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The Amazing Race: Is 'The Dark Knight Rises' A Serious Best Picture Contender?

by Oliver Lyttelton
July 25, 2012 1:05 PM
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The Dark Knight Rises, Batman

With the first wave of the TIFF line-up announced, and Venice unveiling their slate tomorrow, the promise of films not about explosions is getting ever-closer, even if we have to get through the likes of "Total Recall" first. So with the awards season just around the corner, it seemed like a good time to get The Amazing Race, our weekly Oscar coverage, going again. We popped our heads into awards season briefly after Cannes, but we'll be taking a look at things each week from here on out, as the journey begins to the Dolby Theater.

But with the films in Venice and Toronto yet to be screened, it seems only appropriate to start with perhaps the biggest movie of the summer, and certainly one of the few major blockbusters from the warmer months that has the best chance of appearing on Oscar ballots. Of course, we're talking about Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises." But will it finally be Nolan, and Batman's, time for glory or is it doomed to miss out again?

Christian Bale The  Dark Knight Rises

There's been a certain expectation for the third installment of Nolan's bat-trilogy ever since the last film, "The Dark Knight" was released. That film got multiple nominations, and won, albeit posthumously, for Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker, but ultimately failed, even in a weak year, to make the final five Best Picture nominees. The snub was widely thought to have led to the Academy introducing ten Best Picture nominees the following year, in the hope of including films with more popular appeal, and 2010 did indeed see blockbusters like "Up," "Avatar" and "District 9" among the nominees. And at 2011's ceremony, Nolan picked up a Best Picture nomination for "Inception" as well as a screenplay nod, although he was snubbed in the directing category.

So short of the film being a disaster, "The Dark Knight Rises" was always going to be seen as being in contention this time around. And happily, it was far from a disaster. In this writer's mind, and in that of much of the staff, it's the superior entry in the trilogy and one of the best films of the year so far. Multiple nominations are guaranteed -- it should have several technical categories such as sound, editing, score, cinematography all but locked up -- and art direction, costume design and adapted screenplay are possibilities too, depending on the strength of competition. Hell, supporting nods for Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine aren't totally outside the realm of possibility, even if we'd be very surprised if they came to pass. But picture and director nominations are less certain at this stage.

There's certainly a feeling that Nolan's due for a nomination. He can't have been far off a nod for "Inception," and we feel that, even if the film doesn't make the Best Picture cut, he might end up being one of the five filmmakers honored this year, as much a recognition of his career to date, and his achievement across the trilogy, as anything else. "The Lord of the Rings" only won technical awards with 'Return of the King,' at which point it swept the board. Like Nolan's film, that was fantasy -- a genre never beloved by the Academy, given a new respectability (and giant box office) by a master filmmaker -- and given the last chance to reward such an achievement, the Academy leapt at it.

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  • Ahmad | November 25, 2012 12:37 PMReply

    The Dark Knight Rises is the best movie I've seen since The Lord of The Rings. It should be honoured with at least a nomination, also Tom Hardy's performance is oscar worthy. but the oscars are stupid.

  • Jonnie | August 12, 2012 2:58 AMReply

    dark knight rises should definalty get the best picture award it was even better than the dark knight,batman begins, and avengers it was the best moive of all time!!!!!!!

  • Angel | July 30, 2012 1:54 PMReply

    It should have been called "The Caped Crusader". The current title is so... derivative.

  • Sher | July 27, 2012 4:56 AMReply

    At this point there is really no point being concerned whether TDKR will get nominated or not. The Academy has consistently shown itself to be out of touch with the viewers taste awarding mediocre films in the past decade. The mere fact Nolan is yet to be nominated for best director (especially after the fact he was nominated for every other award for Inception) speaks volumes about the stuck up nature of the voters. Personally I couldn't care less if it gets nominated or not, for me this was one of the most satisfying movie going experience of my life.

  • Alan | July 27, 2012 11:27 PM

    You're making the mistake of assuming the Oscars selection has ever been about the fans. The voters have a set of criteria that don't seem to have any subjective scoring, which is a problem. The good news is that increasing the possible number of nominees from 5 helps through bones to folks who think that mass appeal should have something to do with the Best Picture nom. I suspect TDKR will make it to the nomination level, even with the tragedy in Aurora, but unless there's another untimely cast death, I don't see it taking home gold with the possible exception of Best Director.

