This year’s slate gives us PSTD-drenched flashbacks to the legion of fanboys defending the honor of their beloved caped crusaders in our various comments sections. Grouse though I may, there’s no denying that even this category’s historical resistance to the superhero genre is futile now that the blockbuster genre has all but taken over blockbuster filmmaking. Or is it? Yes, three of the nominees this year are straight from the Haus of Marvel, but does that change the fact that, barring some borderline exceptions like the first two Indiana Jones films or Forrest Gump, a measly two superhero movies—Superman and Spider-Man 2—have ever actually taken home the award here? Add to that the potential for vote-splitting between the carbon-copy spectacle of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Guardians of the Galaxy, and you’re left with a two-pony race. (You could argue that Guardians’s snarkier tone sets it apart from the other two, but only if its VFX strategy had offered a strong visual corollary.) Three years ago, we were pretty sure that the expressive CGI primates of Rise of the Planet of the Apes would survive the freight train of momentum behind Hugo in the tech categories. The wizardry animating Caesar and his ilk has only improved since 2011, but it bears repeating: Do Academy voters actually like this franchise? Or any franchise? You can count on one finger the number of sequels that have won in Oscar’s most sequel-friendly category in the last 10 years, so you have to assume Interstellar’s going to smack the competition down like a mile-high tidal wave.
Will Win: Interstellar
Could Win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Should Win: Interstellar