Could Deadpool be up for an Oscar: The history of comic book movies at the Oscars
Could Deadpool be up for an Oscar: The history of comic book movies at the Oscars.
After being nominated for best comedy or musical and best picture at the Golden Globes (sadly losing out to La La Land) Deadpools attention now turns to the Oscars. Never one to shy away from publicity Ryan Reynolds posted a “For Your Consideration” Oscars pitch for the massively successful superhero movie. Check out the pitch.
After having heard the talk about Deadpools chances of being nominated for an Oscar I wanted to go back through the years and find out the history of comic book movies at the Oscars. The results might surprise you.
The 1942 Oscar ceremony was hosted by Bob Hope and marked the first time a comic book movie received an Oscar nomination. In September of 1941 back when Paramount owned the distribution rights for Superman Fleischer Studios released a 10 minute animated short simply titled Superman. The movie was nominated for best animated short but lost to Disney's Lend a Paw. This wouldn’t be the last time Supes would have success at the Oscars.
The original Superman movie was nominated three times in the categories of best original score, best sound mixing and best film editing. None of these nominations turned into an actual Oscar but Les Bowie, Colin Chilvers, Denys Coop, Roy Field, Derek Meddings and Zoran Perisic got the special achievement award for the visual effects in Superman.
A full decade after Superman’s Oscar success Tim Burton’s Batman was released in 1989. The film was a big success for Warner Bros financially and the cherry on the cake was when the movie picked up an Oscar for best art direction. That year Batman was up against The Abyss and the Adventures of Baron Munchausen which were both visually stunning films for the time. Three years later in 1993 Batman returns got two nominations for best makeup and best visual effects but the movie lost out to Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Death Becomes Her.
1991 Dick Tracy
I must admit to not having seen this film for over 20 years and even then I don’t think I finished it but looking back at 1990 it appears that this was a massively successful comic book movie at the Oscars, maybe even the most successful comic book movie critically speaking. The nominations included Al Pacino as best supporting actor, best art direction, best makeup, best original song, best sound, best cinematography and best costume design. The movie took home three Oscars having been successful in the best makeup, best art direction and best original song categories. Could it be that Dick Tracy is the comic book movie that has won the most Oscars? Really? Should I go back and watch it?
1995 The Mask
A childhood favourite of mine is The Mask from 1994. The following year the annual academy awards recognized the movie and received a nomination for best visual effects, which it won. I still love this movie, it makes me laugh every time and gave me my first childhood crush in Cameron Diaz.
1996 Batman Forever
Tim Burton’s Batman 1989 kicked off the series and it continued with Batman Returns in 1992. Three years later Joel Schumacher took the franchise forward with 1995’S Batman Forever which got 3 nominations for best sounds effects editing (which it lost to Braveheart), best sound (losing to Apollo 13) and best cinematography (again losing to Braveheart). While the movie did not win an Oscar in 1996 it is surpising to find out that it even got nominated. Especially when you think that the following year Schumacher would famously kill the franchise for almost a decade with Batman & Robin.
1998 Men in Black (the first one)
The movie that really made Will Smith a household name was a huge success for the cast and crew. This was the first movie I saw multiple times at the cinema and holds my all time record of four theatre viewings. In the year that James Cameron’s Titanic dominated the Oscars it is pretty impressive that Men in Black had 3 Oscar nominations for best original musical or comedy score, best art direction and best makeup. The movie took home the award for best makeup and looking back the movie still holds up and gets my stamp of approval 20 years after the event.
2002 Ghost World
In 2001 a young Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson would star in their first comic book movie with Ghost World. The movie is not your conventional superhero story but still qualifies for this article. Scarlett Johansson would of course to go on and star as Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe having a huge contribution to the success of todays comic book movies. First though the actress featured in Ghost World which was nominated for best adapted screenplay. It was a tough category though being up against the likes of The Lord of the Rings, Shrek and A Beautiful Mind which took home the award.
2003 Road to Perdition
As I wrote some time ago in my article Unknown Comic Book Movies Tom Hanks starred in Road to Perdition. As with many movies featured in this article this was not your conventional comic book movie superhero story and saw Tom Hanks as a weathered assassin trying to protect his son from his mob associates. The third highest Oscar nominated comic book movie was up for six awards with nominations for best supporting actor (for Paul Newman), best original score, best sound effects editing, best art direction, best sound mixing and best cinematography. The movie picked up just one of these for best Cinematography which was collected by Conrad L. Hall.
2004 American Splendor
Paul Giamatti’s American Splendor released in 2003 received an Oscar nomination in the following years annual ceremony. The film was up for best adapted screenplay but if you remember, this was the era of Lord of the Rings which dominated the awards. In 2004 The Return of the King got 11 nominations which is still the highest number of potential awards at the Oscars to this day. It’s no surprise then that American Splendor lost out the Lord of the Rings 3 in 2004.
2005 Spider-Man 2
I always get accused of hating on the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and sure it’s not my favourite movie franchise but I am the first to admit that the visual effects hold up even today so it’s no surprise that Spider-Man 2 was nominated and won the Oscar for best visual effects in 2004. The film was up for three categories that year which included best sound editing, best sound mixing and best visual effects which is impressive for a Spider-Man movie.
2006 A History of Violence & Batman Begins
2006 was the first year to see more than one comic book movie being nominated for an Oscar. First up was A History of Violence which also featured in my article Unknown Comic Book Movies and starred Viggo Mortensen and William Hurt. Hurt was nominated for best support actor but lost out to George Clooney for his performance in Syriana. The movie was also up for best adapted screenplay losing out to Brokeback Mountain.
As I mentioned 2006 saw another comic book movie nominated in a category. The movie was none other than Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins which was nominated for best cinematography for the work of long time Nolan collaborator Wally Pfister. It was not to be for Batman in 2006 as the category went to Memoirs of a Geisha.
2007 Superman Returns
Superman Returns is still one of the most expensive comic book movies ever made and was generally disappointing despite having some really great potential with some of the cast and a great director with Bryan Singer. The movie did get some recognition though as it was nominated for best visual effects. Superman Returns was against the classic movies Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Poseidon so it’s no surprise that it didn’t win :S.
2009 The Dark Knight
This is probably the most famous instance of a comic book movie receiving an Oscar and it’s no surprise that it was Heath Ledger who was posthumously awarded best supporting actor in 2008 for his take on Joker. Lesser known is that Richard King won the award for best sound editing so the movie actually got two Oscars. The Dark Knight got further recognition for also being nominated for best sound, best visual effects, best makeup, best art direction, best cinematography and best editing. That’s a total of 8 nominations which makes the Dark Knight the most nominated comic book movie at the Oscars. Hardly surprising that a film in a lot of peoples top 10 best movies of all time.
2011 Iron Man 2
Yes it’s amazing but it is true that Iron Man 2 did in fact receive an Oscar nomination in 2011. Jon Favreau’s sequel to the mega hit Iron Man was up for an award for best visual effects. This year the movie lost out to Christopher Nolan’s Inception so realistically Iron Man 2 had little chance of winning.
Joss Whedon’s Avengers 2012 is one of the best comic book movies ever made and is certainly in many peoples top 10. The movie was quite rightly nominated for best visual effects but it lost to Life of Pi because there was a tiger in it or somethings?!
2014 Iron Man 3
I am the first to admit that I did not like this movie too much. It’s fine as a Shane Black film but feels out of place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe for me. As is becoming tradition at this point for Marvel movies Iron Man 3 was nominated for best visual effects. 2014 was the year of Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity which took home the award.
2015 Big Hero 6, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past
2015 is the most successful year so far when it comes to comic book movie nominations with four movies of the genre up for an award.
It wasn’t a great year for animated films but it doesn’t take anything away from the years winner in the category. Big Hero 6 was nominated and won the Oscar for the best animated feature film. This was the first animated comic book film to win an Oscar since 1942 when Superman took the prize for best animated short.
Guardians of the Galaxy was a surprise hit for Marvel in 2014 which earned a nomination for best makeup and hairstyling. This wasn’t the only nomination that the movie received but in this category it lost to The Grand Budapest Hotel. I like that movie too so it’s fine. The 2nd nomination for GOTG was for best visual effects. It was up against X-Men: Days of Future Past, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Interstellar (which won). Guardians didn't win any Oscars but 2015 marks the only time more than 2 comic book movies were nominated in various categories.
So that’s it. That’s the complete history of comic book movies at the Oscars. As of 2016 a total of 23 comic book movies have been nominated for an award. The highest is The Dark Knight with 8 nominations, Dick Tracy is 2nd with 7 and Road to Perdition comes in at third place with 6 nominations. Check out this handy graph if you skimmed the article looking for something more direct.
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