Could ‘Skyfall’ be first Bond film to be major Oscar player?

Skyfall” is getting great reviews and could be the first film in the James Bond franchise to contend in major categories at the Academy Awards. The picture opens in the UK on Oct. 26 and stateside on Nov. 9. 

This 23rd entry in the series is helmed by Oscar champ Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”) and stars Daniel Craig as 007 for the third time. Also back is Oscar winner Judi Dench (“Shakespeare in Love”) as Bond’s boss. Another Oscar champ, Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men”), is the villain of the piece while Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes is a bureaucrat with an agenda. 

Craig’s first outing as Ian Fleming’s iconic character was “Casino Royale” in 2006 which netted him a BAFTA bid for Best Actor. He lost to eventual Oscar champ Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland”) and that docudrama also edged out “Casino Royale” for Best British Film.  

This year marks the golden anniversary of the series that began with “Dr. No” in 1962. Notices like those below could make “Skyfall” the best-reviewed of the bunch. 

Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter) raves: “Many of the dramatic scenes would do justice to a nongenre film, and the same can be said of the quality of the acting. The traditional quips surface at times in low-key form; some of them are quite good, and they’re never corny. The action, much of it presumably staged by veteran second unit director Alexander Witt, is consistently strong.”

Peter DeBruge (Variety) says: “Whatever parallels it shares with the Bourne series or Nolan’s astonishingly realized Batman saga, ‘Skyfall’ radically breaks from the Bond formula while still remaining true to its essential beats, presenting a rare case in which audiences can no longer anticipate each twist in advance. Without sacrificing action or overall energy, Mendes puts the actors at the forefront, exploring their marvelously complex emotional states in ways the franchise has never before dared.”

Guy Lodge (HitFix) finds the film, “represents a happy compromise between golden-anniversary nostalgia and post-Bourne streamlining. The action here may be rooted in a post-9/11 environment of terrorism and darting paranoia, but with its retro fittings and overriding spirit of British conservation, this venerable series is finally copping to its status as heritage cinema – and is no worse off for it.”

In his four-star review, Geoffrey McNab (The Independent) writes: “Mendes has gone back to basics: chases, stunts, fights. At the same time, he has subtly re-invented the franchise, throwing in far greater depth of characterization than we’re accustomed to in a series of films that are often proudly superficial. This is a risk. If you try too hard to make Bond films meaningful, you risk straining away the fun. However, even if the film does occasionally pull in opposing directions, Mendes is largely successful in combining the action schtick with the soul searching.”

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And Robbie Collin (The Guardian) thinks: “Mendes is unafraid to let the quieter dramatic moments breathe (a loaded conversation between Bond and Silva drew cheers at last night’s preview screening), and ace cinematographer Roger Deakins makes the wildly ambitious action sequences the most beautiful in Bond’s 50-year career.”

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