Stay on target
Many people are weirded out that Deadpool, the black sheep, superhero film that managed to both relaunch Ryan Reynolds’ mainstream film career and make the X-Men franchise fun again, is doing so well this awards season. And they should be. When you think of traditional “Oscar-bait,” Deadpool seems like the exact opposite: crass, vulgar, and even worse, a superhero film.
If you go off of certain trends during awards season, then it might even be headed to the Oscars. Yes, this is a thing people are talking about. Best Picture nominee Deadpool? Probably not, but the fact it’s getting this much love is unprecedented in the current blockbuster era.
On Tuesday, the Producers Guild of America (PGA) nominated Deadpool producers for the Darryl F. Zanuck Award.
This is following a number of other nominations, including a Writers Guild Award and a win at the Critics’ Choice Awards for Best Comedy, along with three other nominations.
Some people had to do a double-take after Deadpool was nominated for two Golden Globes, but its categories made sense. Reynolds’ performance was spot-on and earned him an acting nomination, while the film itself landed in the Best Comedy or Musical category, where it was bound to get kicked around by La La Land. The Golden Globes have multiple categories to take into account films that wouldn’t normally get recognized by Academy members. The Oscars are a bit more selective.
The difference with Deadpool is that it just keeps getting nominations despite it being a genre comedy, and that’s noteworthy if you’re looking towards the future. io9’s Germain Lussier added in his analysis that since most of the people who vote on the big awards belong to the same guilds, and tend to vote for the same films, Deadpool‘s PGA nomination might be a sign it could be up for some Oscars. It’s been getting lumped in with more traditional Oscar fare: Moonlight, La La Land, Arrival, Manchester by the Sea, among others, and has become a consistent staple at multiple awards.
Its huge success outside the box office and critics have been attributed to its humor and subversive tone, which pokes fun at the superhero film genre that many people have gotten tired of. Unlike Marvel films or–shudder–DC’s current slate, it’s pure comedy. It’s not the most tightly-written film, but it draws a lot from its source material, is made with a lot of passion, and is consistent in its tone.
“Deadpool seemed to stand apart from the usual superhero movies regarding marketing and tone — not so serious,” Sasha Stone, an award show expert, told Polygon.
This makes it perfect for the Academy, which tends to shy away from comedy and outright ignore action or genre films unless in specific circumstances. Most assumed that the group was going to make a move towards recognizing these more mainstream films after the decision in 2009 to expand the Best Picture category from five to 10. The Dark Knight, which was a critical success that year, was snubbed from the category, prompting the reconfiguring. That year, District 9, a science fiction film that wouldn’t have gotten a nomination before the expansion, got one.
However, since then, the Academy hasn’t taken advantage of the improvements to include genre films or blockbusters–pieces that aren’t considered traditional Oscar fare but may be critically successful. Some outliers include Inception and Mad Max: Fury Road, along with a couple of Pixar films that crossed over from the Best Animated Feature category, but since The Dark Knight, no comic book adaptation or superhero film has gotten a Best Picture nomination.
Blockbusters are mostly reserved for the technical categories, hence why Mad Max: Fury Road was able to clean up last year and why you can say “Oscar-nominated film Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” But Deadpool is surprisingly becoming the crossover hit that could give the superhero/action genre some credibility (on the Academy’s standards).
“Deadpool is doing extremely well in the guild awards, which are big indicators for Oscar success because there are a lot of crossover voting members,” Pete Hammond, awards columnist for Deadline, said. “This is all a very good sign for Deadpool that people may be broadening their definition of what’s awards-worthy this year.”
It’s still doubtful that Deadpool is going to get a Best Picture nomination, despite the expanded category. Don’t be surprised to see it in some of the writing categories and obviously in some of the technicals, which is where comedies or action films can shine despite heavy competition from movies specifically designed for Oscar voters.
This wouldn’t signal a change in how Academy members vote, since it would be following similar patterns, and it probably won’t get much beyond the aforementioned nominations, but to see Deadpool–this R-rated romp about a self-aware and violent mercenary in a mask–popping up at awards just as much as La La Land is bound to turn some heads. If anything, Deadpool‘s success signals a turn for superhero films and comedies. For all the claims of “superhero fatigue,” it might be on the verge of its apex, about to finally crossover from just being for comic book fans and geeks.
Deadpool and superhero movies don’t need the Academy’s permission to exist, but it provides another outlet for them to soar. They make a lot of money at the box office, but now they can get some shiny trophies too. It’s not necessary, but it’s a symbol that only solidifies their staying power in cinema’s historical canon.
Plus, if Deadpool gets an Oscar nomination, Reynolds has promised us something special. So, please, Academy, just give it one. For our sake.