Captain America: The Winter Soldier was one of those sequels that resonated with audiences, and it was one of the few sequels in cinematic history (The Empire Strikes Back and The Godfather Part II come to mind) that eclipsed its outstanding initial offering.
That being said, as good as Captain America: The Winter Soldier was, does it deserve an Oscar? Does it even deserve to be nominated?
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the group behind the Oscars, has rarely been positive when it comes to science fiction, fantasy, or comic book derived films. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was the first fantasy film in history to win the Best Picture Oscar, according to The Washington Post, and that was only after its two predecessors were nominated, but lost. Science fiction, fantasy, and comic book films have long been relegated to the technical, costume, or film score categories. Performances, direction, writing, and the films as a whole have been widely snubbed by the Academy.
But is the Academy coming around?
Let’s take a look at some of the actors from Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
First and foremost is Robert Redford. Redford won an Academy Award for Best Director in 1980 for helming Ordinary People, and an honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement in 2002. For his acting, Redford won a BAFTA (the British equivalent of the Oscar) in 1970 and a Kennedy Center Honor in 2005. Redford’s pedigree is such that every performance he gives would certainly at least be considered by the Academy. But will his performance in the Captain America sequel?
Samuel L. Jackson is no stranger to cinematic awards. Jackson was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Pulp Fiction in 1994, but lost. He won the BAFTA for the same category and film. Jackson has also been nominated four times for a Golden Globe Award, but has never won. Again, few would dispute Jackson’s acting prowess, but none of his performances as Nick Fury in any of the numerous Marvel films he’s acted in have garnered him a nomination from the Academy.
Scarlett Johansson won the Best Performance Oscar in 2003 for Lost in Translation. She had a double nomination that year for her acting. The second nod was for her role in Girl With a Pearl Earring. Johansson has been nominated four times for a Golden Globe Award, and she won a Tony Award in 2010 for her performance in the play, A View from the Bridge.
Again, the acting chops are there, but will they be rewarded for Captain America: The Winter Soldier?
If the acting isn’t commended, (and there doesn’t seem to be any reason not to commend it), what about the script? The script for Captain America: The Winter Soldier was written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, and if you’ve seen the film, you understand that it rivals or surpasses any great political thriller in recent memory. Looking back through history, the Academy has honored such taut scripts before that are reminiscent of the Captain America sequel. Such film scripts as those for The French Connection, All the President’s Men, and Midnight Express all exhibited the same tense through-lines as the screenplay for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and all three of those won Best Adapted Screenplay Oscars for their writers, according to Simply Scripts.
How about direction? One of the main complaints often heard from fans of science fiction, fantasy, and comic book movies is that the average movie-goer doesn’t understand the intricacies of their production or execution. Yes, it seems that audiences — both fanboys and not — are seeing the Marvel movies in droves (hence the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in ticket sales), but are they really understanding the sheer accomplishment of what they are witnessing? Directing an effects-heavy film is clearly difficult enough, but directing an effects-heavy film that also doesn’t tarnish a great script and brings out stellar performances from its actors like Captain America: The Winter Soldier did? It seems that the Academy should be looking at directors Anthony and Joe Russo for their accomplishment.
But will it?
What do you think? Should comic book movies be considered in the same light as less sensational cinematic fare? Should Captain America: The Winter Soldier be considered in the Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Screenplay or Best Director categories? Or should comic book movies be seen for what many think they are: a colorful spectacle unworthy of “true” cinematic awards?
Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image via ShapStickOnScreen]