First I said that the film wouldn’t be good, due to Nolan’s abject seriousness and the movie’s bloated length. I was wrong about that; even though I don’t subscribe to the ‘It’s a masterpiece!’ school, I must admit that it’s much better than average blockbuster fare.
Next, I said the movie could never be a record breaker. I figured it would outdo the original, but still settle in well south of 300 million. Now the film sits at the #2 spot on the all-time charts. I could bust out inflation, I could talk about how the new theatrical paradigm is such that we might see this sucker eclipsed in the next year or two, but what matters is that I was very, very wrong about how much The Dark Knight could earn.
Lastly, I dismissed all talk of Oscars. I accepted a possible ‘Sorry about being dead, guy’ nom for Heath Ledger, but that was about as far as I was willing to go with it. And while I obviously haven’t been proven wrong yet, things don’t look good for me. What’s ended up happening is that The Dark Knight has found itself at the center of a perfect storm: a weak year for Oscar contenders, a dead star who turned in a legitimately great performance and a mandate from both the box office and the critical community. While still facing a major uphill climb, the fact that the movie made a mint while being well-respected by the snobby media elite gives Batman a serious shot at being the first superhero to get real Oscar consideration.
Warner Bros certainly believes there’s a real chance. At the end of the year many studios will take out For Your Consideration ads for many films and actors that would make you scratch your head. It’s part of the keeping the talent happy game, and the studios don’t really put much muscle behind these campaigns – an obligatory ad in the trades and that’s it. But the studio is spending on The Dark Knight, and I don’t think they would be bothering if they didn’t think it would pay off. Sure, the movie earned enough money to buy itself every single ad in Variety, but unless they’re serious that would be nothing but fronting (which is something that happens in Hollywood all the time).
A lot can change between now and the nominations, but I think that The Dark Knight has a decent chance at taking one of the five Best Picture slots. My guess is that it takes a slot but that Christopher Nolan gets snubbed for Director; Heath Ledger gets a Best Supporting Actor and, from the looks of things right now, has a large chance of winning the award. The question, should The Dark Knight get a nomination, is whether the Academy can stomach giving an Oscar to a superhero movie. It’ll make for an interesting Oscar night, at any rate.