“Deadpool” surprised just about everyone when it dropped in theaters back in February 2016. Few industry watchers thought an adult superhero film could make money. The hero was rude and crude. It was rated R. It was director Tim Miller‘s first time at the helm of a feature film. It was set in the “X-Men” universe, but Hugh Jackman was nowhere in sight. So jaws hit the floor when “Deadpool” surpassed $100 million at the box office in its opening weekend. Audiences flocked to it, critics gave it a thumbs up, and star Ryan Reynolds will be back for a sequel.
The aftershocks of the movie’s success continue to reverberate around the industry. Now the bawdy comedy finds itself in the rare position: a superhero film that is invited to play on the awards circuit. “Deadpool” has its sights set on the academy. Before snobby Oscar watchers scoff at the notion, lets look at why “Deadpool” could show up in the Best Picture race.
The film was warmly received by critics thanks to its witty script and a wisecracking star performance from Reynolds. It currently sits at 84% on Rotten Tomatoes with a “certified fresh” rating. Bob Mondello (NPR) claimed that the flick “has the singular virtue of being funnier than we’ve been led to believe a superhero film can be.” Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) said “’Deadpool’ is party time for action junkies and Reynolds may have found the role that makes his career.” This critical praise propelled “Deadpool” to two Critics Choice Award wins: Best Comedy and Best Actor in a Comedy for Reynolds.
When the PGA nominations were revealed on January 10 the biggest shocker was the inclusion of “Deadpool.” True, the Producers Guild has a history of including one or two “popcorn movies” among its annual lineup (“Star Trek” and “Bridesmaids” both made the cut in previous years). But “Deadpool” surged past other box office juggernauts with awards clout, such as “The Jungle Book” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” The PGA has the best track record of any precursor awards for predicting the Oscar Best Picture lineup, so this endorsement was a major boost for the film.
Other Industry Kudos
If the PGA is not enough to convince Oscar voters to pop in the screener and take notice, there are plenty of other industry groups voicing their support. Reynolds won over the Hollywood Foreign Press and landed a Golden Globe nomination for Best Film Comedy/Musical Actor and the film itself was nominated for Best Film Comedy/Musical. Those international journalists aren’t members of the industry, per se, but evidence of Oscar support also surfaced when the Writers Guild nominated scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick in the Adapted Screenplay category. The film also has an Artios nomination for Casting for a Big Budget Feature (Comedy), and editor Julian Clarke is an ACE Eddie nominee for Feature Film (Comedy). In addition, “Deadpool” is already on the cusp of an Oscar nomination as one of seven films on the shortlist for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
After the character suffered a disastrous debut in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” Reynolds committed himself to bringing an authentic version of the hero to the screen. Reynolds and Miller are avid fans of the comics, and development for “Deadpool” can be traced to a test film they created in 2012. These two men toiled through years of work and studio push-back because of their passion for the character and story, and created something that will define both of their careers. That narrative could catch on with voters, making them love it enough to mark it on their ballots.
The current crop of Oscar frontrunners is lacking a bonafide box office smash that will draw viewers into the telecast the way “Avatar” and “American Sniper” did. “Deadpool” is the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time and could bring a huge number of viewers to the industry’s biggest night. With a domestic gross sitting at $363 million, it’s clear that audiences care about this foul-mouthed hero. Academy voters have the chance to get those same ticket buyers to care about the Oscars as well.
Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how this film is faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before nominations are announced on January 24 at 5:00 am PT/8:00 am ET. Be sure to read our contest rules. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.