Back to IndieWire

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

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

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?

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.

But it’s more complicated here. For one, the period trappings of LOTR, for want of a better term, perhaps made it seem more palatable. For another, the two previous ‘Rings’ films had both been Best Picture nominees, and at a time when there were only five nominations possible. And finally, many of the same arguments, in terms of nominations in recognition of the series as a whole, were made last year for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” and the film never got traction (although we maintain it’s at least in part because that film was a two-parter; a single film ‘Deathly Hallows’ might have done a little better).

It’s also clear that the shootings in Colorado last week will cast a long shadow. Warner Bros. already looks likely to delay “Gangster Squad” to avoid any unsightly links between the film and the incident in Aurora. Will their hearts — and those of the modest Nolan — really be in for a lengthy and exhausting campaign in the wake of tragedy? And will voters be able to get past the incident, particularly as idiots in the media question whether the Batman films might have inspired the shooter?

It certainly sounds as if the film wasn’t rapturously received at an Academy screening over the weekend, which was begun with a minute of silence from AMPAS president Tom Sherak. While it didn’t have a hostile reception, it was mostly indifferent, though many films have gotten nominations without wowing the crowd. And one member told Steve Pond of The Wrap that, “The film played extremely well.” But Bret Easton Ellis (who is prone to be hyperbolic) was there too, and tweeted that “there was zero love” for the film at the screening. It may be that, while it has many admirers, the Academy justs find it too chilly and cerebral for them, or it may have been skewed by the effects of the shooting. How long that effect lasts remains to be seen.

Finally, it’s also worth noting that Warner Bros. is particularly stuffed with contenders, at least at this point. In the second half of the year they’ll unleash “Argo,” “Trouble With The Curve,” “Cloud Atlas,” “The Hobbit” and “The Great Gatsby,” all of which have their eyes set on gold. If one of these — particularly the genre-leaning ‘Hobbit’ or ‘Cloud Atlas’ — becomes a front-runner, Batman’s chances could end up dipping.

But of course, the reverse is true too; ultimately, the film’s Best Picture chances depend on the other films that come in the next few months. As you’ll see from the inaugural edition of our Best Picture predictions chart below, which will run every week throughout awards season, we figure that there’s several movies that feel more likely to pick up a nod than Nolan’s right now. But if “Hyde Park On Hudson” disappoints at Toronto, or “Zero Dark Thirty” is delayed until 2013, or “Les Miserables” turns out to be terrible, or any number of things that could happen to any one of the films, “The Dark Knight Rises” will be better placed than ever. We’d certainly be happy if it was recognized.

