September 23, 2023

From ‘Harry Potter’ to the Oscars?


While the eight “Harry Potter” movies never won an Oscar between them (yes, yes, scandalous, we know), the cast is littered with Academy Awards winners and nominees. At the time the movies were made, Kenneth Branagh (Lockhart), John Cleese (Nearly Headless Nick), Richard Harris (Dumbledore), Julie Walters (Mrs. Weasley), Imelda Staunton (Umbridge), Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort), and Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix) were all past Oscar nominees while Maggie Smith (McGonagall) and Emma Thompson (Trelawney) were past Oscar winners. Since then, Sirius Black actor Gary Oldman and Branagh have taken home Academy Awards while Brendan Gleeson (Mad-Eye Moody) and Ciarán Hinds (Aberforth Dumbledore) have become Oscar nominees. Plus, producer David Heyman has also become an Oscar nominee, too.

We’ve combed through our Oscars odds charts to see which “Potter” alumni could potentially be nominated for an Oscar this year. Here they are.

Kenneth Branagh — “A Haunting in Venice” and “Oppenheimer
The first two editions of Branagh’s Poirot movies got lukewarm receptions. “Murder on the Orient Express” and “Death on the Nile” both merit a mere 61% on Rotten Tomatoes. This new installment, however, sits on a much healthier 78%. This one follows a retired Poriot who reluctantly attends a seance but must take on the mantle of detective once more when someone is murdered. It’s a darker spin than the last two movies and offers something a little different. A Best Director bid is likely too much of a stretch to suggest and the same goes for Best Actor, but a Best Picture bid isn’t completely out of the question. Stranger things have happened.

Where Branagh might have more luck, however, is with Christopher Nolan‘s “Oppenheimer,” which tells the true story of how J. Robert Oppenheimer created the atomic bomb. Branagh portrays Nobel-winning physicist Niels Bohr. It’s a small role but it has plenty of impact — Bohr was Oppenheimer’s idol so Branagh’s part holds narrative importance. All of the attention has gone to Robert Downey Jr‘s featured role so far but we’ve had four years in a row now wherein Best Supporting Actor has nominated two actors from the same film. It started in 2020 when Joe Pesci and Al Pacino were nominated for “The Irishman.” In 2021, Daniel Kaluuya won for “Judas and the Black Messiah” against, among others, his co-star, LaKeith Stanfield. In 2022, “The Power of the Dog” players Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee were both nominated. And earlier this year, Gleeson and Barry Keoghan were nominated for “The Banshees of Inisherin.” Could Branagh and Downey Jr. make it five in a row? If so, it would add to Branagh’s rich Oscar history. He was nominated in 1990 for Best Director and Best Actor for “Henry V,” in 1993 for Best Live Action Short Film for “Swan Song,” in 1997 for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Hamlet,” in 2012 for Best Supporting Actor for “My Week With Marilyn,” and in 2022 for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay for “Belfast.” He won for Best Original Screenplay.

David Heyman, producer — “Barbie
That’s right, the producer behind the “Potter” movies also helped to get “Barbie” made. Go figure. From the boy who lived to a plastic doll, Heyman has now proved himself a versatile filmmaker who churns out some of the most inventive movies of the year. Heyman also produced the “Fantastic Beasts” and “Paddington” movies. He’s a three-time Oscar nominee already as a producer of these Best Picture contenders: for “Gravity” alongside Alfonso Cuarón, for “Marriage Story” alongside Noah Baumbach, and for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” alongside Shannon McIntosh and Quentin Tarantino. He clearly has a knack for working with auteur directors and his work with Greta Gerwig on “Barbie” could garner him a fourth Oscar nomination. In fact, we think it will — we are predicting that “Barbie” will be nominated for Best Picture alongside “Oppenheimer,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Past Lives,” “Poor Things,” “The Holdovers,” “Maestro,” “The Color Purple,” “The Zone of Interest,” and “Anatomy of a Fall.”

Callum Turner — “The Boys in the Boat”
Okay, okay. Turner didn’t feature in the “Potter” movies — but he did play Theseus Scamander in the second and third “Fantastic Beasts” movies. That counts. Theseus, by the way, is the brother of Eddie Redmayne‘s Newt Scamander. Turner will feature in a big breakout role in George Clooney‘s “The Boys in the Boat.” The film tells the true story of the University of Washington’s rowing team in the 1930s, leading up to their gold medal win at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It looks like Turner would be a supporting player here. This would be Turner’s first Oscar nomination.

David Yates, director — “Pain Hustlers
Back behind the screen again. Yates directed the last four “Potter” movies: “Order of the Phoenix,” “Half-Blood Prince,” “Deathly Hallows — Part One,” and “Deathly Hallows — Part Two.” Now, he teams up with Emily Blunt and Chris Evans for “Pain Hustlers,” which tells the story of a mother trying to give her daughter a better life by taking a job at a pharmacy but ends up in the middle of a criminal conspiracy. “Pain Hustlers” and Yates are currently placed well outside of our predicted nominees for Best Picture and Best Director but that could change if something, uh, magical happens. (Sorry.) This would be Yates’ first Oscar nomination.

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