Just recently we took a look at the awards prospects of The Muppets, a film that is enjoying an incredibly positive critical response but isn’t exactly your typical “Oscar Movie.” Today we’ll consider a different film in a similar situation: Bridesmaids. When the Judd Apatow-produced comedy opened in May, it was surrounded by a good deal of advanced buzz thanks to a series of well-timed preview screenings. The opening weekend gross was impressive for an R-rated comedy, but enthusiastic word of mouth propelled the film to stellar box office week-after-week. Audiences fell in love with the Kristen Wiig-penned flick, and star Melissa McCarthy broke out in a big way. Hit the jump for our take on Bridesmaids’ chances this upcoming awards season.
With regards to the Oscars, it appears that Bridesmaids has picked up some significant traction in at least one category: Best Supporting Actress. McCarthy is undoubtedly the standout in the film (amongst a cast that all bring their A-Game), and the chatter about her Oscar chances began a few months ago. She won the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Emmy this past June in grand fashion, and her shocked reaction and genuinely heartfelt acceptance speech made for more than a few people “awww”-ing at their television screen. This likeability factor is key in the coming Oscar race, but McCarthy has one major hurdle in the way of a nomination: Bridesmaids is a comedy.
Comedic performances are almost never recognized by the Academy, and when they are the nomination is almost always the end of the line. Furthermore, McCarthy’s performance is pretty much straight-comedy; it’s not the “dramedy” work that the Academy is much more willing to acknowledge. The actress does have one scene where she stretches her dramatic chops, but the majority of the film is her taking on the role of Megan with 110% hilarity.
This begs the question: is McCarthy’s intense commitment to this powerhouse comedy role any less impressive than a more dramatic performance? Why is comedy not worthy of awards consideration when the actor’s work is on par with the best dramatic performances of the year? This is one of the biggest problems of awards season: the organizations pretend like comedies don’t count. A separate “Best Comedy” category would do much to improve conditions for comedic actors, but the Academy is thus far averse to this change.
But I digress. McCarthy has been picking up some genuine buzz and she actually has a fair chance at landing a nomination. She’s extremely likeable, her talent is undeniable, and Robert Downey Jr.’s 2008 nomination for Tropic Thunder proves that there are actually a few current Academy members willing to recognize comedy. While Universal is pushing for nominations in all the major categories for Bridesmaids (Best Actress for Kristen Wiig, Best Director for Paul Feig, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture), Best Supporting Actress is likely the film’s only genuine shot.
With the Golden Globes, however, Bridesmaids stands a much better chance at a wider range of nominations, and even a win. The film is certainly a frontrunner in the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy category, and could nab nominations for Best Actress – Musical or Comedy, Best Supporting Actress, and even Best Screenplay. The Globes like to award “the cool kids” and are notorious for nominating famous people just for the sake of it (Johnny Depp is already a lock for Best Actor in the lackluster The Rum Diary), so I’m expecting Bridesmaids to land multiple nominations.
The film’s most likely shot at a win is in the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy category. The HFPA awarded the similarly toned The Hangover in 2009, so they’re definitely not afraid of the raunchy R-rated comedy. Best Supporting Actress isn’t divided up into Comedy and Drama, so McCarthy will have a tougher time winning here as she goes up against other contenders like The Descendants’ Shailene Woodley. However, I think Wiig stands a real chance in Best Actress – Musical or Comedy for a win. She was the driving creative force behind getting the movie made, and a more memorable lead comedic performance this year fails to come to mind.
So, what awards can Bridesmaids actually win? The Oscars are pretty much out of range as far as taking home the gold goes, but I do think McCarthy stands a chance at a Best Supporting Actress nomination (though it’s not necessarily a given). As for the Golden Globes, I’d say Bridesmaids is the frontrunner to take home the Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy award, and is on track for nominations in Best Actress – Musical or Comedy (for Wiig) and Best Supporting Actress (for McCarthy).
Keep an eye on the site in the near future, as we’ll be taking a look at the awards chances of a few more critically and commercially successful films that don’t fit the “Oscar Movie” mold.