Superhero movies have had a notoriously tough road to the awards stage, even as they've had a relatively easy ride at the box office over the last decade. Sure, Heath Ledger's posthumous Oscar for his performance in The Dark Knight is important, but superhero films don't really get a crack at awards beyond tech categories. In this shared universe era we live in, a superhero film hasn't yet been able to crack the category of Best Picture.
This year that might change, thanks to Logan.
Hugh Jackman's bittersweet curtain call as Wolverine, a film that genre lovers the world over have praised, was just named one of the 10 best films of the year by the National Board of Review. It shares that distinction with Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird -- two of the most talked-about films of the last few weeks -- as well as hits like Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk and Edgar Wright's Baby Driver. That's very illustrious company to be in.
Now, does this mean that Logan is definitely in Oscar territory? No, sadly. For all of its clout, the National Board of Review does not dictate where The Academy goes with its choices, and Logan is still a superhero movie. It's very possible that we could arrive at the heart of awards season only to find a nomination for something like costumes for the film, which is fine. It's what we're used to. We may even get a token nomination for Jackman as Best Actor, but it's unlikely he'd win.
The more important thing is whether the film itself can land in the Best Picture category, which would put more eyeballs on it and cast even more light on the achievements of Jackman and director James Mangold. This distinction by the National Board of Review (which also gave a "Spotlight Award" to Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot) is the first step in that direction. Wonder Woman, by the way, is getting its own Oscar push.
Could this be the year the superheroes finally break through?