Oscars buzz for 'Skyfall': but will the Academy overlook franchise prejudice?

Genre films don't usually do well at the Oscars and 007 films certainly haven't. Can Sam Mendes' dark, melancholy Bond win voters over?

Never mind the fast cars, special effects and mega budgets, Bond movies have always underperformed when it comes to the Oscars. The 22 movies made over 50 years (discounting Skyfall) have only scraped 7 nominations and won two awards between them.

The Academy seems turns its nose up at franchises. Daniel Radcliffe has previously bemoaned the “snobbery” that left the eight Harry Potter movies bereft of a gong despite the A-list stars, big name directors and box office glory.

But Skyfall is already bucking the trend by generating some serious Oscars buzz, not least because the cast includes a handful of Academy favourites: Judi Dench (one Oscar, six nominations), Javier Bardem (one Oscar, three nominations), Ralph Fiennes (two nominations) and Albert Finney (five nominations).

And that’s without mentioning Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes, three-time Oscar nominee John Logan, nine-time nominee cinematographer Roger Deakins and 10-time nominee Thomas Newman.

On paper Skyfall should be a dead cert. But as producer Barbara Broccoli told Radio Times, there is a feeling that the acting gets overlooked.

“Over the years they have made ground-breaking contributions to cinema,” Broccoli said. “I am surprised there haven’t been acting nominations, if not for Bond then for the support."

Mendes’ Bond is supposed to be much darker and more serious than other renditions of 007, which might help to persuade the Academy of its merits. Craig’s melancholic performance as a damaged Bond is already drawing plaudits from the critics, and Harris has the acting skills to shake off the Bond girl as mere eye-candy stereotype. But Dame Dench, who won a supporting actress gong for her turn in Shakespeare in Love, is the most likely candidate for an award.

As the stars prepare to take their places on the red carpet at the Royal Albert Hall this evening, they'll be wondering if they'll need to get the tuxedos and posh frocks out again in 18 weeks time.

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