Oscar season is around the corner. People are beginning to discuss just what films, actors, and directors deserve an Oscar nomination. Talk is raging in the comic world, however, for one film — WONDER WOMAN.

Last year’s groundbreaking film garnered praise for its cast and story. It also proved that female superhero movies could be successes. The film carries so much positive hype; it’s no surprise that people see it as Oscar-worthy. However, that hype carries a dangerous factor as well.

Past Oscar Nominations & Wins

Any possible WONDER WOMAN nominations may raise a question. Is the film being nominated for its merits, or because it was a popular movie that featured a woman in the lead role? The only fair way to determine the truth requires an objective look at the film. I will examine the possibility of the film’s nomination in three major categories. I will only look at the factors needed for nomination, not the film’s cultural impact.

This is important because other Oscar wins have been questioned in retrospect. Comics fans remember how Heath Ledger made history by winning posthumously for his performance as the Joker in 2008’s THE DARK KNIGHT. However, there is the question of if he would have won had he not tragically died.

John Wayne’s 1970 win for TRUE GRIT holds a similar question. Wayne was at the end of his career at that point. He performed well with TRUE GRIT, but there was little distinguishing it from his other Western-style roles. As a result, the question stands if the Oscar win was more for Wayne’s career then his performance. An objective look spares WONDER WOMAN such criticism in the future.

DC Announces WONDER WOMAN: STEVE TREVOR One Shot

Editor’s Note: This list is purely based on nomination. I am in no way endorsing a win in these categories.

Best Director Oscar Nomination

Oscar Nomination
Courtsey of DC Entertainment.

Patty Jenkins directed the drama MONSTER (and little else in film) before WONDER WOMAN. However, her choices with the film were a major part of why it was a success. First, Jenkins demonstrated a tremendous understanding of the use of slow motion filming. The battle scene on the beaches of Thymsciria utilized this technique. They created scenes that resembled panels of a comic book. It paid tribute to the source material and emphasized the battle.

Directer’s Vision

This technique worked again during the ‘No Man’s Land’ scene. The slow motion gives this scene the gravity and epic nature it needed. Jenkins added still more here. The camera angles and shots used for Diana did not sexualize her. They served to enforce her power and strength. It is something another director might have ignored, but Jenkins created a powerful moment because of it.

Jenkins used visuals in other ways. Diana is introduced in the bright world of her island but is taken to a war-torn ‘man’s world’ of WWI London. This world is dark and grimy, with dirty streets and characters dressed in grays and blacks. Diana’s bright outfit reinforces her image as a revitalizing force. However, Jenkins’ most important contributions are her focus on character.

Roundtable: The Impact Of WONDER WOMAN

Diana, Steve Trevor, and those they meet show a range of emotions and character depths. Diana is noble and brave. Nevertheless, she shows amazement at man’s world and compassion when she sees wounded soldiers. Steve Trevor is funny but intelligent and realistic and admits he is not perfect. Jenkins made sure her audience had human characters in a superhero film, which is not always easy. For that, and all the reasons above, Patty Jenkins deserves an Oscar nomination.

Best Actress Oscar Nomination

Gal Gadot possessed one advantage over Patty Jenkins in filming WONDER WOMAN. Gadot had experience with the character before (BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN). However, she had a difficult task in front of her for a Wonder Woman-centric story. Wonder Woman as a character possesses a number of traits. She is alternately a warrior, a diplomat, a peacekeeper, and a god. The script trimmed some of these attributes, but there was a still a lot for Gadot to bring to life.

Oscar Nomination
Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Thankfully, Gadot brought the character to life perfectly. Another actress could have easily come across as overbearing or self-righteous. Gadot kept the human element apparent, even when placed in Amazon society. When the other Amazons looked down on mankind after hearing Steve Trevor, Gadot stood up for them, showing her compassion and her desire to do good. Without that element of nobility, Diana would not have worked as a relatable character.

Gadot understood the nature of bringing Diana to ‘man’s world’ as well. She shifted effortlessly from a born warrior to a fish out of water. She showed skill in humor while also lightly adding touches of commentary. These are small things, but they made the audience feel for Diana even more.

Gadot showcased even more depth when her compassion was on display. Diana watching wounded soldiers return home or seeing the effects of war on people was heartbreaking. It not only garnered sympathy, but it also made the No Man’s Land scene even more powerful because of how well it led into it.

The Greatest Strength

Gadot’s most impressive feat of acting came when she made a flaw into an important character trait. Diana shows a naive view towards the war (kill Ares and thing will be fine). That could have become an annoyance. However, Gadot played it in a way that made seem almost noble.

That naivety is what pushed Diana to press on against impossible odds. The story shattering that naivety became her moment of crystallization. She fully became the hero by going on anyway. And it all happened because Gadot was able to handle all the nuances of Wonder Woman so well (and also doing some amazing fighting). So far all this, Gal Gadot deserves an Oscar nomination.

Best Picture Oscar Nomination

WONDER WOMAN had a huge influence on our culture this year. It set record profits for a woman-directed film, became the biggest success of the DCEU, and proved a woman can succeed in an action movie. It was positively reviewed and was beloved by critics and audiences alike.

But, does that mean it deserves a Best Picture Oscar nomination?

Oscar Nomination
Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The film focuses on Diana growing into her role as Wonder Woman. It was done well, thanks to Jenkins, Gadot, and a strong character based script. That script lessens the movie in terms of its cultural impact though. While it promotes a strong woman, there is little struggle against a male society.

Diana spends less than a quarter of the film dealing with men who see her as ‘a woman.’ Those experience become annoyances (her dress) or quickly solved obstacles (the generals). The major elements of change (Diana seeing war up close) contain reactions not motivated by male/female context. Diana’s response to these horrors feels human. In fact, one such instance damages Diana’s character somewhat.

The Generals

A significant scene in the film has Diana arguing with the generals. They do not want to risk an armistice, but Diana is firm about saving lives. She criticizes the generals for making careless decisions about their soldiers. The audience is meant to see this as Diana arguing against man’s world.

Nevertheless, there is one problem — Diana has never actually been in a war. She has no experience on par with the generals. She is entering the war late as well. Diana has moral points, but she does not understand what the war has cost. The whole exchange wants to be a gender conflict but is moralistic.

That is the major concern of WONDER WOMAN. It presents a story of a strong woman but doesn’t have much depth on gender roles. The pinnacle is a nod from Etta Candy on women’s struggle to vote. However, the film has that as a throwaway line. For that reason, it is not quite at the standard for a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

What WONDER WOMAN Can Get From An Oscar Nomination/Win

In conclusion, WONDER WOMAN is not a Best Picture contender. The other nominations may be helped by this though. Nominations or even wins by Gadot or Jenkins would be based on their own skills.

They would not be attached to a hype machine of the Best Picture winner. Instead, two women would be recognized for their own skills, not their gender. They would become more prominent in Hollywood. That can be WONDER WOMAN’s real legacy.

3 Comments

  1. Rog455

    January 22, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    Agree with all your points except one. Gadot’s line delivery was perfect for the character (action scenes, quiet scenes, ending scene……), not wooden at all.

    Wonder Woman had such a cultural impact on people of all walks of life, how many Best Picture Oscar winners or nominees can lay claim to a similar effect?

    Reply

  2. Dufusyte

    January 21, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    Deserves to win Best Film, Director, Score, and Actress (and a bunch of other stuff). Now, Gadot’s acting is deceptive, because her delivery of lines is kind if wooden, but her acting is in her face, where she nails every expression. Ultimately, WW would not have been what is is without GG, so she deserves a lot of the credit, and frankly, who else could have pulled it off beside her? She was a revelation, and she put it all in the character.

    Reply

  3. Unmoved12345

    January 20, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    Very well-argued piece. Nice job.

    Reply

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