Will ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ Be the First ‘Star Wars’ Movie to Win an Oscar Since the Original Trilogy?

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker brings the saga full circle. While it will not be the final Star Wars release, the film does conclude the story of the Skywalker family George Lucas started 42 years ago. And this ending couldn’t have come soon enough.

The Star Wars fandom has become increasingly divided in recent years, perhaps necessitating a temporary hiatus. So The Rise of Skywalker could be the saga’s final chance to collect some major awards before it turns in for the time being. Could this final Star Wars episode become an Oscar winner?

Benjamin Burtt Jr., C-3PO, and Mark Hamill at The 50th Annual Academy Awards
Benjamin Burtt Jr., C-3PO, and Mark Hamill at The 50th Annual Academy Awards | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

‘Star Wars’ started as a major Oscar player

Although the saga hasn’t won any Academy Awards in more than 35 years, it began as a major contender. 1977’s Star Wars — later subtitled A New Hope — won six Oscars, including one for John Williams’ iconic score. The film was even nominated for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor (for Alec Guinness) as well as earning Lucas nods for writing and directing.

The Empire Strikes Back won two Oscars, including one for its sound and a special achievement award for its visual effects. Meanwhile, Return of the Jedi walked away with just one, again for its visual effects achievement. But Star Wars has remained in the Oscar conversation ever since, albeit only in technical categories.

The prequel trilogy received a total of five Oscar nominations, including two for its visual effects. And The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi earned five and four nods, respectively, including two for Williams. Even Rogue One and Solo received three nominations between them. So there’s precedent for The Rise of Skywalker to sneak into some Oscar races.

The saga’s awards momentum has died down

To be sure, the Star Wars saga has lost a great deal of awards momentum over the years. All three eras of the franchise have seen diminishing returns as they continued. Yet, despite its mixed reviews, The Rise of Skywalker might be able to stand out from its predecessors.

Any kind of major nominations — picture, acting, and screenplay, etc. — are almost certainly not in the cards. However, The Rise of Skywalker does continue the strong production values of the saga. This being the final entry in the Skywalker saga, the film could receive an extra push toward recognition for its technical achievements.

After all, the Disney era of Star Wars has been met with just about every possible reaction. But fans have never questioned these films’ ability to live up to the legacy of eye-popping visual effects and awe-inspiring music. And The Rise of Skywalker could be recognized for both in the near future.

‘The Rise of Skywalker’ could win a couple big awards

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently released shortlists for some of its awards, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker landed on two. Not surprisingly, the film remains in contention for Best Original Score and Best Visual Effects.

For the former, this would be the Academy’s final chance to reward Williams for his work in the Star Wars saga. He won the Oscar for the very first film in the saga and hasn’t gotten another for this series since then. Giving him an Oscar now would be the perfect way to bookend his Star Wars work. It’s also probably The Rise of Skywalker‘s best chance for an Oscar.

In Best Visual Effects, the Star Wars film ironically faces the most difficult competition in other Disney projects. In particular, the photorealistic aliens of The Lion King and the time-hopping superheroics of Avengers: Endgame are likely contenders.

Will The Rise of Skywalker be an Oscar winner? Given the divisive reaction, it does feel like a longshot. But the Academy may have a soft spot for the series’ early days and reward Williams for his nine-film body of work throughout. We’ll have to wait and see.