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Is Skyfall's Oscar Buzz Real or Just Really Convincing Hype?

Though each new James Bond film lands with a media frenzy of sorts, Skyfall's box-office crushing tour of the Globe has even come with Oscar buzz. As an Oscar pundit, at first I felt I needed to do my killjoy duty and remind Bond-fans that the Academy has never been eager to have a martini with Bond, no matter how he orders it. But lately I've begun to wonder if, should the hype not subside much, the world's favorite super spy might finally win a nomination or two again. Two nominations would be a major win for Team Skyfall though the current hype would have you perceive that as a disappointing haul since it suggests that multiple nods and even a Best Picture citation are just around the corner. 

It's this overreaching by fans and the more excitable pundits that keeps forcing me back into Killjoy Corner. But let me repeat: a Best Picture nomination is not happening; Ten spots is not Twenty. And Bond Films aren't even close to the top of Oscar's Favorite Franchises heap anyway. Even with the fast Oscar-dream fade of The Dark Knight Rises and the artistically suspect decision to make The Hobbit into three films, history suggests that AMPAS is more likely to join Bruce Wayne or Gollum in the shadows again than James Bond. 

I should explain with facts (after the jump) before they go out of style again...

In the entire history of the Bond franchise, AMPAS has only awarded the series with eight Oscar nominations for its first twenty-two installments. That's less than ½ a nomination a film.  In fact, the  007 franchise is of so little interest to their collective voting body that it hasn't seen a nomination since 1981 when Sheena Easton crooned "For Your Eyes Only" to a Best Original Song nomination. 007's win are even more scarce; the franchise's second (and last) Oscar statuette was best Visual Effects for Thunderball (1965) the fourth official Bond film, an astounding forty-seven years ago! That's right, Bond may be celebrating his 50th loudly this year, but Oscar hasn't given him a birthday gift since he was a toddler.

So it's an uphill battle.

The number one reason for being bullish in predicting Skyfall is actually Casino Royale (2006) which reinvigorated the franchise, gave us our first Blond Bond and, generally speaking, won the kind of critical respect that's generally not even a goal of big blockbusters and can shift the paradigm for how awards bodies deal with subsequent movies. The number one reason for being bearish is the same: though AMPAS screenings for that first Daniel Craig outing were reportedly ecstatic the film managed a whopping ZERO when Oscar nomination morning arrived.

(in Descending Order of Likelihood from possible to exceedingly farfetched)

"Take the Shot!"
Greg P. Russell has been nominated for an Oscar an incredible 15 times and somehow he still hasn't won. It would be sweet to see both the Bond franchise and this sound mixer break the long Oscar drought in tandem.

The Bond series has never been up for this particular prize but they've also never had Roger Deakins lensing one. The legendary director of photography has been Oscar nominated 9 times and has influenced the look of contemporary cinema far more than most men behind the camera. In addition to his acclaimed filmography he's also proved a huge influence on the entire animation industry in his work as a visual consultant. [Previously Interviewed] 

If they really loved Casino Royale and just didn't vote for it and they've been indulging in the Bond Mania with the rest of the world for months now than maybe...

Bonus Trivia: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) is the most Oscar-celebrated Bond film with 3 nominations

This is the nomination that most people consider all locked up. But Oscar's music branch has been notoriously deaf to the famous tradition of Bond title songs, no matter who is singing them. Yes, Adele is an awards magnet. Yes, it's a good song. No, that won't automatically matter. There's also the possibility that they'll disqualify it for using a bit of the Bond theme in its instrumentation.

Despite showy exotic Bond locales, tense offices, and oversized villainous lairs featuring heavily in the series Oscar has only noticed the art direction once (The Spy Who Loved Me). Still, if any Bond film is going to manage that feat again wouldn't it be this film what with that empty spooky neon building, Silva's dystopic island, the entire Macau sequence and the titular "character". It's worth noting that Oscar winning production designer Dennis Gassner would be the nominee here and his filmography would certainly warrant a second Oscar in this category. He previously won for Bugsy (1991).

No Bond films have ever been nominated in this category but if Skyfall's big deal 50th mania hits Oscar, it'll show up here before it shows up in Best Picture if you ask me. Action films that people fall in love perform fairly well in this category. If nominated it would mark Stuart Baird's third nomination after Superman (1978) and Gorillas in the Mist (1988).

People will talk but any of the following categories would require a miracle...

Casino Royale managed to make the longlist in the bakeoffs but no Bond films have been nominated in this category since Moonraker (1979). The problem for Bond is that this category's taste has shifted from practical effects (like explosions and stunts which Bond leans heavily on) to technological advances in computer generated imagery. 

There is just too much competition. And you need number #1 votes.  

Though Thomas Newman is well regarded and long overdue for an Oscar after 10 nominations, one suspects that his score will be disqualified for threading in so much of Bond's original theme and the "Skyfall" song.  

Judi Dench's "M" may be the narrative focal point but Bond has never been an Actor's franchise. Yes, this talented ensemble makes this film sing more than most Bond films in the acting department. But not enough for nominations. 