The Best Picture Chart – 07/25/12

1) “Les Miserables”
That trailer that debuted a few months back made it clear that Universal aren’t fucking around on this one. Tom Hooper taking a Best Picture for two consecutive films would be virtually unprecedented (James Cameron aside), but the film could be a perfect storm of material, cast and form.
2) “Lincoln”
“War Horse” showed last year that when Spielberg’s in serious mode, only a fool would bet against a nomination, particularly with subject matter like this. But the word is that it’s more procedural than emotional in nature, which may stop it connecting.
3) “The Master”
The pre-emptive critical favorite of the year (most already seem to have decided it’s the best thing since sliced bread), this is likely to get in as such, unless the whole is unsatisfying. But can it win?
4) “Beasts of the Southen Wild”
What seemed like unanimous praise at Sundance has been significantly tempered, but this seems like the rare example of an indie picture that can warm hearts of Academy voters too. How it does when it expands wider (it’s at $3 million having never been on more than 130 theaters, which is damn good) will be key.
5) “Argo”
Looking like the key candidate for the kind of smart, grown-up 70s style picture that always seems to have a slot — “Moneyball,” “The Social Network,” “Michael Clayton” et al. Of course, we won’t know til Toronto if it’s any good or not.
6) “Life Of Pi”
A wildly enthusiastic response to this morning’s trailer, as well as that to footage at CinemaCon a few months back, suggested that this was a serious player — this year’s “Hugo,” in many ways. But it’s also a more difficult piece of material than suggested by the marketing to date, and is likely to divide people severely.
7) “The Sessions”
Fox Searchlight’s other Sundance darling, this’ll be a real player in the performance categories, but wider critical responses may be key in seeing whether it can make a play for the big prize. The crowd-pleasing nature of the film suggests it probably will.
8) “The Great Gatsby”
One of the major question marks of the season. A starry cast, serious literary material, lavish visuals — but was Baz Luhrmann the right man for the job? We won’t find out until November or December, we imagine.
9) “Zero Dark Thirty”
As a recent Best Picture/Director winner, Kathryn Bigelow’s certainly in the running, particularly with material as stirring as her Bin Laden film. But word is it’s more of an ensemble piece than “The Hurt Locker” — will that make it tougher to engage with on an emotional level?
10) “Moonrise Kingdom”
The indie smash of the summer finally seems to be tailing off at the box office (it dropped off by 50% this past weekend), but it’s certainly made its mark, and could be this year’s “Midnight In Paris,” in many ways. But Anderson has not been an Academy favorite before now — could this change that?
11) “Hyde Park On Hudson”
Academy-bait on paper — it’s a New York version of “The King’s Speech!” — but may have to settle for performance nods unless it’s a crowd-pleaser like Hooper’s film. We’ll find out in Toronto.
12) “The Dark Knight Rises”
See the thousand-odd words above. Could certainly rise higher in the coming weeks.
13)”The Silver-Linings Playbook”
Word from the footage screened at Cannes was divided as to whether it was a big Oscar player (many believe it’ll be an above-average rom-com at best), and the trailer didn’t convince one way or the other, but one shouldn’t count David O. Russell out.
14) “Django Unchained”
We’ve always suspected this was a principally commercial picture, particularly given the potentially controversial subject matter, and a Comic-Con slot seemed to back that up. But then, we would have said that about “Inglourious Basterds” too.
15) “Anna Karenina”
Looks like a difficult beast, given the non-traditional conceit at play. Likely to be a big BAFTA player, but may be too much of a curate’s egg, at least if the recent clip is suggestive of the whole.
16) “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
More negatives against it at this stage than with “The Lord of the Rings” — a less organic storytelling split, the sense of returning to old ground, that controversial 48FPS presentation. But given that the first three films have 30 nominations between them, it shouldn’t be counted out.
17) “Cloud Atlas”
We’d initally thought this might be too weird, but the book is well read, and the advance word is very strong indeed. Let’s see how it goes down in Toronto — the presence of Academy favorites like Tom Hanks and Hugo Weaving is sure to help.
18) “Amour”
A serious critic’s favorite (and Palme D’Or winner) in Cannes, it’s a film whose concerns seem to fall right in the average age of the Academy. But will that mean the film cuts too close to the bone? It’s got an uphill battle as a foreign film as it is.
19) “To the Wonder”
Malick did the Picture/Director nomination double last year, but can he do the same again so soon? The starry cast, and seemingly more narrative-led story, of “To the Wonder” might suggest so. But word is it’s even more ‘difficult’ than “The Tree of Life,” and perhaps more importantly, hasn’t yet landed a distribution, so it may not even be eligible this time around.
20) “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
Just as well-suited to the Academy, but far cheerier, the film’s surprise box office does put this in the running. But we suspect it’ll make way for more substantial fare over time.

Later in the week, we’re going to look at some of the potential dark horses of the season; films not yet on many prognosticators’ radars that could upset the race.

This Article is related to: Awards and tagged , , ,



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.


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!!!!!!!


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


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.


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.


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!

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.


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


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.


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!


"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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


worst of the trilogy by far…no dice for this flying mouse


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


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.


"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."

oogle monster

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.


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.


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


Definitely yes!


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.


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.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *