What if there were Comic Book Movie Oscars?

Imagine, if you will, if Comic Book Movies really could win Academy Awards.

It’s the end of the Summer, another batch of comic book movies has hit the scene, and for the first time, since I started the awards, there has been more CBMs than ever in a span of 8 months! Thought I’d spruce things up for the special occasion, since this is easily the hardest year yet. The following article is an abridged version of a yearly editorial I post to comicbookmovies.com. You can read the full editorial, with bonus categories, here:

First, some background: I like to do these every year as a sort of way to summarize my thoughts on what the genre offered. The Academy format is a great way to cover all the aspects of a movie that matter most to me (I should really think about adding Best Original Score), and I get to offer my sort of mini-verdicts on what I thought of these films. I don’t write too many movie reviews, so these Oscars is kind of my version of that, all collected in one editorial.

So…about the rules:

  • Comic book movies only. Even though my overall favorite movie of the summer is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I’m trying to stay genre-specific here. So the movies have to be based off a properties that originated in comic form. That means no Transformers or Edge of Tomorrow either- even if they got comic treatment later on.
  • Categories can range from 4-6 nominees, however ALL CBMs are technically eligible for Best Picture. Winners are picked on personal preference, though I will try to plead a case for every nominee and every winner, so as to be as objective as possible.
  • All picks are based off Oscar categories. My old tally system is out, so now it is possible for a film to not win anything at all and still be declared my Favorite of the Year. Does that mean Ninja Turtles might upset the dominating Captain America 2, which leads the pack with a whopping 11 nominations? Let’s find out!

The Following Fake Awards Presentation Contains Spoilers. Reader Discretion is Advised.
BEST MAKEUP

I appreciated Electro’s revamped design and Dane Dehaan’s facial expressions this time in Amazing Spiderman 2, as opposed to the Power Ranger helmet the original movies went with. The folks in Snowpiercer are appropriately dirty and grimy, the type of effort that post-apocalyptic tv shows should be looking at for reference. There’s a lot of good work in X-Men with mutants like Blink and Beast. Guardians of the Galaxy is similar, though I heard complaints that there isn’t much to the aliens besides color-coded skin, and maybe they could have been more creative.

And the Oscar goes…


It’ minimal, but the work is so striking, and adds even more to Frank Miller’s visual style. Manute’s gold eye and Marv’s brick-like mug still pop off the screen. Nancy’s scars tell her story better than she does. And holy crap, what is Stacy Keach?

 

 

 

BEST COSTUME

Ninja Turtles was almost disqualified because the turtles are entirely CGI and no physical costumes were sewn. However, their looks still needed to be designed, and I think the variety of what they wear (Raph has soup cans for arm gauntlets) individualized the Turtles like never before. X-men is standard Singer: black leather till Sunday. But I appreciate more splashes of color, and they had to do twice the work for all the 70s-style duds. Guardians of the Galaxy also springs for the leathery look. Its fine, but its easy. Most people liked Cap’s fatigues for his first movie. I didn’t. I loved his more comic-accurate suit for Avengers. Others hated it. Can we all agree that The Winter Soldier finally finds a compromise we can all appreciate?

And the Oscar Goes to…


More period accurate than 300 was. But let’s get to the point. He’s wearing a lion on his mother*cking head! Can’t beat that. Ridiculous? Or Amazing? Believe it or not, but in the movie, The Rock makes it work! Know your Role.

 

 

 

BEST SUPPORTING PERFORMANCE

JGL’s Johnny was a coin-flipping wildcard in the better of Sin City’s two original stories. While I could have gone with Sam Jackson’s Nick Fury again, I thought I’d throw some love to Mackie’s Falcon, who surprised me as a solid *ahem* wingman for Captain America. KangHo Song turned out to be smarter than his drug addict would let on in Snowpiercer, and Fassbender put in strong enough work in DofP for me to declare him the best character in the franchise. Michaelangelo is the big surprise here, but what can I say? He was the best one in TMNT.

And the Oscar goes to…

There was only one clear front-runner here, and that’s Guardians’ Rocket Raccoon. He’s pretty much THE reason to see this movie, and if you imagine the team without him (and his silent giant Groot), I don’t know that GotG is even half as good. Props to Bradley Cooper.

 

 

 

BEST ART DIRECTION


The space in GotG is pretty cool, but the standout concept for me was “Knowhere.” I didn’t think a new director would be able to replicate Zack Snyder’s style for 300, but Rise of an Empire does a seamless job of it. A Dame to Kill For also feels as if Rodriguez hasn’t missed a beat, but what was once stunning and fresh seems to have worn off this time around.