Care to guess how many nods Skyfall will earn? Right now I'm guessing 2 but zero would not surprise me.


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Reader Comments (27)


Song, Sound and Sound Editing. In fairness, I might just be predicting those because they all start with S.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

I agree with you in this point - Skyfall will have an uphill battle for recognition.

Casino Royale was a great example - In one of the weakest years in categories like Best Picture and Actor, with critical and box office success and excellent response by AMPAS didn't make and remember: Daniel Craig's biggest competition was a 26 years Ryan Gosling in a little film and Sacha Baron Cohen's in Borat!

I only think four reasonable nominations: Cinematography, Song, Sound and Sound Editing

Bardem and Dench have better luck at BAFTAs

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleon

I'd love to see it get a Cinematography nod (because it's just unbelievably gorgeous), but I don't see it happening. Sound categories seem fairly possible, but certainly not set in stone. It's going to clean up at the BAFTAs though.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe K

I have no idea. I wonder if Dench will get nominated because the supporting actress category is kind of boring. If this were another year it would be nominated for cinematography but I think the film has too much competition.

November 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGabriel Oak

I'm going with cinematography (Good Lord, i butchered that word several times before i finally got it right) and original song. But like Nat said, there'll be no surprise if Skyfall isn't even mentioned.

It'll be a travesty if those two things don't get a nom. Mostly I'm hoping Adele's theme gets nominated and that she'll be able to perform. That'll be a sure sign that Oscar is trying to get out of the desolate wasteland of chaos that became Best Original Song.

I'll be so pissed without a nom and a performance from Adele.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck

Sean Connery should have been nominated for From Russia with Love.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

i think it will pull a Cinematography nod, but it sounds like Life of Pi will probably take that honor. I wouldn't mind seeing Deakins win based on the films I've seen - I feel like those will be the two. Some of these gorgeous scenes are among his best work. Dench is possible, but I expect Les Mis will fill up the empty Supporting Actress slots. Editing, Art Direction and the Sound categories are all very possible. I'd love to see Adele win Original Song, but I've heard rumblings that it could be disqualified based on its play on the original Bond music, as you've mentioned. If not, here's hoping it wins that category if nothing else. (I'm glad you didn't mention Bardem as a possibility - I thought he was too much, and I don't see that happening.)

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Definitely think Bardem is much more possible than Dench. Did you forget him? I'd put him in between editing and visual effects.

I'm really hoping Adele gets an Oscar to go along with her Grammy grand slam (and because the song is fantastic). But yeah, not getting my hopes up as it will probably be disqualified. Or just not nominated.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

You forgot one of the nominations from the Moore era, probably the Song nom for Live And Let Die. The Bond franchise has nine Oscar nominations. There's also one more for Casino Royale 1967, but you rightly ignored it, cause it's a rather unfunny spoof and has nothing to do with the official film series.
But your remark that Thomas Newman's score would be "threading in so much of Bond's original theme and the Skyfall song" is bordering on indolence, cause the main reason why even a good deal of Skyfall's defenders dislike Newman's horrible score is precisely because it makes so disturbingly little use of both the Bond theme and the theme song.
Personally, I'd also say that Never Say Never Again should be included in Connery's movie tally, cause it's a serious entry, it has Sean, and - unlike Skyfall - it's actually a Bond film.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

I can see quite a few Oscar noms on the horizon for Skyfall. None in the main categories, but the tech categories should provide ample (and well-deserved) recognition. Cinematography is a given in my book and if Adele's song isn't disqualified, she's in as well. I'm also predicting Skyfall makes it into at least one sound categorie (maybe even both) and I can certainly see Stuart Baird get a nod for his editing. Production design would be a deserving nom, but Dennis Gassner is probably the shakiest of Skyfall's contenders.

To cut a long story short: worst case scenario is 3 noms, best case scenario is 6 noms. If Skyfall can get these noms, I can even see it winning quite a few statuettes in february: cinematography, song and editing (though the sound categories will probably be swept by Les Misérables). A bit like when The Bourne Ultimatum won a lot of tech Oscars a couple of years ago --> another case of a thrilling action blockbuster that redefined what the modern action movie can do, directed by a previously Oscar-nominated director.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDieter

True: "official" Bond received 9 nominations so far: 3 for "The Spy Who Loved Me" and one for "Goldfinger", "Thunderball", "Diamonds Are Forever", "Live and Let Die", "Moonraker" and "For Your Eyes Only".

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSomeone

I'm hoping for something, as the franchise deserves another nod after over 30 years of waiting. My biggest hopes would be Cinematography or Song, which I feel are the film's best attributes, but I do worry that Adele will end up being disqualified. If she does make it, though, I think she's the best chance at a win because it's a hit song (something the Best Original Song category has not had in ages and in a year where it seems to be trying mightily to become credible again, a hit song would help that cause go a long way) and because who doesn't want to see Adele perform the song?

