The Box-Office Oscars: Winners by the Numbers
Almost every year the fandoms of the world cry out in anger due to the indifference most award shows have towards their beloved record-setting movies, which most of time are based on nerd-friendly material e.g. comic books and teen fiction. These blockbusters are hardly ever seen as worthy candidates for nominations probably do to the lack of what might be considered a “challenging performance” or a “profound plot”. Obviously this is a very subjective matter. One of the best examples of these “snubs” was the omission of The Dark Knight among the Oscar nominees for Best Picture, even after rave reviews.
The divide between the “Oscars films”, and the people’s favorites is most evident at the box-office. The highest grossing films are those with mass appeal, and usually aimed at the younger movie-going demographic. Their artistic quality is compromised by the need to highlight awesome visual effects, explosions, fight sequences, and crow-pleasing comedy. You can’t blame studios for making these films, after all they pay the bills; but don’t blame the Academy either for looking the other way. Therefore, I propose, at least hypothetically, an award that honors those moneymaking flicks; they would sort of like be the Box-Office Oscars. Something in the middle between the Oscars and the Razzies, in which the voting system is based on revenue: winners by the numbers. If one thinks about it, the public has already voted by buying tickets to these films. Here are this year’s nominees for this imaginary awards.
Highest Grossing Picture
The Dark Night Rises
The Hunger Games
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Amazing Spider-Man
To match the number of nominees the Academy has selected this year, I’ve selected the 9 highest grossing films of 2012 as the automatic nominees for this category. The winner is, by more than $200 millions, The Avengers. Simply a motion picture event that drove the masses into theaters to testify of the comic book magic being translated into the screen. Clearly it was a matter of how many superheroes you had on screen, Batman fell short by the lack of an entourage, and probably the events in the Aurora, Colorado theater. Whatever the case, Marvel’s crown jewel takes the gold by a great margin, and not surprisingly scored an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects.
The films that complete the list range from raunchy comedy Ted to Pixar’s latest;passing through Razzie Awards darling The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II, and Oscar nominated Skyfall. Even if is not in the top categories, some common ground can be found between both lists.
Highest Grossing Actor in a Leading Role
Christian Bale, The Dark Knight Rises
Daniel Craig, Skyfall
Robert Pattinson, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II
Andrew Garfield, The Amazing Spider-Man
Mark Wahlberg, Ted
Given the fact that The Avengers is an ensemble cast, none of its members earns the title of leading man. Having said that, the obvious winner is the man who embodied Batman in a trilogy that defied box-office records, and reinvented the franchise. Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises definitely was one of the reasons for the films’ success critically, and in the bank. The runner-up would be the classy 007 agent Daniel Craig, who returned as Bond in one of the franchise’s best films. Then we have young Peter Parker, a cheesy pale vampire, and a man infatuated with his teddy bear; so please don’t blame the Academy for not paying attention.
Highest Grossing Actress in a Leading Role
Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games
Kristen Stewart, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II
Kristen Stewart, Snow White and the Huntsman
Noomi Rapace, Prometheus
Rachel McAdams, The Vow
This is a tricky one. There is a shortage of female leading performance among the highest grossing films this year, and probably every year. Such male-centric industry made it possible for Rachel McAdams in The Vow, to sneak in even if her film was 25th on the list. The absolute winner is Lawrence as tribute in The Hunger Games, which really makes her a special case. She has already won a Golden Globe and a SAG Award for her performance in Silver Linings Playbook, and she is also the star of one of the biggest films of 2012. A rare dual accomplishment that is proof of the possibility of being successful, and still make more thoughtful films.
Sigh…in worse news; Kristen Stewart is a “double nominee” since she stars in two of the other biggest films of the year that include a female lead. By no means does this imply any commendable acting achievement; it rather enhances the need for better female action leads. On a happier note she will probably get the Razzie Award by default. This is a weird compilation of actresses that includes a possible Oscar winner, Noomi Rapace in the disappointing Prometheus, and the soon to be Worst Actress of the year.
