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Could Oscar assemble for The Avengers?

As anyone who read my review of the film, I’d pretty much discounted the possibility that ‘The Avengers’ could be a player for any major Academy Awards outside of the technical categories (though I did sort of make the case for SAG to notice the ensemble, as much as that might be wishful thinking), but as the box office continues to break records, I’m beginning to amend my position somewhat. I’m not completely changing course here, but I’ve begun to ponder a few things, leading to this piece. It’s still a long shot, but there could be a way for the film to get a Best Picture nomination, and much of it revolves around Marvel partnering with Disney on the flick’s distribution and marketing. Yes, as much as that initial partnership decision had no impact on the creative product that Marvel Studios was producing, it could have a major impact on a potential Oscar campaign. Just think about what the folks at Disney were able to do with ‘The Help’ last year, and ‘Toy Story 3’ as well. Backed by a studio with experience in awards campaigning and major connections to the Oscar race, ‘The Avengers’ could wind up, even more than ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ potentially, being the blockbuster that makes a play for Best Picture. Factor in its previously unheard of box office numbers, and there’s a case that can be made for Joss Whedon’s film. Let’s dive into that right now, why don’t we?

If you look at the all time box office list, a number of the films were rewarded with Best Picture nominations. In an era where a lot of talk since the snub of ‘The Dark Knight’ is about the Academy aiming for mainstream films to get nominated (ala ‘Inception’ two years ago), this could be the perfect one for them. They pulled a similar trick with ‘Avatar’ when it was climbing the charts, though one can argue that was a much more prestigious film than ‘The Avengers’. With Marvel’s epic flick currently at #13 on the all time list as of this writing, it would certainly stand a better than expected chance at a nomination when it undoubtedly cracks the top 10 and beyond. Looking at the current top 10, half of them have been nominated for Best Picture, with the non-nominated films being either animation, sequel, or both. While you could argue that ‘The Avengers’ is a sequel of sorts, it’s kind of its own beast as well, so you can’t necessarily say that it has that going against it.

Obviously money is working in its favor, but also the pure entertainment factor is going to get it some votes. Knowing that not only did millions of people pay to see the flick (and presumably would tune in to see if it somehow stole Best Picture from a smaller film), but that they enjoyed it, the Academy could easily make some kind of push for the movie to be recognized. Remember, Oscar voters care about what makes them feel happy (I’m looking at you ‘The Blind Side’, even though I liked it too), so if they left their screenings walking on air like audiences did, that’s something to surely consider. Also on the Disney backing front, the studio is likely to blanket guild and Oscar members with material on this film, so if someone liked the movie a lot, they won’t be able to forget about it. That doesn’t always work, but it has more than once in the past and could work again here for this movie.

Of course, this is not exactly going to be an easy sell to the voters who will be deciding its fate. Not surprisingly, the film won’t really be getting many votes from the Acting branch (though if they somehow embrace the film with SAG, some could be on board), who likely will favor films with performances more likely to be nominated in the acting categories. The Directors and Writers won’t show it any special love either (unless they’re fans of Whedon too), so there won’t be one specific branch pushing it forward. Keeping all of that in mind, the film could possibly pull out some kind of surprising nod if not Best Picture (I’m guessing Adapted Screenplay, personally), provide that each branch gives ‘The Avengers’ a bit of help here and there.

My shot in the dark theory concludes with the idea that ‘The Avengers’ could actually benefit when compared to ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. Let’s presume that this final Batman film is as good as ‘The Dark Knight’ (or a tad better or worse, it doesn’t matter for this argument, so apply your preferred ranking to it) for argument sake, and that also the prior film was real close to a Best Picture nomination last time (the #6 or #7 slot, essentially). Now, where I’m going with this is if the film is also as heavy as it seems to be, a lot of voters may perhaps be inclined to vote for it because they feel they “have to”, but honestly liked ‘The Avengers’ better, and wind up voting for that one instead. This likely will happen with a few voters, but if this is more widespread than one would assume, then who knows what might happen? Maybe TDKR is so amazing that it becomes a Best Picture lock and I’ll be writing an article on that film, but for now, there are a lot of variables, some of which are good signs for ‘The Avengers’. The odds aren’t exactly in the film’s favor, but depending on what happens with ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, we may or may not see ‘The Avengers’ boost its chances at some Oscar love.

Honestly, I’m somewhat grasping at straws here, I realize that, but considering what the Academy has done recently, there’s no telling what might happen when Oscar morning rolls around. Now, will there be enough #1 votes to get ‘The Avengers’ a Best Picture nomination? Probably not, but hey…we don’t know this for sure, so why not discuss it? Maybe it has a good showing at the precursors, maybe it becomes the highest grossing film of all time, who knows? Anyway, I’m mainly interested in hearing/seeing what you all have to say on this matter. I’m sure most of you aren’t too high on its Best Picture chances, but what about the other categories? Can you see it getting shut out? What do you think will ultimately be its tally? The floor is yours, ladies and germs, so have at it and discuss what might happen to ‘The Avengers’ come Oscar season. Awards Circuit readers Assemble!

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What do you think?

Film Lover

Written by Joey Magidson

When he’s not obsessing over new Oscar predictions on a weekly basis, Joey is seeing between 300 and 350 movies a year. He views the best in order to properly analyze the awards race/season each year, but he also watches the worst for reasons he mostly sums up as "so you all don't have to". In his spare time, you can usually find him complaining about the Jets or the Mets. Still, he lives and dies by film. Joey's a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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