In an interview with Deadline, Steven Spielberg praised his blockbuster rivals Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water in a conversation centered around the topic of cinema’s slow resurgence in the wake of the pandemic. While the director hopes more traditional dramas will have higher box office returns (like his own film The Fabelmans, which grossed only about $20 million on a $40 million budget, per Box Office Mojo) , he respects that these big-budget films are recognized for their contributions to the film industry. He says that kind of recognition for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is long overdue.
“This movie definitely would have gotten a Best Picture nomination today…” Spielberg continued. The Dark Knight was nominated in categories such as Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects, and actor Heath Ledger even received a posthumous Best Supporting Actor award for his performance as The Joker. However, neither Nolan nor the film itself received a nod from The Academy. Nolan received his first Best Picture nomination in 2011 for the sci-fi thriller Inception—seven years later, the period drama Dunkirk finally earned him a Best Director nomination.
Though “The Dark Knight” has earned its spot in the Library of Congress’ prestigious and highly exclusive National Film Registry (via Polygon), genre blockbusters still struggle to garner attention during awards season. Spielberg thinks this year’s nominees show the Academy’s attitude could be changing and that “these two blockbusters [“Top Gun: Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water”] To be solidly featured in the top 10 list is something we should all celebrate.”