Sunday Discussion: So, What If The Dark Knight Wins Best Picture?
by Alex Billington
November 23, 2008
Does it mean we've reached the end of great cinema as we know it? Or will it usher in a new era of impeccable filmmaking? Like it or not, it's looking more and more likely that The Dark Knight could end up winning Best Picture at the Oscars next year. Why am I making such a ludicrous prediction so early in the game? Well, out of all the big Best Picture contenders, none of them have turned out to be as amazing as expected. First things first, I haven't seen all of them, but being in Hollywood and with the friends I know, I've spoken to someone who has seen at least every big contender (we'll get into those later on). And while most are turning out good, none of them are turning out amazing, which only leaves The Dark Knight.
Here's the thing - I love great films and I love the Oscar season. And there are a handful of potential Oscar contenders that I've been very excited to see. As time has gone by, most of my friends (or other people I know within the industry) have seen most of the big contenders, but no one has come running to me proclaiming that they just saw the Best Picture winner hands down. Besides The Dark Knight, the other films in the running for Best Picture include: Australia, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Doubt, Frost/Nixon, Gran Torino, Milk, Nothing But the Truth, Rachel Getting Married, The Reader, Revolutionary Road, Slumdog Millionaire, The Wrestler, and Wall-E. Out of all those, the only two that haven't really been seen by anyone are Gran Torino and The Reader. However, based on the trailers for both, I doubt they'll be strong enough to take down the others in that list.
So there's this year's Oscar line-up. There could be some other anomalies, like Steven Soderbergh's Che or Changeling or Seven Pounds, but for the most part nothing else really has the industry buzz to even make it to the Oscars. I don't want to breakdown each and every movie on there, but I've heard only "good but not great" feedback on almost all of them. Well, except for The Wrestler and Wall-E. Those two could actually give The Dark Knight a run for its money. But then I think back to the fact that The Dark Knight has made nearly $1 billion worldwide, that it almost was the best reviewed film of the year (until Wall-E took that title), and has been heralded by critics and fans alike the best comic book movie of all-time.
That is exactly my point. Remember back to the Oscars in 2004, when Lord of the Rings: Return of the King earned an unimaginable 11 statues. The other nominees for Best Picture that year included Lost in Translation, Master and Commander, Mystic River, and Seabiscuit. Besides Mystic River (and maybe Lost in Translation), it really wasn't the best year. The other nominees, while great, just didn't have that edge needed to beat Return of the King. That's the exact same feeling I'm getting this year as well. A film on its way to earning $1 billion (just like Return of the King), a strong but not-strong-enough selection of other nominees, and the critical backing necessary for an off-kilter win. When you put things into perspective like that, it doesn't seem as unlikely that The Dark Knight might win after all.
With that result in mind, that brings me to my next topic of discussion today. So, what if The Dark Knight does win Best Picture? Are you going to be happy or upset? I'm honestly a bit worried that if my prediction turns out to be true, the reaction could be severe. I know there are plenty of people (like myself) who believe it deserves to win and would be very content if it did. But there are also a few people who really don't like the movie and would be more than upset if it wins. Would it really be that crazy if it does? It just seems like it'd be another off-the-wall year like back in 2004 with Return of the King. I'd actually love to see it win just because I love shaking things up in Hollywood and a win would do just that.
Don't get me wrong, all of the other big contenders this year are all fine films. In fact, I loved both The Wrestler and Australia and I think Milk will end up the most highly underrated film of the year. So I'm not saying that the other nominees are bad by any means, I'm just saying that The Dark Knight does have the edge needed to win this year. With every new day I hope to hear from someone that one of the other contenders is indeed a masterpiece, but every day I hear more feedback to the contrary. It's making me more and more skeptical and I couldn't help bringing up this discussion today. And in the end we've got to face the facts - The Dark Knight really is the frontrunner for Best Picture at the moment.