Harry Potter aims for Oscar glory
IN THE decade since they launched, the Harry Potter films have become the most successful cinema franchise in history.
The eight films have turned Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint into global superstars and have spawned countless imitations.
However critical acclaim and combined box office receipts of around £5 billion (€5.9bn) have not brought the one thing that the boy wizard really wants – an Oscar.
But now the makers of the Harry Potter films have launched a campaign to have the final instalment recognised at the Academy Awards, ending a 10-year snub in the major awards categories.
Despite breaking box office records, the wizarding adventures have been overlooked by the Academy year after year.
In one last push to right the perceived wrong Warner Bros, the studio behind the films, is lobbying Academy voters to nominate Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in a dozen categories including best picture and best director for David Yates, who has directed the last four Harry Potter films.
Warner Bros is also hoping to break the spell by lobbying for Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson to be nominated in the best actor and actress categories respectively.
The most likely chance of success comes in the best supporting actor category with Alan Rickman’s performance as Professor Severus Snape.
Radcliffe, who plays Potter, has added his voice to the campaign for Rickman. He said: “I don’t think there is going to be another performance from an actor in a supporting role that is so powerful.”
Hollywood studios spend big money on campaigning during Oscars season.
Warner Bros has set up a ‘For Your Consideration’ website for the final Harry Potter film, which charts the wizard’s final victory over the forces of evil.
The studio is running special trailers and advertising campaigns in the film’s honour. The ballot closes on January 13 and the nominations will be announced on January 24.
To date, the Harry Potter films have been nominated for nine Oscars but have failed to win any. The categories for which the films have been nominated include best art direction, best score and best cinematography. While these are all hard-fought categories, they are outside the ‘big five’ categories that are the true mark of Oscar glory: best picture, best director, best actor, best actress and best screenplay.
The films have fared slightly better at UK awards ceremonies. Last year the series was awarded a BAFTA for outstanding contribution to cinema. The award was collected by the books’ author JK Rowling.
Warner Bros will be hoping that the Harry Potter franchise repeats the Oscars success seen by the Lord of the Rings trilogy last decade. Those films, based on the novels of JRR Tolkien, got off to a slow start at the Academy Awards.
The first two films in the trilogy – The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers – won only minor awards at the Oscars. However the third instalment, The Return of the King, swept the board in 2004, winning 11 awards including best picture and best director for Peter Jackson. The statue haul made The Return of the King only the third ever film to win 11 Oscars, along with Titanic and Ben Hur.
Despite its campaign, Warner Bros faces some stiff competition at next month’s Oscars.
The Artist, a silent film backed by mogul Harvey Weinstein, is attracting a loud ‘Oscar buzz’ in Hollywood, while Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and The Descendants, starring George Clooney, are also tipped.
The best director category is expected to include three of Hollywood's biggest hitters: Martin Scorsese for the film Hugo, Steven Spielberg for War Horse, and Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life.