind the film, wants the action movie to break another glass ceiling. Although executives haven’t commented publicly on their plans, they have internally discussed launching a formidable awards-season campaign for the movie, in the hopes of making it the first comic-book film nominated for best picture, Variety has learned.
The studio will also stump Patty Jenkins for best director, which would also be groundbreaking. No director of a comic-book film — not even Christopher Nolan — has ever been nominated, and only men have ruled the category since (and before) Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar for “The Hurt Locker” in 2010. A spokesperson for WB declined to comment.
This won’t be a cheap endeavor, as the road to the Oscars keeps getting costlier. Big dollars are spent on taking out advertising, making watermarked DVDs, setting screenings, and paying for talent to travel to both coasts, to remind voters how hard they suffered for their craft.
The Oscar race took a turn in 2009, after another Warner. Bros. film, “The Dark Knight,” failed to secure a best picture nomination. In 2010, the Academy expanded its best picture category from five to a maximum of 10 movies. But although blockbusters like “Gravity” and “The Martian” have made the cut, a comic book movie has yet to compete in the top race.
That’s because the Academy is still too stodgy to recognize Batman or Deadpool as art. But Warner Bros. executives have been wondering if new membership expansions, which have increased the voting body to include younger members and more diversity, will boost “Wonder Woman’s” chances. (Among the new class of voters is star Gal Gadot, who will presumably support this mission.)
The studio’s efforts will include reintroducing the film this fall, to scarce few who may not have seen it. Insiders report strong reactions to the screening of “Wonder Woman” at the Academy, as it’s been championed by a liberal Hollywood and a reinvigorated wave of feminism in response to Donald Trump. But the movie’s glow could diminish if the mashup tentpole “Justice League,” which comes out in November and co-stars Gadot, gets ripped to shreds by harsh reviews.
With all the focus on “Wonder Woman,” Warner Bros. won’t be neglecting its other summer hit. Sources report to Variety that the studio will also be bringing out the guns for “Dunkirk” and its director Nolan. That means, in a year without a clear frontrunner, Warner Bros. will have two big studio movies trying to crush the competition.
I forgot that WB is behind Dunkirk too. Good for them! WB is usually the “sad clown noise” of Oscar seasons, but this is smart – Dunkirk is obviously going to get a lot of nominations and WB is obviously going to support it fully during the Oscar season. But it’s smart to include Wonder Woman in there too. While I doubt, realistically, that Patty Jenkins will get a Best Director Oscar nomination, stranger things have happened and it’s absolutely worth having those conversations at Academy screenings and roundtables. I do think that WW should get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, even if Jenkins is ignored. WW was one of the best films of the year, one of the most satisfying, and one of the most enjoyable: that deserves a Best Picture nomination. I also think there’s a good chance Gal Gadot could end up with some Best Actress nominations, perhaps at the Golden Globes and maybe even SAGs.
Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.