  • JD | July 26, 2012 8:51 PMReply

    Coming off one of the weakest years for Best Picture nominees in memory, its hard to see The Dark Knight Rises getting a nomination, most people are still debating whether it is better than than the Dark Knight to begin with,( from a personal standpoint I thought it worked despite the slow and slightly chaotic first act). I can't say the Playlist's best picture chart is looking that accurate either, Les Miserables at 1 seems a bit far-fetched based on what we've seen, i'd definitley say The Master and Lincoln for 1 and 2, Argo seems to be tracking strong but from what i've heard its not covering any new ground as a story (Very Syriana feel). Hyde Park on Hudson should come away from Toronto with sone significant buzz and look to start its ascent, although overall this year's potential nominees look far stronger than last.

  • RICHARD4 | July 26, 2012 12:58 PMReply

    This movie was just okay. I don't know, I can sort of sense the desperate denial by people who are forcing themselves to think this movie was amazing because they were so dead-sent on loving it. But it wasn't very good, Nolan's weakest IMO. It takes me a while to accept a movie (like The Phantom Menace. Not comparing the films or saying TDKR was as weak, just saying) was nowhere near as good as I was hyping it up to be.. The "Dumb Knight Rises" review is amusing and sadly accurate.

  • Oh come ON! | July 26, 2012 12:47 PMReply

    Surely you're not beng serious? LOL No, just no. This movie was an absolute mess. Nolan basically copied and pasted the script to "The World Is Not Enough" to this film. That script sucked even worse in 2012 than it did in 1999.

    Btw, though I have NO interest in the film, the constant swipes at Total Recall from this site are REALLY getting old.

  • Smokey | July 26, 2012 12:12 PMReply

    Not gonna lie, claiming RISES is superior somehow to THE DARK KNIGHT instantly discredits any serious Oscar talk.

  • Dave | July 26, 2012 12:02 PMReply

    For as much as I enjoyed The Dark Knight Rises, I can't envision it as a viable Oscar contender. I say this not because I find it lacking as a movie, but because the members of the Academy will never go for it. I've seen a ton of films this year, and only a few have surpassed it in my opinion. And similar to the Harry Potter franchise, there's no way that the Academy will try to encompass the collective greatness of Nolan's trilogy by recognizing this final installment. So for all you Batman lovers out there (like me), you just have to accept the Oscars for what they are.

  • Niti | July 26, 2012 3:13 AMReply

    Tom Hardy is Bane in The Dark Knight Rises 2012, hoping to give new life to Bane after Batman and Robin! Host Grace Randolph, from Beyond The Trailer, and guest Alan Kistler talk about the history of Bane from DC Comics, the man who broke the Bat - literally!

  • E'le | July 26, 2012 1:12 AMReply

    "In this writer's mind, and in that of much of the staff, it's the superior entry in the trilogy and one of the best films of the year so far." Did we see the same movie? Why do so many people like Rises more than The Dark Knight? It's such a longwinded, disappointing mess. Entertaining, sure, but it's not nearly as exciting, as captivating, or even as coherent as TDK.

  • N | July 25, 2012 11:16 PMReply

    If TDKR is a best picture contender then this will be a very depressing year for films. Yes, it was good as far as comic book movies go, but is not deserving of awards. I'm really hoping that the field improves as the year progresses because Beasts of the Southern Wild is the only one I've seen so far that I would put on the list.

  • Max | July 25, 2012 11:14 PMReply

    I'm going to go ahead and say that if a piece of shit like The Blind Side can be nominated -- in a clear attempt to appease the box office crowd -- then this movie has a pretty good chance. Best director remains to be scene; if any of the upcoming flicks mentioned are duds, then Nolan might have a chance.

    It will probably perform in the same right as Inception: taking home most of the awards, without nailing down any of the bigger ones (best director, best picture, etc.), though it certainly deserves it. I think Caine has a really good shot at winning best supporting actor, reduced screen time be damned.

  • unknown | July 25, 2012 7:07 PMReply

    What movie has came out this year that is better than TDKR?

  • E'le | July 26, 2012 12:58 AM

    Moonrise Kingdom is a better movie than TDKR.

    And Moonrise Kingdom isn't even that great.

  • S | July 25, 2012 6:59 PMReply

    The Dark Knight Rises is a seriously flawed movie. Upon first watch there are obvious gaping plot holes, lapses in logic and continuity, and contradictions. People will say "Nuh uh it was the most epic and gritty." And while it was both of those things it does not make it a good movie. The previous two films in Nolan's series had similar flaws as well.

    What makes them better however, is that they feel like Batman movies. Remove Batman from this movie and you have a completely different product. This is Nolan's worst film by far and a sour final note for the franchise.

