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Apes and Serkis Deserve An Oscar

Recently, Fox Studios announced it would be making a Best Actor / Best Picture push for Andy Serkis / Matt Reeves’ War for the Planet of the Apes. I rarely agree with any of Fox’s decisions, but I have to admit they are absolutely right on this one. Here’s why…

God, it makes me feel like I’ve sullied my soul

First, let me just acknowledge the following: I can’t believe I’m actually agreeing with Biff (Fox Studios) on something.

I usually love to rag on this company for nearly tanking Deadpool, screwing up Firefly, or doing a complete host of things incorrectly. Yet, here I am admitting to you they are right; they should definitely make the Oscar push for War for the Planet of the Apes. This film could very well get nods for a few different categories…

  • Best Actor (Andy Serkis)
  • Best Picture
  • Best Director (Matt Reeves)
  • Best Screenplay
  • Best Score
  • Best Visual Effects

And personally, I think they will easily get nominations for Score, Visual, and Screenplay. It’s the first three where they will face a uphill battle. The Academy has been pretty dense when it comes to sci-fi films like this. While they are quick to give them nods and wins for technical feats, it’s rare to get attention in the Actor/Actress, Picture, Director categories. We still have a few months to go and the typical Oscar bait films will come out in full swing. However, it’s not crazy to think this film gets at least 6 nominations, picks up at least 3 wins, and we’ll see how the dice roll when the last releases of the year come out.

It can be hard to get the Academy to move towards new franchises or award significant attention to the sci-fi entries. But it certainly helps when the movie is actually that good. There are so many strong storytelling elements that make it stand apart from Rises and Dawn. Conventional wisdom for a summer blockbuster would have told us that the two leads needed a major showdown. War ignores that thinking entirely, choosing instead to throw a ton of pain at our hero and making them process that in their final chapter. It’s a bold strategy and one that ultimately pays off with a very satisfying conclusion. Add on top of that Michael Giacchino’s immaculate score, the tight visuals, and the Academy will be pressed to give this one a fair shake.

It’s also crazy to think we are here because Fox actually chilled out for a change. Maybe Fox is starting to learn their lesson after the success of Deadpool (in spite of their meddling) and Logan (when they finally let go for a change). Perhaps they realized leaving Matt Reeves alone to do this thing was the smart move after the second movie, Dawn, earned over $700 million at the worldwide box office. As I dug into the production history on the reboot franchise, I was shocked to learn how hands off Fox was; it’s a bit surprising for them. While long time producers Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa did kick start the trilogy with Rise, I haven’t been able to find anything were Fox directly intervened in the movie production. Especially with Matt Reeves, they seemed to have really given him the reins when he took over with Dawn.

Honestly, the only real problem I’ve found with War is that the name makes no sense with what happens. That also affects Fox’s marketing campaign as their trailers are cut together for a large spectacle that just never happens in War. Had that miscue between film and marketing not occurred, it’s likely moviegoers would have had a higher initial reaction when this released. Instead, word of mouth had to repair the damage behind the scenes.

It remains to be seen if Fox will keep their act together, how the Academy will react to this film, or what inevitable films will come out to challenge War for these potential nominations. However, it won’t be Fox holding it back for a change.

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