Besides the top prize, I feel that the hype over Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker is well warranted. He is spectacular and terrifying - actually SCARY. There is a fantastic and gruesome magic trick early on that illustrates this definite difference from Jack Nicholson's Joker - who, let's face it, wasn't really scary. Heath deserves a best supporting actor Oscar.
the Batman, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, while not as pretty as Katie Holms, acts her pants off as Rachel. Gary Oldman gets to act more as Commissioner Gordon. I feel the most underrated but solid performance in the film was by Aaron Eckart, who played district attorney Harvey Dent. He had the most challenging character arc - from Gotham's White Knight to Two-Face (see the movie to figure out what the hell I mean here!) He was great.
The movie is a tragedy and is not very fun. In fact, it is very dark and mean. But that makes it more interesting and it stand out from other comic films, such as Iron Man, the Hulk, and even from it's prequel, Batman Begins. It is not a kids movie. DO NOT TAKE YOUR CHILDREN! Nor is it just another summer blockbuster. It is dark and disturbing, more like Heat, Scarface or the Godfather.
Watching the Dark Knight drains you and leaves you shocked and breathless at the end. It feels like a roller coaster ride that begins fun, then turns a bit scary as drop after drop, climax after climax hits you and you can't move, you just have to bear it, and then it drops you suddenly into a different theme park, punches you in the stomach and gives you ice cream. You leave the theater stunned and wanting to do it all again.
With such a great complete movie, where does the story go from here? I have no idea. It is wide open. If Chris Nolan* and the cast decide to make one more Batman film, the story could go anywhere. Any of Batman's villains could make an appearance, and rumors are already circulating around the net - Johnny Depp as the Riddler, Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the Penguin, and Angelina Jolie as the Catwoman. It is way to early to take these casting rumors seriously.
As for my bet on which of Batman's rogues with feature in a third film, I think Catwoman and Talia Al Ghul (Ra's daughter - Ra's Al Ghul was Liam Neeson in Batman Begins). Catwoman would work as a copycat inspired by Batman, and Talia would be seeking revenge on Batman for killing her father. Any more discussion about a future film would cross into spoiler territory. Email me if you want to continue the discussion!
Even if the Dark Knight is nominated for a best picture or best supporting actor Oscar, can it win? I say yes! If we look at the history of the Oscars, one movie was nominated for best picture that didn't fit the standard, such as Titanic, Million Dollar Baby and No Country for Old Men (What was with the end of that movie!? So boring!! Great villain, though.) This one film was a fantasy movie and it still won best picture in 2004 - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King!
If the Lord of the Rings can with the top film prize, then The Dark Knight surely can as well!
Be sure to see the Dark Knight, as it's just a great great movie.
*Chris Nolan is the director of both the Dark Knight and Batman Begins and the man we give credit to for the great realistic interpretation of Batman we have today. Long live Nolan! Please direct one more!