  • Sue Deaunym | July 30, 2012 12:29 AM

    One huge "plot hole" has to do with the marching of the Gothem police force into the underground catecombs, on Gordon's orders. Somehow, Bane and his henchmen knew that in advance, because the entrapment of the Gothem police was essential for their taking over the city. Not only would Gordon have never made so stupid a mistake, Bane had to assume that the Gothem police would be incapacitated for his scheme to have worked, a terribly flawed assumption.

    I've got a half dozen others, but it's late. maybe later. . .

  • matt | July 28, 2012 10:39 AM

    What plot holes? the thing is alot of people need to watch BATMAN BEGINS to truly understand this movie... The Dark Knight was not the first bale/nolan batman flick...

    Seriously flawed movie my ass because you didn't understand everything you saw or heard its flawed? Name me these so called plot holes, and i will answer them...

  • Alan | July 26, 2012 12:35 AM

    Also, someone even asked "Why didn’t Alfred tell Bruce about the letter from Rachel years ago?" and suggested this was a plot hole. Seriously?

  • Alan | July 26, 2012 12:33 AM

    What plot holes? So far all I've seen is people grasping at straws with plot details that could easily be explained with character.

    * Bruce returns to Gotham without his wealth: err, he didn't have use of his wealth in Batman Begins. He left the country, travelling throughout the world without use of any luxuries, developing contacts etc. If someone who is so adept at being incognito can travel multiple countries without any contact with his company, I don't understand why the same man can't return without his wealth.

    * How did Blake find Gordon: Blake found the dead body of the orphan earlier, and knew where Gordon's would wash up, as a result. Bane didn't know this because he did not find the said orphan.

    Seriously, I have not found a single 'plot hole' that couldn't EASILY explained by another part of the film.

  • Chris138 | July 25, 2012 5:28 PMReply

    I liked The Dark Knight Rises, even with all its flaws, but I don't see it getting nominated in the major categories like picture, director or adapted screenplay. In comparison to the first two installments of the trilogy it is not as good and I don't see the Academy going for it outside of technical categories. If the Academy really did feel that they had to honor one of the big blockbusters from this year, I'd rather they go for The Dark Knight Rises over something like The Hunger Games or The Avengers.

  • C | July 25, 2012 5:10 PMReply

    You have to remember that the Best Picture field was expanded to 10 because TDK was snubbed. How could they overlook TDKR?

  • E'le | July 26, 2012 1:02 AM

    Zack is correct. As much as people like to say otherwise, The Dark Knight stands as the best movie in the franchise, and Rises is one of Nolan's weaker films.

    That said, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was nominated, purely in an attempt to keep the Oscars at all relevant to people under 21.

  • Zack | July 25, 2012 5:12 PM

    Because it's not as good.

  • Thislalife | July 25, 2012 4:03 PMReply

    No way this get's nominated. I could see a directing nomination for Nolan considering the scope and pretty awesome directing (except for that final Bane/Batman fight). Michael Caine could get a nomination as the Academy is old and he's old so yeah brah.

  • DG | July 25, 2012 3:35 PMReply

    No Beasts of the Southern Wild please. I didn't hate it or anything but it should in no way be considered the best movie of the year. Beautiful cinematography and great characters aside it was a pretty cliche indie affair (now that this and Bombay Beach have been released I hope the whole 'films about poor people doing things while Beirut plays' trend cools off). TDKR is for sure my favorite film of the year so far and I would love to see it nominated and think it desrves it but I still really, really doubt it will happen. Also a best director nomination seems probably more likely than best picture at this point.

  • OCO300 | August 12, 2012 9:10 AM

    Well Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was the most favorited film of 2011, it made alot of box office recordsa and got alot of POSITIVE REVIEWS/RESPECT FROM NOT ONLY THE PEOPLE BUT FROM ALOT OF TOP CRITICS!

    100% among TOP CRITICS from Rotten Tomatoes

    100% among TOP CRITICS from Metacritic

    8.1/10 on IMDB

    93% from BFCA (Critic's Choice)

    I mean it was arguably maybe not one of BUT the best reviewed film of 2011, and it not got snubbed out of THE OSCAR BP NOMINEES, THE ACADEMY, BUT ALOT OF OTHER CRITIC SOCIETY AWARDS AND ALL I COULD FIGURE OUT WAS WHY?







    Well so was E.T., The Wizard of OZ, Hugo, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, The Lion King, Shrek, Avatar, Tree of Life, Midnight in Paris, The Godfather, am I missing anything else?

  • Sherm | July 25, 2012 3:19 PMReply

    This has to be a first, I' ve heard alot of people say it's an amazing film and a few who believe it's horrible. I really think this speaks volumes for the film and the nay sayers or Avenger lovers need to take a second look. Besides if Avatar can be nominated for best picture, than this is a no brainer!