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Cinematography, Original song and Supporting Actress are my stakes!

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlasttimeisaw

Cinematography, editing, sound and that great song should all get nominated. Best Supporting for Dench- maybe- it does have the most emotional climax of all the Bond movies- and why not a Best Picture nod?

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Possibility of 1 nomination = best song.

But I believe the song will be disqualified, so ZERO.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarcelo

Cinematography, sound, sound editing and original song are possible nominations.
Supporting actors - Judi Dench and Javier Bardem - I agree with Leon, probably at the BAFTAS.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErick Loggia

Guys, I've said before: I just don't get the song "Skyfall" as a James Bond song, lyrically. All I get off of it is, "The apocalypse, the apocalypse and did I mention bracing for the inevitable apocalypse." The sentiment feels closer to a Mad Max Theme Song, or a theme for that Rise of the Planet of the Apes sequel. I get that "Skyfall" as a title doesn't really leave room for much else and that Adele sings her heart out, and that's great and all, but I can't see this as a great Bond theme because of it. Just a good one.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Convincing hype. I thought Skyfall had some chances until I saw it. It's great, but I just don't see it happening beyond tech noms and song. (Maybe in a much weaker year.)
-->It would look foolish, though, if the Randy Newman Fan Club disqualified 'Skyfall' for music sampling when The Artist did the same last year and won.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPat


After seeing the film, i thought the song actually became more meaningful because it could basically be about the last stand at Skyfall with Bond and M against Silva. Especially that verse beginning with "where you go, i go."

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck

Nathan, I agree. Oscar is not one to digress from starchy age-old tradition, so I think Skyfall is in the toilet come noms time. But Adele definitely deserves a nom for her terrific paen to a decidely groovier apocalyptic doom. I can't see any other noms, but the sheer cumulative effect of such a high pedigree across the board may pull it up by its bootstraps.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I found Bardem's performance in Skyfall much more interesting and fun than it was in No Country. One could easily argue that Silva is one of the best bond villains ever, played by a highly regarded actor. I'd love to see a nomination for him, although it's very unlikely.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

And I definitely think the Academy will be falling all over themselves to find a way to nominate Adele. I would say her nomination is the most likely.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

I'd love to see Bond return to the Oscars (or is it the other way round?) after such a long time. I've felt it might happen on a few occasions before, above all with Casino Royale, but it never did. But I think Skyfall has a chance. It's doing great business, got very good reviews, audiences seem to love it, and - importantly - its technical credentials are top-notch. I think Nathaniel's right to be cautious - I take the same approach so that I'm not disappointed - but I think Skyfall does have a shot at Best Picture, and pretty much all the other categories people have mentioned. When it comes to Judi Dench, personally I think hers is a leading role in this film, but I would be amazed if that was a widely held view; supporting is much more likely to be where she's placed. Fingers crossed the film crops up somewhere, or better still, in multiple places.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

Nathaniel when can we expect to get the results of the James Bond reader ranking?

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSean D

I loved "Skyfall," and this is my first Bond film ever. So glad that I could follow it without the backstory of the other films, though I'm sure that I missed some obvious in-jokes and such. At least I caught some of the old Bond film references here and there (I at least know that about the franchise). Oscars? Nah, I doubt this will be for them, and as pointed out to us here, they've never been the Academy's cup of tea. This film will get its due at the BAFTAs at least, and that fine box office. Daniel Craig makes a pretty badass Bond. Yum! I'd love to see Judi Dench make the cut, along with Adele's song (please be eligible!!!), Deakins's cinematography, and Mendes's direction (best thing he's done in a long time). BP is a pipedream, as is Craig in lead actor. The rest could go either way I guess. But that was a lot of fun to see! Time to see more of what I've been missing all this time.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaulie

I say Adele has it in the bag. I fear it'll get disqualified, sure, but it's just that like they did last year with The Artist (like someone above mentioned) the music branch will not think twice about putting Adele as a nominee/winner.

The song is good, it's a hit with the radio and the digital downloads folks, it's from one of the most influential singers on the planet right now and the Academy doesn't have such a crossover hit like this since Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On. Plus: they can get Adele to perform on stage. ADELE live at the Oscars = ratings bump for sure (and don't come to me with the Cher example - I don't mind Cher but she's not a well-known brand this decade; Adele is HOT right now).

I can't see HOW they are going to pass this opportunity.

It's like last year when people were saying that The Muppets would have a very hard time winning Best Song, bla bla bla and then bam nominations morning it was an easy two-bird race to win.

November 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

Here's my take on the Adele song getting nominated. In the book "Inside Oscar" , in 1964, the theme song for Goldfinger (which has some of the James Bond theme in it) WAS eligible to be nominated, but did not make the top 5. So I hope that knowing this, Adele's song makes it in. As to my thoughts on Skyfall's chances. I'll say 4 nominations. Best Cinematography, Film Editing, Original Score, and Song. But sadly, maybe only 1 win. But a good one. Adele's fantastic Skyfall.

November 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

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