A lot of us thought this would be the year for Harry Potter. The most financially successful franchise of all time, and certainly one of the most beloved, was finally ending with Deathly Hallows Part 2, surrounded by a hubbub that only comes around once in a blue moon, and rewarded with the kind of audience approval and critical raves that inevitably get people whispering "Oscar." And while none of the previous films had managed to get the big Best Picture nomination, they had a smattering of technical nods among them, enough that you might think the Academy was just waiting for the final installment to reward it as a whole-- similar to the way they nominated all three Lord of the Rings films for Best Picture but only gave the prize to Return of the King.
One key to all this speculation happened all the way back in 2002, when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone-- the first installment in the franchise, and possibly the worst-- was nominated for a Producer's Guild Award for Best Picture. The Producers Guild, like many of the other industry guilds, is seen as a precursor to the Oscars, evidence of what the industry likes and wants to consider. Sorcerer's Stone didn't get the Oscar nomination that year, obviously, but the Producer nod seemed to be evidence that it was possible-- maybe years down the line, when it was the last chance to nominate Harry and his friends.
And yet, today the 2012 Producers Guild Nominations were announced, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was nowhere to be found on the list. This is becoming a familiar sight for Potterphiles, who saw the movie miss out on Golden Globe nominations, Screen Actors Guild nominations, and pretty much all of the critic's awards. Though the Writers Guild announces their nominees Thursday, and the Directors Guild follows suit next Monday, neither seem likely to spring for Potter-- and with that, the Deathly Hallows Oscar chances can finally, properly be considered dead.
Yes, I know it's hard to admit-- and when the film is nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction or Best Cinematography as it has in the past, I still won't be wrong. I mean that Deathly Hallows is not going to be nominated for Best Picture, swept under the rug by the summer hit that for whatever reason the awards seem to favor-- that would be Bridesmaids-- and the usual crop of awards season bait that came after it. You can blame plenty of individual factors on the fact that Harry isn't doing so well with the awards, from the kid-friendly and critically loved Hugo to the fact that there won't be a guaranteed 10 Best Picture nominees this year (the number is on a sliding scale from 5 to 10). Maybe if the voters knew they'd have 10 to play with, they'd go for the blockbuster. Maybe if they weren't enchanted by Martin Scorsese, they'd remember the other movie about an intrepid young boy making his way through the world. Maybe if Deathly Hallows had somehow just made a little more money.
You are welcome not to give up hope, and the Oscars have done many, many stranger things than nominate a film I wasn't expecting-- The Blind Side, from just two years ago, is a perfect example of a film that swooped seemingly out of nowhere to get a Best Picture nomination. But from where I stand this morning, the Producers Guild snub seems to not be a nail in the coffin, but just the final bit of evidence we need that it's not happening for Harry Potter at the Oscars this year. At least director David Yates, producer David Heyman and everyone else involved in the franchise can fall back on their piles and piles of money and global acclaim.
Here's a question to chew over though-- if Deathly Hallows hadn't been split into two films, and was released this year as a single story, would it be nominated? Would it be so epic that the Academy would have no choice but to honor it? It's hard to imagine something being better than one of the best-reviewed movies of the year that also made the most money, but I wonder if Academy voters see the split as more of a money-grabbing effort, and feel OK writing it off as "just a blockbuster" as a result. It didn't work that way for Inception, so could the "Part 2" be the difference here? Feel free to speculate over what could have been in the comments.