The Contenders for The Six Spot
In my mind, only three films logically had a real shot at the Six Spot. I imagine if 2008 were an Expanded Ballot year, we would have seen The Dark Knight, WALL-E, and Doubt easily make the Top 8. Some may say that The Wrestler, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, or Changeling might have had reasonable shots, but I think key snubs in their eventual nominations point to a clear lack of love for those films. In no particular order, we’ll look at three films that I think were contenders for the Six Spot:
You might be asking yourself: “Doubt? Are you serious? Doubt was never going to be a Best Picture nominee.” But I disagree. I think it had a great shot. First off, it was a SAG Ensemble nominee where the four other nominees were Best Picture nominees. Secondly, it had four of its actor nominated at the Oscars and managed an Adapted Screenplay nomination. Until Kate Winslet jumped from Supporting to Lead at the last minute, it even looked like Doubt might win a Best Actress trophy like it did at BFCA and SAG (I believe it was awfully close to winning a Supporting Actress Oscar, too). Thirdly, of the three logical contenders for the Six Spot, it’s the one most closely in their wheelhouse. In a year where the Academy nominated The Reader and staunchly said “no, we won’t nominated an animated film or a comic book movie,” I wonder how well this straight, prestige drama ranked on their ballots. Alas, we’ll never know.
The shocking winner of the LAFCA, Pixar’s most critically beloved film was likely quite close to becoming the second animated film after Disney’s Beauty and the Beast to be nominated for Best Picture. Firstly, it had the reviews a film needs to get an Oscar nomination. Secondly, it had a screenplay nomination. Thirdly, it had a ton of nominations, ranging from writing, to both sounds, to even both music categories. With six Oscar nominations, WALL-E is Pixar’s most nominated film. It’s hard to say this film wasn’t loved by the Academy. Finally, this was a genre the Oscars perhaps had yet to fully embrace, but had at least in the past accepted.
THE DARK KNIGHT
Oy. It could have been great. It could have been really cool. So many people wanted it to happen. But alas, somehow, for whatever reason, the Academy just couldn’t bring itself to nominate Christopher Nolan’s box office behemoth comic book adaptation. Deciphering the tea leaves on this one is tougher than it seems. For starters, it landed the all-important PGA, DGA, and WGA nominations. But then again, it failed to nab top nominations (neither Director nor Picture) at the Globes and the BAFTAs. It’s hard to look at the evidence and not conclude that The Dark Knight was indeed the Six Spot with its trio of top guild mentions (much more than Doubt or WALL-E) and eventual 8 Oscar nominations. But I really wonder if the bias against comic book films and lack of critical nominations in Directing and writing point toward the fact that The Dark Knight was actually further away than we think.