Oscars 2017: Will 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' be nominated for an Academy Award?

On Jan. 24, nominations for the 89th Academy Awards will be announced. While it is all but certain that critically acclaimed films like La La Land, Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea will receive major Oscar nominations, could there be a few surprises as well? Almost definitely. Could one of those be a nomination for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? Keep reading.

It should not be all that shocking to anyone at this point that Rogue One, the first of several planned Star Wars anthology films, has been a smash hit. To date, the film is estimated to have earned over $500 million domestically and nearly $1 billion worldwide. When the dust settles, Rogue One will likely be the second highest-grossing Star Wars film, behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Like The Force Awakens, Rogue One has been very well received by both fans and critics, with the film holding an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes (and an 88% from users). But can Rogue One do what The Force Awakens did not and secure a major nomination at the Academy Awards? 

Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso in 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'Lucasfilm

There was some speculation last year that Star Wars: The Force Awakens could nab a best picture nomination at the 88th Academy Awards. After all, with the Academy now allowing more than just five best picture nominations, there is some flexibility to recognize blockbuster films that otherwise would be ignored at the awards ceremony. In the end, the film earned five nominations, but all for below-the-line categories. 

Rogue One will almost certainly receive at least one of the nominations The Force Awakens received last year. Nominations for the film's visual effects, sound editing, sound mixing and editing are all likely in play. Rogue One could also potentially receive a nomination for its score, as Michael Giacchino did a tremendous job not only incorporating elements of John Williams' famous music, but making his own. 

Darth Vader in 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story'Lucasfilm

Will Rogue One receive a best picture nomination?

Of course, we still have not answered whether Rogue One could sneak a major nomination. You can take it to the bank that Rogue One will not be recognized in any of the acting categories. This is not a knock on Felicity Jones (who was excellent), but rather, recognition of the crowded best actress field. It is also unlikely that Rogue One would receive a nomination for its screenplay, though that's probably more likely than it receiving an acting nomination. Furthermore, while Edwards directorial effort was superb, the best director field is just too crowded. Edwards will most likely not come up with a nomination. This leaves only best picture as a possibility. 

Unlike the other categories at the Oscars, there can be as many as 10 nominations for best picture. This allows for quite a bit of flexibility when recognizing the best films of the year. Since the change in rules, there has generally been one or two high-budget blockbuster films nominated each year for best picture. Last year, both The Martian and Mad Max: Fury Road received nominations. Other films nominated over the years include Gravity, American Sniper, Inception, Hugo and Django Unchained, all either grossing more than $300 million worldwide or carrying a budget of at least $100 million. 

'Moonlight' was made on a budget reported to be less than $5 million.Jordan Strauss/AP

This year, there seems to be a distinct lack of high-budget and high-grossing films in competition for a best picture nomination. Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, La La Land and Hidden Figures were all made on modest budgets, and none will likely gross over $400 million worldwide. The highly acclaimed sci-fi film, Arrival, was made on a budget south of $50 million and will likely gross around $200 million worldwide. Even the $60 million-budgeted Sully, which is not a sure-thing for a nomination, has grossed about $240 million worldwide. 

Now, of course, there is no rule saying the Academy Awards has to nominate a high-budget or high-grossing film for best picture. However, the last several years have seen that to be the case. So, if we get at least one film nominated this year with either a $100 million-plus budget or over $300 million gross worldwide, one of them certainly could be Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Of course, two other Disney movies could make a play as well: The Jungle Book and Zootopia. We will know for sure next week. 

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