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Nov 19 2015

Will Mockingjay Part 2 Change The Hunger Games' Disappointing Oscar History

If next January comes around and brings no Oscar nominations forThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2then it will have the unenviable tally of zero nominations from four films.OnlyThe Twilight Saga,Mission: ImpossibleandFast and the Furiousfranchises can claim such a strike rate.There was a time when every film that made over $200 at the American box-office could claim at least one nomination - evenAustin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me!But sinceMission: Impossible IIin 2000,that has no longer been the case.Still,for Lionsgate's hugely successfulHunger Gamesto bow out with nary a single nomination to its name is genuinely surprising.

What's more,these films are hardly wanting for acclaim and nomination-worthy elements.Salute (or click) for more!

Certainly it's not a record that stacks up when looking at the reception of all the films,which have all been critically well received as well as box office behemoths.So let's look at the franchise through this lens and paint a picture of why these films have been so good.


Best Costume Design

If theHunger Gamesfranchise was to ever strike Oscar gold in its history then I would have assumed it would be here.Indeed,it's a little bit perplexing that it never did given the wonderful designs that each film has had,and highlighted.Judianna Makvosky was CDG-nominated for her work on the original,while Trish Summerville rightfully won that same award a year later for the sequel,Catching Fire.The franchise was nominated by the CDG once more with Kurt and Bart taking over forMockingjay's first part last year.With their mix of flamboyant and colourful Capitol formal attire,sleek body-hugging hunger game-wear and even entire sequences devoted to showcasing the design and reveal of Katniss' gowns,this is the franchise's most disappointing miss.

The final instalment doesn't disappoint in this regard,although it doesn't get the sort of show-stopping moment like in the first two films.Part 2allows audiences the chance to return to the Capital and marvel at Kurt and Bart's mix of the military garb of both the villains (tiled Startrooper inspired designs) and the heroes (dark-hued jumpsuits) are distinct,as are the refined silver and grey designs worn by Julianne Moore's President Coin that more than amply suggests her true political leanings are decidedly Mao-esque.What I didn't expect was the powerful imagery that the film conjures when it brings thousands of evacuated Capitol refugees out of their homes for the first time and we see them marching towards Snow's palace in their furs and tailored coats.It's not at all an accident that the scenes echo famous moments in history.For all of these reasons,plus the sweet yellow sundress of the final scene,Mockingjay's part two would make a worthy franchise-capper nomination.

Best Production Design

The last film's greatest asset is its production design,but then the franchise has always had interesting sets.The diverse worlds of the individual districts was more widely shown to us inMockingjay Part 1,but Gary Ross was wise to use production design to so richly get us into District 12's gloomy,downtrodden life in the tone-setting first film.And inCatching Fire,the new arena was a wonder of design wherein you could sense the filmmakers having fun bringing the text to life.

The second part ofMockingjaybrings us a war-torn country that,yet again,conjures up mental images of ravaged lands we've seen in photos from the past and on the news in our present.The crumbling cities of the Capitol look so much like Berlin post-WWII that it takes a giant oil slick to knock us out of the headspace of what we're seeing.My favourite extended sequence was one in which our heroes go underground through a series of tunnels that symbolize the decay upon which President Snow's existence is built upon and emerge in what could be mistaken for a New York City subway.This film allowed us to see more of the Penam world while expanding upon those parts we had already known.The production design of each film has been curiously ignored by the ADG,but could its heavier focus on urban spaces give it a leg up this year?I hope so.If at least for Phillip Messina who has done the production design for all fourHunger Gamesmovies and the words of Steven Soderbergh between 2000 and 2008.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

How did Effie Trinket not ring the bell of Oscar's make-up and hair department?The wig-work alone!The Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Styling Guild have honoured parts two and three with nominations,but in 2012 they didn't have a ceremony so I think it's fair to assume three-time Oscar winner Ve Neill would have been nominated then,too.

Perhaps Oscar felt the really obvious makeup work was reserved for just one character?Doubtful.They're obviously just more impressed by fat-suits and prosthetic works like those inHitchcockandBarney's Version.IfMockingjay Part 2can eke out a surprise here,then you can thank those close-ups in Effie's final scene that highlight the extravagant fake eyelashes,Japanese-inspired makeup and swooping powder-purple wig that Elizabeth Banks adorns herself with.Given how little Banks is in the film,though,and with the most attention paid to Moore's extended bob it would have to be considered unlikely.


It's surprisingly hard these days to think of a truly memorable piece of action movie theme music,isn't it?So kudos to James Newton Howard for not only crafting a theme that plays well in film and out – the wait for my screening of the movie two nights ago was soundtracked for a full 30 minutes by it,so trust me on that – as well as the familiar mockingjay whistle,both of which have played through the franchise.

