Oscars 2022: ‘Dune’ Could Follow ‘The Lord of the Rings’ Journey to Best Picture

The 94th Annual Academy Awards will see 10 films contending for the honor of Best Picture, and science-fiction fans are hopeful Dune will take home the prize. In doing so, it would mark a first for the genre. However, the film may follow a similar trajectory to The Lord of the Rings movies. Could the Dune franchise have a wait before receiving the most coveted Oscar of them all?

‘Dune: Part 2’ is already confirmed

Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet as Chani and Paul Atreides in 'Dune.' They're in what looks like a cavern with walls of sand.
Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet in ‘Dune’ | Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures

Given the success of Dune, it’s no surprise that a sequel to Denis Villeneuve’s science-fiction epic was greenlit just days after the film hit theaters. It also makes sense that Dune received 10 nominations at the 2022 Oscars, including one for Best Picture.

Science-fiction movies don’t often receive recognition in that category, but Dune proved one of the most acclaimed releases of 2021. Of course, that doesn’t mean the movie is a shoo-in for Best Picture.

With Dune: Part Two confirmed, it’s possible the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hold off on granting the franchise the biggest honor of the night. It wouldn’t be the first time a film series waited until its conclusion to collect the award. In fact, another genre series had a three-year journey to Best Picture: The Lord of the Rings.

‘The Lord of the Rings’ had a 3-year journey to Best Picture

It’s difficult to judge a story in pieces, and that could be why the Academy waited until The Return of the King to give The Lord of the Rings its Best Picture win. Although The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers received numerous nominations at the 74th and 75th Annual Academy Awards — including ones for Best Picture — they didn’t win in any of the major categories.

The Return of the King marked the final chance for the series to take home Best Picture, and the Academy made it happen during the 2004 Oscars ceremony. That year, The Return of the King became the first fantasy film to ever win Best Picture. It was an exciting feat for genre films — one that no science-fiction movie has managed just yet.

Dune could become the first science-fiction project to collect the honor. However, with a sequel on the way, it could follow in The Lord of the Rings‘ footsteps. Will Denis Villeneuve’s movies follow a similar path to Best Picture?

Will ‘Dune’ follow the same Best Picture trajectory?

Given its confirmed sequel and chance of making history, Dune has quite a bit in common with The Lord of the Rings in terms of its Oscar journey. It also seems likely the series will win Best Picture at some point. However, it may not happen this year. In fact, going by The Lord of the Rings‘ path to Best Picture, it could happen with Dune: Part Two.

And in all fairness, the sequel is likely to have more action and drama when it finally debuts. The first installment needed to establish Dune‘s setting and story, but the second can build on that foundation to deliver an even more satisfying conclusion. If it sticks the landing, the Academy may reward the sequel with its biggest honor.

Of course, it’s possible the first film will defy expectations at the Oscars 2022 and win big before its sequel even starts filming. Perhaps Dune can even aim for a double Best Picture win with its two separate parts. That would certainly mark a jump forward for science fiction.

The 94th Annual Academy Awards airs on ABC on March 27 at 8 p.m. EST.

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