Last week the 2009 Golden Globe nominations were announced and Oscar season was officially kicked off. A Golden Globe nomination is widely accepted as the precursor to who and what will receive Academy Award recognition. For the first time since I can remember, I actually agree with the majority of the nominees on this years list. It seems as if the Hollywood Foreign Press Association wanted to think outside the box, by acknowledging some unconventional characters, including a sociopath who likes to dress up as a clown.
It’s no secret that well before The Dark Knight was released, Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the insanely manipulative Joker was garnering positive praise from Hollywood insiders. When the film was released to the press, and finally the general public he was given full on endorsements as a serious contender for a posthumous Academy Award nomination. Not only did The Joker become the golden child of TDK, but the film itself received praise for its screenplay, cinematography, score and direction. Yet, as the year wound down, the Best Picture talk subsided, and what looked like a serious possibility became a forgotten suggestion. Being set in old school tradition, a film such as The Dark Knight isn’t exactly the obvious choice for an Oscar nominee. It’s based on a comic book, and follows a billionaire vigilante, who fights crime while dressed like a bat. That is a hard pill to swallow for older members of the Academy, especially those who are “set in their ways.” Just look at all the drama that surrounded the film’s music, and its eligibility to be considered for Best Original Score.
Back in November, Variety reported that TDKscore composer Hans Zimmer along with four other contributors were disqualified for Oscar contention.
Zimmer, Howard and the other three individuals — music editor Alex Gibson, ambient music designer Mel Wessonand composer Lorne Balfe — reportedly signed an affidavit stating that the score was primarily the work of Zimmer and Howard. Zimmer said, in an interview with Varietyprior to this week’s Acad action, that listing multiple names on the cue sheet was a way of financially rewarding parts of the music team who helped make the overall work successful. (Performing-rights societies like ASCAP and BMI use the cue sheet to distribute royalties to composers.)
Luckily earlier this month, the score was allowed back into the running once it was proven that Zimmer and Howard were the primary composers of the music. Though I was happy they were allowed back in, I still couldn’t help but feel like something else was a foot. Even with the ban lifted TDK was practically shut out of all the other major categories for next month’s Golden Globes, with the exception of Ledger. That can’t be a good sign.
With an obvious uphill battle ahead, I still think this film deserves a Best Picture nod, and I”ll tell you why. When I watched The Dark Knight onscreen, within the first few minutes of the film I totally forgot I was watching a “comic book” movie. I was sucked into a psychological, crime thriller. I saw The Joker in his makeup, I saw Bruce Wayne dressed as a bat, but the script and the acting forced me to block that level of absurdity out of my mind. I began to look at them as real people who had internal issues that were manifesting, and changing them in ways they never expected. In TDK there’s enough going on with the characters that make the story complex, but not convoluted. The film was entertaining, but it also made you think.
I do understand that there’s a lot of great competition for the coveted Best Picture trophy. If The Dark Knight is nominated it would have to knock out one of the Oscar frontrunners. Doubt, Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Revolutionary Road, The Reader, and Milk are all serious contenders (even though Milk was also somewhat neglected by the Globes). I can’t give my two cents on who should stay or go, because as of yet, I haven’t seen them all. A couple of these films won’t be released nationwide until this Christmas. One can only hope that the re-release of TDK next month, will bring back the feeling of astonishment that we all felt this past summer. Hopefully, Academy members will take note, and take to their ballots giving the film a fair shot. Christopher Nolan’s direction took TDK, and the “comic book genre” to a whole other level. I just hope that everyone recognizes that, and gives credit to where credit is due.