The Batman is releasing globally this week to much fanfare and applause, but how good is it really? After catching it during the Fan First IMAX premiere, pretty damn good, and maybe good enough to win the best picture at the Oscars. Admittedly it’s way too early to be talking best picture at the Oscars, but that doesn’t mean we can’t even consider the reasons now, can it?
Given how new this film is, don’t expect major spoilers below, although there’s a detail or two that might tip you off. If you’re looking for details on why The Batman should win an Oscar, however, you’ve come to the right place.
A lot of things can nab an Oscar not least of which is the director deserving one after making a lot of great films, but here are three reasons why The Batman will win the best picture at the Oscars.
#1 Incredible cinematography
The cinematography on The Batman is by Greig Fraser a man you probably know very well and likely helped you get through the pandemic. You’ve seen his work on The Mandalorian, Foxcatcher, Dune, and the upcoming Dune: Part Two. His work on The Batman is incredibly well done drawing in the viewer through a play of darkness and city light. The fact that Robert Pattinson’s eyes shine through so damn well is largely thanks to how the camera seems to probe his every thought.
Much of the film steeped in rainy and wet scenes, further showing the complexity of capturing the perfect shot under harder to control situations. That said, rain also allows for more light to seep into the lens with the right positioning and focus. There’s also a big reason The Batman‘s entire identity lies in red and blacks…that’s right Fraser’s incredible work.
There are many instances of new or interesting shots no matter who is on scree, too. Essentially the film is always drawing your eye with pretty imagery giving Batman the cinema treatment he has always deserved.
#2 Absorbing acting and character work
The fact that Pattinson is in his Batman suit at least 80% of the time and yet you feel for him is largely due to the subtle and effective acting. For large chunks, he barely utters a word and yet you can sense the pain and anger in him. You can practically taste it. Meanwhile, Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman is more surefooted, but vulnerable in her own way. She goes through some of the most progression in this film and you can see she comes out as a hero while Pattinson’s Batman was already one. His journey ends up being about finding a new focus and sharpening his motivations.
Jeffrey Wright as James Gordon is also impeccable, with a lot of his acting shining through in ways that require no dialogue at all. He’s tough, but you also get a bro-vibe from him and Batman that comes from Gordon exclusively. He’s your star cop model, but you get the sense he’s also a good man who is trying his best.
Other actors stun in this film, like Andy Serkis as Alfred who has a resolve and confidence that’s unmistakable. Peter Sarsgaard plays the District Attorney with a lot of fear and patheticness and Colin Farrell’s Penguin is a dead-ringer for the best Robert De Niro impression in some time. All jokes aside on Farrell, he completely disappears in the part.
There are many other roles I won’t mention, but it feels like every actor is doing their best and then some. A lot of that credit should go to director Matt Reeves, who keeps the cast feeling colorful, unique, and alive in each role.
#3 Writing and directing
Matt Reeves directs and also co-writes with Peter Craig and they do one of the most impossible things: They make The Batman understandable, relatable, and fresh. Watching this film after reading more Batman comics than most, rewatching all the films countless times, and yet still finding new elements being probed is an exciting sight. Casual fans will love the moody atmosphere and gritty detective story, but longtime fans will cheer this on for what it is: A story that feels wholly original.
Tempo, pace, and atmosphere are pitch-perfect for at least the first two-thirds of this very long–nearly 3 hour–film. There are scenes that feel self-contained enough to be rewatched on their own. There is a mystery unfolding that draws you in and is worthy of a few rewatches to get all the nuances. It works splendidly.
That isn’t to say the source material they used isn’t obvious, as you can see the influence Batman: Year One, Batman: Ego, and Batman: Long Halloween had, but what they did do is take the source material very seriously and allowed it to live in a place of ultra-realism. Christopher Nolan started that trend, of course, but this film takes it a step further by shining a light on the detective side of Batman. He still fights, and when he does it’s like a brawler instead of kung fu master with gadgetry, but he’s incredibly grounded here. As far as The Batman is concerned, he could not fight Darkseid and win, which makes him far more relatable and understandable to audiences.
Okay, let’s be realistic, the chances of The Batman winning best picture at the Oscars are likely slim, although Heath Ledger proved superhero movies can win in major categories. But possibly there is one major reason it won’t win.
#1 It’s just a bit too long
The truth is, this film probably didn’t need to be 2 hours and 56 minutes. It does have a lot to wrap up, to the point where one resolution is complete and you’ll think to yourself, “ah finally we’re at the end,” and yet it persists. It persists as much as the incredibly cool new Batmobile, which is actually a culprit of getting too much screen time. The Penguin chase sequence, which is seen in the trailer, has plenty of car porn for viewers, but at a certain point, it feels repetitive and could be cut down. There are some ingenious shot choices that show interesting points of view, but there are only so many ways you can show a tire and have it be interesting.
There’s also a scene or two elsewhere that could have been cut down or even reshaped. In one scene, an interrogation on a rooftop has the audacity to play an entire cell phone message, then have the character talk at Batman for what seems like forever. As the camera cuts to the criminal, then back to Batman who says nothing, and back to the criminal, and so on and so forth you’ll be wondering if the only thing keeping your interest is how cool Pattinson looks in the costume. That hampers the overall pace slowing it down towards its resounding finish. Basically, there are a few scenes that’ll have your mind wandering away from what’s on the screen.
That aside, a slight trip here or there can’t fell The Batman as its producers reach for the Oscars in February 2023. Expect to see The Batman pickup multiple Oscar next year as it lives up to the hype.
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