Entries in Oscar Snubs (33)
I've been sitting on half formed think pieces about this one for a couple of weeks deciding whether to publish but here goes...
A very recent article at Wired about journalist behavior at Sundance made a lot of journalists angry. I agree that a lot of movie journalists are jaded (I think that about other Oscar bloggers all the time who don't see to love it like I do). The piece isn't really fair because there are a lot of terribly behaved people of all types of badges at festivals. The type of badge you wear does not influence your behavior, your character influences your behavior. Still there's so much online response and twitter uproar about this that it reminded me of all the potshots taken at Birdman's depiction of a critic (in a movie that is not meant to be taken literally at that). In short: a lot of media writers have thin skins. I'd include myself here I must say but I think it's better to take your lumps quietly than protest too much. (Movies.com had a similarly themed piece on bad movie etiquette but it was more generous and didn't point too specific a finger.)
The uproar over these pieces reminded me of my own discomfort about the way people react to Oscar snubs (or omissions if the "s" word offends you). This season in particular, the Selma situation has provoked a lot of criticism,...
Though Oscar nomination morning is my Christmas -- the day I anticipate so heavily each year when all the prezzies are ripped open -- it's not all happiness. Oscar also gives out lumps of coal on this day each year. Let us celebrate five big snubs (or omissions if you hate that word) representing each stage of grief so that we can work through it and move on.
DENIAL I'm pretending that American Sniper, a conservative leaning (though not unartful) celebration of war heroism didn't crash the party late and win a ton of nominations (which encourages the studios to do that December/January glutting) while the progressive Selma -- which we actually need unlike a film about someone who's good with a gun! -- couldn't muster up more than two nominations.
ANGER Ava DuVernay, who would have been the first woman of color nominated for Best Director, should have been among the five Best Director nominees. She handled a large scale historical film and made it reverberate with danger, grief, inspiration, courage, and immediacy which is more than can be said for most historical epics. And it's only her third film! Can't wait to see what number four is like. As a subset of this stage of grief: anger. The Oscar nominations are just another reminder that Oscar does not value female narratives, not behind the scenes or onscreen. Movies about men trying to find themselves, or redemption or triumph over adversity score. Movies about women or people of color doing the same things do not (see: Wild and Selma, this year and examples in many other years; Oscar is a boys club)
BARGAINING The Lego Movie which I felt would meet more resistance than it initially had because it is basically a 2 hour commercial was nevertheless a surprise omission. I hope this doesn't discourage future filmmakers from going above and beyond because, YES, it was a commercial for toy product but it was like the best long-form commercial ever. So much funnier and more stylish and surprising than it had any right to be really. So next time someone overachieves Oscar, toss them a bone okay?
DEPRESSION All year long we (correctly) heard that it was a super strong year for Best Actor and it was. So why is the actual shortlist so disatisfying? Two answers: you could call Carell (against type / prosthetic nose) without even seeing the picture (and if you see the picture it's a heavily stilted performance and you can label Bradley Cooper a "default" nominee now with three consecutive nominations and though he's definitely under this guy's skin, it's a very unchallenging star turn compared to the snubbed competition.
This year of all years isn't time to lean on gimmicks or default status. Not when you had Ralph Fiennes's gloriously civilized sly performance keeping Grand Budapest Hotel grounded in gravitas and culture and wit when it could theoretically have defaulted to diorama kitsch. Not when Jake Gyllenhaal is doing the best work of his career in Nightcrawler. Not when David Oyelowo is becoming a great Southern orator. Not when... etcetera...
ACCEPTANCE Jessica Chastain missed out on a nod for what may well be her best screen performance yet in A Most Violent Year. But the film arrived very late and just didn't catch on quickly enough. And people got hung up on the Pfeiffer/Scarface look and missed the fact that the ubiquitous actress was doing interesting things with a more complicated character than her entrepeneur's wife first appeared to be in clip form. (For what it's worth Pfeiffer also missed a nomination for Scarface, one of her many awful snubbings.) But we know that Chastain, who makes three movies a year and most of them high profile, will be back so we'll let this one slide.
Who and what would represent your five stages this morning?
