The Harry Potter movies never, ever had any luck at the Oscars. Can The Hunger Games franchise succeed where the boy wizard failed?
Here's one big reason it might (and one big reason it might not):
• Jennifer Lawrence: Last weekend when Lionsgate execs wanted to focus on The Hunger Games' opening-weekend success, and not awards season, they still couldn't help but name-check one of Lawrence's stellar reviews.
Her buzz is as undeniable as her Academy credentials are solid.
Lawrence is a former Best Actress contender (for Winter's Bone), who was tapped to help announce the nominations this past January. And as Katniss Everdeen, she's earned critical blurbs worthy of a first-rate Oscar campaign: "Luminous" (New Yorker); "Astonishing" (Rolling Stone); "Carries the whole film on her sturdy shoulders" (Slate).
To be sure, Daniel Radcliffe rated with critics, too, but the Harry Potter movies were not the showcase that The Hunger Games is for Lawrence. (Among Potter actors, Alan Rickman arguably got the most serious Oscar buzz, and even he failed to make the finals.) Also, Radcliffe probably was just too young to generate much heat in a category, Best Actor, that skews years older than Best Actress.
All in all, the 21-year-old Lawrence is a legit candidate. After all, they gave Sigourney Weaver a nomination for Aliens, didn't they?
No, It Won't
• They're the Oscars, Stupid: The Hunger Games is a female-led, female-driven movie, which means demographically it has almost nothing in common with Academy's predominantly old, male voters.
Also, it's futuristic. And before you say, Avatar and District 9, ask yourself, "Were those female-led, female-driven movies?" (No, they were not.)
Viewed as either a kids' movie or a spectacle, Harry Potter had its own Oscar problems, and it never figured into the glamour categories—and, Lawrence or no, neither will The Hunger Games.
After all, Weaver didn't win for Aliens, did she? (No, she did not.) And she wasn't even nominated for Alien, was she? (No, sadly, she was not.)
If it's any consolation to The Hunger Games, becoming the next Harry Potter isn't so bad—even if that means no Oscars. Ever.