  • AS | July 25, 2012 3:15 PMReply

    There is a 0% chance this will get nominated for anything other than effects. There is nothing Oscar worthy about the performances, the direction and certainly not the screenplay. What actually irritates me more than the people who are going "it's the best movie ever" ( cause those are just 13 year olds who have only seen 20 movies in their life) are the people who criticizing it, but criticizing it for the wrong reasons. It's a deeply flawed film that feels more like a studio mandate than a Christopher Nolan film.

  • RWMENDEZ | July 25, 2012 3:08 PMReply

    I loved the film. It had everything I was hoping it have, plus more. I hope it gets nominated for something because it deserves it, whatever it may be. Sorry but it was the best film this year. I don't even remember what else came out. Why? Cause everything was irrelevant.

  • KT | July 25, 2012 5:11 PM

    Please tell me you're joking... Nope. Scratch that; I sometimes forget that there really are people like you out there.

  • AS | July 25, 2012 3:16 PM

    How old are you?

  • cirkusfolk | July 25, 2012 2:45 PMReply

    Let me just say the tide finally seems to be turning over on the imbd message board thank god (despite the film still having a 9.1 rating). Falling by the wayside are the "This is the best film ever" threads and springing up instead are negative ones. People are coming to their senses. The best one is titled "The Dumb Knight Rises"

    Please read it, because after you do there will be no way in hell you can talk Oscar about this film with a straight face.

  • Ronald | July 26, 2012 2:17 AM

    Wow, what a god awful review! Seriously, if the guy didn't like the movie he should try to actually articulate why in an intelligent manner and not just bash the film with next to no valid arguments or in many cases real points. Just simply wow. I honestly think how well it ties up everything with the trilogy (and even more so the film which is still my favorite of the 3, Batman Begins) is over many peoples heads...honestly, some people saying to me they didn't get it...really??? It's a very easy to follow and well written film.

  • Alan | July 26, 2012 12:41 AM

    So, this is what criticism has come to? Someone just regurgitating the plot and saying things are stupid ... without explaining why they are stupid. Give me a break ...

  • seriouscloud | July 25, 2012 8:20 PM

    I can easily refute every single one of his forced, affected "criticisms." Y'all are silly. The movie is very strong, and deserves more than one viewing, like any ambitious work. I expect it to get a Best Picture nod, but we'll see.

  • Chris Andersen | July 25, 2012 4:28 PM

    I read that hilarious review and thought it was spot-on. The guy didn't change anything at all. Everything he said actually happened in the movie. He just pointed out how ridiculous the film got at some points which I agree with. I know there's liberties you have to take when watching a comic book film but you really have to go to extremes to get past some of the dumb logic and coincidences in The Dark Knight Rises. If this movie is an Oscar contender it just won't feel right. I wouldn't even nominate this movie for sound editing since it couldn't find the balance between the score and the dialogue. Quite a bit of dialogue in this movie was muffled and drowned out by Zimmer's score.

  • RWMENDEZ | July 25, 2012 3:12 PM

    Yeah I read that crap and before anyone else does, let me spare you the pain. After seeing the movie twice, it is incredible how people (especially those who've seen the movie) could read that guy's crazed rant and take it seriously. First off the guy purposely changed a lot of what actually happened in the film just so that he could try and prove a point. I got lost right at the beginning of that thread, mainly because I was sitting here thinking "uh, that didn't happen. And that didn't happen like...wait, no....are we talking about the same movie here?"
    The Dark Knight Rises was a great film so let the haters hate.

  • Christopher Bell | July 25, 2012 3:03 PM

    Hahahaha, I noticed that too. It's a mixed bag, really, and while you don't care about the missteps when you're in the midst of things and invested in it, that doesn't change the fact that those problems still exist. I did enjoy it, but I don't think it will make much of a splash come Oscars...

  • marko | July 25, 2012 2:44 PMReply

    I don't think it deserves to be, but I do think it might get nominated just because The Dark Knight wasn't.

  • Ken | July 25, 2012 2:43 PMReply

    I agree with most of the commenters that TDKR most likely won't be nominated for Best Picture, but one of the commenters reminded me.... Playlist staff, what's been going with Inside Llewyn Davis? Early this year, there seemed to have been a possibility that it might sneak in and get a late 2012 release, but I haven't heard anything about the film in a few months.

  • triguous | July 25, 2012 2:38 PMReply

    The Dark Knight, not nominated. The Blind Side, nominated. The Academy, out of its mind.

  • jbean | July 25, 2012 2:33 PMReply

    worst of the trilogy by dice for this flying mouse

  • Travis | July 25, 2012 1:52 PMReply

    Cinematography? It will put up a fight to win it, and nomination is inevitable. Visual effects and sound? It may be the front runner in both categories. But editing? That was the film's weak spot. It will miss out there. Adapted screenplay will also miss out, as will Nolan. Costume Design will lose out, mainly because it is an insanely strong year. Best Picture. That's a push

  • Jerry | July 25, 2012 1:46 PMReply

    I'm going to have to go with "no" for a Best Picture nomination (As the article pointed out, it's just not Academy material) a "probably" for Best Director (As a "congratulations" to Christopher Nolan) and a "good God, I hope so" for Best Supporting Actor for Michael Caine, despite his reduced screen time.

  • AS | July 25, 2012 3:19 PM

    I wouldn't put any money on that Best Director prediction if I were you.

  • Chris | July 25, 2012 1:43 PMReply

    "James Cameron aside"? Are you under the false impression that two consecutive James Cameron films won Best Picture? Because that didn't happen. "The Hurt Locker" won BP, not "Avatar." Cameron won nothing for "Avatar."

  • Chris | July 25, 2012 1:53 PM

    Sorry, but the Director nomination without a BP nod is extremely unlikely. There are up to 10 BP slots and only 5 director slots. I can't imagine a director of a Best Picture nominee getting nudged out for the director of a film that couldn't even make the 10-deep Best Picture cut. Not gonna happen.

  • oogle monster | July 25, 2012 1:25 PMReply

    While I found the film to be problematic (especially the big reveal at the end), I do think it is one of the best films of the year thus far. Plus, how could they not nominate Nolan for best director in 2010? Coen bros instead? Pluhhhease.

  • oogle monster | July 25, 2012 3:31 PM

    I'm not talking about Coen vs. Nolan. I'm talking about 2010- True Grit vs. Inception. True Grit was an actor-driven piece. Inception was purely director driven. It was, in my opinion, a much better film overall and Nolan should have gotten nominated over the bros. That or David O. Russell. Fincher and Aronofsky stay put. Maybe not Hooper but then again, I'm in the minority that was not tickled the least bit by The King's Speech. Point is- Nolan was severely overlooked. Retribution this year? Maybe.

  • Chris | July 25, 2012 1:46 PM

    Well, the Coen Brothers are better filmmakers than Nolan, so if they're on their game, why not? (And I'm a Nolan fan, by the way.) You haven't even seen whether any post-TDKR films are any good, Coen or otherwise. So let's not get our panties in a twist over the potential that Nolan gets overlooked for Best Director, since it's completely unclear whether he'll even be worthy of a nod compared to what might come up over the next five months.

  • rodie | July 25, 2012 1:19 PMReply

    Ironically, the competition is MUCH stronger this year than in 2008. Even with up to 10 Best Picture nominees, TDKR may not make it, but there's also a decent chance that it will. Unfortunately, with the slate of films coming out from now through December, I don't see Nolan getting a Best Director nod this year either.

  • rotch | July 25, 2012 1:18 PMReply

    I believe that come end of year, we would have come into terms that The Dark Knight Rises is simply not that good.

  • Lorenzo | July 25, 2012 1:17 PMReply

    Definitely yes!

  • Zack | July 25, 2012 1:15 PMReply

    Nah. One of the best of the summer, I'd say, but it's not an awards contender. Not nearly enough of a critical consensus, for one thing.
    Of course, I thought the idea of any of the LotR films winning was ridiculous, too, so don't mind me too closely.

  • Zack | July 25, 2012 1:34 PM

    "Hugo", "The Artist", "The Descendants" and "Midnight in Paris" all have better RT scores than "The Dark Knight Rises". The only nominee that could be called "lambasted" by any measure was "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close". And regardless, my point was that you don't have to be a unanimous critical darling to be in the game if you're a particularly Oscar-y film to start with, but it's way, way harder for a genre or summer movie to get in without it.

  • oogle monster | July 25, 2012 1:27 PM

    Just taking one look at the line-up last year (Moneyball and Tree of Life aside), your statement bears little truth. Most of those films were critically lambasted.

  • lookf4r | July 25, 2012 1:13 PMReply

    Not that its a horrible movie or anything, but really an award contender? If it even gets nominated that solidifies 2012 as a shitty movie year.

  • Knative | July 26, 2012 12:09 AM

    Not really. The academy nominates crappy films almost every year . 2007 was one of the best line ups and it still included Juno, and it was only 5.

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