Swooping in just under the wire, “Black Hawk Down” may turn the ignominious October 1993 military tragedy into Oscar gold. It has a few elements in its favor — but many against.

Six war films — “All Quiet on the Western Front” (’29-30), “From Here to Eternity” (’53), “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (’57), “Patton” (’70), “The Deer Hunter” (’78) and “Platoon” (’86) — have won the top prize, while 20 others have been nominated, including a 1999 duo, “The Thin Red Line” and “Saving Private Ryan.”

Judging by the time pattern of past winners and nominees, it would seem to be about time for an American war movie to seize Oscar night. What augurs well for this depiction of the ill-fated U.S. Delta Force and Ranger mission during a fierce civil war in Somalia is that more films dramatizing defeat have won than those celebrating triumph.

The Oscar pedigree for “Black Hawk” is forceful, led by director Ridley Scott, nominated in the past for “Thelma and Louise” (1991) and last year for best pic-winning “Gladiator.” Though the odds of Scott being nominated in consecutive years are low (since the ’60s, only Sidney Lumet, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, Robert Altman and James Ivory have pulled it off), it’s far from remote. The aforementioned five have been, like Scott, prolific makers of major studio films. (With “Gladiator” and this year’s “Hannibal,” “Black Hawk” will be Scott’s third pic released in 18 months.)

This was the key for busy multinominated helmers during the ’30s and ’40s, for instance, when directors were picked at least two years running, led by William Wyler (four times in a row), John Ford (three times in a row) and Frank Capra (two times in a row twice). There may be a sense in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences that Scott’s time in the director category is now.

Co-writer Steve Zaillian (with Ken Nolan) has won for “Schindler’s List,” was nominated for “Awakenings,” and is highly respected in Academy circles. Mark Bowden’s book, the basis for Zaillian and Nolan’s script, is one of the most praised wartime accounts of recent years, and a durable bestseller with a passionate following.

Early word on the nearly finished version is exceptionally strong.

No performance nominations appear likely for this ensemble piece and, as an observer observes, it’s hard to drive a best picture campaign without a central performance.

More troubling, word of the film’s considerable violence may become a point of rejection for older Academy members, and though the current mood of victory in Afghanistan would seem to play well for “Black Hawk Down,” military setbacks in the war against terrorism could sour the mood of moviegoers and Academy members. – Robert Koehlerwooping in just under the wire, “Black Hawk Down” may turn the ignominious October 1993 military tragedy into Oscar gold. It has a few elements in its favor — but many against.

Six war films — “All Quiet on the Western Front” (’29-30), “From Here to Eternity” (’53), “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (’57), “Patton” (’70), “The Deer Hunter” (’78) and “Platoon” (’86) — have won the top prize, while 20 others have been nominated, including a 1999 duo, “The Thin Red Line” and “Saving Private Ryan.”

Judging by the time pattern of past winners and nominees, it would seem to be about time for an American war movie to seize Oscar night. What augurs well for this depiction of the ill-fated U.S. Delta Force and Ranger mission during a fierce civil war in Somalia is that more films dramatizing defeat have won than those celebrating triumph.

The Oscar pedigree for “Black Hawk” is forceful, led by director Ridley Scott, nominated in the past for “Thelma and Louise” (1991) and last year for best pic-winning “Gladiator.” Though the odds of Scott being nominated in consecutive years are low (since the ’60s, only Sidney Lumet, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, Robert Altman and James Ivory have pulled it off), it’s far from remote. The aforementioned five have been, like Scott, prolific makers of major studio films. (With “Gladiator” and this year’s “Hannibal,” “Black Hawk” will be Scott’s third pic released in 18 months.)

This was the key for busy multinominated helmers during the ’30s and ’40s, for instance, when directors were picked at least two years running, led by William Wyler (four times in a row), John Ford (three times in a row) and Frank Capra (two times in a row twice). There may be a sense in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences that Scott’s time in the director category is now.

Co-writer Steve Zaillian (with Ken Nolan) has won for “Schindler’s List,” was nominated for “Awakenings,” and is highly respected in Academy circles. Mark Bowden’s book, the basis for Zaillian and Nolan’s script, is one of the most praised wartime accounts of recent years, and a durable bestseller with a passionate following.

Early word on the nearly finished version is exceptionally strong.

No performance nominations appear likely for this ensemble piece and, as an observer observes, it’s hard to drive a best picture campaign without a central performance.

More troubling, word of the film’s considerable violence may become a point of rejection for older Academy members, and though the current mood of victory in Afghanistan would seem to play well for “Black Hawk Down,” military setbacks in the war against terrorism could sour the mood of moviegoers and Academy members.

Noms Watch

  • Picture: producers Jerry Bruckheimer, Ridley Scott

  • Director: Scott

  • Actor: Josh Hartnett

  • Cinematography: Slavomir Idziak

  • Editing: Pietro Scalia

  • Production design: Arthur Max

  • Original music: Lisa Gerrard, Hans Zimmer
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