MuggleNet Editorial Rebuttal: Why “Harry Potter” didn’t win an Oscar

The 84th Academy Awards, held last night at the no longer named “Kodak Theater”, was a night of comedy, tears, surprises, and of course, snubs…and no, I am not talking about Harry Potter.

I have been watching, and loving, award shows as long as I can remember. I have always loved movies. From my very first viewing of Snow White at the age of 3 to just last week’s viewing of Beginners. Now while Keith called me an expert earlier, I am more inclined to say that I am an enthusiast. Out of the 34 major movies nominated this year (not including shorts, both live and animated or documentaries) I have seen 29 of them. You may disagree, but I believe that this puts me in the perfect position to tell you exactly why Harry Potter was never going to win an Oscar for Deathly Hallows – Part 2.

Before I jump into my argument, let me state that there were a LOT of movies this year that I thought deserved to be recognized and nominated. For Original Score alone, I thought movies such as Hanna, Super 8 and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo should have gotten nominations. Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Ewan McGregor should have received Acting nominations. I thought that the omission of Beginners, Warrior, Shame & Drive, just to name a few, from the Best Picture category was a serious overlook by the Academy members. The fact is, not every movie can be nominated. Not only would the show be 17 hours long, but the exclusivity of winning the award would be lessened if more movies were nominated in each category.

Having said that, if I were an Academy member, the movies I would have voted for would be very different than the movies that made it into the Best Picture category. You see, that’s the problem. It’s not that the median age of Academy members is 62, or that they are predominantly white males. It’s that movies are subjective. Every single person watches a movie and leaves that theater with a different impression of what they just experienced. For some, a movie like The Artist will be inspiring, fun, and refreshing, while for someone else it can seem contrived, predictable, or just plain boring. Unfortunately for Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the film suffers from just that.

As a huge fan of the books and films (and don’t tell me that I am not – I work for the World’s #1 Harry Potter site after all!), I absolutely adore the Harry Potter films. They portray the characters that I love, the plots that I adore tearing apart and delving into, and mostly, the love that I feel when I read the books. My favorite of the series as a MOVIE GOER, is Deathly Hallows – Part 1. It is the only film out of the eight that was easy to follow for non-book reading viewers (my boyfriend & mother can attest to that!), yet allowed the story to move along and continue to develop the intricate story line that J.K. Rowling wrote in our beloved books.

Deathly Hallows – Part 2, while a great film for the Harry Potter fans that were looking for a true to book adaptation, was hard to follow for fans that had not read the books. There are too many plot holes, things left unexplained, and dramatic plot lines are brought to an end with a simple ‘snap’. Movies such as Beginners, a story about a 78 year old man (played by Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer) who comes out of the closet after his wife dies, does not suffer from the same problems. While it is based on a true story and is not an adaptation, I believe it’s a valid comparison. It leaves the viewer feeling not only the emotions experienced through the movie, but it forces you to think about the things in your life that you are holding back on, or in. From the non-book reading Harry Potter fans I have spoken too, while they liked the final movie, they were left confused, and not quite sure how to feel about the way the movie ended. Harry Potter was brought to a dramatic end; Harry defeated Voldemort, his lifelong enemy, the man who killed his parents, and then walked through the Great Hall looking…complacent.

Deathly Hallows – Part 2 suffers from the choices that were made in the previous films. By leaving out the S.P.E.W story line, the house-elves were not able to fight along with the trio in the final battle, steal Harry’s wand at the Quidditch World Cup, or help us learn about Horcruxes with Hepzibah Smith. When the Gaunt’s story line was cut out of the sixth film, the seventh & eighth films suffered from lack of Horcrux explanation. The list of these omissions goes on and on, and as fans we learn to accept them because we realize that the overall story, Harry’s story, is the most important part of the books. However, if you had never read those books, how would you feel as you walked out of Half-Blood Prince, asking yourself, “Who cares if he’s the Half-Blood Prince?”

Now let’s break down the three awards that Potter was nominated for, and ultimately lost. Art Direction. Stuart Craig did an amazing job at realizing Harry’s world. Hugo ended up taking that award, why? Because Hugo‘s art department created an entire world out of 0’s & 1’s. Creating an entire digital world will almost always trump green screen & real world exterior shots. Next up was Makeup. I thought that if Potter was going to win an Oscar, this would be the one. The work that the team did on creating not only Lord Voldemort’s (non) nose and the Goblin’s of Gringotts, but the continuity that was brought from film to film was absolutely incredible. Although, we have to remember that the awards are given for a single film, and not a series. By the time we got around to Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the viewers and Academy members had been seeing Voldemort’s (non) nose for 4 movies. The Goblin’s were in Part 1, so really, even those weren’t new. While I don’t necessarily agree that The Iron Lady was the right choice for the award, what that team did in one movie, Potter had several movies to master. The achievement of getting it done in one movie, the more impressive feat, is the one that will always take the prize. Lastly, there was Visual Effects. Now this one I never expected Potter to take, since Rise of the Planet of the Apes was in the category. I don’t think there’s a single person on the planet who can say, with a straight and honest face, that Andy Serkis is not the best character/motion capture artist of our time. Sure, Potter had the removal of Voldemort’s nose, and the gorgeous dragon escape from Gringotts…but really, what else? A few statues coming to life? While impressive to me, a fan, the voting members of the community were once again wowed by the creation of Hugo’s entire universe, in 3D none-the-less!

It’s true that while I do believe Harry Potter was never destined to win an Oscar at this year’s ceremony, I DO believe that it should have been honored. A montage, an achievement in film making award, or even just a mention by Billy Crystal (other than mentioning, reiterating, and even slightly poking fun at just how much money it made…), would have made the fans happy…at least the ones that realize that while we, the fans, love the Harry Potter films, that doesn’t mean that it deserves to win an Oscar. The film simply doesn’t live up to what fans of the movies, like myself, expect to see when they go to the cinema for an experience. Harry Potter is a fabulous escape into a bookish world that us fans love because we love it…not because it’s a great movie.

Kat Miller

I am a 40-something Ravenclaw/Slytherin from Massachusetts. I've been lucky in life and can attribute a lot of that to Harry Potter. Without it, I wouldn't have at least 80% of the things I do today, including my career & closest friends. I truly despise Sirius Black.