After The Dark Knight was famously snubbed for major Academy Award consideration outside of the technical field in 2008, the word on everyone’s lips has been whether Christopher Nolan’s bookending follow-up, The Dark Knight Rises, would manage to amass a larger amount of nominations. After all, it is widely believed that the widening of the Oscar field in the 2010 ceremony was due to the snubbing of Nolan’s Joker-starring masterpiece (alongside the omission of excellent films like WALL-E, The Wrestler and Revolutionary Road).
Whether you believe Rises is a better film than The Dark Knight or not, there is the possibility that Nolan’s efforts in the series as a whole will be rewarded this time around with at least a few additional nominations, especially after his last film, Inception, was nominated for Best Picture. However, after ludicrously failing to score a Best Director nomination for his mind-bending sci-fi, I’m not particularly convinced the Academy will be behind him this time.
Here is a projection of the chances that The Dark Knight Rises will be nominated for and win in any categories for which it is eligible. Best Actress has not been included due to the lack of a lead actress (Anne Hathaway would be supporting).
Chance of a nomination: 1/10
Chance of a win: 0/10
The solitary Best Actor prospect in The Dark Knight Rises would, of course, be Christian Bale for his superior portrayal of hermetic billionaire Bruce Wayne. It goes without saying that in Nolan’s second entry into the franchise, he was entirely overshadowed by Heath Ledger’s unforgettable performance, though this time around finds himself facing a more even playing field against Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway.
The more thoughtful and emotional, character-driven trajectory of the plot this time around also gives Bale more dialogue with Michael Caine’s Alfred, and superbly acted though these exchanges are, they aren’t really substantial enough in of themselves to compete against acting lions the likes of Daniel Day Lewis (Lincoln), Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) and Leonardo DiCaprio (The Great Gatsby). Of course, all of those films are up to this point sight-unseen, but they would have to disappoint on a major scale for Oscar to make room for Christian Bale, no matter how strong his work was this time around.
Best Supporting Actor
Chance of a nomination = 2/10
Chance of a win = 0/10
Though Heath Ledger broke the glass ceiling for comic book films as far as acting plaudits go, one can’t help but be a little cynical and suggest that were Ledger still alive, he probably would not have received an Academy Award nomination no matter how excellent – and deserving – the performance was.
That discussion is somewhat past the point anyway, as Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bane – though excellent – is highly unlikely to earn Academy Award attention, largely because the character lacks the same iconic stature of The Joker, and is relatively unknown to the majority of viewers – specifically Academy voters – at large. Also, controversy over Hardy’s vocal performance and the fact that some audiences have struggled to understand him will also dampen his chances further, in a field that is already likely to boast Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Woody Harrelson (Seven Psychopaths) and Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained).