Despite its legendary status as one of the most successful film franchises of all time, James Bond films have mostly been ignored by the Academy: The 23 007 flicks have gotten just nine total nominations, the last in 1981. A third of those nominations were for The Spy Who Loved Me, from 1977, and almost half are for the franchise’s music. Bond movies have won at the Oscars only twice, not since the 1960s, and both times in technical categories: Goldfinger for sound effects, and Thunderball for visual effects.
At this year’s Oscars ceremony, all 23 films in the series—from the good to the bad—will get a special tribute in honor of the series’ 50th Anniversary, Deadline reported this morning. When combined with yesterday’s unexpected best picture nomination from the Producers Guild Awards, the chances that Skyfall could do the unprecedented—earn Bond a best picture Oscar nod—look better than ever.
It helps, of course, that there are now 10 potential slots to fill. It also helps that Skyfall is the biggest commercial success the franchise has ever had—it reached the $1 billion mark this week. The general speculation has always been that the Academy expanded the best picture field precisely to include popular hits—such as The Dark Knight—in a bid for better ratings, and Skyfall may be the likeliest candidate to fit that bill this year.
Sam Mendes, who directed Skyfall, has already won the best director Oscar once, for American Beauty, lending the movie some additional Academy-friendly prestige. And its cinematographer, Roger Deakins, has been nominated nine times—but never won. The movie has also done well with critics, with many hailing it as one of the best Bonds in years (Slate’s own Bond fanatic disagreed, but Dana Stevens said it has “one of the few passages from a Bond film I can remember that’s genuinely moving”). It even has a terrific title sequence and a great theme song.
Bond has always been known for his gadgets, but next week don’t be surprised if he’s in the running for a different kind of hardware.