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Will The Critical Failure And Disastrous Box Office Of ‘Babylon’ Hurt Its Oscar Chances?

Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon,” having an  A-list ensemble cast such as Brad Pitt & Margot Robbie, was one of the most anticipated films of 2022. Chazelle’s previous few films, like “Whiplash,” and “La La Land” won Oscars in multiple categories, and that is why his newest film “Babylon” is also in the award conversations. 

“Babylon” is a three-hour-long epic on Hollywood’s transition from the silent era to sound in the 1920s. Hollywood loves films about itself, the kind of films Academy voters lean towards historically. But as soon as the film was opened to critics, it got a mixed reception. As of now, “Babylon” is sitting with just 55% of critics’ score on ‘Rotten Tomatoes,’ the lowest of all the major films in contention for best picture this year. After that, when it was released for the general audience, things got even worse. Apparently, audiences liked it even less than critics, now having only a 49% score from verified audiences. And the final nail in the coffin was when the box office numbers came in. “Babylon” reportedly had a budget of $80 Million. Some sources even say that it’s $100 Million. For this film to become profitable, it needs to earn a whopping $250 Million. But to everyone’s surprise, “Babylon” opened with merely $3.6 Million, a record low for a film of this scale. Because of negative word of mouth, the box office did not see any growth on the second weekend, generating only $2.7 Million. So, will all these factors (mixed reviews and disappointing box office) hurt its chances at the Oscars? Let’s find out.

Despite his young age, Damien Chazelle is a respected name among the Academy members. He has made a few of the most critically acclaimed films in recent times. Chazelle made “Whiplash” in 2014, which won three Academy Awards at the 87th Oscars. J.K. Simmons won Best Supporting Actor. “Whiplash” also won Best Film Editing and Best Sound Mix. 

But it was his next film, “La La Land,” which earned Chazelle the reputation of one of the greatest directors working today. “La La Land” bagged 14 nominations at the 89th Oscars. This was the most number of nominations any film has got in the history of Oscars, tied with “All About Eve” (1950) and “Titanic” (1997). It went on to win in six categories. The biggest of them was the prize for Best Director, which made Chazelle the youngest director ever to win the Best Director award at the Oscars. Emma Stone won the Best Actress award for her phenomenal role in “La La Land.” The other categories in which this film has won Oscars are Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Original Song, and Best Production Design. Chazelle’s “La La Land” also had seven golden globes nominations. 

So, despite the absolutely horrendous box office and very mixed reviews, can Chazelle’s newest film “Babylon” shine at the 95th Oscars? No matter how low the critics’ score is, as of now, “Babylon” has a whooping 12 wins & 78 more nominations across various critic and industry award shows. The most notable of them are five Golden Globes nominations. The categories in which it got Golden Globes nominations are Best Picture (Musical/ Comedy), Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Score. It also landed nine Critics Choice nominations, including Best Picture. So, it can easily be seen that the film is doing exceptionally well in the award circuit. However, Damien Chazelle is missing Best Director in almost every award show. If “Babylon” can pull off multiple Golden Globes and Critics Choice wins, that will be a very good sign for its Oscars fate. It performed really well in the Oscars shortlist. “Babylon” was shortlisted for Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, and Best Sound. Currently, “Paramount Pictures” is pouring all its resources into the Oscar campaign of its safest bet, “Top Gun Maverick,” but they need to equally put their focus on “Babylon” as well. It needs to perform really well in the upcoming Producers Guild of America (PGA), Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) in major categories to solidify its place in the race for Oscars.

Award ShowsCategory Nominee
Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards
Best Lead ActressMargot Robbie
Best Supporting ActorBrad Pitt
Best Supporting ActressJean Smart
Austin Film Critics Association
Best CinematographyLinus Sandgren
Best ScoreJustin Hurwitz
California On Location Awards
Assistant Location Manager of the yearJeanie Farnam
Location Manager of the yearChris Baugh
Columbus Film Critics Association
Best Lead PerformanceMargot Robbie
Best CinematographyLinus Sandgrem
Best ScoreJustin Hurwitz
Chicago Film Critics Association
Best Original ScoreJustin Hurwitz
Best CinematographyLinus Sandgren
Best Costume DesignMary Zophres
Best Editing Tom Cross
Best Production DesignFlorencia Martin & Eric Sundahi
Critics Choice Awards
Best Costume DesignMary Zophres
Best ActressMargot Robbie 
Best ScoreJustin Hurwitz
Best DirectorDamien Chazelle
Best CinematographyLinus Sandgrem
Best EditingTim Cross
Best Production DesignFlorencia Martin &Anthony Carlino
Best Hair and Makeup
Best Picture
Golden Globes 2023
Best Motion Picture (Musical/ Comedy)
Best Supporting ActorBrad Pitt
Best original ScoreJustin Hurwitz
Best Actor (Musical/ Comedy)Diego Calva
Best Actress (Musical/ Comedy)Margot Robbie
Hollywood Critics Association Creative Arts Awards
Best Costume DesignMary Zophres
Best Production DesignFlorencia Martin &Anthony Carlino
Best ScoreJustin Hurwitz

These were some of the awards for which “Babylon” has been nominated so far across various award shows. This will give us some hint about its eventual fate at the 95th Oscars. Oscars nomination announcement on January 24.


See more: 2023 Oscars Shortlists – Biggest Snubs & Surprises; Which Films Are The Most Likely To Get Nominations?


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