Batman Was Robbed!

January 31, 2009

With the Oscars coming up in February, I’ve been trying to see as many movies contending as possible. While award shows are generally popularity contests, I find the Oscars to be a rather accurate representation of the year’s best films and performances. However, I do have one big gripe with this year’s nominations: no Best Picture or Best Director nods for The Dark Knight and Chris Nolan’s amazing work on that film. The films picking up Best Picture noms are:

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
Slumdog Millionaire
The Reader

I’m yet to see The Reader and Milk, but of the other three films only Slumdog Millionaire is arguably better than The Dark Knight, in my opinion. In support of my argument, it’s worth noting that only Benjamin Button and Slumdog Millionaire received more total nominations than the latest Batman flick.

The academy seems to agree that The Dark Knight is a more technically impressive film than Frost/Nixon and The Reader; it picked up nominations for visual effects, cinematography, make-up, etc. So how is it that those films are better all around pictures? If the argument is direction, Chris Nolan did an amazing job and the IMAX cinematography was groundbreaking. If the argument is acting, the entire cast of The Dark Knight was at least above average and Heath Ledger gave one of the best performances I’ve ever seen as The Joker. Yes, Frank Langella gave a staggering performance as former President Nixon, but I think if people look back on 2008 (and maybe even the entire decade), the performance everyone is going to remember is Heath Ledger’s Joker portrayal.

So it must come down to the writing. That’s the only aspect where The Dark Knight might be coming up short against the competition. Personally, I found the writing in TDK to be extremely well done. For such a long film, it was quickly paced; I was on the edge of my seat the whole time during my first viewing and one can’t help but be excited for The Joker’s next appearance. Heath’s performance was phenomenal, but the writer’s helped steer the character in the right direction. We don’t have The Joker dancing to Prince songs and we have the screenwriting team to thank for that. While some may prefer Tim Burton and Jack Nicholson’s cartoony rendition, I believe it’s unarguable that Heath Ledger’s dark and demented turn is a more accurate portrayal of the character and a much more intriguing fit for the big screen, especially in Nolan’s reality-based Gotham.

So while I can’t consider picking The Dark Knight for Best Picture, I do believe it should at least be in contention. Either way, my vote goes to Slumdog Millionaire, which is far and away the best made 2008 film I’ve seen.

I’ll be back with mini-review for Slumdog Millionaire, Frost/Nixon, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Revolutionary Road, and maybe some others shortly.


  1. Do yourself a favor and see The Wrestler. Then decide best movie of the year.

    • The Wrestler is at the tip top of the list of movies I want to see. I’m well aware of Darren Aronofsky’s work (Requiem For A Dream) and Mickey Rourke is the favorite for Best Actor. Still, I’d be shocked if I like it more than Slumdog… have you seen that yet?

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