One last Bat analysis

Posted by · 7:51 pm · January 21st, 2009

Heath Ledger in The Dark KnightI was happy to help my pal Scott Bowles out with this USA Today piece, taking up the task of analyzing the Best Picture chances of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.” But I was slightly misquoted and a thought was tossed in without the right context toward the end:

“You can argue that The Dark Knight is getting all this attention because of a perfect storm of events,” Tapley says. “We had been hearing that Ledger was doing great things with the part way before he died. So it was going to be big, and he was going to get noticed. But is the movie this big if there’s not some rubbernecking due to his death? Probably not.”

By “big,” the point I was making (and I believe I used these words, actually) was that the film might not have made as much money as it did without the voyeurism of seeing Heath’s penultimate performance.  I think critical acclaim was coming whether he was still with us or not.  And “rubbernecking” ain’t my terminology.

Anyway, there are some nice notices of support from industry folks throughout the piece. I liked this bit from Steven Spielberg:

“I am really happy to see that The Dark Knight is making a last-minute run at recognition,” he said after the Golden Globes. “I was very happy with the Heath (Golden Globe) win and am looking forward to some more Dark Knight momentum. … That balances things out.”

It’s interesting because in having a discussion about this issue with a fellow Oscar blogger this evening, the point was raised that it’s possible “The Dark Knight” lands in the big category but misses perhaps in the screenplay and even the directing fields. “Then it’s ‘Jaws,'” my colleague said.

And then there’s this lady, really stating the obvious at a time when the obvious needs to be stated:

“For some reason, the academy has gotten away from recognizing what Hollywood does really well: entertain the masses,” says media critic Elayne Rapping, a professor of American studies at the University at Buffalo. “Not all popular movies are good; many of them are terrible. But there is something to be said for entertaining great numbers of people. Recognizing The Dark Knight could be a sea change in the way commercial movies are treated.”

And one more from yours truly:

“You’ve got Wolverine (star Jackman) hosting the show, the Joker being honored, Iron Man perhaps getting some recognition,” Tapley says. “This could be the year that populism and critical attention finally dovetail.”

Anyway, read the full story here.  One last gasp of Bat speculation before the big day.

→ 10 Comments Tags: , | Filed in: Daily

10 responses so far

  • 1 1-21-2009 at 7:56 pm

    Ben M. said...

    I wonder if perhaps Dark Knight gets picture nods without director or screenplay then The Fugitive might be a good comparison. Summer action movie, only other major nom was its supporting actor win, adapted from a source (TV show) that usually does not seem made for oscar.

  • 2 1-21-2009 at 8:12 pm

    KA.TO said...

    I can definitely see a “Fugitive” or “Jaws” moment, with Fincher (unfairly) snubbed while still getting a BP nod for the sheer cultural impact.

  • 3 1-21-2009 at 8:18 pm

    Gustavo Silva said...

    I love the story around TDK, but I just wish I had liked the movie to buy it. If you want to honor populism, how about WALL-E – that is what sounds better to me, but I am ok with many of you disagreeing. Frankly, of all movies, the populist one is Slumdog Millionaire.

  • 4 1-21-2009 at 8:32 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “the populist one is Slumdog Millionaire”

    $44 million vs. $500 million? No.

  • 5 1-21-2009 at 8:43 pm

    Gustavo Silva said...

    But which one is the biggest audience pleaser?

  • 6 1-21-2009 at 8:49 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    That’s subjective, no? I’d say box office is best indicative of “populism” when it comes to something like this.

    And if you want an honest answer, I’d say “The Dark Knight,” hands down. But that’s me. I don’t want to turn the site into another TDK vs. “WALL-E” war again, though.

  • 7 1-21-2009 at 8:56 pm

    Erin said...

    I quite enjoyed Slumdog Millionaire but I remain puzzled by the “crowd pleaser” moniker. Yes, the last fifteen minutes (specifically the Jai Ho sequence) embody the “buoyant hymn to life” title, but before that it is a fairly tough movie to watch. When I saw it, there were approximately 10 walk-outs and general audience discomfort.

    I think the film I saw in which the audience was the most emotionally engaged was probably Milk.

  • 8 1-21-2009 at 9:29 pm

    Ben M. said...

    It is always hard to judge what exactly an audiences reaction is, there was little to no audience reaction when I saw Wall-E and Slumdog there was virtually no audience reaction though I know people really liked those films.

    I would say the biggest audience reaction I saw this year was for Gran Torino, and with its popular success you can certainly say it is a crowd pleaser but I wouldn’t call it the “audience movie” of the year or anything.

  • 9 1-21-2009 at 10:12 pm

    Chris said...

    The Dark Knight was definitely a crowd pleaser the times I saw it, especially the first few. People cheering and clapping during certain parts and at the end of the movie. Not too often a summer blockbuster comes around and does that.

    Wall-E was also a crowd pleaser when I saw it, same with Slumdog Millionaire and Gran Torino. However, I just can’t see Gran Torino getting nominated, except Clint Eastwood for leading actor. He was the best part about it.

  • 10 1-22-2009 at 2:37 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    I’ve got Mike Leigh in Nolan’s BD slot, so yes, it could go without a Director’s nod. I certainly hope it won’t, but I think it will.