We know for Potter-heads across the nation the Academy Awards are a sore subject. Twi-hards have been left in the cold by the Academy on an even larger scale, not even scoring a single nomination over a four-film span. The Hunger Games has garnered comparisons to both Twilight and Harry Potter, but there are many factors that will separate it from the pack on Oscar night.

Keep in mind, we’re not predicting a Hunger Games sweep at next years Oscars. What follows are simply things to consider when forming your (super) early prediction list.

5)It’s Oscar-friendly

True, a March release date isn’t exactly Oscar-friendly (don’t forget, The Hurt Locker had an original March release date and Silence of the Lambs had a late February release), but the cast, director and subject matter are.

Jennifer Lawrence has already gained recognition with the Academy for her work in Winter’s Bone, and the Academy even approached her to read the nominees for this year’s awards. Whether or not the voting Academy thinks you’re a mensch goes a mile and a half towards Oscar gold, so having Lawrence leading the way in what has already been described as an Oscar-worthy role has put The Hunger Games on the Academy’s radar. Sure, past Oscar glory is no guarantee of future Oscar glory—the Harry Potter films are proof enough of that—but combined with the right source material, it can make all the difference on a nomination board.

This is a film that has chosen a tone (one that is heavily alluded to in the novels) and stuck with it. The Harry Potter films chose to be produced as popcorn films, which isn’t a bad thing since it helps to maintain a wider sense of appeal, but it impacts the level of artistry that the Academy usually looks for.

The Hunger Games film on the other hand is dark, serious, political and everything else that can be defined as Oscar bait. It has also been described as “intellectually challenging” by reviewers, and if there’s something the Academy likes to award, it’s those thinkin’ movies.

4)It has earned critical/audience acclaim

The film is barely out of the gate (at the time of the publication of this article, midnight is still a few hours away), and critics are already getting into the habit of calling The Hunger Games “the next big thing.” Fans of course have had the leg up on the world with this news, but they seem just as adamant to express their rabid enthusiasm for the film adaptation. Lucky fans that have already logged the film into their memory banks have claimed full satisfaction.

Again, Harry Potter is an excellent example of fan enthusiasm simply not being enough to sway the Academy’s opinion, but this is a different matter entirely. We, as fans, have to separate ourselves from our fandom kingdom and think about the general public. For non-readers, the Harry Potter series of films had the potential to be wildly confusing.

It takes a lot to please fans, general audiences and critics alike, but The Hunger Games seems to have located that sweet spot between pleasing the fans and creating a legitimately awesome experience. It has found a way to seem relevant to critics that only seem to enjoy “serious” fare and remain enjoyable to the casual watcher. It’s this tightrope walk between individual artistry and faithfulness to the source material that keeps it in the game.

3)It isn’t Harry Potter and it isn’t half a film
Yeah, those are some strong words up there, but I stand by them. Let me tell you why.

Before you mash your angry hands to the keyboard in a hateful fashion, consider this. Have you ever talked about Harry Potter to someone who has never read it? Have you ever been on the opposite end of that conversation?

The story of Harry Potter is expansive, complex, emotional and epic, but it hides under ridiculous words like “Hogwarts” and “Muggles.” Serious fans have probably forgotten how ridiculous those words sound, but to an outside audience that hasn’t taken the time to acclimate themselves to Harry’s world, words like those can be pretty polarizing.

In a few words, Harry Potter SOUNDS ridiculous, and having exposure to Harry’s world purely through the films is a poor substitute for the full experience. When it comes down to it, Harry Potter must seem like a strange phenomenon to the uninitiated. It’s hard to explain in a sentence without saying a word like “Voldemort” or “Horcruxes.”

The Hunger Games has a tight synopsis, has mass brutal appeal and has found a way to market itself in an attractive way without being overly obscene. Generally, it’s contained films like these that the Academy likes to bestow praise upon, and it will fare even better if the film ends up making more money than Deathly Hallows and Breaking Dawn combined.

It all just comes down to the idea that Harry Potter isn’t the basis on which all book-to-film movie franchises should be based. It was its own phenomenon with its own quirks, but it was ultimately its tone that moved Academy voters against it. This is a drastically different movie, and not only that, but it also doesn’t have a tacky “Part 2” glued onto the end of the title.

2)It’s culturally relevant

There are lots of potential meanings for the phrase “cultural relevance”, but from the moment that The Hunger Games was introduced, its themes have been deemed as alarmingly reminiscent of former science fiction that has since turned into science fact. We’ve even been sent several articles about how The Hunger Games is where the world is heading.

It’s pretty hard to ignore this cautionary tale about the dangers of totalitarian government, corruption, and societal voyeurism and critics have already taken notice. It’s a fresh and well-timed tale that will hit people directly in their brain box. When films do this, the Academy normally takes notice and at least gives further consideration simply for having the guts to take audiences there.

The Academy likes to reward studios for taking a chance, and there’s no doubt that Lionsgate took a chance on this brutal fight to the death. It is showing audiences something that’s hard to see, but everyone still wants to watch it.

