Steven Spielberg claims that Christopher Nolan’s Batman sequel, The Dark Knight, would be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards if it were made today. The 2008 film was nominated for a total of eight Oscars, including a posthumous win for the late Heath Ledger for his portrayal of the Joker, but the Best Picture nomination evaded it. At the time, only five films were eligible for selection, whereas now ten films can be nominated for the prize. Historically, blockbusters haven’t received many Best Picture nominations or wins, and this number decreases even further when accounting for sequels.
Spielberg recently spoke with Deadline about his own semi-autobiographical 2022 film, The Fabelmans, receiving the Best Picture nod. He expressed excitement at the Best Picture Oscar nominations of 2022’s two biggest movies, Avatar: The Way of Water and Top Gun: Maverick, noting how encouraging it is for blockbusters to be receiving recognition for Hollywood’s biggest prize in recent years. Spielberg was sure to recall The Dark Knight, a blockbuster sequel he’s confident would be nominated in today’s landscape. His full quote can be read below:
“I’m really encouraged by [Avatar: The Way of Water and Top Gun: Maverick being nominated for Best Picture]. It came late for the film that should have been nominated a number of years ago, Christopher Nolan’s, The Dark Knight. That movie would have definitely garnered a Best Picture Nomination today, so having these two blockbusters solidly presented on the top 10 list is something we should all be celebrating.”
How The Dark Knight Changed The Oscars
Nolan’s The Dark Knight is widely regarded as one of the greatest superhero films ever made, and though it accrued an impressive eight Oscar nominations with two wins, it was not considered for Best Picture. This was regarded as a huge snub, leading to one of the biggest reforms in the awards ceremony’s history. The following year, the Best Picture category was expanded to ten nominees to include more popular films that were also respected and acclaimed. This has seen more blockbusters be selected for the top prize in recent years, including Black Panther at the 2019 ceremony.
However, unlike Black Panther: Wakanda Forever which did not achieve the same feat, The Dark Knight set a precedent for sequels that have been achieved by very few films in the history of the Oscars, making Avatar: The Way of Water and Top Gun: Maverick’s respective Best Picture nods all the more impressive, particularly considering they achieved this in the same year. Previously, only two sequels have ever won the Best Picture Oscar, and both are considered among the best films ever made: The Godfather: Part II and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. The Dark Knight’s surprising omission from the category paved the way for blockbusters and sequels alike to have a bigger chance of being picked, and these effects are being seen today. This is undoubtedly why Spielberg believes Nolan’s smash hit would receive a nod today.
Can The Batman Sequel Repeat The Dark Knight’s Success?
Another Batman film set to hit screens in the future is Matt Reeves’ The Batman sequel. His 2022 introduction to Robert Pattinson’s Caped Crusader has drawn comparisons with Nolan’s Batman trilogy through its dark, gritty tone and grounded realism. Like Batman Begins, The Batman introduced a new iteration of Batman and the Gotham backdrop. Having already revealed the Joker to be in Arkham Asylum, The Batman’s sequel could see him take on a larger role, as with The Dark Knight, though Reeves may want to ensure his trilogy doesn’t simply repeat Nolan’s. However, the Joker unquestionably stole the show and was the main reason for the sequel’s success; if Reeves creates a similarly iconic adversary to face Pattinson’s Batman, perhaps his own sequel could reach similar levels of success.
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