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Though I love the constant excitement of December as much as anyone if there is one single element of awards season I could seize control of, it would be the annual Best Foreign Language Film race. Every year at about this time I've managed to procure 15 or so screeners from the 60+ entries and they're neatly stacked near my TV waiting for a marathon holiday watch & write session. And then most of them get the axe and they're never seen. I'm not proud of this -- you shouldn't skip a movie simply because Oscar isn't interested -- but I am also a human being who lives on planet earth and writes about the Oscars so my time is naturally extremely limited and compartmentalized and stretched thin every November through February. Would that the studios and AMPAS could spread out the timing a little. So my apologies to films from Latvia, Turkey, Croatia, India and the rest that I really had every intention of investigating.
The other thing I would instantly change is Oscar's obsession with the number nine - ten is so much more symmetrical! Ten is a better number because it would also soften the blow to the eventual snubbees who wouldn't feel (correctly) like the majority of their peers got the part when they didn't.
- The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
currently in release in the States
- An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker (Bosnia & Herzegovina)
from the director of the Oscar winner in this category for 2001, No Man's Land
- The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
unceremoniously dumped from the documentary finals, it now has a second shot at Oscar
- The Hunt (Denmark)
from the director of The Celebration which was one of Oscar's most infamous snubs in this always crowded category
- Two Lives (Germany)
Liv Ullman appears!
- The Grandmaster (Hong Kong)
Wong Kar Wai and his Asian superstar actors.
- The Notebook (Hungary)
Hungary's best shot in ages to return to Oscar after a very long drought
- The Great Beauty (Italy)
which just cleaned up at the European Film Awards
- Omar (Palestine)
from the director of Paradise Now, nominated in this category in 2005
Saudia Arabia's Wadjda, which was a hit in arthouse theaters, widely tipped to be a frontrunner for the Oscar won't even be nominated now. That's got to hurt. It wasn't a good year for childhood narratives, actually, despite Oscar's tendency to reward that in foreign language films. They also passed on moving forward with Australia's The Rocket and Singapore's awards magnet Ilo Ilo. With all the other leading kids dropping out of contention this year, Hungary's tale of two boys will look singular. I'm also bummed that they skipped Nepal's entry here if only because I fear I'll never have the opportunity to see it now (no screener).
But the one I'm gutted bout is Chile's Gloria which is top ten list worthy in any language. I fully expected it to be nominated because it's just so delightful but with depth. Now it will be deprived of a much wider audience which is terribly sad. I don't know how committed the distributor is as it's due in January but I've seen it happen all too often that when a film fails to be nominated it suddenly disappears from future release scheds. IF you get a chance to see it, do! (If Annette Bening or [insert name of any charming 50something movie star] isn't snapping up the remake rights, she's insane.)
Three Reasons Why People Ought to Stop Bitching About the Foreign Film Race and Just Appreciate The Movies
There are now 38 Official Submissions for Oscar's Foreign Language Film race, one of The Film Experience's favorite categories. Which means there are now undoubtedly about 38,000 bitchy articles lodged around the web and print... many of them undoubtedly focused on Blue is the Warmest Color, due to its high profile both from content (lesbian sex!) and prestige (Cannes winner).
I am exhausted by the griping each year about this category. I really am. And often from people who should know better. The grumbling over this oft divisive category reminds me of how Oscar fans like to say...
Amir here, to bring you our newest edition of Team Top Ten. Festival season is in full force. Telluride just wrapped. Venice is going strong. And in just two days, Toronto will set the awards season ablaze (Nathaniel and I will be there covering the flames). So we thought we’d vote on something that captures the spirit of the season.
Looking ahead at this point, there are a lot of films that look like surefire Oscar contenders. Inevitably, some of them will miss out on nomination morning, but at this very moment, everyone’s got their hopes high. Even in a year where unfortunate circumstances led to widespread discussion of racism in America, one can’t expect Mandela, 12 Years a Slave, Lee Daniels' The Butler AND Fruitvale Station to be nominated, but all four films are certainly gunning for it. So has been the story with many films in the past couple of decades, since the Oscars became the most glamorous political race on the planet and the Weinstein’s at Miramax supercharged awards campaigning.
We’re looking back today at the films of the past 25 years – let’s call it the Campaigning Era – that looked like major Oscar players this far out in the year, or hell, even five minutes before nominations were announced in some cases, but failed to make a dent of any size. This is Team Experience’s Top Ten Awards Season Flops. Note that this is not a qualitative judgment - some stank, some were superb. But, for one reason or another, they fell short of what The Golden Man deems "Best". In simple terms – borrowed from Team Experience member, Nick Davis – these are the ten films that have the largest gap between their Oscar hopes and their Oscar outcomes. Without further ado…
Bobby and 9 more dashed-hopefuls after the jump...