It has that level of morbid intrigue that is usually reserved for horror films, but it has chosen to tell it in an intriguing post-modern political wasteland. Although Harry Potter had a lot to say on the subject of politics and corruption, The Hunger Games has taken it a step further by showing the aftermath of the end instead of how the end was narrowly avoided.

1)It works as a stand-alone film

We’ve discussed how Harry Potter suffered a confused adaptation process that began before the source material even ended, and it proved to have an unfortunate impact on the general movie watching public that hadn’t even held the books in their hands.

The difference here is that Harry Potter works best as a book series while The Hunger Games (as some critics have already suggested) was ripe for film adaptation. It’s visual, visceral, and even structured the exact same way that films are. Those that have read the book can agree that it reads like a very in-depth treatment for a film. One could actually even argue that the material is better suited for film, but then we would miss reading all of Katniss’s thoughts.

Director Gary Ross also ultimately made the decision to take a step away from the book series while developing the film. He took out things that didn’t work, added scenes that would help the overall clarity of the film, and made sure that The Hunger Games worked as a film rather than as a companion to the book. It’s ultimately this distinct and graceful medium shift that separates The Hunger Games from the pack and gives it a better chance of getting some golden love at the Oscars next year.

What do you think? Does The Hunger Games stand a chance at next year’s Oscars? Will it rack up that coveted Best Picture nomination? What other nominations could it score?

Sherlock finally made it to Hall H at Comic-Con and the creative team brought a few surprises. Steven Moffatt, Sue Vertue, Mark Gatiss, Amanda Abbington, and Benedict Cumberbatch were on hand to the thrill of fans.

Benedict Cumberbatch and crew definitely know how to work a crowd. Here are the top highlights of the panel that played to a crowd of thousands.

1. Season 4

They are currently two weeks from finishing Sherlock season 4. Cumberbatch said that “a lot comes home to roost this season… it’s ballsy.”

They have 26 pages to film this Tuesday. Cumberbatch states that the monologues are very challenging and take a lot of work.

As for actors’ favorite lines this season:

Gatiss: “Sherlock.”

Abington: Not a line but a beckoning gesture.

Cumberbatch: Can’t say.

Key names for next season (change from doing key words):

  • Moffat: Smith
  • Gatiss: Thatcher
  • Vertue: Sherinford

2. Keeping the show fresh

By not making as many episodes, the creators feel they actually keep the quality. They joked that under normal standards they’ve actually made about half a season of a standard TV show, or 13 episodes.

There are no plans for any other Victorian Era shows. Moffat feels that it would be less interesting if the mind palace returned there.

3. Learning curves and drugs

Gatiss stated that with 90-minute episodes you “really have to put [Sherlock and Watson] through the ringer.” Moffat added that because of this, Watson has to evolve. Watson can’t keep being amazed by Sherlock. As for Sherlock, “he can’t be the weird scary amoral man we met in the first episode… geniuses learn… he has to learn.”

Sherlock’s drug addiction comes back when he is not working. It’s hinted that the addiction will be a bigger issue this season than in the past.

4. The coat and the hair

There is apparently a big debate every year over changing the iconic coat. Sue Vertue wants to change it, and Steven Moffat wants to keep it. Benedict Cumberbatch dove into the debate stating, “I’m quite hung up on the coat…. but sometimes it has to come off.” The audience reaction was predictable.

Cumberbatch joked that he loved playing Sherlock in the Victorian era because of the slicked back hair. In the modern era it takes forever for his hair to get done. On a serious note, he loved the more straight-laced, clipped version of Sherlock.

5. First ‘Sherlock’ season 4 trailer

The teaser trailer featured this phrase over and over: “Something’s coming. It may be Moriarity, maybe not.” Literally every character we know and love looks like they are scared, angry, or worried on an epic scale.

One of the best moments is Mrs. Hudson saying with supreme venom to Mycroft, “Get out of my house you reptile.” Watch below:

6. Improv and family

There is actually, according to Cumberbatch, very little improvisation on set. It’s about how to do what’s there, and not messing with the script. He firmly believes that what is there is what is needed for the show.

Cumberbatch genuinely loves having his mom and dad play his TV mom and dad. Every now and then he can see his mother struggle to call him “Sherlock” and not “Ben.”

7. Mary in the know

Abbington didn’t know she was an assassin until well into the last season. When she found out, she told partner Martin Freeman, “My God, [the fans] are going to hate me.” Despite this, she loves the flawed characters of the series.

8. When will the series return?

No date was given for either the BBC release date or the PBS release date. We only know that it will premiere in 2017.

9. The dog photo

According to Cumberbatch the dog (depicted above) was a nightmare. “The dog wouldn’t fucking move,” he said. The companion was supposed to drag Sherlock all over London, but the dog didn’t like people, concrete, crowds… really anything about an urban setting.

Moffat and Gatiss resorted to writing a new scene on the spot to account for the lack of the dog’s interest in roaming. According to Gatiss all it did was drool on the concrete.