Highest Grossing Actor in a Supporting Role
Robert Downey Jr., The Avengers
Chris Evans, The Avengers
Chris Hemsworth, The Avengers
Tom Hardy, The Dark Knight Rises
Taylor Lautner, The Twilight Sage: Breaking Dawn Part II
This could be a triple tie between the main heroes in the colossal Avengers film; however, there is a stand out. Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark has already starred in two incredibly successful blockbusters in the Iron-Man franchise, and will do so in one more this summer. The character’s sarcastic comments, and nonchalant attitude clearly make him the leader of the team, and the obvious winner here. From Nolan’s epic finale we have Tom Hardy as Bane, who most definitely drew lots of fans to the theater. His character is a force to be reckoned with, just asked Christian Bale. Oh yeah, the werewolf made it too, obviously thanks to the donations at the box-office from Team Jacob’s obsessed teenage she-wolf pack.
Highest Grossing Actress in a Supporting Role
Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises/Les Miserables
Scarlett Johansson, The Avengers
Judi Dench, Skyfall
Emma Stone, The Amazing Spider-Man
Charlize Theron, Snow White and the Huntsman
Although the obvious winner should be Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, her character’s relevance was minimal. Honestly, having all those badass comic-book icons on screen was enough to lure in dudes to the theater, no need to try to add a “hot” chick here. In fact, if hotness was the name of the game, the winner would be Ms. Hathaway as Cat Woman. Her version of the sexy thief gave an edge to film, and made a statement about female empowerment. Furthermore, the actress was also crucial in the success of the musical Les Miserables, which finished at number 21st on the list of highest grossing films of the past year. The other actresses were good in their parts, but not as essential to making their films a hit.
Highest Grossing Director
Joss Whedon, The Avengers
Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises
Gary Ross, The Hunger Games
Sam Mendes, Skyfall
Peter Jackson, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
My heart goes to Christopher Nolan for truly reinventing one of the most endearing characters in American pop culture. Nevertheless, the box-office was owned, ravaged, abused even, by the power of Joss Whedon’s astronomically expensive superhero film. Credit where credit is due, the man had an immeasurable amount of pressure to deliver a film that could please the masses, and reimburse the production costs plus a profit. And that’s exactly what he did in an overachieving manner. With a grand total of $623,357,910, all other films, including The Dark Knight Rises, fall short by a couple hundred millions. If this wasn’t enough, Whedon also co-wrote the script for another successful film last year, The Cabin in the Woods. I think there is nothing left to say but to bow to the king of blockbusters today.
Highest Grossing Animated Film
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Even when taking a look at the family friendly animated films of the year the differences between the box-office and the critical consensus are jarring. The list of the 5 highest grossing animated films only includes 2 of the Academy Award nominees in the Best Animated feature category. Due to the overwhelming power of Pixar/Disney at the box office the winning film would be Brave. The film was also the overall 8th highest grossing film of 2012 way ahead of the other animated hits. The “category” is completed by two sequels, which really have no place near an Oscar, The Lorax, and Wreck-it Ralph. Brave has already won the Golden Globe, and though not truly a frontrunner, it’s a strong candidate for the highest honor from the Academy.
Life of Pi
How do the actual Best Picture Oscar nominees stack up moneywise? Well, this year is, to say the least, a strange one. The frontrunner, with an astonishing 12 nominations, is Lincoln, and it is also the highest grossing movie from the 9 candidates for the most prestigious award of them all. The latest epic production from cinematic mogul Steven Spielberg also claims the 14th spot on the overall monetary tally of 2012, that’s some presidential influence ($167 million US). The top 5 biggest moneymakers from the nominees are completed by Tarantino’s Django, and its gritty dark humor($146 million), Tom Hooper’s Les Mis ($137 million), Affleck’s dark-horse-possible spoiler Argo ($117 million), and finally Ang Lee’s tiger-centered-lost-at-sea adventure ($103 million). Life of Pi has made the most worldwide though with $524 million.
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