When Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man trilogy kicked off nearly 20 years ago, it managed to nab a Best Visual Effects nod (losing to Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers). Two years later, the 2004 sequel won the prize. Since then, the five Spidey features that followed (Maguire’s third, both Andrew Garfield iterations, and the first two Tom Holland MCU flicks) didn’t show up in the race. Will Spider-Man: No Way Home change that?
The 27th entry (and fourth this year) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe debuts Friday and I have it pegged for the fourth best domestic opening of all time (behind Avengers: Endgame, Avengers: Infinity War, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens). The review embargo lifted early this morning and it stands at an impressive 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.
While nearly all critical notices are positive, I don’t think this will be the second MCU title to nab a Best Picture nomination behind Black Panther. While Best Sound is feasible, Home‘s best hope at Academy inclusion is in Visual Effects. MCU movies vying for that prize is not unusual. The inaugural pic in the biggest franchise of all (2008’s Iron Man) made the cut. So have Iron Man 2, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Infinity War, and Endgame. None have won.
So despite the last quintet of web slinger sagas not being honored for their effects, Home should have no problem? I don’t think it’s quite that simple. There are two Warner Bros sci-fi extravaganzas (Dune and The Matrix Resurrections) that should get in. That leaves three slots. Warner has another hopeful with Godzilla vs. Kong. Marvel itself has Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Eternals (and Black Widow to a lesser degree) vying for spots. Shang-Chi especially could get in (the Critics Choice Awards included it on their ballot). Don’t Look Up, Finch, and No Time to Die are other possibilities. It’s worth noting that whether Home makes the five, Dune is the very heavy favorite to take gold.
Here’s my hunch: by the time Academy voters cast their final votes, Home appears bound to have heightened box office numbers to their highest achievements in the pandemic era. That fact alone might get it some recognition from the Oscars and that would be for its visuals. Another interesting stat: of the ten current largest stateside premieres ever, only two (Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World) didn’t score at least one nomination from the Academy. That puts this in a decent position. My Oscar Predictions posts for the films of 2021 will continue…
Ahead of its Labor Day weekend bow in theaters only, Disney has lifted its review embargo for the 25th Marvel Cinematic Universe pic. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is garnering positive reaction to the tune of a current 91% Rotten Tomatoes score.
Many reviews point out that it closely follows the MCU formula, but there’s enough to make it highly recommendable. Despite the many kudos, I don’t see anything that indicates a play for Best Picture (where Black Panther still is the studio’s sole nominee in that race).
Instead Shang-Chi‘s possibilities at awards attention should come down to where most MCU titles are viable. That’s in Best Visual Effects. Early buzz suggests it may be strong enough in that space to qualify. However, it will face numerous competitors with three coming from its own multi-billion dollar franchise.
I do think it has a better shot at making the final five than the already out Black Widow. Yet Eternals and Spider-Man: No Way Home loom. It’s worth noting that neither Spider-Man entry from the MCU (Homecoming or Far From Home) made the cut. Eternals could be the biggest in-house competitor. Then we have plenty of other hopefuls. Some have premiered and they include Godzilla vs. Kong, Jungle Cruise, The Green Knight, The Suicide Squad, and Free Guy. Some await like Dune and The Matrix 4.
Bottom line: there’s much to be determined, but Shang-Chi could certainly be the MCU’s nominee in VE. I doubt it will be the fourth picture with Rings in the name to win (as Peter Jackson’s trilogy did). After all, 10 of Marvel’s flicks have nabbed a nod for their visuals. None have won. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
In 2009, the Academy underwent a change in the number of Best Picture nominees honored each year. The rule change allowed a fluctuation of five to ten nominees per year, as opposed to a finite five (all other categories stayed at that number).
As has been discussed on this blog, many felt the change was triggered by 2008’s The Dark Knight, the critically acclaimed comic book pic that was also highest earner of the year. It failed to a garner a Best Picture nod and the thinking was that it was time for more popular options to make it into the mix.
Since the change, the magic number has been nine nominated pictures in most years. This got me thinking: what if that rule had been in effect during prior years? What movies that failed to get a nomination would have certainly made it?
That brings us here. I have gone back to 1990 through 2008 and I’m listing two films from each year that I am confident would have made the shortlist. In selecting each title, here were some of the key indicators. If a Director was nominated for his work and the film failed to get nominated, that probably means it would have been included. Additionally, the screenplay races are a decent predictor of some titles that might have made the magic nine (or eight or ten). For reference sake, I am including the five movies that did get nominated.
So here goes! Two features from 1990-2008 that coulda and likely woulda been contenders…
The Actual Nominees: Dances with Wolves (Winner), Awakenings, Ghost, The Godfather Part III, GoodFellas
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: The Grifters, Reversal of Fortune
The Actual Nominees: The Silence of the Lambs (W), Beauty and the Beast, Bugsy, JFK, The Prince of Tides
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Boyz N The Hood, Thelma & Louise
The Actual Nominees: Unforgiven (W), The Crying Game, A Few Good Men, Howards End, Scent of a Woman
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Malcolm X, The Player
The Actual Nominees: Schindler’s List (W), The Fugitive, In the Name of the Father, The Piano, The Remains of the Day
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Philadelphia, Short Cuts
The Actual Nominees: Forrest Gump (W), Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pulp Fiction, Quiz Show, The Shawshank Redemption
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Bullets Over Broadway, Three Colors: Red
The Actual Nominees: Braveheart (W), Apollo 13, Babe, Il Postino, Sense and Sensibility
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Dead Man Walking, Leaving Las Vegas
The Actual Nominees: The English Patient (W), Fargo, Jerry Maguire, Secrets & Lies, Shine
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: The People Vs. Larry Flynt, Sling Blade
The Actual Nominees: Titanic (W), As Good as It Gets, The Full Monty, Good Will Huinting, L.A. Confidential
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Boogie Nights, The Sweet Hereafter
The Actual Nominees: Shakespeare in Love (W), Elizabeth, Life is Beautiful, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Gods and Monsters, The Truman Show
The Actual Nominees: American Beauty (W), The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider, The Sixth Sense
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Being John Malkovich, Topsy-Turvy
The Actual Nominees: Gladiator (W), Chocolat, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Erin Brockovich, Traffic
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Almost Famous, Billy Elliot
The Actual Nominees: A Beautiful Mind (W), Gosford Park, In the Bedroom, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Moulin Rouge!
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Black Hawk Down, Mulholland Drive
The Actual Nominees: Chicago (W), Gangs of New York, The Hours, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Far from Heaven, Talk to Her
The Actual Nominees: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (W), Lost in Translation, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Mystic River, Seabiscuit
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: City of God, In America
The Actual Nominees: Million Dollar Baby (W), The Aviator, Finding Neverland, Ray, Sideways
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Hotel Rwanda, Vera Drake
The Actual Nominees: Crash (W), Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Syriana, Walk the Line
The Actual Nominees: The Departed (W), Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Pan’s Labyrinth, United 93
The Actual Nominees: No Country for Old Men (W), Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: Away from Her, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
The Actual Nominees: Slumdog Millionaire (W), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader
The Two Coulda Been Contenders: The Dark Knight, Doubt
And there you have it! There will be a part II to this post. What if the rule change had never occurred? From 2009 until the present, what would have been the five nominated Pictures if only that number was allowed. Stay tuned…