Could Guardians of the Galaxy Win Marvel Its First Oscar?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014 - 9:52AM
Marvel
Guardians of the Galaxy
Wednesday, 19 November 2014 - 9:52AM
Could Guardians of the Galaxy Win Marvel Its First Oscar?

Marvel movies have been nominated for Oscars in the past, but none have ever won. With official voting time fast approaching, buzz surrounding this summer's surprise hit Guardians of the Galaxy indicates that it might have a shot at winning Marvel a trophy for Best Visual Effects for the very first time.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy

[Credit: Marvel]

 

Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the favorites to be nominated in this category, and for good reason. The Avengers and the Iron Man films were all nominated in this category (only this category, as a matter of fact, with the exception of a Best Sound Editing nomination for the first Iron Man), and Guardians of the Galaxy seems to have all of the qualifications that nominees in this category typically possess. According to Scott Squires, who is a member of the Academy's visual effects branch and has been nominated three times in this category for his work on The Mask, Dragonheart, and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, claims that nominations are generally based on "technical achievement, quality, difficulty, volume of work and story support." Guardians was definitely groundbreaking in its visual effects, with many dazzling space opera set pieces and two of its main characters entirely created from special effects.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy

[Credit: Marvel]

 

It also has the "story support" going for it, as it was overwhelmingly acclaimed by critics for its cheeky sense of humor and likable characters. It was also a hit at the box office, becoming the top-grossing film of 2014 until the release of Transformers: Age of Extinction, and still holds the second-place spot. This doesn't technically factor into the nomination criteria, but practically speaking makes it more likely to get nominated, simply because it's flying higher on Academy members' radar.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy

[Credit: Marvel]

 

It also helps that Guardians of the Galaxy is the first in a series, discounting the fact that it's part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. "Being a sequel can hurt you," said visual effects Oscar winner Michael Fink, as it has lost its novelty factor, so it's more difficult to convince the Academy that the effects are "groundbreaking." 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy

[Credit: Marvel]

 

Guardians of the Galaxy seems to be a lock to be nominated, but can it actually win? Other blockbusters that are likely to be nominated are Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and Godzilla, but its main competition is, of course, Interstellar, which has received somewhat mixed reviews for its plot and dialogue but universal acclaim, even awe, for its visual effects. Plus, Interstellar is a favorite to get a Best Picture nomination, which Squires cited as a predicting factor for winning the VFX category. "It's quality by association. Also the best picture is something people connect to. They're highly regarded." This logic is difficult to argue with, as every movie to win Visual Effects since 2007 has also garnered a Best Picture nomination.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy

[Credit: Marvel]

 

Plus, beyond the "quality by association" factor, the technical categories are often seen as consolation prizes for highly regarded genre films. Notably, none of the films to win Best Visual Effects for the last seven years won Best Picture, even though they were all nominated. Academy members are often likely to vote for films in a less prestigious categories that are unlikely to win in the big categories. Interstellar is all but guaranteed a Best Picture nomination, but is unlikely to win, which makes it more likely to get votes from Academy members who essentially want it to win "something." And with its stunning visual effects but relatively hackneyed character work and dialogue, Interstellar has also drawn many comparisons to last year's Best Picture nominee and VFX winner Gravity, not to mention that Nolan's last prestige sci-fi outing, Inception, followed the same trajectory. Plus, it's difficult to argue with the notion that Interstellar  "groundbreaking" in its effects, considering that many scientists are citing it as the most accurate (not to mention beautiful) depiction of phenomena like black holes, wormholes, and time dilation in cinematic history. Academy voters eat that kind of gimmick for breakfast, so it seems that this category is Interstellar's to lose. But, that being said, Guardians of the Galaxy has consistently surprised every step of the way, and so is a perfect candidate to be a potential dark horse spoiler.

Science Fiction
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Marvel
Guardians of the Galaxy