Oscars 2018: Warner Bros. has red-hot ‘Wonder Woman,’ epic ‘Dunkirk’

Last year, Warner Bros. went two for four at the Oscars, winning Best Costume Design for “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (which also contended for Best Production Design) and Best Makeup and Hairstyling for “Suicide Squad.” Clint Eastwood‘s “Sully” had reaped a Sound Editing bid as well. This year, the studio has three more films that are all poised to be players at the Academy Awards.

Patty Jenkins‘ “Wonder Woman” has exceeded all expectations. This fourth entry in the DC extended universe has wowed both critics and audiences. It recently passed “Mamma Mia!” as the most successful live-action film by a female director. The success of “Mamma Mia!” allowed helmer Phyllida Lloyd and star Meryl Streep to collaborate again in 2011 on “The Iron Lady,” which won the actress her overdue third Oscar. By coincidence, Jenkins had only directed one picture before “Wonder Woman,” which won its leading lady the Best Actress Oscar too. That was the 2003 real-life crime drama “Monster,” which showcased Charlize Theron in a bone-chilling performance as serial killer Aileen Wuornos.

Gadot is set to reprise the role in this fall’s “Justice League.” However, with that film focused more on the ongoing search by Batman (Ben Affleck) for Superman (Henry Cavill), expectations for it at the Oscars are more limited to the technical side of the ledger. This fifth film in the franchise is helmed by Zach Snyder, who also oversaw the 2013 film that launched the series — “Man of Steel” —  as well as the critically reviled sequel “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” last year.

Christoper Nolan has written and directed some of the most acclaimed movies of the past two decades. While he has been twice nominated for his original screenplays (“Memento,” 2000; “Inception,” 2010) and as a producer of the latter, he has never been singled out by the directors branch. That egregious oversight could well change this year with his WWII epic “Dunkirk.” While the academy was not as enamored of Nolan’s “Batman” trilogy, save for Heath Ledger‘s Oscar-winning performance as the Joker, it loves a good war picture.

Below, detailed listings of each of these Oscar contenders, including release dates, creative types, cast lists, running times, plot summaries,  and receptions both critical and commercial.

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“Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.) – July 21
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, James D’Arcy, Harry Styles

Summary: Christopher Nolan recounts the harrowing 1940 battle at Dunkirk, where Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France were surrounded by the German army. The story is told from the perspectives of the ferocious fight on land and in both the sea and air.

“Justice League” (Warner Bros.) – November 17
Director: Zach Snyder
Writer: Chris Terrio
Cast: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher, Ciarán Hinds, Amy Adams, Willem Dafoe, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J. K. Simmons

Summary: Batman (Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gadot) recruit Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to battle Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) and his army of Parademons monsters from Apokolips.

“Wonder Woman” (Warner Bros.) – June 2
Director: Patty Jenkins
Writer: Allan Heinberg
Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen, Elena Anaya
Running Time: 141 minutes

Summary: The backstory of the ageless Princess Diana (Gadot) is detailed. A century ago, she was training to be an Amazonian warrior on the island of Themyscira when World War I flying ace Steve Trevor (Pine) crash landed. She helps him with his mission, which requires her to assume the alter-ego of Diana Prince and pursue a German general bent on using deadly gas.

Reception: Rotten Tomatoes – 92; MetaCritic – 76
Box Office: US – $347 million; Rest of World – $362 million (as of July 2, 2017)

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