“No Time to Die,” the final send-off of Daniel Craig’s tenure as 007, has received positive reviews from critics, is getting the widest U.K. theatrical release of all time, and is hoping to set box office records, at least for the pandemic era. But how will this all stand in the face of the Oscars?
Craig has been an effective Bond, but he’s also been an extraordinary actor in multiple films throughout his career, some of which should have already brought him awards attention, such as “Knives Out” (2019) and “Logan Lucky” (2017). So can Craig crack the best actor lineup for his final performance of the famed character? As the magic eight ball says, “All signs point to no.” But stranger things have happened in respective awards years.
So, where can the film find traction?
The James Bond franchise hasn’t shown up in any major Oscar categories over its nearly six decade history. Instead, five Oscars have found their way into the hands of the artisans — 1965’s “Goldfinger” (sound effects), 1966’s “Thunderball” (special visual effects), 2013’s “Skyfall” (original song and sound editing) and 2016’s “Spectre” (original song).
The artisan branches of the Academy have a love for the previously crowned, which bodes well for “No Time to Die” talent like composer Hans Zimmer (“The Lion King”), cinematographer Linus Sandgren (“La La Land”) and editors Tom Cross (“La La Land”) and one-time nominee Elliot Graham (“Milk”). Those will surely be in the realm of discussion, with possibilities of popping up at their respective guild awards, but the Academy will need to embrace the film as a whole for any significant recognition.
Looking back to “Skyfall,” that’s likely the closest a Bond film ever came to the best picture nom, when the Academy was nominating anywhere between five and 10 movies. Villain Javier Bardem popped up with SAG and BAFTA nominations for supporting actor, with Judi Dench also garnering the latter.
The truth is, Bond doesn’t do much outside sound, visual effects, score and song. Only “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) managed an art direction (now production design) nom and “Skyfall” is the first and only to pick up cinematography, and that was of course shot by Roger Deakins. Naturally, BAFTA has been more celebratory, nominating 2006’s “Casino Royale” for nine awards, including Craig in leading actor, adapted screenplay and outstanding British film. So maybe the friends across the pond will come to its aid once again?
Already a Grammy winner for the title track thanks to the delayed release date, Billie Eilish and her songwriting brother Finneas are sure to gain traction on the circuit, hoping to follow in the steps of Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth.
Based on the Ian Fleming character, this entry is written by BAFTA nominees Neal Purvis, Robert Wade (“Casino Royale”) and Emmy winners Cary Joji Fukunaga (HBO’s “True Detective”) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Amazon’s “Fleabag”). Of the two writing categories this year, adapted seems to be far less competitive than its original screenplay counterpart, leaving room for potential consumer-friendly choices such as “No Time to Die.”
The writing branch has proven to be open to more populist selections, as shown by past nominees such as “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (2020), “Joker” (2019) and “Logan” (2017). While it’s a considerable longshot, especially with a more robust storyline and runtime, it could pop up with a few smaller regional critics groups.
Another factor worth mentioning: It may be criminal that Bond is nearly three hours and gives limited screentime to Ana de Armas and Lashana Lynch, but the two do kick ass and take names, and there are no awards needed to cement those facts.
United Artists Releasing and MGM have long awaited the opening of their beloved Bond movie, and in a year where audiences and voters feel nostalgic about the movie theater industry, if the film manages to break a few records, a groundswell of support could ensue, especially with a guaranteed 10 nominees for best picture.