In 1977, a phenomenon was born with the release of George Lucas’s “Star Wars.” It changed cinema forever, redefining a generation’s idea of good versus evil. With massive appeal and critical acclaim, the space epic landed ten Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Since then, every new episode has received at least one Oscar nomination. So, with “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” arriving this weekend, we dive into if the Academy will embrace the final entry of the Skywalker Saga.
Back in 2015, Star Wars was reborn with “The Force Awakens.” Helmed by director J.J Abrams, episode seven gave fans hope, with many new characters while also bringing back the ones we love. While relying on the original’s plot, “The Force Awakens” did what the prequels couldn’t do, giving audiences an entertaining entry in the saga. It received overwhelming praise by everyone who saw it, leading to late awards buzz. The AFI Awards honored “The Force Awakens” as one of the best films of 2015, with the Critics Choice Awards bestowing a nomination for Best Picture.
Sadly though, the late accolades weren’t enough to break into the top categories at the Oscars. But it still landed five nominations, over-performing with the most nominations since the original. In hindsight, many think if the film was released a tad earlier, it might have made it in Best Picture.
Two years later, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” released with critical acclaim but divided the fanbase. Due to the late December release, episode eight wasn’t able to land significant Oscar precursors. As a result of these misfortunes, “The Last Jedi” was only able to nab Oscar nominations in four technical categories. It reverted to what the other entries in the franchise garnered while also being a non-factor for Best Picture.
Now, this brings us back to “The Rise of Skywalker,” the last domino to fall in the 2019 Oscar race. Keeping with the tradition of the previous two episodic entries, it’s release date is scheduled for the end of December. Though a strategic game plan to dominate the box-office, the late release diminishes its chances of a Best Picture nomination. But if it can get extravagant praise from critics and audiences, Disney might have something. Episode nine is also the end of the saga, meaning we won’t be seeing these characters ever again. Being the culmination of the Skywalker saga could be nostalgic for some voters, leading to a haul of nominations.
But while “The Rise of Skywalker” road is rough for above the line considerations, it should play well in the franchise’s usual categories. “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” nabbed Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, and Mixing nominations. Those entries were able to blend practical effects with CGI and make it look crisp and effortless. Considering the technical achievement put into each Star Wars, it should secure a spot for each category. “The Rise of Skywalker” could also make it into the Best Make-up and Hairstyling and Best Production Design as well. But those fields might be tough to crack considering the competition it’s facing.
The other big nomination for “The Rise of Skywalker” should be Best Original Score for John Williams. The legendary composer collected nominations for the entire original trilogy, as well as the previous entries in this trilogy. And since this is his last Star Wars score, expect him to pull out all the stops. If Williams got it, his total nominations would increase to 52, inching him closer to Walt Disney’s record of 59. Currently, he has the most of any living person working in the industry.
Realistically, a good morning for “The Rise of Skywalker” is the typical four to five nominations. It may seem standard, but this is an achievement considering it entered the race so late. All and all, audiences are just looking for “The Rise of Skywalker” to be a satisfying ending to the most significant franchise in cinema history. If it is just right, then the Oscar’s attention should be the icing on this monumental galactic cake.