A dark horse in the 2017 Oscar race, “Logan” received one nomination for its screenplay, which turned the action-packed superhero formula on its head in favor of deep introspection, portrayed elegantly by Hugh Jackman as an underground Wolverine. Like “The Dark Knight,” the film also benefited from a dynamic supporting performance, delivered by Dafne Keen as Logan’s young companion, Laura. Last year, Variety credited director James Mangold for his adept handling of violence in the film, which critic Owen Gleiberman called, “slashingly satisfying, because it’s earned, and also because Mangold knows just how to stage it.”
Black Panther (2018)
What’s better than a superhero? Try six superheroes teaming up against an alien army. The star power packed into Marvel’s “The Avengers” — featuring Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Chris Evans’ Captain America, Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, and Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk — smashed the summer box office and scored an Oscar nomination for visual effects. Variety applauded the Oscar-nominated spectacle as “escapism of a sophisticated order.”
Match-ups between Earthly defenders and extraterrestrial enemies are relatively common in the super-sphere, which is why the novel idea of intergalactic superheroes carved a memorable spot for “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana’s Gamora, Bradley Cooper’s Rocket, and the rest of the ragtag alien team delivered action-packed escapes and a rocking soundtrack to the MCU, which Variety predicted would “inject some much-needed life into Hollywood’s sagging summer fortunes.” In addition to indeed bolstering the box office, the film also scored two Oscar nominations.
“Captain America: Civil War” pitted two of the MCU’s most powerful superheroes against each other in an epic battle with practically enough cameos to qualify as a fourth “Avengers” film, featuring not only Evans’ Captain America and Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, but also Boseman’s Black Panther, Paul Bettany’s Vision, Johansson’s Black Widow, Don Cheadle’s War Machine, Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier, Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch, Renner’s Hawkeye, and Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man. Variety praised the “hero-vs.-hero extravaganza” as “the most mature and substantive picture to have yet emerged from the MCU.”