Much like Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Birthdays; The Oscars happen every year. And even more like Christmas, after Valentine’s Day and Birthdays you leave this part of the calendar feeling dejected, cheated and with a solitary tear rolling down your cheek as you ponder the emptiness of it all.
Where the Oscars used to evoke the childlike excitement that Christmas, Birthdays or poorly hashed metaphors did in me I now find myself worn out by its predictability and tiring place in the world of Christmas movie advertising.
With films like The Master, Lincoln and Django Unchained all finding release in the next couple of months in the UK we are rooted heavily in Oscar season; where films that initially very few people would go to see can carry around an ‘Oscar contender’ label and engage slightly more people to come and see Paul Thomas Anderson enthral us, Leonardo DiCaprio leave empty handed and Daniel Day Lewis shout his way to a third best actor win.
While this is a positive thing for independent, small budget movie making about serious topic matters it also brings with it its own stigma and miserable sense of inevitability. There is very little need to debate who is going to win the best actor in a leading role award, as it was decided the day Daniel Day Lewis signed on to play Abraham Lincoln.
It has been developing more and more in to a sideshow of ‘most Oscar-worthy’ winners of late; The Kings Speech, a biopic tale about a monarch over coming disability, won Best Picture over the much more people pleasing, stylish and entertaining The Social Network. Was anyone surprised? Of course they weren’t.
Pixar films have long been heralded as best films of the year (Toy Story 1 and 2 have a 100 score on Rotten Tomatoes; whilst number 3 has 99%) but do they get much joy around Oscar season? Not until they make a film about a paraplegic caterpillar seeking a career as a broadway star in the play biopic of any significant figure of the 20th century; which though interesting to think about I don’t think will sell as many tickets as Monsters University, but probably more than cars.
It’s this predictability that is slowly killing the Oscars as something to be excited about; not the Italian football matches of the awards season…Which brings me to The Dark Knight Rises.
The Dark Knight Rises is a brilliant movie and, unless The Hobbit does the complete opposite of what I expect it to do, it will be my favourite movie of 2012.
Technically speaking it’s a masterpiece of scope, scriptwriting and direction; but beyond that it represents everything important that the Batman franchise has done. It has crafted big budget movies that engage emotionally and intellectually whilst coaxing the best out of its actors and technical staff.
Criticise all you want; but a big budget action movie with the ability to do these things is rare in a decade where sexy and dumb have become the order of the day and with Megan Fox now starting to inject polystyrene in to her face, we don’t have a lot else to hold on to.
The Dark Knight Rises’ brilliance comes in its ability to move, to motivate, to craft a story of such sophistication and merit whilst still entertaining and effecting the masses; it does what your typical ‘Oscar contender’ does but on a massive budget; and on a massive return.
If we look at precedent, one doesn’t need to look much further back than The Lord Of The Rings: The Return of the King, which won 11 Oscars despite the fact it was significantly weaker than its predecessors, the 11 Oscars were out of respect for what the entire trilogy did for the genre and adaptations and if that’s the case; surely the academy owes The Batman trilogy an award for what it has done for cinema?
It gave DC a voice when we looked to be overrun by bright and breezy popcorn Marvel films; and that voice has created the biggest superhero franchise in the world and catapulted the career of Christopher Nolan to the stratospheric heights it is at.
When all is said and done The Dark Knight Rises pleased millions and gave a roaring send off to a franchise that proved you can sophisticate big budget; it isn’t just something for the low budget movies we are given every Oscar season. The Dark Knight Rises proved big budget movies can compete with the small ‘think pieces’, and it deserves its rewards.
This is a chance for the Academy, so stuck in their dogmatic ways, to break free from type and favourites and reward something a bit different, and a lot bigger than all its competitors.