No, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ Won’t be Nominated for Best Picture, but What Will?

Photo: AMPAS //

The talk over the weekend was naturally all about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. The film sits at 97% on the RottenTomatoes meter, it is currently the only 2011 feature listed on the IMDB Top 250, it holds the record for the largest domestic and global opening weekend ever and it marks the end of a ten year franchise that has been generally enjoyed by most that have taken the time to watch it. These facts tell us critics loved it, audiences loved it and the studio loves it. So why would it not be a Best Picture nominee?

To add even more fuel to the questioning fire, Entertainment Weekly‘s Dave Karger tweeted the following message over the weekend: “[Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2] just screened for Oscar voters and I hear they loved it. Could it be the first one to get a Best Picture nomination?” Both myself and Kris Tapley from replied to Karger’s question, me with a “no”, Tapley with a “Nein.”

So what gives? How can I say a film that seems to be loved by most and highly successful at the box-office won’t be earning one of the ten possible Best Picture slots? For starters, the word “possible” in that last sentence doesn’t help its chances.

If this film had been released in 2009 or 2010 I wouldn’t be so quick to say no, but the rule changes that were seemingly prompted by the Best Picture snubbing of The Dark Knight that saw ten nominees from the 2009 and 2010 crop are no longer in place. Instead, a film must now earn 5% of the Oscar voters’ first place votes in order to receive a nomination. Granted, 2011 has offered up a weak crop of films so far, but what chance do you honestly believe Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 has at securing 5% of the first place votes from the Academy?

I’m not asking as someone that disliked the film, so don’t think I have some kind of Harry Potter vendetta, I’m simply being realistic considering we are talking about a franchise viewed as more of a merchandising cash cow and film largely aimed at kids rather than a bona fide piece of art by the Academy.

Of the seven Harry Potter films that have been eligible for an Oscar nomination so far, five of them have been nominated for one or more Oscars, nine nominations total. Of those nine nominations all of them have been for below the line categories with noms in Art Direction, Visual Effects, Cinematography, Costumes and Original Score (John Williams twice). Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets are the two films that didn’t receive nominations and no Harry Potter film has actually won an Oscar. Suffice to say, this just isn’t a franchise the Academy seems to take seriously.

“But it’s the last one!” I hear you saying. “What about Toy Story 3 being nominated and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King winning! Recognition for the series! I understand your argument here, but those are not examples that necessarily help your cause. Toy Story is the franchise that essentially launched the Best Animated Feature category and the Pixar brand is far more prestigious in the eyes of the Academy than the Potter brand.

Also, before The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King took home 11 Oscars in 11 categories the two previous installments won six Oscars and were nominated for a total of 19, including Best Director, Editing, Screenplay, Supporting Actor and Best Picture for both Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. So you see, it’s far from the same thing.

These arguments may be valid if we were talking about a guaranteed ten picture field based on a different rules set, but we’re not. And based on the new rules as I explained them here, I would be willing to bet most years will see five to six Best Picture nominees with a max of about seven. Even if we’re looking at a year with a weak crowd that finds more films floating at the top with four or five strong contenders and a large group of films floating in second, Harry Potter still isn’t likely to be among that second group.

So if not Potter… what? Click on over to the next page and let’s have a look at current top contenders in the field.

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