Last week, comic book fans everywhere rejoiced when the late Heath Ledger was nominated for his performance as the maniacal Joker in the summer blockbuster, The Dark Knight. Unfortunately, as the list of nominees continued to rolled off the tongue of the presenters, all those smiles turned to frowns as TDK was ignored in every other major category, including Best Picture and Director. Many fans stated that they would protest watching this years telecast if the film was overlooked, but since Ledger was nominated is that enough to stave off their anger? Will the ratings suffer?

Over at /Film, they discussed a possible Oscar backlash, that may result in a record low in viewership.

The problem with the Oscars is that voters are nominating films that relatively few people have seen. The five movies nominated for Best Picture this week – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, The Reader and Frost/Nixon – have combined to gross just $186.7M. The Dark Knight passed that total early in its fifth day of release.Yes, I think The Dark Knight should be a Best Picture nominee. It is absolutely one of my five favorite movies of 2008, and I believe it to be a masterpiece.

A disastrously low 31.76M viewers watched last year’s Oscar show for an all-time worst 18.6 Nielsen rating. Last year’s Best Picture nominees combined to gross $357.9M. This year, the five nominees will be lucky to combine for more than $300M domestic. How much lower can the TV ratings get?

I don’t personally think that the numbers will hit rock bottom, because even though TDK was ignored, Ledger is still a front runner. People want to see him make history, I think it’s impossible to ignore that part of the show.  I just hope they don’t pull some tasteless move, by moving the Best Supporting Actor category to the middle of the show to keep viewers tuned in. It’s usually the first award given out.

There was talk that this comic book adaptation was too dark, but it is actually a relentlessly optimistic movie. What Heath Ledger’s Joker character demonstrates is that, even when the world is in shambles and people are faced with impossibly difficult choices, they do the right thing. The message of TDK is that regular people, at their core, are good. We need more movies like that right now.

I totally agree with the author, I did see The Dark Knight as an overall example of sacrificing yourself for the greater good. Even at the end of the film (spoiler ahead) Batman chose to take on the sins of another man, just so his image wouldn’t be tainted. He wanted people to maintain their hope, and be optimistic about change.

Speaking of being optimistic, TDK co-writer Jonathan Nolan recently wrote a message to all the fan’s who supported the film, thanking them for their Oscar campaigning efforts, regardless of the outcome.

It’s truly humbling that you guys would take the time and effort to try to get the film recognized. I, like you, was disappointed that Chris didn’t get some recognition this morning, but for Heath and so many of the people who worked so hard on this thing to get nominated is thrilling.

Any nominations for a comic book movie is a thing of beauty no matter how you slice it, and that takes the sting out a bit.The best part of this experience is seeing other people getting passionate about the film the way that we did. It has been a truly incredible experience. So thank you again.

It’s nice to see him being so diplomatic, I’m still bitter, but that’s just me. Perhaps one day we”ll see an Oscar ceremony with categories filled with films that span every genre. Hopefully, the stuffy suits will decide to loosen up, and open their eyes to the possibility, that a big budget film can be Oscar worthy. Yet, until that day I have one question for the members of the Academy.

Why so serious?