‘The Rise of Skywalker’ might bring an end to ‘Star Wars’ Oscar drought
Notably, year-end critics awards and best lists that have been assembled didn’t have the luxury of seeing the latest “Star Wars” movie, which hits theaters on Thursday evening.
The original “Star Wars,” later subtitled “A New Hope,” garnered 10 nominations in 1978, including one for best picture and the only acting nod in the franchise’s history, for Alec Guinness in the supporting role of Obi-Wan Kenobi. It won six awards in technical categories, including musical score for composer John Williams.
No “Star Wars” movie has been nominated for best picture since, and the last Oscar win of any kind was a special achievement in visual effects award for “Return of the Jedi,” released in 1983. “The Empire Strikes Back” also garnered an Oscar for that, as well as best sound.
Several factors could benefit “The Rise of Skywalker,” assuming, of course, that the movie is good enough to earn a place in the awards conversation. (The movie had its premiere on Monday night, and the review embargo will lift on Wednesday.)
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expanded the number of best-picture nominees in 2009 from five to as many as 10, and has nominated at least eight movies every year since 2011. That potentially opens the door for a film or two that might not have made the cut in the ’70s, ’80s or ’90s.
Finally, it’s hard to measure to what extent nostalgia might influence the voting. “The Lord of the Rings,” for example, won the 2004 best picture Oscar for its third installment, “Return of the King,” which almost felt like recognition of the overall feat that director Peter Jackson pulled off in mounting that trilogy. That was also the last genuine blockbuster to be so honored.
Oscar nomination voting closes on Jan. 7, with the nominations to be announced on Jan. 13.
By then, “The Rise of Skywalker” should be well on its way to being a force at the box office. Whether that translates into a formal invitation to the industry’s biggest night remains to be seen.