It’s been almost 10 years since Heath Ledger was posthumously awarded the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2009 for playing the comic book super villain the Joker in “The Dark Knight.” More and more superhero movies like it have earned critical praise on par with more traditional prestige films. So how is it possible that we’re still waiting for a comic book superhero movie to be nominated for its writing? Two such acclaimed crusaders, “Logan” and “Wonder Woman,” could change that this year.
There have been a few nominated screenplays over the years that were adapted from graphic media: “Skippy” (1931) came from a comic strip. “American Splendor” (2003) was taken from an autobiographical comic book series. “Ghost World” (2001) and “A History of Violence” (2005) both came from graphic novels. But those were all real-world-based stories, and not the fantastic realities of superhero films. And there have been plenty of scripts considered by the motion picture academy that have included such fantastical content, everything from “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” to “The Martian and “Ex Machina.” There was even Brad Bird‘s original script for Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” but animated films tend to get a pass when it comes to sci-fi and fantasy elements.
“The Dark Knight” probably came closest. It earned eight total Oscar nominations, and its absence from Best Picture was controversial enough to help prompt the academy’s expansion of Best Picture beyond five slots. But the unique nature of this year’s Adapted Screenplay race gives an ideal opportunity for “Logan” and “Wonder Woman” to break through.
The writing categories usually favor Best Picture contenders, but this year most of the top contenders for Best Picture happen to come from original scripts. That leaves the door wide open for unconventional choices in the Adapted Screenplay category. “Logan” screenwriters Scott Frank and James Mangold have already capitalized on that with a Writers Guild nomination. And both “Logan” and “Wonder Woman” (screenplay by Allan Heinberg) were nominated by the USC Scripter Awards, which are bestowed by the University of Southern California Libraries Board of Councilors for the best adaptations from print to screen.
Additionally, both films were nominated for their stunt ensembles at the SAG Awards, and “Wonder Woman” is up for Best Picture at the PGA Awards, so the industry has been widely receptive to both films. As of this writing seven of the Expert film journalists we’ve polled for their Oscar picks say “Logan” will make the cut for Best Adapted Screenplay: Edward Douglas, Tim Gray (Variety), Pete Hammond (Deadline), Michael Hogan (Vanity Fair), Dave Karger (IMDb), Christopher Rosen (Entertainment Weekly), and Anne Thompson (IndieWire). Only one of our Experts, Bonnie Fuller (Hollywood Life), thinks “Wonder Woman” will break through, but we shouldn’t count out either.
Do you think a comic book superhero will be nominated for writing this year? If so, will one of them get in or will they both be contenders?
Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives and top name stars can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23. And join in the fierce debate over the 2018 Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.