No sooner has the frenzied excitement of the summer blockbusters died down, and this summer we have been treated to some real corkers, then all the Oscar hopefuls come out of the woodwork. But my question is when is the blockbuster season ever recognised during Oscar season?

Just because it's big budget entertainment it doesn't mean that the movies are not clever or superior pieces of filmmaking that deserves recognition. And considering that this year's Best Picture nominees of Juno, Atonement, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood and No Country for Old Men had the lowest box office gross for two decades perhaps it's about time the Academy got with it and recognised movies popular with the general public.

And Benicio Del Toro, for his role in Che, and Mickey Rourke, for his role in The Wrestler, may be two of the front runners for Best Actor are they the performances that are most talked about this year? Well no as a matter of fact they are not that honour goes to a slightly sinister character that runs around with knives and covered in white make-up. Of course I'm talking about Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight.

Yes I appreciate that the hype surrounding his performance was further heightened by the unexpected and untimely death of the young actor but nobody can deny that it's an exceptional performance but will his performance be recognised come February? And what about Nolan himself who has delivered one of the most intelligent and exciting comic book movies of all time that, in my humble opinion, is worth of a Best Picture nomination.

But the tag 'big budget blockbuster' usually results in the film doing no better than bagging a few technical and visual effects nominations.

The Academy voters fail to see the stories told in these big budget flicks and if it's not arty farty or cutting edge starring Daniel Day Lewis then they do not want know. Take a look at Hellboy for example Ron Pearlman portrays him as a character whose future is uncertain as he looks to fit in and be accepted for who he is as well as dealing with a complicated relationship but Oscar voters will see is a big red suit backed up by a host of special effects.

Similarly Daniel Craig's performance as 007 has revitalised a flagging franchise taking Bond down a whole new line as he struggles to deal with the rage inside of him in Quantum of Solace as he comes to terms with the death of the woman that he loved but will he get a Best Actor nod? In a word no.

There was one movie that bucked that trend and that was of course The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King that scooped Best Picture along with ten other Oscars, including Best Director for Peter Jackson. But the Best Picture came only at the third time of asking after the first two instalments: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers were, quite frankly, shockingly overlooked for the over-hyped A Beautiful Mind and Chicago.

You have also got to bear in mind that Johnny Depp bagged a Best Actor nomination for his hilarious role as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl the films, which many claimed would be a box office disaster, has gone on become one of the most successful franchises of all time and that could give a little bit of hope to the likes of Robert Downey Jr and Christian Bale for their performances this summer.

Of all the blockbuster performances this summer perhaps Heath Ledger would be the most likely to gain some Oscar support but don't be surprised to see The Dark Knight there too. But will the likes of Robert Downey Jr be recognised for their superhero roles? Well with the Academy you never know what is going to happen they gave Titanic eleven Oscars!

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw