2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: November 1st Edition

My first Oscar predictions in the month of November come with reductions and expansions. I am slimming the list of 25 Best Picture possibilities to 15 and the other major categories from 15 to 10. As you can see, I am also including all of the other feature-length races for the first time from Documentary to Animated Feature to Foreign Language Feature and the techs.

So what are the developments worth discussing? Well…

  • In these initial projections for all races, A Star Is Born and First Man tie for most nominations with 12 apiece. Truth be told, I’m skeptical that First Man will get there. Its poor box office performance could hinder its possibilities in some races. While I’m relatively confident it will score multiples nods in the technical categories, both director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling are questionable, even though I currently have them both getting honored.
  • In Best Picture, BlacKkKlansman rises from 6th to 4th in the list of predicted nominees. It’s a good week in general for the Spike Lee pic as I’m including Adam Driver for the first time in the list of predicted Supporting Actor nominees, replacing Sam Rockwell in Vice.
  • We got a surprise announcement this week as Kenneth Branagh’s All Is True will open in late December for a qualifying run. The director stars as William Shakespeare in the late stages of his life with a supporting cast including Judi Dench and Ian McKellen. I will likely wait for some buzz before possibly listing it as a predicted nominee. In addition to Picture, Director, acting slots, and screenplay – it has the potential in down the line races such as Costume Design and Production Design. It will certainly be one to keep an eye on.
  • For Foreign Language Feature, Roma is tops in my first predictions while it maintains its #2 spot in Best Picture. Pixar finds itself in familiar territory with Incredibles 2 leading Animated Feature. In what should be a competitive Documentary Feature race, Free Solo starts out at #1 with Three Identical Strangers close behind.

And with that, here’s what November brings as far as Oscar predictions!

Best Picture

1. A Star Is Born (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 2)

3. The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

5. Green Book (PR: 4)

6. First Man (PR: 5)

7. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 7)

8. Black Panther (PR: 8)

9. Vice (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 11)

11. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 13)

12. Widows (PR: 10)

13. The Mule (PR: 12)

14. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 15)

15. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 14)

Dropped Out:

A Quiet Place

Eighth Grade

Boy Erased

Leave No Trace

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Mary Poppins Returns

The Hate U Give

Cold War

Ben Is Back

Hereditary

Best Director

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 1)

2. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 4)

4. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 3)

5. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 6)

7. Peter Farrelly, Green Book (PR: 7)

8. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 9)

9. Adam McKay, Vice (PR: 8)

10. Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Steve McQueen, Widows

Clint Eastwood, The Mule

Josie Rourke, Mary Queen of Scots

John Krasinski, A Quiet Place

Jon M. Chu, Crazy Rich Asians

Best Actor

1. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Christian Bale, Vice (PR: 2)

3. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 3)

4. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 5)

5. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 8)

7. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 6)

8. Clint Eastwood, The Mule (PR: 7)

9. Hugh Jackman, The Front Runner (PR: 9)

10. Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Lucas Hedges, Ben Is Back

Ethan Hawke, First Reformed

Ben Foster, Leave No Trace

John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman

John C. Reilly, Stan and Ollie

Best Actress

1. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 1)

2. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

5. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Viola Davis, Widows (PR: 6)

7. Felicity Jones, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 8)

8. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: 10)

9. Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back (PR: 7)

10. Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Toni Collette, Hereditary

Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns 

Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Kindergarten Teacher

Kiki Layne, If Beale Street Could Talk

Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade

Best Supporting Actor

1. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 1)

2. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

3. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy (PR: 3)

4. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

5. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 7)

Other Possibilities:

6. Sam Rockwell, Vice (PR: 5)

7. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 8)

8. Daniel Kaluuya, Widows (PR: 6)

9. Russell Hornsby, The Hate U Give (PR: 14)

10. Robert Forster, What They Had (PR: 9)

Dropped Out:

Steve Carell, Vice

Armie Hammer, On the Basis of Sex

Nicholas Hoult, The Favourite 

Russell Crowe, Boy Erased

Tim Blake Nelson, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Supporting Actress

1. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

2. Emma Stone, The Favourite (PR: 2)

3. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 4)

4. Claire Foy, First Man (PR: 3)

5. Amy Adams, Vice (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Marina de Tavira, Roma (PR: 7)

7. Natalie Portman, Vox Lux (PR: 6)

8. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 8)

9. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 9)

10. Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots 

Rachel McAdams, Disobedience

Sissy Spacek, The Old Man & The Gun

Kathy Bates, On the Basis of Sex

Dianne Wiest, The Mule

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 1)

2. A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 3)

4. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

5. First Man (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Widows (PR: 7)

7. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 6)

8. The Hate U Give (PR: 11)

9. Leave No Trace (PR: 8)

10. Black Panther (PR: 10)

Dropped Out:

Mary Queen of Scots

Boy Erased

Disobedience

The Sisters Brothers

The Wife

Best Original Screenplay

1. Roma (PR: 1)

2. The Favourite (PR: 2)

3. Green Book (PR: 3)

4. Eighth Grade (PR: 4)

5. Vice (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 10)

7. First Reformed (PR: 6)

8. A Quiet Place (PR: 9)

9. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 7)

10. The Mule (PR: 8)

Dropped Out:

Ben Is Back

Private Life

Hereditary

Stan and Ollie

Sorry to Bother You

Best Foreign Language Film

1. Roma

2. Cold War

3. Shoplifters

4. Girl

5. Capernaum

Other Possibilities:

6. Burning

7. Birds of Passage

8. The Guilty

9. Never Look Away

10. Border

Best Animated Feature

1. Incredibles 2

2. Isle of Dogs

3. Ralph Breaks the Internet

4. Mirai

5. Ruben Brandt, Collector

Other Possibilities:

6. Lu Over the Wall

7. Early Man

8. Night is Short, Walk on Girl

9. Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

10. Smallfoot

Best Documentary Feature

1. Free Solo

2. Three Identical Strangers

3. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

4. RBG

5. Science Fair

Other Possibilities:

6. Minding the Gap

7. Dark Money

8. Crime + Punishment

9. The Price of Everything

10. Quincy

Best Film Editing

1. A Star Is Born

2. Roma

3. First Man

4. The Favourite

5. Vice

Other Possibilities:

6. Widows

7. If Beale Street Could Talk

8. Black Panther

9. BlacKkKlansman

10. July 22

Best Cinematography

1. Roma

2. First Man

3. A Star Is Born

4. If Beale Street Could Talk

5. Cold War

Other Possibilities:

6. The Favourite

7. Black Panther

8. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

9. Widows

10. Mary Queen of Scots

Best Production Design

1. The Favourite

2. Black Panther

3. First Man

4. Mary Poppins Returns

5. Mary Queen of Scots

Other Possibilities:

6. A Star Is Born

7. Roma

8. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

9. Colette

10. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Best Costume Design

1. The Favourite

2. Black Panther

3. Mary Queen of Scots

4. Colette

5. Mary Poppins Returns

Other Possibilities:

6. Crazy Rich Asians

7. A Star Is Born

8. If Beale Street Could Talk

9. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

10. A Wrinkle in Time

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

1. Black Panther

2. Mary Queen of Scots

3. The Favourite

Other Possibilities:

4. Stan and Ollie

5. Vice

6. Mary Poppins Returns

7. A Star Is Born

8. Suspiria

9. Colette

10. A Wrinkle in Time

Best Sound Editing

1. First Man

2. Black Panther

3. A Quiet Place

4. A Star Is Born

5. Incredibles 2

Other Possibilities:

6. Mission: Impossible – Fallout

7. Avengers: Infinity War

8. Roma

9. Mary Poppins Returns

10. Annihilation

Best Sound Mixing

1. First Man

2. A Star Is Born

3. A Quiet Place

4. Black Panther

5. Mary Poppins Returns

Other Possibilities:

6. Bohemian Rhapsody

7. Roma

8. Incredibles 2

9. Avengers: Infinity War

10. Ready Player One

Best Visual Effects

1. First Man

2. Avengers: Infinity War

3. Black Panther

4. Ready Player One

5. Annihilation

Other Possibilities

6. Mary Poppins Returns

7. A Quiet Place

8. A Wrinkle in Time

9. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

10. Ant-Man and the Wasp

Best Original Score

1. First Man

2. If Beale Street Could Talk

3. BlacKkKlansman

4. Roma

5. Green Book

Other Possibilities:

6. Mary Queen of Scots

7. Incredibles 2

8. Colette

9. Suspiria

10. The Sisters Brothers

Best Original Song

1. “Shallow” from A Star Is Born

2. “All the Stars” from Black Panther

3. “I’ll Never Love Again” from A Star Is Born

4. “The Place Where Things Go” from Mary Poppins Returns

5. “We Won’t Move” from The Hate U Give

Other Possibilities:

6. “Time for Change” from On the Basis of Sex

7. “Always Remember Us This Way” from A Star Is Born

8. “Trip a Little Light Fantastic” from Mary Poppins Returns

9. “I’ll Fight” from RBG

10. “Hearts Beat Loud” from Hearts Beat Loud

And that breaks down to the following number of nominations for each feature:

12 Nominations

A Star Is Born, First Man

10 Nominations

The Favourite

8 Nominations

Black Panther, Roma

5 Nominations

BlacKkKlansman, Green Book, If Beale Street Could Talk, Vice

3 Nominations

Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Mary Queen of Scots, Mary Poppins Returns

2 Nominations

A Quiet Place, Cold War, Incredibles 2

1 Nomination

Annihilation, At Eternity’s Gate, Avengers: Infinity War, Beautiful Boy, Colette, Eighth Grade, Ready Player One, The Hate U Give, The Wife, Capernaum, Free Solo, Girl, Isle of Dogs, Mirai, Ralph Breaks the Internet, RBG, Ruben Brandt, Collector, Science Fair. Shoplifters, Three Identical Strangers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

2018 Weekly Oscar Predictions: October 25th Edition

We have reached my last weekly Oscar predictions posts in the major categories for the month of October. Next week, we will see some big changes in my estimates! For starters, the listing of Best Picture possibilities will be whittled from 25 to 15. All other categories will be slimmed down from 15 possible nominees to just 10. Additionally, beginning next Thursday, I will be listing all races dealing with feature-length films. That means all tech races, Documentary Feature, Foreign Language Film, and Animated Feature are coming your way for the first time next week.

In the meantime, here’s some developments from last week to this one:

  • Bohemian Rhapsody, Beautiful Boy, and The Front Runner all fall out the top 25, making room at the bottom of the list for Cold War, Ben Is Back, and Hereditary. My nine predicted Best Picture nominees remain the same. A Quiet Place and Eighth Grade move to their highest rankings yet in 16th and 17th.
  • In Best Director, John Krasinski has his debut on the listings at #14 for A Quiet Place. The Coen Brothers work in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs falls out.
  • The mediocre critical reaction for Bohemian Rhapsody has me greatly questioning whether Rami Malek makes it in Best Actor after all. He drops from 4th to 6th with Willem Dafoe (At Eternity’s Gate) now back in the fold.
  • John C. Reilly returns at #15 for his role in Stan & Ollie in Best Actor, knocking out Lucas Hedges for Boy Erased.
  • The continued switching between Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born) and Glenn Close (The Wife) goes on with the latter reclaiming the top spot.
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal makes her first appearance at #13 in Actress for her role as The Kindergarten Teacher, replacing Carey Mulligan (Wildlife).
  • Mahershala Ali is back at #1 in Supporting Actor over Timothee Chalamet (Beautiful Boy), who falls to third behind Sam Elliot (A Star Is Born). Robert Forster (What They Had) also notches his highest chart placement at #9.
  • Emma Stone (The Favourite) and Claire Foy (First Man) switch the 2-3 spots in Supporting Actress, with Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) remaining #1.
  • First Man is back in the top 5 for Adapted Screenplay over Widows.

Best Picture

1. A Star Is Born (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Roma (PR: 2)

3. The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Green Book (PR: 4)

5. First Man (PR: 5)

6. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 6)

7. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 7)

8. Black Panther (PR: 8)

9. Vice (PR: 9)

Other Possibilities:

10. Widows (PR: 11)

11. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 10)

12. The Mule (PR: 12)

13. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 13)

14. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 14)

15. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 15)

16. A Quiet Place (PR: 24)

17. Eighth Grade (PR: 20)

18. Boy Erased (PR: 16)

19. Leave No Trace (PR: 19)

20. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 17)

21. Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 18)

22. The Hate U Give (PR: 23)

23. Cold War (PR: Not Ranked)

24. Ben Is Back (PR: Not Ranked)

25. Hereditary (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Bohemian Rhapsody

Beautiful Boy

The Front Runner

Best Director

1. Alfonso Cuaron, Roma (PR: 1)

2. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 2)

3. Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 5)

5. Damien Chazelle, First Man (PR: 4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 6)

7. Peter Farrelly, Green Book (PR: 7)

8. Adam McKay, Vice (PR: 8)

9. Ryan Coogler, Black Panther (PR: 9)

10. Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 10)

11. Steve McQueen, Widows (PR: 11)

12. Clint Eastwood, The Mule (PR: 12)

13. Josie Rourke, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 13)

14. John Krasinski, A Quiet Place (PR: Not Ranked)

15. Jon M. Chu, Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Joel and Ethan Coen, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Best Actor

1. Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

2. Christian Bale, Vice (PR: 2)

3. Viggo Mortensen, Green Book (PR: 3)

4. Ryan Gosling, First Man (PR: 5)

5. Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody (PR: 4)

7. Clint Eastwood, The Mule (PR: 9)

8. Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 7)

9. Hugh Jackman, The Front Runner (PR: 10)

10. Steve Carell, Beautiful Boy (PR: 8)

11. Lucas Hedges, Ben Is Back (PR: 12)

12. Ethan Hawke, First Reformed (PR: 11)

13. Ben Foster, Leave No Trace (PR: 13)

14. John David Washington, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 14)

15. John C. Reilly, Stan & Ollie (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Lucas Hedges, Boy Erased

Best Actress

1. Glenn Close, The Wife (PR: 2)

2. Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born (PR: 1)

3. Olivia Colman, The Favourite (PR: 3)

4. Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

5. Yalitza Aparicio, Roma (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Viola Davis, Widows (PR: 6)

7. Julia Roberts, Ben Is Back (PR: 9)

8. Felicity Jones, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 8)

9. Saoirse Ronan, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 7)

10. Nicole Kidman, Destroyer (PR: 10)

11. Toni Collette, Hereditary (PR: 12)

12. Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns (PR: 11)

13. Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Kindergarten Teacher (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Kiki Layne, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 13)

15. Elsie Fisher, Eighth Grade (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

Carey Mulligan, Wildlife 

Best Supporting Actor

1. Mahershala Ali, Green Book (PR: 2)

2. Sam Elliot, A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

3. Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy (PR: 1)

4. Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

5. Sam Rockwell, Vice (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Daniel Kaluuya, Widows (PR: 6)

7. Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman (PR: 8)

8. Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther (PR: 7)

9. Robert Forster, What They Had (PR: 14)

10. Steve Carell, Vice (PR: 9)

11. Armie Hammer, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 11)

12. Nicholas Hoult, The Favourite (PR: 10)

13. Russell Crowe, Boy Erased (PR: 12)

14. Russell Hornsby, The Hate U Give (PR: 13)

15. Tim Blake Nelson, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 15)

Best Supporting Actress

1. Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 1)

2. Emma Stone, The Favourite (PR: 3)

3. Claire Foy, First Man (PR: 2)

4. Rachel Weisz, The Favourite (PR: 4)

5. Amy Adams, Vice (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Natalie Portman, Vox Lux (PR: 6)

7. Marina de Tavira, Roma (PR: 7)

8. Nicole Kidman, Boy Erased (PR: 9)

9. Michelle Yeoh, Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 8)

10. Thomasin McKenzie, Leave No Trace (PR: 11)

11. Margot Robbie, Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 10)

12. Rachel McAdams, Disobedience (PR: 13)

13. Sissy Spacek, The Old Man & The Gun (PR: 12)

14. Kathy Bates, On the Basis of Sex (PR: 14)

15. Dianne Wiest, The Mule (PR: 15)

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. BlacKkKlansman (PR: 1)

2. A Star Is Born (PR: 3)

3. If Beale Street Could Talk (PR: 2)

4. Can You Ever Forgive Me? (PR: 4)

5. First Man (PR: 6)

Other Possibilities:

6. Crazy Rich Asians (PR: 8)

7. Widows (PR: 5)

8. Leave No Trace (PR: 7)

9. Mary Queen of Scots (PR: 10)

10. Black Panther (PR: 12)

11. The Hate U Give (PR: 13)

12. Boy Erased (PR: 9)

13. Disobedience (PR: 15)

14. The Sisters Brothers (PR: Not Ranked)

15. The Wife (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Beautiful Boy

The Front Runner

Best Original Screenplay

1. Roma (PR: 1)

2. The Favourite (PR: 2)

3. Green Book (PR: 3)

4. Eighth Grade (PR: 4)

5. Vice (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. First Reformed (PR: 7)

7. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (PR: 6)

8. The Mule (PR: 10)

9. A Quiet Place (PR: 9)

10. On the Basis of Sex (PR: 8)

11. Ben Is Back (PR: 12)

12. Private Life (PR: 11)

13. Hereditary (PR: Not Ranked)

14. Stan & Ollie (PR: 13)

15. Sorry to Bother You (PR: 15)

Dropped Out:

At Eternity’s Gate

Oscar Watch: The Kindergarten Teacher

The Kindergarten Teacher premiered way back in January at the Sundance Film Festival and Maggie Gyllenhaal received raves for her role. Netflix snatched it up and it premiered on the streaming service October 12th. Sara Colangelo directs with a supporting cast including Parker Sevak, Anna Baryshnikov, and Gael Garcia Bernal. Any awards focus, however, will solely be on its star.

With a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 89%, the film is garnering greater exposure now with its release. Could Gyllenhaal be a nominee in the Best Actress race? Despite heralded performances in Secretary and Sherrybaby, she has yet to be nominated in the lead category. Gyllenhaal did receive a Supporting Actress nod in 2009 for Crazy Heart. Coupled with her acclaimed work in HBO’s “The Deuce”, it’s been a good year for the actress. Yet I still suspect she’ll be on the outside looking in considering competition.

That said, Gyllenhaal is likely to appear in the bottom portions of my top 15 projections in my weekly Oscar predictions on Thursday. It would mark her first appearance thus far.

Bottom line: despite high marks, it would be a surprise to see Gyllenhaal score her first nomination in Best Actress. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

The Dark Knight Legacy: 10 Years Later

Ten years ago tomorrow, The Dark Knight was unleashed into theaters. Looking back at the summer of 2008, you could argue that the two most important superhero pics in recent memory were released in that short time frame. Two months earlier in May of that year, Iron Man kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe which now stands at 20 films strong. Yet it was The Dark Knight that set box office records and brought critical appreciation of the genre to new heights. In a genre that has exploded in the 21st century, many consider this to be the crown jewel. I believe it’s certainly up on the Mount Rushmore.

A decade prior to its release, Batman had run into some trouble at multiplexes with the deservedly derided Batman and Robin. It was a disappointment both commercially and with reviewers. Joel Schumacher’s two run experiment with the iconic character had dissolved into campy non-fun. In the new century, Christopher Nolan was brought in to resurrect the franchise after making Memento and Insomnia. 

2005’s Batman Begins would achieve that goal, but that was not apparent immediately. Despite glowing reviews, Begins started with $48 million at the box office and $206 million overall domestically. Those are solid numbers but some context is needed. That’s nearly $50 million less than 1989’s Batman made 16 years earlier. In other words, it wasn’t obvious that the eventual sequel would turn into a phenomenon.

That’s what happened. The Dark Knight had the advantage of pitting Christian Bale’s Caped Crusader against his most known foe, The Joker. Many questioned whether Heath Ledger (coming off an Oscar nomination for Brokeback Mountain) had the goods to fill Jack Nicholson’s shoes. Early trailers indicated the answer was yes. And he nailed it with an unforgettable performance. As we know, Ledger never got to witness the acclaim. He died six months before the picture’s release and it added a tragic level of publicity leading up to the premiere.

Once Knight was released, expectations were sky-high and it earned $158 million out of the gate. That was an opening weekend record which has since been surpassed by 14 movies including its sequel The Dark Knight Rises and seven other comic book themed experiences.