And the Oscar goes to…

Snowpiercer probably applies the most physical set design out of the 4 movies nominated, and the coolest thing about it is how many environments clash. Each car of the train is practically a different world, and the nuclear winter outdoors acts as a constant reminder of death outside those train walls.

 

 

 

 

BEST SCREENPLAY

I would have liked to include 300: Rise of an Empire, but its adaptation, “Xerxes,” is oddly still not out yet as of this writing, and thus does not qualify. We’ll have to settle for Frank Miller’s other story, however, A Dame to Kill For is more disjointed than the original Sin City, and the invented stories are relatively weak. I think if Hercules was marketed as a comic adaptation it might have done a little better, even though it looked stupid. The Winter Solder is the best of the bunch, with Marvel crafting a conspiracy thriller and perhaps the tightest superhero script from the studio. I should say DofP loosely, follows my favorite X-Men tale, and by loosely, I mean hardly at all. Even as a film, it never addresses continuity problems. Only avoids them all together by pushing the reset button. Arg! Why did I even nominate it? lol

And the Oscar goes to…

There are some differences to be sure, but the French graphic novel explores deeper themes than any of the aforementioned movies, which, while enjoyable, are kind of fluff. This screenplay does a hell of a job getting the viewer to think about social class, fascism, religion, ecology, and freedom.

 

 

 

BEST ACTRESS


Megan Fox?! Now hold on. Lest we forget, she’s the only true full-fledged female lead of this bunch and her April O’Niel had to carry TMNT all by herself. Not saying she did a good job, but baby steps… Scar-Jo is really coming into her own as Black Widow, and practically co-stars with Chris Evans in CA:TWS. J-Law as well, who was a much better, layered Mystique than her bratty portrayal in First Class. I thought Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy was flawless in TASM2. The romance people hated was important in making us care when she died, and I did.

And the Oscar Goes to…

Eva Green is without a doubt the best thing about both A Dame to Kill For and 300 Rise of an Empire. Green slaughtered the competition in both movies she starred in this year. But for Ava Lord in particular, it’s hard to take your eyes off her in Sin City 2, and I’m not just saying that because she’s naked for almost 3/4 of her screen time 😉

 

 

BEST ACTOR


Ignoring my feelings for how Xavier is used in these movies, I gotta hand it to McAvoy for killing it everytime. Star Lord is a star-making turn for Chris Pratt that is easily the role of his career. The Rock isn’t on the level of the rest of these guys, but he does some of his personal strongest work in Hercules and it shows. It doesn’t hurt Chris Evans’ odds to get a dual-nomination (another first). He’s excellent as the rebellion leader in Snowpiercer, but…

And the Oscar goes to…

…he will win for Steve Rodgers. Society’s taste is shifting towards the anti-hero, but Cap continues to be a paragon of good, and not in the boring way. The boyscout is an underappreciated influence on our moral values, and Captain America has come to exemplify my favorite hero in comic book movies today.

 

 

 

BEST DIRECTOR


James Gunn is without a doubt an mvp for what he accomplished with Marvel’s biggest gamble yet. But there’s not much to the movie besides the comedy. I was thrilled to learn Singer returned to the X-Men franchise, and plotholes aside, I feel like the franchise is finally back on track. Joon-ho Bong has a style all his own, but while the second half of Snowpiercer sings, the first half could be considered a turnoff.

And the Oscar Goes to…

The Russo bros made a clean, taut action movie, that satisfies as the first true sequel to The Avengers, and the only Marvel movie that has a plot with some depth. A somewhat dark entry compared to the more “fun” stuff, this is a movie that has changed the course of the MCU in an exciting way going forward. Well done, boys.

 

 

BEST PICTURE
This is it, the big one. Favorite CBM of the year. It’s nice to have so many to choose from, and its crazy I saw them all just to make sure each film would be on an even playing field. Everything was okay, even the weaker stuff, but I confess there has been a case of overrated/underrated going around the community with certain movies, and if I had to pick the best five of the crop, the BP noms would look like this:

Winner:

Too close to call, really between Snowpiercer and Captain America 2. The Winter Soldier is a popular, safe, choice. And it’s one of the few movies that I have 0 criticisms for. But there’s something freeing about taking a break from the Marvel/DC war, and going with something meaningful. What’s left of the entire world’s population all lives on one train, Snowpiercer functions like what I call a “gauntlet movie”, as the rebellion moves from car to car, almost like progressing levels or boss fights in a videogame (not unlike Dredd or The Raid, and yes, it gets batshit crazy too). If could leave readers with anything, it would be that Snowpiercer is the most original movie of the year, and I hope people check it out. Will it be for everyone? Not in the way that a popcorn movie is, but I want to be a little more challenging this year. I’d like to think that’s what the Oscars are about too.

 

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