When the Academy Award Nominations were announced Tuesday the comic industry found itself represented by “American Splendor,” the critically acclaimed film based on the work of Harvey Pekar, a Cleveland file clerk whose autobiographical comic books chronicle his often times very strange life. The film uses a variety of documentary and dramatized footage to tell the story.
“American Splendor” was nominated for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay), written by Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman. This is their first nomination. The category it finds itself in is a tough one, going up against the likes of “City of God,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” “Mystic River” and “Seabiscuit.”
Critics hailed the performance of actor Paul Giamatti, who portrayed the fictional Pekar in the film, yet a nomination for the actor was not to be seen.
One area that comic based films usually find recognition in is the Best Visual Effects category. The year 2002 saw a number of big budget, special effects driven films like “Daredevil,” “Hulk” and the “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” but none received any love from the Academy. When the “Hulk” saw initial release the studio and critics talked about the realism, strength and emotion portrayed by the computer generated behemoth. Apparently, that wasn’t enough to win over the nominating members of the Academy who chose films “The Return of the King,” “Master and Commander” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” over the big green machine.
Come February 29th, “American Splendor” will be the comic industries only chance for Oscar victory. While the competition may be stiff, most critics will agree that the choice comes down to a battle between a bunch of Hobbit’s and a cranky comic writer from Cleveland, Ohio.