Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse

When it comes to getting nominated for major awards in film, superhero movies fall short. Consistently, even the best movies in the superhero genre have gone largely ignored by the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and other awards that honor the best in cinema each year. This year, it seems like Marvel’s Black Panther might change the game, but maybe another original, bold and diverse superhero movie deserves to get some awards recognition too.

In fact, the Utah Film Critics’ Association has named Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as the Best Film of 2018. No, they didn’t name it the Best Superhero Film of 2018, or the Best Blockbuster of 2018, or some other kind of genre consolation prize. This critics circle named it the best movie of the year. Period.

That’s right, the Utah Film Critics’ Association (via Collider) gave Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse their top prize, not to mention naming it the Best Animated Feature. The film also gave screenwriters Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. This is extremely surprising, but is it a fluke, or could other Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse awards follow?

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is not only the best animated film of the year (sorry, Incredibles 2), but it’s truly a gamechanger for the superhero genre. It’s not just as simple as taking the formula of a superhero movie and transferring it to the medium of animation. This movie invented new technology to create a unique visual style that makes it look unlike any superhero or animated movie that came before it. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

While Black Panther certainly deserves endless praise for bringing a black superhero to the forefront of the blockbuster spotlight and giving African culture and black talent their due diligence after years of being relegated to the background, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse celebrates diversity just as much.

For one, our new Spider-Man is Miles Morales, a half-Latin, half-black kid from Brooklyn that dives into the struggles of growing up in a family divided by crime and justice. On top of that, he has to deal with being a kid pressured by being privileged enough to be admitted into a school for gifted students. Add that into the mix of being a kid who doesn’t look like other superheroes but still has to rise to live up to their legacy, even in the face of their lack of faith in him, and this is one of the most culturally significant heroes of our time.

But on top of that, we have a story that takes a unique approach to the world of comic books by incorporating some of the more wild elements from the more obscure corners of the Spider-Man mythology. It’s the first comic book movie that truly embraces the weirdness and expansive nature of a comic book universe and does so in a way that makes sense to unfamiliar audiences but is also thoroughly entertaining on a number of levels, including being incredibly funny.

But is that enough?

spider-man into the spider-verse clip

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Oscar Chances

If the Utah Film Critics’ Association is willing to name Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse as the Best Film of 2018, could the movie end up getting on Oscar nomination for Best Picture? Well, it’s not necessarily out the realm of possibility, but the odds are stacked against it.

First of all, no superhero movie has ever been nominated for Best Picture. Secondly, only three animated movies have ever been nominated for Best Picture in the history of the Oscars (Toy Story 3, Up and Beauty and the Beast). And finally, the last time Spider-Verse producers Phil Lord & Chris Miller tackled animation, it was in The LEGO Movie, and the Academy didn’t even give that movie the nomination that is so rightfully deserved. That might sound like bad news for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but there is some good news.

The voting membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has changed in recent years. They’ve made a huge effort to diversify their ranks that used to be dominated by older white men. And the organization is eager to reward diversity on film too. Plus, they’ve started to embrace the weirder side of cinema, as evidenced by the fact that The Shape of Water won Best Picture last year. So maybe they’ll be even more bold by not only giving Black Panther an Oscar nomination, but also Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

The only other problem might be that it’s pretty late in the awards season, and there might not be enough time for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to turn enough heads to get the attention required to earn a Best Picture nomination. There are a lot of worthy contenders for Best Picture out there too, so there’s an uphill battle for the movie to get more awards love.

For the time being, it’s good to hear that at least one critics’ group is willing to reward a praiseworthy movie as original and stunning as Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. But let’s hope that this is just the beginning of critics and tastemakers understanding the potential power and significance of superhero movies.

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