Roll out the red carpet and get the TV cameras rolling because Award season is here once again!
That’s right it’s time for Hollywood to start its month-long critical bukkakke-fest and no one gives a happy ending quite like The Academy who hand out the most prestigious award, The Oscar.
Of course, as with all award ceremonies, there’s some controversy surrounding those nominated for an Oscar and this year the furore seems to surround last year’s surprise hit Deadpool.
The film had been Ryan Reynold’s passion project for several years – ever since an abortive attempt at adapting the character was made with X-Men Origins Wolverine – and was a roaring success giving us what’s possibly the most accurate adaptation of a comic character to date.
After it’s enormous success both critically and financially Ryan and the super hard-working team behind Deadpool began to campaign for a Best Picture Oscar, after all Mad Max: Fury Road proved last year that The Academy don’t dismiss ‘action films’ out of hand.
So did it get any love at The Oscars?
Well of course not, but there’s a good reason for that. Despite being a stellar movie The Academy, a body made up of influential people from the world of entertainment, were never going to vote for it.
Why? Well as Deadpool put itself forward as a Best Picture contender let’s compare it to the last five winners and see if we can reverse engineer some explanation for why it wasn’t nominated.
In the last five years the victors have been Spotlight, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), 12 Years A Slave, Argo and The Artist.
Broadly speaking we can see a couple of differences between the films, Spotlight, Argo and 12 Years are all adaptations of eal life stories. They adapt real events and deal with serious issues.
Meanwhile Birdman and The Artist both demonstrate great technique. The Artist is of course a silent film while Birdman, uses CGI to create the illusion of a tingle cut.
This is broad strokes I know but stay with me. If we compare Deadpool with these terms, being a film that tackles issues and being a technical film, then it falls pretty far of the mark.
At it’s heart and under the red hood Deadpool is a love story, about Wade Wilson’s mission to rekindle his relationship with Vanessa, his girlfriend. A noble and worthy story surely?
Well not really, this is essentially a story we’ve seen a million times before and done better. Ultimately Wade is called to action by a desire to be handsome again and fears rejection on completely superficial grounds.
Even at the end of the film when Wade and Vanessa are reunited she jokes that she’ll need a shit tonne of alcohol to ever fuck our lovable lumpy hero again. Hardly Rick and Ilsa.
So that’s a big no, no on worthy themes but what about technique?
Well again Deadpool’s lacking. While I’d argue that Deadpool is the most accurate adaptation of a superhero ever it is really just a straight action film.
The only thing it really has going for it is fourth wall breaking moments, plus a desire to take the piss out of itself and the superhero genre as a whole. It’s funny sure, but if the film won’t take itself seriously then why should The Academy.
Moving away from themes and technique lets look at something far more controversial, Rotten Tomatoes scores. Once again we can see that Deadpool doesn’t have the chops to compete with the heavy Best Picture nominees.
In the last 5 years 43 separate films have been nominated for Best Picture, of those the winners average 95% on Rotten Tomatoes according to critics, a whole 11 percent higher than Deadpool.
If we extrapolate that out to the last 10 years then the average score for winning best pictures comes down to 93%, but it’s still miles above Deadpool’s score.
Taking things a step further and including all 43 films nominated in the last five years then we get an average score of 89%, a leap and a prayer away from Deadpool’s score but not quite close enough.
Unfortunately then it seems that Deadpool was a few bullets’s short of being a critical massacre then.
While obviously there are outliers such as The Wolf of Wall Street, Crash and The Theory of Everything, all of whom scored lower than Deadpool, we can probably chalk their success down to the themes of those films.
The final obstacle and perhaps the most obvious one is that, as James Cameron recently pointed out, The Academy just don’t vote for superhero movies.
Even Marvel’s critical darling Civil War didn’t get a nomination for Best Picture despite ticking the right boxes on paper. The Academy just don’t seem to care for blockbusters.
Aside from Lord of the Rings that is…
So that’s why Deadpool, despite being a good film, was never going to win an Oscar. It may have ticked the boxes with general audiences but as far as Academy members are convinced it’s a failing grade.
But let’s be honest who really cares, everyone knows that The Oscars are’t really about celebrating the best films they’re just an excuse for the good and great of La, La Land (Hollywood not the movie) to wank each other off.
And Deadpool can at least console itself with the fact it got a sequel and launched a franchise, while us fans who want to see a superhero film bag an Oscar can keep our adamantium claws crossed that Logan will win one next year.