Building the case for Bond: ‘Skyfall’ for best picture

"Skyfall's" Daniel Craig looks great in a tux. It's a sight we could get used to during the long awards season.

“Skyfall,” the latest James Bond movie, has already shattered box-office records in Great Britain and earned ecstatic reviews in advance of its Friday opening here in the States. Now its makers are zeroing in on an unlikely target -- Oscar voters -- in a quest to become the first Bond movie to win a best picture nomination.

“Skyfall” director Sam Mendes will be making the rounds in Los Angeles this weekend, participating in a Q&A; at an all-guild screening at the Directors Guild on Saturday afternoon, a Q&A; for the Producers Guild on Saturday night and then answering questions at a Screen Actors Guild nominating committee event at the Pacific Design Center on Sunday afternoon. Mendes’ weekend will culminate with an academy screening Sunday night, where he’ll be joined by actresses Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe and and the franchise’s owners, producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

Agent 007 himself, Daniel Craig, and Javier Bardem, who plays Bond’s showboating nemesis in “Skyfall,” may also attend some of the events.

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Bond movies have struggled to gain Oscar voters’ attention over the years, winning only seven nominations and two awards. (“Goldfinger” took sound effects in 1965; “Thunderball” won for special visual effects the following year.) Four of the franchise’s nominations have been for music, the last coming in 1982 for “For Your Eyes Only.”

“Skyfall,” however, may be a special case. As we’ve already outlined here, the 23rd official Bond installment sports a deep bench of Oscar winners, starting with its director Mendes. Then, there are the reviews. Currently at Metacritic, “Skyfall” owns a higher rating than that other Oscar contender arriving this weekend, “Lincoln,” with critics praising “Skyfall” for pulling off the difficult feat of reinvigorating a franchise celebrating its golden anniversary.

The question now: Do the film’s owners -- MGM and the Broccoli estate -- along with Sony Pictures, the movie’s distributor, posess the awards-season know-how to turn all this good will into a campaign that connects with academy members? Until very recently, the backers had taken a wait-and-see attitude, a source at the studio not authorized to speak publicly tells us. But now that the strong reviews are pouring in and the money is piling up, they’re ready to go full bore.

VIDEO: ‘Skyfall’ trailer

This isn’t the first time a Bond movie has been floated for best picture. “Casino Royale,” the 2006 entry that established Craig in the lead role, won outstanding reviews and a great many champions. But the film’s backers failed to mail DVD screeners to academy members, a mistake that will not be repeated with “Skyfall,” our source tells us.

Academy members we canvassed are impatiently waiting the Sunday night screening in Beverly Hills, with some predicting the event will generate an overflow crowd.

“Casino Royale” won the franchise a lot of good will,” one Oscar voter says. “If ‘Skyfall’ is better than that, then I see absolutely no reason why it couldn’t be in the conversation for best picture.”

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Adds another academy member: “People have a lot of affection for this franchise. If you’re of a certain age, it’s part of your DNA, and that has to count for something, especially if the movie’s great.”


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