The last chance for the Harry Potter franchise to be recognized in a major category at the Academy Awards has come and gone and as always it was not. I realize this was announced weeks ago, but better late than never.
The film received only three nominations, all of which were technical aspects of the film: art direction, make-up, and visual effects. Don’t misunderstand, these are all well-deserved nods, but I have two problems with this. First, I almost wonder why the Academy bothered because I do not think HP will win in any of these categories. Six of the eight Potter films have been nominated in technical categories in the past, yet none have ever received the prize. This seems pretty ridiculous to me. For example, in 2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was nominated under the visual effects category, but lost to Inception. Both films had exceptional visual effects, but what made Inception better than HPDH1? In 2005, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban lost to Spider-Man 2 in the visual effects category. This one bewilders me because the visual effects team for HPPA expanded the Hogwarts castle to be bigger than ever, had to create a hippogriff, a werewolf, dementors, and the several other creatures new and old to the story.
My second problem with the film solely getting technical aspects is that the Harry Potter films have actually become good movies. The acting and adaptation aspects were always the weakest points of the franchise, however that has definitely improved. Moreover, HPDH2 is at least at the level of the other films nominated this year. It was better than the incomprehensible The Tree of Life. It was at least as good as (but indeed different) Midnight in Paris. HPDH2 received the best reviews from critics of any HP film and it is internationally the third highest grossing film in history. This is not just because it is a Harry Potter film. If that were the case than every movie would have made the same reviews and made the same amount at the box office. Being the last film of the franchise helped, but being a high-quality movie brought it to the top. It bothers me that the directing of David Yates was ignored because creating these films is certainly no small task. He had to deal with Warner Brothers, a very detailed author, and very vocal fans. Further, the brilliant acting of Alan Rickman and Ralph Fiennes was pushed aside. Alan Rickman embodies Severus Snape in the films and was able to capture the character’s complexities. Ralph Fiennes expertly embodies Lord Voldemort through his chilling slithery voice and physical decisions. It just does not make sense that the Academy did not acknowledge any of these men.
I cannot come up with a reasonable argument for the Academy in this case. As someone who loves movies, HPDH2 really deserved more recognition than it received. Hopefully the Academy can prove me slightly wrong and award the film with at least one Oscar, but that is probably asking for too much.