Elsewhere,it wasn't just the Golden Globes who were fans of the franchise's songs.Songs by T-Bone Burnett ("Abraham's Daughter"),Taylor Swift ("Safe and Sound"),Coldplay ("Atlas") and Lorde ("Yellow Flicker Beat") have all found praise and nominations from organisations like the Grammys,the BFCA,the OFTA,and a smattering of critics groups.That none made it to Oscar's stage isn't that surprising considering their hot-and-cold stance on big pop tunes,and I don't recall there being an original song somewhere in this one but maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention.News on the soundtrack seems scarce.

Visual Effects

The CGI has never been the strongest element of theseGames.Alas,we are genuinely predictingJurassic Worldas a visual effects nominee this year based almost entirely on the fact that it's a box office megastar.It can't be because of the actual work considering the effects ofJurassic Worldare the most appalling waste of money and should be shamed out of a nomination.


It's fair to say that Jennifer Lawrence has been amply rewarded by the Academy for her first 25 years of acting.That being said,it's a mark of her talent that she was able to take a YA adaptation and make it so deeply personal and grounded.The scripts didn't always give her a lot to do except to give speeches,but unlike other stars who get granted a big-budget franchise she took it all entirely seriously and continued to deliver from film to film.Watching all four back-to-back and the evolution of her character is seen entirely thanks to Lawrence.

If you want to give the final movie an acting nod,however,you wouldn't look much further than Donald Sutherland.That great actor who's never been nominated before won't be in the conversation – nor should he be,really,but we're indulging – but his third act monologue and the self-satisfied look he gives in his final scene is the sign of an actor who is relishing what he's been given at this late stage of his career.I suspect he's made a few new fans who will now watch an older film because of him.That,I suppose,is the biggest win he can hope for.

Are you seeingMockingjay Part 2this weekend?Has the franchise deserved a bit of love from the Academy?

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Reader Comments (23)

It's a really entertaining franchise,solid through and through,but not really Oscar-worthy.That said: THE WIGS.

I'm expecting Elizabeth Banks to deliver again as Effie,which might add some weight to her outside chance of a (deserved) Supporting Actress nomination for her soulful work in Love & Mercy.

November 19,2015 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

SanFran -- well there is a category for wigs,you know ;)

Glenn -- i always thought it was fairly normal that it hadn't been nominated but your absolutely right that the reviews don't line up with being completely ignored.Most franchises that are ignored are far less respected (and even less popular since this one is weirdly obsessed over)

i personaly don't get their appeal but most critics apparently do.

November 19,2015 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

If it ever TRULY deserved an Oscar nomination,it was for the first film's score.That is a ridiculously good and memorable film score - especially the Capitol anthem.

November 19,2015 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

I really liked the first two movies and they probably deserved some tech attention (and JLaw is better in those two movies than anything else she's done save Winter's Bone so I guess I wish she'd gotten an acting nod for them) but color me not a fan of the Mockingjays.

November 19,2015 | Unregistered CommenterAR

Wigs & Make up would be a possible nomination,I love the scoring work done on all of the films and think that should have been acknowledged.
The costumes have been hit and miss,gradually getting better as the budgets increased.
But it's the acting talent that has made these films so watchable.JLaw has done her best work in these films.Every Heroine needs a great Villain and Donald Sutherland has been superb at this.A nomination is probably too much to hope for so here's hoping Sutherland has a % of the profits.
The Harry Potter series were under-nominated as well,it's a YA prejudice.

November 19,2015 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

I think the thing that really kills this one's chance at Oscar is that it's Part 2 of a padded-out first film,a blatant money grab.Hookers should not receive awards.

November 19,2015 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Trish Summerville's work on the second installment had enough character specificity,detail,and iconography that I was surprised she was left out that year.Maybe being a relative outsider to the industry/branch hurt her chances...Some of the craft voting blocs can be a bit clubby

November 19,2015 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

Nat: I don't exactly get their appeal either,but completely ignoring them was dumb.Let's say Costumes for all three films over Mirror Mirror,The Invisible Woman and Maleficent respectively.

November 19,2015 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I just went to an industry screening last night for this film and my entire workplace (me included) hated this one.In terms of Oscars,亚博主页this was the first of the Hunger Games films where I felt the craft was nearly entirely missing.

The sets looked like discards from the latest Divergent series,which even seemed more expansive than the beige,grim,lifeless sets devised for this.How Catching Fire didn't get a costume nod is still befuddling.However,black army outfits does not a nomination make (although I second the praise for the sequence when the inhabitants of the capitol line up to go to Snow's house).

