Patty Jenkins’ triumphant Wonder Woman debuted to 93% critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes and broke box office records, but will Diana (Gal Gadot) be able to lasso any awards gold? Already articles have been written dissecting Warner Bros.’ chances of claiming Wonder Woman as they second Academy Award winner of the DC Extended Universe. Perhaps most notable was The Hollywood Reporter‘s column, written by Scott Feinberg, who received numerous comments from Academy members on the film following a packed screening.
Feinberg quotes two enthusiastic members of the Academy who felt as though the film could garner some serious attention at the end of the year. One male member wrote that if any blockbuster could get attention, it would be this one. Another member, this one female, praised many of the film’s technical elements and wrote it would be a hard film for the Academy to ignore, and the fact so many members went to the screening (and applauded) was a positive sign.
Another female member was not nearly as positive, saying that the film’s praise was mostly due to people being blinded by the female empowerment angle for the film. She wrote “If I were a betting woman, I wouldn’t bet on it” with regards to the film’s chance at Oscars glory. She has a point; the majority of ‘Oscar-bait’ films have yet to be released, and without a doubt when the fall comes and many of these films hit theaters the conversation will change.
However, as it stands now, the Oscar discussion has been centered on genre films that have received glowing reviews: Get Out, Logan, and now Wonder Woman. Both Get Out and Logan debuted to near universal critical acclaim and drew buzz, which is surprising for both a horror film and an X-Men film. Wonder Woman‘s buzz, however, is more surprising, as the film was not designed to win prestige awards. After all, if The Dark Knight couldn’t grab an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, how can Wonder Woman? Feinberg also pointed out that the Academy is only 27% female, and only a couple of female-centric films tend to receive Best Picture nominations as a result. With Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled receiving raves at Cannes, that could fill the “girl power” slot at the Oscars.
Without a doubt, the positive reception could generate a sweep in the technical categories. While the special effects received a lukewarm reception, the production design and score all received raves. Cinematography and costume design are also strong possibilities. The film is beautifully shot, and the production designs and costumes are all very rich. Technically, the film is beautiful to look at, and Rupert Gregson-Williams’ score is equally stunning. A strong showing in the technicals could be Warner Bros.’ best bet.
Screenplay is a longer shot; while the film had many positives, the writing suffered from some tired tropes towards the end. If any genre film receives major love in the writing categories, a far, far safer bet will be Get Out or Logan, both of which featured far stronger writing than Wonder Woman. It is also unlikely that star Gadot will receive any love for her performance. Jenkins’ stellar direction could merit a George Miller-esque upset, but she faces strong competition from Coppola and others. Again, Jordan Peele for Get Out and James Mangold for Logan will probably nab the spot before her.
Best Picture remains to be seen. Mad Max: Fury Road showed that voters are willing to nominate blockbusters, and the film could score a nomination based on a desire to draw in more viewers for the show. However, it is still unlikely. Where the film could shine, however, is at the Golden Globes, which gave nominations to both Deadpool and the film’s star Ryan Reynolds. Gadot, Jenkins, and the film itself could all score major nominations there if the competition isn’t as stiff.
Overall, Wonder Woman is a fantastic film, by far the best in the new DCEU. However, that is not necessarily enough to garner it a spot at the Oscars, especially with such stiff competition from similar genre pieces already. The Oscars tend to only honor one genre film a year, and there are others with better reviews and more critical acclaim. Wonder Woman could pull a steady sweep of the technical awards (last year’s Suicide Squad snagged a win for Best Makeup) but unless Warner Bros. mounts a serious campaign, it is unlikely that the film will receive any major nominations.
The buzz is interesting though, as it shows that many Academy members are actually considering the film as a contender. Whether it actually is will remain to be seen, but the film garner this kind of hype proves that Warner Bros. and DC’s investment truly paid off. Jenkins and company should be proud, even if their film walks away from the end of awards season empty handed.