‘Harry Potter’ and The Oscars: Why The Boy Wizard Got Snubbed

This morning, Harry Potter fans everywhere had to come to terms with some pretty big disappointment. Hopes that “Deathly Hallows – Part 2” might earn Oscars glory crashed and burned today with the nominations announcement.

It wasn’t just the fans that prayed for a big night on Oscar night. Warner Bros. made a big push for award consideration with their ubiquitous “Consider” ad campaign. Many held out hope for a Best Picture nomination and perhaps recognition, at long last, for Alan Rickman and Severus Snape.

Alas, “Deathly Hallows – Part 2″ did not make the cut, despite a relatively long list of nine Best Picture nominees, one less than the maximum. But were the awards dreams just fan delusions that got out of hand?

When a movie makes more than one billion dollars world-wide, you should pay attention. When a movie earns some of the most unanimous praise of the year from critics, you should pay attention. Despite both of these enormous factors, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2″ scored only three nominations, all in technical categories.

The snub reveals the supreme stubbornness of the Academy, and two highly superficial and trivial factors led to Harry’s disappointing morning.

First, for Academy voters, the “Harry Potter” films fall into two of Oscar’s least favorite genres: the children’s film and fantasy. There are notable exceptions for each, however. Just this year, “Hugo,” a “children’s film” earned the most nominations of any movie, but without its auteur director behind the camera, we would have seen a very different outcome. And despite its fantasy setting, “The Lord of the Rings” earned Best Picture nominations for each installment, but their dark and epic tone from the get-go made them more Oscar-friendly.

Secondly, “Deathly Hallows – Part 2″ was the eighth film in a series and the second half of one complete story. Superficial things like numbers after a title can make the difference and spell disappointment for even the most qualified film. If you strip away the context and focus on the actual merits of the film, you’d have a hard time arguing that a movie like “Avatar,” one with a comparable scale and box office haul, deserved the recognition that “Deathly Hallows” didn’t get.

The Academy’s oversight would have been more understandable had the nominee pool been stronger this year. Aside from “The Tree of Life,” this year’s Best Picture contenders make up the safest and most Oscar-friendly field of nominees in recent memory. A nomination for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2″ would have defied Academy stereotypes and shook up a race that is destined to leave many viewers snoring.

Did you think “Harry Potter” deserved more Oscar attention? Let us know in the comments below and on Twitter!