So as the dust settles on the 88th Academy Awards like the ashen cloud descending on Maz Kanata’s castle somehow the Force Awakens comes away empty handed. Now, being a super fan I would have given every Oscar to the film, Best Documentary, well yes it is a dissection of intergalactic politics that Michael Moore would be proud of. Best Foreign Language Film, how many foreign languages did the winner have? Not as many as The Force Awakens! Best Short Film, well compared to The Revenant it was an episode of Star Wars Rebels. Am I ranting? Sorry, back to the Oscars, the actual ones, not the ones in my head.
So this got me to thinking, considering how well the series has done over the last 40 years, how well has it fared at the Oscars? (can we call it the Isaac’s?)
The first Star Wars, or Star Wars as we called it back then, is the daddy of the Oscars. With ten nominations and a Special Achievement Award as well it is by far the most Oscar friendly of the series. It is also the only Star Wars movie to get an acting nomination. This being for Alec Guinness as Ben Kenobi (in his pre, but at the same time post Obi-Wan days). The most surprising nomination to me is the one for screenplay. George Lucas has been panned for years over the dialogue in the movies, most famously by Harrison Ford, but somehow lines like ‘Get in there you big furry oaf, I don’t care what you smell’ and ‘you came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought’ are Oscar worthy. Well not actually Oscar worthy as Mr Lucas didn’t win, but were considered.
The Isaacs won by Star Wars Episode IV are;
Best Costume Design (Darth Vader would Force choke anyone who thought otherwise)
Best Visual Effects (against Close Encounters that’s quite a win)
Best Art Directing (insert your own gag/idea)
Best Sound (I think people forget how iconic most of the sound in Star Wars is, who hasn’t made a lightsabre noise?)
Best Music (Honestly, probably the most easily recognisable theme tune in movie history)
A Special Achievement Isaac as well, bringing the total to 6 wins.
The remaining nominations were;
Best Supporting Actor (Alec Guinness in his most famous role to anyone under the age of 70)
Best Picture (which was won by Annie Hall, yes Annie Hall!)
Best Directing (back in the days when George Lucas knew how to do this)
Best Screenplay (to be fair George Lucas never really got the hang of this)
The Empire Strikes Back is often considered (in my view incorrectly) to be the best of the Star Wars movies. However, the Academy seem to disagree. With just three nominations it must have seemed like a failure compared to Star Wars. In time obviously people’s opinions have changed and have warmed more to Empire. But it seems funny that the ‘Best Star Wars Movie’ got the same number of Oscar nominations as the dreaded Phantom Menace. It did, however win some, unlike any of the prequels.
The Isaacs won by Empire are;
Best Sound (once again obvious, the relentless stalking of the AT-ATs for example)
Special Achievement (for what, I’m not sure, probably just for being a Star Wars movie and redefining sequels to be ‘darker’ than the original movie)
Art Direction (insert your own gag/idea)
Best Music (Seriously Academy, Fame?)
Return of the Jedi is considered (in my view incorrectly) by most to be the weakest of the original trilogy. It did, however, receive more nominations than Empire, although less actual wins. It also marks the last (to date at least) Oscar win for any Star Wars movie. It is the most light hearted of the original trilogy and bring a warm and fuzzy conclusion to it. Obviously Snoke was not happy with the Empire being defeated by little space bears and has spent 40 years training Stormtroopers how to actually hit a target.
The Isaac won by return of the Jedi was the Special Achievement once again, making it a hat-trick (which apparently is a football term).
The nominations were
Best Score (anyone remember the music to the Right Stuff, or even The Right Stuff?)
Best Sound Effects (Speeder Bikes on Endor anyone?)
Best Sound Effects Editing (don’t ask me!)
And so the glory days of Star Wars draw to a close for a few decades as we move on to the prequels.
The Phantom Menace was the one we had all been waiting for, the inevitable story of Anakin/Darth and the formation of the Empire. Unfortunately, Empire building involves lots of politics and CGI nonsense. Even though we pretended to love it when it first came out, it was all a bit of the Emperor’s New Clothes (basically a dark hooded bathrobe). However, it did pick up three Oscar nominations, although it won none of them. In my opinion it should have been nominated for score also, purely thanks to Duel of the Fates.
Best Sound (won by The Matrix, meh)
Best Sound Effects Editing (Still no idea)
Best Visual Effects (Won by The Matrix, fair enough I will give them that one)
As a footnote I think that The Matrix was such a difference to Star Wars and something new and exciting that the Academy had to acknowledge the impact it had. And that The Phantom Menace was not actually as awesome as we had all hoped.
The Clone Wars kept with the ‘Sequels Must Be Darker’ theme invented by Empire. However, it also invented a ‘Sequels Must Be a Bit Long, Dragged Out And Slightly Tedious In Places’ theme. And it suffered for it. It got one solitary nomination. It deserved the nomination as it pushed boundaries in its field. However probably to the detriment of the movie.
Best Visual Effect (Won by Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, a deserving winner)
An interesting fact is that The Lord of the Rings movies are the only movie series to take more Oscars than Star Wars movies. Well, I thought it was interesting.
The final prequel also only managed one Oscar nomination, possibly a little harsh. Revenge of the Sith did have some good special effects, but probably just too many of them. The score was good, but they all were in all honesty. Had this been the end to Star Wars at the Oscars the movies started with a bang and ended with a phhfft. I guess after the success of the first movie the only way was a downward spiral.
Best Achievement in Makeup (won by a Narnia film, so I’m OK with that)
And then along came The Force Awakens. Franchise Viagra, it has got it all going again. The buzz surrounding it was almost visible. Somebody tell me how it managed to win no Isaacs at all? I have no idea, but I will look at the nominations anyway, and then probably slate the winners.
Best Film Editing (Won by Mad Max: Fury Road, this year’s triumph movie. Meh)
Best Score (Won by The Hateful Eight, John Williams should just win every year!)
Best Sound Mixing (Mad Max again, any movie with Tie Fighters wins best sound)
Best Sound Editing (Mad Bloody Max, where is your lightsabre noise??)
Visual Effects (Ex Machina, well at least it wasn’t Mad Max I guess)
So to buck the trend of ever decreasing circles The Force Awakens was acknowledged to be among the best in its categories, but is there a backlash against the success of the movie? Is it not cool to vote for the monster hit of the last few years? Who knows. Hopefully the next ones will win massive amounts of awards, we can help. We can use the Force.
One thing is for sure, the next few years will keep the nominations coming in, hopefully rewarded with the trophies.
Thank you for reading.
May The Force Be With You.