Effie gets one small moment in the end and a few reaction shots,and she is the only real exciting wigwork/makeup work in the film (aside from Tigress,also barely used).I think this franchise will go home empty handed.

November 19,2015 | Unregistered CommenterChris James

Just saw the film and I think y'all need to sit down,this is Jennifer Lawrence's BEST performance (either just the last film or all of them put together).The character is evolving,learning new things.Katniss is fascinating.I can't say that about her Oscar win.Winter's Bone was a very solid performance and film that I mostly don't and can't force myself to care about (I'm not hating on the indie genre,Frozen River is a film I love and care about).Katniss is something else altogether and I'm saying this is a person who hasn't read the books or even watched the trailers,teasers,TV specials,"How me made the Hunger Games"documentaries and all that shit.Just decided to watch the final part on opening night because I happened to have a very uneventful Thursday evening.

November 19,2015 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

@ Yavor;I always thought she was better in these films than inSilver Linings Playbook.

November 19,2015 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Imho J-Law's perf in the first Hunger Games was better than the one which brought her the Oscar

November 19,2015 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

LadyEdith,unfortunately Elizabeth Banks' Effie is barely in this one so I don't think makeup and hairstyling will happen.I do think that the Harry Potter films were well represented across the years though.I would've liked them to win an art direction Oscar won year (perhaps preferable for ORDER OF THE PHOENIX,my favourite set work of the lot) purely because the work of Stuart Craig was so good *and* evolving,which is hard to do when all of your films are set primarily in the same place.Alas,PHOENIX was I think the only one to not get any nominations at all,so...

I don't really understand how anyone can "hate"this latest one if you liked the previous installments,though.But I never read the books so maybe it has something to do with that.

November 19,2015 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

I've always been more surprised that the Golden Globes showed some restraint by not double nominating J Law each year.As far as the Oscar go,I think the score should've been nominated.I honestly think if they would have featured Taylor Swift's song during the first movie after Rue died it would have won.Instead they hid it as the second credits song and it wasn't even eligible.

November 19,2015 | Unregistered CommenterJonn

Hear,hear to Trish Summerville's excellent work on the second film.She was totally robbed.The costume branch might not have responded to her because what she does is A+ styling,not actual original designs from scratch.At least the big memorable centerpieces.Then again,that didn't stop Patricia Field from getting in for Devil Wear Prada in 2006 for basically the same thing,except set in the contemporary fashion world.

What I do think this film series was missing tho,in terms of design,was a singular vision from a clear source.Alexander McQueen,had he still been alive,would've made a PERFECT interpreter of savage futuristic eye-catchers.Trish even uses a few piece from his label but those weren't designed by him.Even Jean Paul Gaultier,who's no stranger to film work,would been a wonderful choice.God knows that first film needed it!

November 19,2015 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

JLaw won the Oscar not for SLP,but becos of her more deserving turn in The Hunger Games.

IMO,If it was for SLP alone,she wldn't have won

November 19,2015 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

Volvagia -- invisible woman?no way.the costumes in that were magnificent.

November 19,2015 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I do not think that Mockingjay will get anything.Catching Fire was superior to the first film in every way and I believe deserved noms for makeup,set direction,and costume especially.As I said before,Donald Sutherland's p.r.people should have pounced to get him a best supporting actor nom from this franchise.Now it is probably too late.

November 20,2015 | Unregistered CommenterTom

Elizabeth Banks was either on or came very close to my Supporting Actress nominees for the first two films - her performance as Effie was simply astonishing even beyond the also-should-have-been-nominated-and-possibly-even-won costumes and makeup/hairstyling.I could also quite easily see nominations for the production design on the first two films.But if the first Mockingjay installment couldn't make it in,I don't think this one will.I mean,I'm not even sure I'm going to bother to see this one in theaters,and I'm a huge fan of the books and the first two movies.I just hate the cash-grab nature of it and there are SO many better films out there.

November 20,2015 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I really liked the finale.Agree that costumes from Catching Fire should have been nominated.In terms of order I liked :

1 Catching Fire
2 Mockingjay 2
3 Hunger Games
4 Mockingjay 1

November 20,2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph W

It would be a shame for Mockingjay Part 2 to claim an Oscar nomination when the first 2 films didn't because it's very unremarkable.No great costumes or make up,and the cinemtography is severely lacking.

November 20,2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrittani

True story: Donald Sutherland has never been nominated for an Oscar.Ridiculous.

November 20,2015 | Unregistered CommenterRob

I love sutherland in "pride and prejudice"...should have gotten a nomination.his final scene is wonderful.

November 20,2015 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

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