10. Future seasons?

Touching on the future of the series, Moffat stated, “Why is everybody assuming they survive season 4?” Gatiss joked, “We’re skipping season 5 and doing season 6.”

Moffat clarified that — contrary to recent reports — he never said that this season would be the last one (He’s right: All he said was the schedules of Cumberbatch and Freeman are only getting more difficult to work with). Gatiss added that they want to do more seasons, and they hope that they are able to.

Sherlock will be back in 2017. What do you think of the first season 4 trailer?

Marvel presented at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday evening and offered new looks at Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and more.

“We only want to come to Hall H when we have a lot to show you,” teased Marvel’s Kevin Feige at the start of the panel. Indeed, they had a ton to offer — including news of a new Marvel theme park attraction!

Everything we’ve learned at Marvel’s SDCC panel

  1. Marvel kicked off their panel with a new logo and updated fanfare by composer Michael Giacchino.

  2. Black Panther had some casting news to share: Lupita N’yongo will be playing one of the guards at Wakanda named Nakia. Meanwhile, Michael B. Jordan will be playing Erik Killmonger. We also received brand new casting news: Danai Gurira has joined the movie — She’ll play Okoye, head of Dora Milaje! Finally, a new logo for the film was revealed:

    black-panther-logo-sdcc-2016

  3. Thor: Ragnarok unveiled a behind-the-scenes look at the new film which included a look at Cate Blanchett as Hela. They also showed a documentary-style clip (think The Office) explaining where Hulk and Thor were during the events of Captain America: Civil War! In it, Thor had a tiny bed for Mjolnir and a crime board that tried to connect the Infinity Stones and discover their purpose. There is also mugshot of Loki. Like Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok had a new logo to show off with a retro looking subtitle:

    thor-ragnorak-new-logo-sdcc-2016

  4. Doctor Strange’s portion of the panel kicked off with a smoke and laser show to introduce Benedict Cumberbatch.

    Tilda Swinton was also at the panel and spoke about the Ancient One. “The truth is, anyone can be The Ancient One,” she said. A clip from Doctor Strange was also showed in which Steven Strange meets Tilda’s character (It won’t be online).

  5. Thankfully, a brand new and wholly epic Doctor Strange trailer was released. Watch below:

    A new poster was also unveiled:

    doctor-strange-sdcc-poster

  6. Next up was Spider-Man: Homecoming. Director Jon Watts described the film as a high school movie about a 15-year-old Peter Parker who’s in the 10th grade. A new clip was unveiled and had a strong John Hughes vibe — Peter Parker is just your average high schooler trying to get through the day. There was also this great moment:

  7. Next up: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which kicks off a few months after the first movie. The entire cast was there to introduce a new scene in which a very adorable Baby Groot helps Yondu and Rocket break out of prison. Baby Groot even has a little outfit! Adorably, the Ravengers — who captured Yondu and Rocket — refuse to hurt Baby Groot because of how cute he is.

    This movie got a new logo as well.

    guardians-of-the-galaxy-sequel-new-logo

  8. Speaking of Marvel’s space dramedy, the studio also confirmed rumors of a Guardians of the Galaxy theme park attraction. It’s called Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! and debuts Summer 2017 at Disneyland’s California Adventure theme park. Sadly, it’s replacing the classic Tower of Terror ride. Check out a behind the scenes video of the attraction:

  9. Marvel ended their panel by confirming that Brie Larson will play Captain Marvel, as was previously rumored. She took the stage to say hi to the adoring audience, and participated in a giant Marvel selfie:

All in all, Marvel had a ton to share. What do you think of all the developments?

DC kept the trailer train trotting along today with an all new trailer for Suicide Squad!

Though Suicide Squad is just a few weeks away from hitting theaters, DC kept the momentum going today with an all new trailer featuring music from the soundtrack, new footage, and a better look at what exactly we can expect from the upcoming villain-focused super hero movie. Check it out below.

The new (and likely final) Suicide Squad trailer comes after surprise premiere of the Wonder Woman trailer and an even bigger surprise with our first look at the Justice League trailer. As with the other trailers today, this one debuted publicly alongside its Comic-Con Hall H premiere.

In this trailer, we hear a lot from Will Smith who plays Deadshot and arguably the most decorated and respected actor among the cast. “They’re gonna blame us for the whole thing. We’re the patsies, don’t forget. We’re the bad guys.” The trailer is jam-packed with all of the villains and their powers and skills on full display.

We also get a better look at the leader of the pack, Jared Leto’s The Joker. “I can’t wait to show you my toys,” Leto’s Joker says while slapping around a man.

Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn also gets a lot of screen time in this trailer. Though, most of it features close ups of her back side, which stays close to the adult, rugged tone of the other trailers we have seen thus far.

There’s no doubt that fans will be flocking to theaters rooting on the bad guys when Suicide Squad hits theaters on August 5th. Suicide Squad features

What did you think of the thrilling, action-packed trailer for Suicide Squad?