Oscars Spotlight: What are 007’s chances?

Oscars Spotlight: What are 007’s chances?

One of the very first movies to be pushed back because of COVID-19 just recently released a new trailer (below), and it got me thinking… could Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond propel the film into the spotlight when it comes to awards season?

No Time to Die will be the 25th movie in the Bond franchise, and the 5th and final time Daniel Craig will be portraying the iconic character. Craig’s fifth outing would put him as the third most portrayals behind Roger Moore (7) and Sean Connery (6).

This beloved and long-lasting franchise have seen some high highs and some low lows over the course of its 50+ years. According to Rotten Tomatoes, the highest-rated movie was Goldfinger (1964) at a whopping 99%, and the lowest movie was Casino Royale (1967) at 25%. If I did my math correctly, let me know if I didn’t, the 24 movies come out to a, rounded up, 75% average. In Rotten Tomatoes terms, that would signify a “Certified Fresh” franchise for 007.

But you aren’t here to hear about what critics think about the franchise but are here to see how much of a shot No Time to Die really has at sneaking its way into the lineup of 10. To do that, we need to look at the history of James Bond and the Oscars. Over the course of 58 years and 24 movies, this franchise was able to receive nominations for:

*Winners in Bold

  • Goldfinger: Best Sound Effects
  • Thunderball: Best Special Visual Effects
  • Casino Royale (1967): Best Original Song
  • Diamonds are Forever: Best Sound
  • Live and Let Die: Best Original Song
  • The Spy Who Loved Me: Best Original Score, Best Original Song, Best Art Direction
  • Moonraker: Best Visual Effects
  • For Your Eyes Only: Best Original Song
  • Skyfall: Best Sound Editing, Best Original Song, Best Sound Mixing, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score
  • Spectre: Best Original Song

This brings the total to 16 nominations with 5 wins. Best Original Song is a favorite between Voters and Bond movies as that category alone has managed 6 nominations and two straight wins. The best Bond movie to perform at the Oscars was Skyfall who managed to bring in 5 nominations and 2 wins. However, not a single one of the James Bond movies have managed to break into any of the “above the line” (Picture, Acting, Directing, Writing) categories, as most of the nominations have been for sound and tech.

One of the closest calls the franchise has ever had at any above the line categories was for Javier Bardem’s villainous role in Skyfall portraying Silva. Bardem was able to snag a Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) nomination for Supporting Male. This is usually a fairly strong precursor towards an Oscar nomination, but for Bardem, nothing else seemed to come from this nomination on a major scale.

When we take a look at the cast and crew behind No Time to Die, some Academy sweethearts could really help this film build more recognition among the voters. The director, Cary Joji Fukunaga, is directing his first film since 2015’s Netflix breakout hit Beast of No Nation. That movie managed to put Idris Elba on the map as he won the SAG for Supporting Actor, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance as well as being snubbed from the Oscars. Other than that, nothing really came from that movie awards wise. So on the directing side of things, it doesn’t look like the Fukunaga name can push this into the spotlight, but what about acting?

When it comes to acting, three big names stand out. That is Rami Malek, who recently won the Oscar for Best Lead Actor for Bohemian Rhapsody, Ralph Fiennes, who has been nominated twice for Schindler’s List (Supporting) and The English Patient (Lead), and Christoph Waltz, who is a two-time winner for Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained (both Supporting). Other than those two names, the acting side of it doesn’t seem too compelling to push it into the spotlight as well. While Malek is a newcomer to the Bond franchise, Waltz and Fiennes are returners. Their names in the past couldn’t propel this film, and I don’t know how much Malek’s helps knowing his win is a very controversial one.

However, these are all supporting players to the real star of the movie, and that is Daniel Craig as the iconic James Bond. Craig, who is becoming a Hollywood favorite after roles such as Knives Out, has yet to break into any real awards recognition of his own. He was Globe-nominated for his performance in Knives Out, and picked up a BAFTA nomination for Casino Royale, but doesn’t have much more than that to go off. So even on the acting side of things, I don’t see enough Oscars potential off name alone to get it into the major categories.

What about writing? Well, we already know about Cary Joji Fukanaga’s track record, but what about the other three. The other writers consist of Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and to my surprise Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Purvis and Wade have both managed one BAFTA nomination for screenplay for Casino Royale (2006). So, their track record doesn’t really hold up, and to know their forte is the Bond movies don’t help all that much as well.

Then we have Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who has burst onto the scene with Fleabag. She is an interesting one because I feel she can bring a more personal approach, and a comedic one, to the script if they let her. According to an article on IndieWire, she was brought in to do touch-ups and to bring on some new ideas. With having 4 writers, who really knows how much she actually got to do, but if she was able to get a real handle on the script, then that could be something to really look out for.

But, if we are really being honest, it would be safe to say this movie will do well at the BAFTA’s, and in the sound and tech categories and that is it. The last two Bond movies both won Original Song, and Billie Eilish already released the No Time to Die song, which already seems a shoo-in for Original Song, Hans Zimmer is an Oscar favorite, so look out for the score to snag a nomination, and Linus Sandgren moves away from recently working with Damien Chazelle, where he won for La La Land, to provide the cinematography, so that might be a point of interest as well.

So if you are filling out your nominations, it is safe to say No Time to Die shouldn’t be anywhere near the top of your lists, at least on the major categories. It would have to really be something game-changing and groundbreaking to become anything more than just the 25th Bond movie. For this movie to break through the above the line categories, it would have to be a film that changes the historical course of the Bond films and the Oscars. Of course, no one has seen the movie, so at this point, we truly have no idea. This article isn’t to say it won’t be great. It still could be one of the best movies of the year, but the history is not on its side, and I wouldn’t personally put my money on this doing anything major come time for nominations.

Oscars Potential: Below the line categories only.

Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.

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