DCMarvel 10 Plausible Oscar Nominations For Future Superhero Films written by Sean Gerber February 29, 2016 Another Academy Awards ceremony has come and gone with the fewest people noticing in the last seven years. And so resumes the conversation surrounding the need for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to open its collective mind and recognize more films that audiences pay money to see and enjoy. There’s no need for the Oscars to become the People’s Choice Awards, but it’s fair to say the Academy should at least look at films that might ordinarily be dismissed in order to find the hidden gems. Outside of Star Wars, there’s no more popular set of films than the ones found in the superhero genre. The popularity of superhero films does not make everything they offer Oscar-worthy, but they should not be ignored as simple populist entertainment either. Sometimes they offer more and sometimes the Academy actually sees that. The Academy just needs to see it more often. If the Academy ever gets serious about broadening its horizons, there might be several things worth seeing in superhero films in the next five years. Just for fun, I’ve put together a list of ten plausible Oscar nominations the Academy might bestow upon the superhero genre in the foreseeable future. Speaking of the future, I’m well aware that I have not seen any of the films about to be mentioned. Some of them haven’t even started production. With that in mind, I obviously do not know if any of these films have anything Oscar-worthy about them. This is not a list of predictions and certainly not a claim than any of these films should be nominated for any Academy Awards. This is merely a list of potential Oscar nominations I’ve deemed plausible based on my own expectations for these films and the performances within them. I am only putting forth that if these films and performances are as good as I think they can be, then they might be recognized by the Academy. This list is certain to evolve, if only in my own head, as the films come out and we actually see what they have to offer. Keeping in mind, again, that this is all just for fun, here are 10 plausible Oscar nominations for future superhero films. Please note: the list goes in chronological order by movie release date. 1. Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Film Editing Superhero movies have earned their share of Oscar nominations for visual effects along with a few other categories often and unfairly dismissed by fans for being on the technical side of filmmaking. Visual effects, sound editing, sound mixing, and film editing are every bit as creative as they are technical, if not more, and account for much of the storytelling that takes place in the finished films. The men and women who complete those vital tasks are incredibly deserving of the recognition they receive from the Academy and fans should celebrate that recognition. While several films hold the potential to pickup a Visual Effects nomination over the next several years, the one to watch in 2016 is Marvel’s Doctor Strange. Visual effects supervisor Stephane Ceretti was nominated previously for taking us to the other side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Guardians of the Galaxy. This year, he’ll be taking us into completely new dimensions and showing The Academy plenty of things its members have never seen before. 2. Best Supporting Actor – Robert Downey, Jr. (Captain America: Civil War) At first glance, this might sound ridiculous. Acting nominations are generally a long-shot for superhero films. It’s only happened a couple times, and that’s only if you count Dick Tracy, for which Al Pacino was nominated, as a superhero movie. The other instance was Heath Ledger and his phenomenal turn as The Joker in The Dark Knight, for which he was not only nominated, but also won. What do both of these Oscar nominations have in common? They were in the Supporting Actor category. Historically, the supporting categories are where the Academy is willing to have a little more fun and recognize the types of roles that wouldn’t even get a look in the Lead Actor or Lead Actress categories. Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark has been one of the most beloved and most iconic movie characters of the past decade and while he’s probably never been seriously considered for a Lead Actor nomination in any Iron Man or Avengers movie, his status as a supporting player in Captain America: Civil War makes nominating him a little easier on the Academy, especially with his character’s upcoming role reversal. Based on the trailers and everything the filmmakers have said about the movie, it does not appear as though Downey will walk into the film just to play his greatest hits, be the Tony Stark we love, and leave. His character, the ultimate rebel in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, is now championing authority in a way that could position him as an antagonist. A likable antagonist, sure, but still an antagonist. Downey could have the opportunity to show a lot of new range for his character and if the material is as good as it looks, Downey could do something truly special. It never hurts to be someone the Academy has recognized before and Downey has been nominated twice. Once as the lead in Chaplin in 1992 and again for his supporting role in 2008’s Tropic Thunder. This could be the year Downey snags a third nomination. 3. Best Picture – Captain America: Civil War The Falcon himself, Anthony Mackie, has already said he believes Captain America: Civil War could earn a Best Picture nomination, and who am I to tell him he’s wrong? While this might be the longest of any shot on this list, it’s worth remembering the difference between plausibility and likelihood. No superhero film has ever received a Best Picture nomination from the Academy, but if any already announced film between now and 2020 is going to be the first, Captain America: Civil War has the best chance. Ever since The Dark Knight was snubbed, the field of Best Picture nominees has been expanded to include up to 10 films. No superhero film has taken advantage of that yet, but Civil War could. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo handed in one of the best superhero movies since The Dark Knight with 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and they appear to be upping the ante. Civil War is said to be a psychological thriller and, by the looks of it, deals with complex, real-world themes that could play out not just as superhero battles, but intense examinations of conflict resolution in a world too often handcuffed by political ideology. If The Dark Knight showed us our post-9/11 world in 2008, Captain America: Civil War could show us our world in a post-NSA scandal 2016 with an intense two-party superhero debate right in the middle of an election year. If the Academy is looking for a reason to nominate a more popular film, Captain America: Civil War may provide several. 4. Best Supporting Actress – Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad) We’ve already been over the Academy’s slightly more playful attitude toward supporting roles compared to leads. That’s never translated to a nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a superhero film, but someone has to be first eventually and Margot Robbie has a great shot. Robbie’s Harley Quinn as been a hit in the Suicide Squad trailers released thus far and could very well be the breakout character of the 2016 movie year. Harley is a fun and charismatic character that audiences will have an easy time liking, but improving Robbie’s Oscar chances is a genuine arc for her character. Suicide Squad seems to be including a full origin and backstory for Harley instead of making her simple, superficial, comic relief. Harley Quinn is going to have heart and could show a strong emotional core, which would make it very difficult to write Robbie’s performance off as one-dimensional. Without having seen any of these films, I believe this is the most plausible acting nomination on this list (but please read on anyway.) 5. Best Supporting Actor – Jared Leto (Suicide Squad) Jared Leto and The Joker have both won an Oscar. Leto brought home his statue for Dallas Buyers Club while Heath Ledger won The Joker an Oscar in The Dark Knight. The Joker is a character almost everyone loves to hate, or hates to love, or loves to love. The Joker is a character any actor should love to play because there are almost no rules and an actor can go as dark and twisted as he or she is capable of imagining. With Leto, we’re combining a brilliantly talented actor with a brilliant character and it’s easy to see the potential result of a brilliant, Oscar-nominated performance. If there’s a downside, it could be The Joker’s previous win. Comparisons of Leto to Heath Ledger (and Batman‘s Jack Nicholson) are inevitable. While that’s fun for fans, Academy voters might need to be convinced Leto is as good or even better than Ledger was in order to nominate Leto for playing the same character. 6. Best Makeup and Hairstyling – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Having picked up a nomination in this category in 2014, Marvel’s most cosmic franchise could go for a repeat even with what appears to be a new hair and makeup team. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 should present a wealth of opportunities for new character designs in addition to the already awesome makeup for returning characters like Drax (Dave Bautista), Nebula (Karen Gillan), and Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Director James Gunn is sure to push his crew farther this time to achieve even better results than we saw the first time around. 7. Best Supporting Actor – Kurt Russell (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) Granted, this is an especially premature evaluation of plausibility. We don’t even know what Russell’s role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 will be. We just know that he’s Kurt Russell and you don’t bring him in to do something that isn’t going to make a major impact on a film. That, along with his status as a Hollywood icon, will at least earn him a glance from the Academy if the reviews for GOTG Vol. 2 are as good as those of its predecessor. The Academy has never nominated Russell before, but would probably be happy to at some point. Whether or not that point comes in GOTG Vol. 2 will depend on Russell’s ultimate role in the film. Fortunately, it seems most likely that Russell will be playing a very pivotal role as (most of us guess) Peter Quill’s (Chris Pratt) father. It’s not a slam dunk Oscar role by any stretch, but it’s possible. 8. Best Costume Design – Wonder Woman Superhero movie fans know the work of Wonder Woman costume designer Lindy Hemming very well. They’ve seen her work in all three installments of the legendary Dark Knight trilogy. What they’re probably less aware of is Hemming’s Oscar for Topsy-Turvy. The pedigree is there, which certainly helps when so many eyes will be on the first female-led superhero film from Marvel or DC in over a decade. Not to mention Wonder Woman’s status as the most iconic female superhero film of all time. There’s a bit of Oscar logic feeding into this plausibility. Period pieces tend to be Academy favorites in the Best Costume Design category and Wonder Woman stands to benefit from that preference. The movie is set in World War I, a period visited by cinema far less often than World War II, affording Hemming the opportunity to come up with civilian and military costumes Academy voters are not so used to seeing these days. Combine those with several more designs rooted in Greek mythology and Hemming could have a very dynamic display of her work to showcase. It may not even matter that the title character’s costume design has been carried over from another film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. 9. Best Supporting Actress – Cate Blanchett (Thor: Ragnarok) After six nominations and two wins, Cate Blanchett is Oscar royalty. It’s nearly impossible to look at anything she does nowadays and not wonder if the Academy will call her name for it. She’s just that good in everything she does and her performance in Thor: Ragnarok should be no exception. A November 2017 release also puts her performance right in the middle of Oscar movie season. As a villain, likely Hela, Blanchett should have plenty of great scenes with both Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston). In addition to imposing, downright scary villainy, Blanchett could also show off a sense of humor with help from director Taika Waititi. We know Blanchett has the ability so her chances of an Oscar nomination for Thor: Ragnarok will ultimately be dictated by the material she’s given. 