The Dark Knight still stands as the 10th highest grossing movie of all time and fourth biggest superhero effort behind Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and The Avengers. It received eight Oscar nominations – something previously unheard of for something in its genre. That stands as another portion of its legacy. While Ledger would posthumously win Best Supporting Actor for his work, many figured The Dark Knight should and would nab a Best Picture nomination. It didn’t. And that caused the Academy to expand Best Picture from a finite five nominees to anywhere between five and ten (nine has been the major number most years in the decade following).

While no comic book film has managed a Best Picture nomination since then (Black Panther could change that this year), that rule change has perhaps allowed non-traditional awards material like District 9, Nolan’s own Inception, Gravity, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Mad Max: Fury Road, Arrival, and Get Out to garner nods.

And The Dark Knight, for many moviegoers, proved what comic book lovers had known all along. This material, done right, could truly be a work of art.

Oscar History: 2009

It’s been a little while, but this evening on the blog – we continue with my ongoing series of Oscar History posts and we’ve arrived at 2009. That year’s Academy Awards are notable for a couple of reasons. First, this was the year where the decision was made to expand the list of Best Picture nominees from five to ten. It’s likely not an accident that this occurred just one year after 2008’s commercial and critical smash The Dark Knight failed to make the five pic cut. This was the Academy’s way of including more commercially successful ventures. After all, there’s a direct correlation between hit pictures being nominated and the ratings of the telecast itself. Secondly, the real battle of nominated entries came down between the efforts of a couple that was married and divorced – James Cameron for his smash hit Avatar (which demolished all box office records) and ex wife Kathryn Bigelow for her war drama The Hurt Locker.

It would be Bigelow who would come out on top as The Hurt Locker would take Best Picture over her ex-husband’s blockbuster. The other eight nominated features: The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, and Up in the Air. The success of Hurt Locker would relegate Avatar to winning only the tech categories.

Up would mark the first animated flick nomination (and first and only Pixar one) since 1991’s Beauty and the Beast and it hasn’t happened since. Basterds would mark Quentin Tarantino’s second pic nod after Pulp Fiction fifteen years prior.

As for movies that might have made my personal cut, I advocate for Steven Soderbergh’s underrated and hilarious The Informant! And if the Academy wanted to include high profile pictures, why not consider the acclaimed Star Trek reboot or comedy smash of the year The Hangover? I’m also a big fan of Zack Snyder’s graphic novel adaptation of Watchmen.

Bigelow would go onto make history by becoming the first female Best Director winner in Oscar history over Cameron, Lee Daniels (Precious), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), and Tarantino. I may have found room for Neill Blomkamp’s impressive work in District 9.

Beloved actor Jeff Bridges would score his first Best Actor win for Crazy Heart, beating out George Clooney (Up in the Air), Colin Firth (A Single Man), Morgan Freeman (Invictus), and Jeremy Renner (Hurt Locker). Firth would go onto win the prize the following year for The King’s Speech. Once again, my Informant! love would have meant an inclusion for Matt Damon’s terrific work in it.

Sandra Bullock would receive her first ever nomination and a win for her hit football drama The Blind Side. Other nominees: Helen Mirren (The Last Station), Carey Mulligan (An Education), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), and Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia). Two names I would’ve considered: Alison Lohman’s great scared crapless work in Sam Raimi’s horror tale Drag Me to Hell and Zooey Deschanel in the rom com (500) Days of Summer.

Quentin Tarantino’s knack of finding the perfect actor in the perfect role landed an at the time unknown Christoph Waltz a win in Supporting Actor for Inglourious Basterds. Other nominees were Matt Damon for Invictus, Woody Harrelson for The Messenger, Christopher Plummer in The Last Station, and Stanley Tucci for The Lovely Bones. As I’ve mentioned in these posts before, the Academy usually ignores comedies and this race would have given them an excellent opportunity to nominate Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover. Also, I may have included Jackie Earle Haley for his work in Watchmen.

Mo’Nique would win Supporting Actress in Precious over previous year’s winner Penelope Cruz (Nine), Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick (both nominated for Up in the Air), and Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart). I would have given consideration to either Melanie Laurent or Diane Kruger for their roles in Basterds.

And that’s 2009 for you, my friends! I’ll get to 2010 at same point in the future…