Was reading this week's Entertainment Weekly, my favorite magazine as it were, and came upon some Best Picture predictions randomly in the middle of an article on Meryl Streep. At first I was thrilled to see The Dark Knight make the top 8, alongside Benjamin Button, Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, Doubt, Frost/Nixon, Revolutionary Road, & Australia. But then I read the actual write up...
THE DARK KNIGHT
How it gets in With the economic climate becoming more dire every day, recognizing a movie that made over half a billion dollars domestically (and earned quite strong reviews) might be very appealing for some.
How it gets left out It's the Oscar equivalent of the Bradley effect: With ballots in hand, will voters really check off a popcorn movie?
Wait, EW, so you are telling me should Dark Knight be nominated, it's because it MADE A LOT OF MONEY and that's APPEALING TO SOME?! (Oh and maybe because it got strong reviews, but that doesn't really matter as much - thanks for clearing that up, parenthesis!) And should it be snubbed it's because what, the academy members' consciences got the better of them? They just couldn't bear to vote for a "popcorn movie"?!
I understand that for some people, the Dark Knight hype got the better of them..well...I sort of understand...in that way that I'll pretend I understand if you want...but so far, it's hands down the best picture I've seen so far this year. To insult my taste and the taste of millions of others just doesn't seem right to me. The whole reason this movie made as much money as it did, beyond your average comic book movie's total, and why it's getting Best Picture talk in the first place is because it ISN'T just a popcorn movie. It reinvented and elevated the superhero genre to a whole new level and to demean that accomplishment and ignore its quality is condescending at best. Those who are at this moment considering nominating Dark Knight are doing so because it's a great god damn movie and won't change their minds last second, "Bradley Effect" style. Those academy members who won't be nominating Dark Knight? They were never entertaining the thought in the first place.
I stand firmly by the belief that in the end Dark Knight will pull out a Best Pic nod. If it doesn't, it's due to that faction of the academy that will always point their noses down on superhero films, no matter how great they are. But look at this years contenders - Slumdog Millionaire is pretty good, Frost/Nixon, you know, gets the job done and from what I hear (and will be able to confirm soon) Milk is more of an accomplishment for telling the story it tells rather than an achievement in filmmaking and Benjamin Button leaves the audience oddly emotionally detatched in what should be a tearjerker. All four times I saw Dark Knight, I did laugh, I did cry, I marveled at the gorgeous IMAX sequences, I noticed new things, was affected by new things, I was always impressed with the performances and was consistently left itching for the continuation of this story. Some say the film is too didactic, but one element of the superhero genre that should always be maintained is the moral lesson, the grand themes of right and wrong and the epic battle of good versus evil. It's why the genre was created and why it's not going anywhere.
So, a popcorn movie that only stands a chance cause it made money? We're in a fight, Dave Karger. Even though I just added you to my Google Reader.