Last year, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” became a global sensation and racked up five Oscar nominations. That was good enough to become the second most nominated “Star Wars” film, sitting right behind 1977’s original film, “A New Hope,” which had 10 noms and six wins — plus a special achievement award for its sound effects. This year, Disney will release “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” on December 16 in the hopes of creating another smash hit. Can “Rogue One” catapult over “The Force Awakens” and outperform it at this year’s Oscars?
Despite the decision not to hold advanced screenings for early awards voters, “The Force Awakens” wowed the academy and was nominated for Editing, Score, Visual Effects, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. According to Gold Derby’s combined odds, “Rogue One” is on track for nominations in four of those five races. It sits in second place for Sound Editing (4/1 odds), third place for Sound Mixing (11/2 odds), and third place for Visual Effects (9/2 odds). Michael Giacchino sits on the bubble in fifth place for Score (16/1 odds); it’s the first score in the saga not composed by legendary John Williams.
Repeating “The Force Awakens’s” surprise Editing nomination will be a tall order. “Rogue One” currently sits in 16th place with 100/1 odds. The editing team consists of John Gilroy (BAFTA nominee for “Michael Clayton” and “Nightcrawler”), Colin Goudie, and Jabez Olssen (BAFTA nominee for “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”). The veteran editors on the ballot may aid the film’s chances, but it would have to climb past a heap of Best Picture players to claim a spot.
If “Rogue One” wishes to match or exceed “The Force Awakens” nominations tally, it will need to make a run for Production Design or Makeup and Hair. Sci-fi and fantasy movies have fared well in Production Design thanks to their elaborate created worlds. The original “Star Wars” won here in 1977, as well as sci-fi/fantasy blockbusters like “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003), “Avatar” (2009), and “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015). “Rogue One” currently sits in seventh place for Production Design with 40/1 odds, which could be improved if voters remember production designer Doug Chiang, who won a Visual Effects Oscar for “Death Becomes Her” (1992).
Makeup and Hairstyling could also give the latest “Star Wars” an additional nom. “Revenge of the Sith” competed here in 2005. J.J. Abrams’s “Star Trek,” another space epic, pulled off a win in this category in 2009. Currently “Rogue One” is in fifth place according to Gold Derby’s combined odds, but with only three nomination slots it will need to make up some ground to find space. Competition from “Star Trek Beyond” could split the sci-fi vote, so “Rogue One” will have to debut some thrillingly detailed aliens to stand out.
A real feat for “Rogue One” would be winning one of its categories. No “Star Wars” film has won a competitive Oscar since “The Empire Strikes Back” took Best Sound in 1980. “Return of the Jedi” was awarded a Special Achievement Award for its visual effects in 1983, but lost its four competitive bids. “A New Hope” is the winningest “Star Wars” film with six competitive trophies. But the prequel trilogy and “The Force Awakens” came up entirely empty-handed at the Academy Awards. We will have to wait and see if “Rogue One” can return Oscar glory to the “Star Wars” saga.