10. Best Picture (and maybe more) – Ben Affleck’s Solo Batman Movie We know nothing about the next solo Batman movie other than we’re getting one, it’s reportedly written by Ben Affleck and DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, and Affleck would love to direct if the stars align. We need to know what exactly Affleck is aiming for in order to truly assess the plausibility of any Oscar nominations, but my own faith that Affleck will aim high is enough for me to squeeze this film into the final spot on this list. Affleck has already directed a Best Picture Oscar winner in Argo, so it’s not out of the realm of plausibility that he could deliver a Batman film that would be the genre’s first or second Best Picture nominee. A lot of things would have to break the right way, but it’s certainly a good start to have a director the Academy knows and respects in your corner. If Affleck just wants to make a really awesome, purely comic book Batman film (which we’d all probably love), then the Academy won’t come calling. If, however, Affleck makes something more than just a superhero film and devotes the movie to an ideal, then it could become something else entirely. A Best Picture Nominee (sorry.) Finally, while I couldn’t bring myself to predict a plausible Best Director nominee, Affleck’s pedigree gives him the best shot to break into the category that seems the furthest out of reach for the genre. 10 Plausible Oscar Nominations For Future Superhero Films was last modified: February 29th, 2016 by Sean Gerber Related Captain America: Civil WarGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2Suicide SquadThor: RagnarokWonder Woman 6 comments 0 Facebook Twitter Google + Pinterest Sean Gerber Sean Gerber is the founder and editor-in-chief of Modern Myth Media. When he's not writing here, you can catch him as the host of Popular Opinion Podcast, Batman News, and Marvel News! previous post Weekly Ratings Roundup: February 21 to 27, 2016 next post AWARDS SEASON AND THE SUPERHERO: ACADEMY AWARDS FOR 2015 You may also like New THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 Images December 3, 2013 THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 Trailer Really Swings! 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He was also helped by the fact that Nicholson wasn’t nominated for his version. Had he been, the Academy would probably been more reticent to nominate and vote for Heath. So Leto may hit a home run, but it’s likely to be bypassed. As far as the other actors you mention, I really believe that the Academy won’t recognize RDJ for this role for 1 reason: CGI. Half of IM’s appearance in any flick is pure CGI. They have never nominated the King of Motion Capture, Andy Serkis. His performances give everything to the character and the story and still–nothing. RDJ to my knowledge, doesn’t mo-cap for IM. To the others, I can think of plenty of flicks they should have been nominated- Kurt Russel especially. But it’s very difficult for genre films to be recognized. Any genre. Horror, Sci-fi, Comedy-usually get short shrift for the message movie. Finally, I think what you’re seeing in the ratings is a national recognition of the irrelevancy of the Oscars. Robert Reineke I tend to think that given that Hollywood is still slow to greenlight female-led blockbusters, if something like Wonder Woman is a big hit, with a female centric cast, that there’s at least some likelihood of Actress or Supporting Actress being in play. Or, at least the odds are better for that, than they are for Actor or Supporting Actor. If WW is a hit, that will be an important milestone in the genre and for female action films. FWIW, I think the odds of RDJ snagging a Supporting Actor nom are next to nil. I’m sure he’ll be good in the part, but it’s only a handful of times in the history of Oscar that an actor got a nomination for acting a role that they’ve previously played before. Sequels practically never get major nominations. Sean Gerber I actually considered Gal Gadot for Supporting Actress for BvS given the importance of the character and her likely impact in pop culture. I’m just not sure if her role in that film is big enough to overtake what I believe will be a star-making (or expanding) performance by Robbie in SS. For the WW solo film, however, I agree that it has a chance to pull down more than the costume nomination I highlighted. If RDJ gets to do what I think he’ll get to do in Civil War, then I like his chances of a nomination much better than nil. We just saw Stallone nominated for playing a role he’s played 7 times in about 4 decades. Granted, Downey has had more (and more frequent) exposure as Tony Stark and he wouldn’t be as sentimental of a choice as Stallone, but there’s some recent precedent there that can help Downey. It helped that Stallone got to swap roles even while playing the same character. I think Downey might also be doing that in CW. If the material is there, and I think it might be, Downey has a better than nil chance. Robert Reineke From what I can tell, there have only been a handful of times that actors have snagged a nomination for a return appearance out of like 1,760 nominations. Stallone in Creed obviously, Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Paul Newman in The Color of Money, Al Pacino in The Godfather, Part II, Peter O’Toole in The Lion in Winter, and Bing Crosby in The Bell’s of St. Mary’s. A little less than 0.3%. I don’t want to say that it can’t happen, but even including Stallone the history says it’s a long shot. Robert Reineke I should add that only Stallone has a nomination for anything beyond the second time playing a role, and he had a prior nomination to his credit. It would be unprecedented for RDJ to pick up a nomination now. Of course, unprecedented doesn’t mean impossible.